It’s no secret that when it comes to online search, Google is king. According to Net Marketshare, almost 75% of all search in 2017 was through Google – and they had over 90% of all mobile search. So, if your website and your business can’t be found in a Google search, you’re in trouble.
In addition to building an easy-to-find and easy-to-use website, one great way to make sure Google knows about your company is to get a free listing on Google My Business. It’s a no-brainer method to get in front of your customers – and you don’t even need to earn your way there with SEO or buy your way with Google Ads – you just need to own a business that has some face-to-face interaction with customers (eg. you can’t operate 100% online). No online strategy is complete without Google My Business (GMB) and there are new features you need to know about.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool you can use to help manage your business’ online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. In short, it’s Google’s local business listing management system. If you don’t have a free listing for your business yet, you can get started at google.com/business. You can also download Google’s free mobile app, which allows you to update your listing from any mobile device.
Once you create a listing, you’ll need to verify it to prove that your business really exists in the location you say it does. You have a few options – including email, phone or using your Google Search Console listing – but most companies choose to verify by mail.
Why is Google My Business so important?
If you’ve created a GMB listing and people search for your business name, Google will provide that information immediately on the first page, as you can see from my example below:
Aside from the benefits this can bring (people can call you, get directions, see your opening hours, etc.) it also means they can leave your business a review, which is great for your digital footprint (more on this here). Also, if you don’t fill out all your business information, someone else could, because anyone can suggest an edit to your business listing . . . including unhappy customers or your competitors. So make sure you take the time to complete all the information you can.
What’s new: Posts, Booking Buttons & More
Just as Google regularly updates their algorithm to improve the search experience for users, they also make regular changes and improvements to business listings. Some of the most recent changes they’ve made to GMB have to do with their desire to optimise search results and answer as many questions as possible within those results. Here are some of the new features to consider:
- Posts – posts are a new feature that you can use to write text, add an image or video clip and a call-to-action to your GMB listing. These can be used for events, sales, promotions, products, blog posts, or any type of announcement. Posts ‘go dark’ after seven days but give you a chance to change things up regularly so your customers have the latest information about what’s going on at your business (and old posts are still there, they just get moved down).
- Photos and videos – you can now add more photos and even video to your GMB listing. Google reports that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites. Create high-quality, engaging images to help draw customers in and refresh them regularly. Name, tag and describe your images and videos as well as geotag them to help with your SEO.
- Make a booking – bookings are another new feature that’s now available. If your business relies on customers making appointments – such as a hair salon or massage therapist – and you use connected scheduling software, clients can book appointments directly from your GMB listing. This feature makes it really easy to get new customers, because they don’t even have to leave Google search to book an appointment!
- Owner identity attributes – Google has added new owner identity attributes that allow you to let people know immediately if you are a female-led or veteran-led local business. The information gets added next to other details about your business such as if you have wi-fi, accessible seating, take reservations, etc. This could be meaningful to some potential customers and one to keep an eye on as Google says that it will be adding more over time.
There are many ways to optimise your Google My Business listing and best of all, they’re all free! If you need any help, contact Breathe Marketing today.