There’s something to be said about the fact that “Google” is most people’s go-to word to describe searching for something online. “Google It” has become the new way to suggest looking something up. According to search experts, 88% of consumers who search for local businesses online either call or visit the business within 24 hours. It begs the question: If customers search for your services online, will they be able to find your business?
The first step to getting in front of potential customers is to claim your Google My Business listing (GMB). Claiming and verifying your business through GMB is an essential part of any local search marketing strategy. In order to get noticed by Google and show up in relevant search results, you have to make your company’s basic information as available as possible. It doesn’t cost any money to claim your GMB, either, so there’s no reason not to complete this step.
Not sure what a GMB listing is? Say you search for restaurants in your town and find 3 results toward the top of the results page, with pictures and star ratings. All three of those companies have claimed their GMB listings and are relevant enough to be a part of Google’s “Local 3-Pack.” This term describes those chosen few businesses that rise straight to top of results, where searchers can easily find their location, phone number and Website before they’ve decided whether or not they want to keep scrolling. Claiming a GMB listing doesn’t guarantee that your business will jump right into the 3-pack, but it does start the process.
So now that you’re aware of what GMB listings look like and what they can do for your company, it’s time to claim yours:
How to Claim and Optimize Your Company’s Google My Business Listing
- Search for your business on Google to find the listing.
If the result includes a note that says, “Own this business?”, this means that the listing is unclaimed. Once you claim the listing, you’ll be asked to verify that you’re the best person to manage your company’s information. This is usually done by sending out a postcard to the address you provided (more on this in #2)
- It’s nap time!
You guessed it, this means to confirm that your listing has an accurate “NAP” (Name, Address and Phone number). It’s incredibly important that you keep this information current and updated, because accurate data will help customers to be able to find you and will let Google know that you offer a service in the area that you provide.
Note: If you dig around the GMB settings, you’ll even be able to set special hours to let customers know of certain days where your company won’t be open.
- List your hours of operation.
- Choose a relevant business category.
If you’re an expert in tree removal and maintenance, you should pick “Tree Service.” If you run a luxury pet resort, list yourself as a “Pet Boarding Service.”
- Upload relevant images of your business/staff/equipment
Remember the restaurant example of search results? Having a picture of a signature dish is sure to draw customers in more than a blank listing. While your garage door company may not have a signature dish, posting a few pictures of your office, some work that you’ve done, and your service trucks will help users learn what your company is all about in less time.
- Build reviews
I could write a whole blog about this (and I have, a few times), but I’ll just provide you with the gist: Customers respond well to businesses with reviews. Even if you have a few negative reviews, people are more likely to choose a business that have a variety of reviews than one that has none. Building your company’s review section will be a company-wide effort, but maintaining a positive reputation on Google will keep people coming to your Website and your phone ringing.
- Publish a general post about your business and monitor for any new Q&A submissions
Your general post is like a quick “About Me” section for your company. Don’t focus too much on trying to sell your business, but rather make an effort to describe what you do, where you do it, and who you do it for.
The Q&A feature on GMB is relatively new but is a great way to provide Google searchers with more information about your company. Using their Google logins, users can post public questions for anyone to see and/or answer. The best practice is to monitor these questions every week or two to make sure that you can answer them before some else does incorrectly.
If your company’s goal is to get noticed more on Google, then claiming and making the most of your GMB is first step towards that outcome. The business-customer relationship is very give-and-take: the more information and content you give, the more the customer will be able to take. When people searching Google know about your business and where to find you online, you can expect good things in the long run.
As always, if you need help walking through this process, we’re happy to help at Market Hardware. It won’t cost you a dime (from Google or us), and it’s a vital step to growing your business online.