Today, we'll delve into the world of Google My Business—a digital tool that's indispensable for local businesses, whether they're traditional brick-and-mortar establishments or service area businesses. To utilize this valuable service, you must have a business located within a specific area, but once you claim your profile, you'll unlock a treasure trove of powerful tools.
Start with a Simple Search
Begin by typing your business name into Google, excluding your website. Focus solely on your business name and possibly the city where it's based. Chances are, Google may have already created a profile for your business, as the platform continually gathers data to provide search results. Don't be surprised if you discover one.
Additionally, it's not uncommon for businesses to find profiles they didn't create or were established years ago through Google Places, Google Plus, or Google Local. If you do come across one, your next step is to claim it and optimize it.
Claim Your Business
To initiate the process, visit business.google.com. If you've already claimed your profile, you can log in to this platform and make the necessary edits. However, if your profile hasn't been verified yet, you may need to go through a verification process, which can vary in complexity depending on the state of your profile.
The first step is to click on the prompt that asks, "Is this your business?" If you receive this prompt, it's a strong indication that the profile hasn't been claimed. Click "Yes, this is my business" and follow the steps, which may include receiving a postcard via mail or using email or text verification. The specific method depends on Google's assessment of the information available for your profile.
Tackle Duplicate Listings
It's not uncommon to stumble upon duplicate listings, a remnant of the transition from Google Places, Google Local, and Google Plus. Duplicate listings may result from variations in business names, phone numbers, or address changes. To resolve this issue, locate the inaccurate or incomplete listing, then click on "Suggest an Edit." Mark that location as "permanently closed." Google is increasingly proactive about cleaning up such information and often closes it within a week, provided they can verify the accuracy.
Remember that if the listing was created by someone who no longer works for your business or you don't recognize the origin, the process may take a bit longer. Google will attempt to contact the email associated with the listing, and if there's no response, they will proceed with the closure.
Update Key Information
Now that your profile is claimed and duplicates are resolved, it's time to focus on optimizing your Google My Business profile. The most critical details include your business name, address, and phone number. Maintain consistency with the information on your website. Avoid embellishments or unnecessary keywords. Your business name, address, and phone number should mirror your website's data accurately.
Select The Right Category
Google My Business provides a category selection that helps users find your business. When you haven't claimed your profile, Google may guess your category based on available information but don't rely on their assumptions. Choose a primary category that aligns with your business and the services you wish to be prominently associated with. Be as specific as possible; if you're a remodeling contractor, select "remodeling contractor" rather than a broader category like "construction company." You can also choose secondary categories that are closely related to your business.
Enhance with visulas
Your profile allows you to upload images, which can have a substantial impact on user engagement, particularly on mobile devices. Uploading 8-10 high-quality images of your products, business, and team is advisable. This not only contributes to trust-building but can also positively influence your ranking. An enriched visual profile can improve the user experience and encourage potential clients to interact with your business.
Explore Google My Business Features
Google My Business offers additional features that can enhance your profile:
Posts: This feature allows you to create posts about upcoming events, special offers, or new products. It can increase your visibility and engagement.
Insights: Gain insights into your profile's performance, including the number of times your profile appears in search results, user actions (such as calls or website visits), and the terms users employ to find your business.
Reviews: Not only can you see your business reviews here, but you can also respond to them. Reply to both positive and negative reviews to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.
Messaging: Connect your profile to a mobile device capable of receiving and responding to text messages. This feature can enable immediate communication with potential clients searching for your services.
Appointment Booking: If your business requires appointment scheduling, Google My Business offers integration with several booking services.
Google Websites: While not recommended for all businesses, Google My Business now provides a simple website creation platform. It's a convenient option if you lack a comprehensive website but want a basic online presence.
These features, along with regular engagement and updates, can significantly enhance your Google My Business profile, improving your online visibility and attracting more customers. Regularly reviewing and optimizing your profile is essential to maintain a strong digital presence in your local market.
In summary, Google My Business is a crucial ranking factor for local businesses, and understanding and actively managing your profile is essential. When people search for services in your area, appearing in the map listing can be a game-changer. While this is just one piece of the puzzle, it's a vital one, and the effort you invest in optimizing your Google My Business profile can yield significant results.