Overview of Google My Business for Small Business

Google my business
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Getty Images/Bhavesh1988

Yesterday, one of my friends was looking to book an appointment at a local nail salon. She knew where it was but couldn’t find it in Google maps, because the salon hadn’t claimed their Google My Business listing.

The first thing she asked when she couldn’t find the salon was “Are they still in business?”.

This could easily happen to you and your business.

Here’s the thing, if you own a local business and haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing at this point then you are probably losing business.

Your customers will be looking for your products and services online, and one of the first places they go when they know what they’re looking for is a Google search. The easiest way for local businesses to show up in a Google search is to claim and use all the features of your Google My Business listing.

The great news is that qualifying local businesses can claim their listing for free.

To get started go to https://www.google.com/business.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Google My Business Listing

Don’t skip over information.

When you fill out your information for the Google My Business profile, you’ll be asked for a bunch of details. Make sure you fill all of them out, because if you don’t fill out the info that Google asks you to another person could.

Realize that other people can make changes to your listing.

This is one of the incredibly annoying parts of Google listings, but it’s important to understand how it works. In every Google listing there’s an edit button and that edit button is open to the public. It’s vital to log into the Google My Business dashboard on a regular basis to make sure that your listing is what you want it to be and that nobody has made changes.

Inside of your dashboard you want to navigate to Google updates where you’ll go to a box that lets you review any updates that have been made. It’s in this section you can remove erroneous information that has been posted by a competitor or disgruntled customer.

The big thing here is to make sure that you’re checking your Google My Business (GMB) listing on a regular basis and making any corrections that need to be made.

After you’ve got your basic listing up and running you want to optimize it.

Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing

Using Google My Business posts.

Google my Business posts are cool features that allow you to create a post that displays like a mini-ad on your Google My Business listing. There’s no charge for posts, but they can make your listing much more attention getting.

You can create a post by logging into your Google My Business dashboard where they’ll be listed on the left part of the screen.

You can even include images and call to actions in your posts.

Here are some ideas of what you can include in your posts:

  • Events are great things to make posts around. If you’re hosting a seminar or webinar or if your business is event oriented like a painting studio then it’s a good idea to make a post about the event.
  • Sales! Everybody loves a sale and you can create an event’s post about the sale as well. Make sure you post an attractive picture about the products you’ll be having on sale.
  • Link out to your blog posts with a picture and short description.
  • Showcase new products with pictures of them as they arrive at your store.
  • Highlight cool hairstyles (with your customer’s permission) if you’re a hair salon.
  •  Create holiday messages to spread some cheer.

What you can do with posts is really only limited to your imagination. Make sure to keep them relevant to your business and use images from your business instead of stock images.

Insider tip: Google is starting to index emojis in their search results, and people (especially people under 25) are starting to search on their smartphones and tablets with emojis.  That means they might search something like “[burger emoji] + near me”. 

This means that you want to start including relevant emojis in your Google business listings. Just don’t overdo it. Too many emojis can make you look unprofessional.

Create a new Google My Business post regularly.

Try to create a new post at least every seven days. After seven days Google my business posts “go dark” and will not be actively shown in your listing. They still are there, but Google won’t show them as aggressively.

Use the booking button.

This is a really cool feature. If you own a business that does any kind of booking of appointments at all––then it’s a feature you’ll want to enable.

The booking button allows customers to book appointments right from your GMB listing. They can stay right on Google to do it. And best of all this is completely automated if you use any of Google’s software partners for booking.

You can see a full list here.

Get online reviews.

Google is unique because it encourages business owners to actively and ethically ask their customers or clients for online reviews. Online reviews appear right in your listing within Google maps and good reviews can really help you stand out.

It’s important to note that online reviews can impact consumer trust, click through rates, and even rankings.

If you’re asking for reviews make sure that you follow Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews.

You can’t leave a review on yourself and current and former employees aren’t allowed to leave reviews.

And never ever offer bribes in exchange for a review. This goes against Google’s terms and is a bad business practice.

Insider tip: Make sure you respond to every Google review. People like to deal with responsive businesses and if a customer leaves review for you either good or bad – make sure you respond to them.

Add videos.

I find this really exciting. Google has recently announced the ability to add videos to a Google My Business listing. They can be up to 30 seconds long, and they don’t have to be professional videos. If you own a pizza shop, you can take a video of your favorite employee tossing the pizza (make sure you have permission to use their image). If you own a flower shop they can be a video of building a bouquet.

Shoot them with your iPhone, and make sure you take a look at them before you upload them. Then get them uploaded.

Videos are an amazing way for people to interact with your business and they’ll usually love you for them.

Taking the time to optimize your Google My Business listing is always worth it.

If you want customers to be able to find you, and you want to look legitimate then you need to make sure that your Google My Business listing is up-to-date. It’s an amazing, free tool to get more people in the door and doing business with you.