Google accounts for more than 87% of global searches made using mobile devices, and over 75% made using a desktop or laptop.
In short, if you want your business to get found online, it’s imperative you do everything possible to ensure that when your product or service is searched for, Google finds you, and gives you prominence over your competitors when it presents its results.
You already know that using keywords, tagging images, making your website mobile-friendly and keeping content fresh are essential steps in the optimisation process, but there’s another powerful tool that can help make sure customers find your business when they search on Google.
It’s called Google My Business, and the good news for you is that right now it’s still very underused – which means you have an opportunity to steal a march on your rivals!
We’re not especially techy at Deep, so we asked one of our trusted partners, Nick Klynsmith from digital design agency Kreatif Design to answer a few basic questions about Google My Business.
Here’s what he had to say:
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a directory of business listings. It’s the sidebar that appears to the right of Google’s results, presenting you with a location map, images, and other key information when you search for a business.
It’s been around for a while now, but the latest version of Google My Business allows business owners to upload far more information than ever before, and it has loads of features which are constantly being added to.
Why does a business need a Google My Business listing?
If you want your business to be found online, having a Google My Business listing is essential. It’s one of the most powerful ways to improve search engine optimisation and online visibility for your business.
Google My Business helps your business to stand out in the search results, and it’s especially effective if your business has a local focus. If for example, a search is made for ‘Vegan restaurant, Oxford’, ‘Chiropractor, Reading’, or ‘florists near me’,) Google will instantly display links to the top three Google My Business listings matching the description and geographical location.
In the sidebar to the right of the search results, your potential customers will be able to see your contact details, opening hours, location map, special offers, reviews and images of your premises, team or products. They can even interact with your business – for example, by booking an appointment or requesting information – all without having to open your website.
Oh, and it’s FREE!
Why is Google focusing on Google My Business right now?
It’s all part of Google’s plan to entice customers into their ecosystem. But it’s a symbiotic relationship that benefits both parties.
By having a Google My Business profile, you’re helping people find your business online, but you’re also assisting Google.
Firstly, by populating your listing with data about your business, you’re saving Google the bother of having to send out ‘bots’ to find and process information for itself. In return, Google will reward you by promoting your business over those that are not making use of its listing service. Secondly, by updating your listing profile, you’re helping Googles machines to ‘learn’ key search words and phrases – assisting in the development of voice search technology. A spin-off benefit is that as web browsing becomes increasingly voice-driven, Google will give preference to businesses having a Google My Business listing when voice searches are made.
How do you get started with Google My Business?
The first thing to do is to claim your Google My Business listing. You’ll need a Google account, but it’s very simple. Just visit www.google.com/business to get set up. When you’ve done that, you’ll be mailed (yes, by old school snail mail) an activation code which you’ll need to input to make your account live.
Before you do this though, check that Google hasn’t already automatically set up a listing for your business. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing, but customers have been discussing your business on social media and rating it on Google Maps, Google may create one for you, using the information it can harvest for itself.
Leaving Google to automatically generate your listing can lead to problems as you’re not controlling your profile – and your listing might even be claimed by one of your competitors.
To check whether you already have a listing, just Google your business. If you don’t see your business in the sidebar to the right of the results, you don’t have a Google My Business listing. If you see that you do have one, click on the link that says, ‘claim this listing’.
Important note: If you give someone else access to your Google My Business account – your web designer, a SEO expert or your copywriter, for example, Google recommends that you only give them ‘agency access’ – not ‘full-access’. It’s not unheard of for malicious parties to offer to run Google My Business accounts for businesses and request full access. They’re then able to lock the business out of their own account and charge them exorbitant fees to manage their listing.
You need to make sure your Google My Business profile is as complete as it can be. You may struggle to get close to 100% completion as there’s a very comprehensive list of information to populate.
Do what you can: you can revisit and add to your profile over time, but besides the obvious information like your location, opening hours, services and contact details, make sure you include the following:
- A link to your website
- Links to your social media
- Images: You can upload photographs of your place of work, your team, staff at work, products – anything your prospective customers are likely to be interested in. Be sure to include geotags and Alt text descriptions when you upload images. These image descriptions can be read by screen-readers, assisting visually impaired web users. Full accessibility is a goal of Google, and by helping them to achieve this objective, your ranking will be further increased.
- Business description: This is one of the most important areas to complete. You have the opportunity to write up to 750 words about your business, and you can load your copy with keywords and phrases to make sure Google presents browsers with your details whenever a relevant search is made. Remember to balance making copy keyword rich with ensuring that it always flows naturally and remains informative and engaging. Handy tip: if you’re not sure what keywords to include in your copy, simply Google your business and look for the words and phrases in bold, blue text. This shows you the words browsers are using when they make a search.
One other thing you should do is to claim your ‘profile short name’. When you have this, you can share it to make it easier for people to find you. By simply entering your short name into the address bar of their browser, customers will be taken directly to your business listing. Claim your short name as soon as possible to avoid having to compromise if you find that your preferred option is already taken.
Once you’ve completed the core areas, there is plenty of other powerful functionality to explore. For example, you can add Google My Business posts to promote events, offers and much more, adding in calls to action like Book, Order Online, Buy, Learn More and Sign Up and Call Now, giving you the opportunity to create a fully joined-up marketing experience.
Would You Like Help Getting Started with Google My Business?
By combining our copywriting skills with the digital expertise of Nick and the team at Kreatif Design, we can create a Google My Business listing that will increase your online visibility and bring you more customers!
For help and advice on getting started with Google My Business, call us now on 07801 192552 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an initial chat.