Google My Business for Small Businesses! What, Why and How?
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free service (for now…) that is so fabulous for any small business or start up. No need to have a ridiculously high budget for Ads such as Yell when Google My Business offers the same for free. However, this service is for LOCAL reach. If you are hoping to reach a bigger geographical audience you might have to think more strategically with content marketing and digital ads. Anyway, back to Google My Business.
Why would I use Google My Business?
Why wouldn’t you? It’s a free platform that Google is providing you to use. Ok, so we know Google has a total monopoly when it comes to search engines (the stats are at the bottom of this post), and it’s become the go-to default button, hasn’t it? GMB is actually Local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
When you do a search in GOOGLE, esp writing something like “shoe shops near me”…what comes up? Let’s try it here ( I am writing this Blog from my office in Marlow, Bucks……):
Everything that pops up in the box before the Ads and before the rest of the organic search (and don’t forget, the first page will pop up because of the search for Shoe Shops – those are keywords – so SEO has been optimised).
If you aren’t on Google My Business, and you haven’t optimised your website with SEO / Keywords or don’t have a Google Ad going on – you’re just not going to show up – simple as (and don’t cheat by typing your own URL into Google…!).
Most of us, especially using Google for retail, medical, hospitality, health and face to face required services are going to type into Google….”[blah blah] NEAR ME”…….take advantage and let them find you.
How do I use Google My Business? Where do I start?
Start with verifying your address and business. Verification helps ensure the accuracy of your business information across Google. Verified businesses are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users.
What does verification mean?
Simply put, it means requesting, receiving, and reading a verification postcard from Google. So before you can crack on WAIT FOR THE POSTCARD FROM GOOGLE. If you carried on whilst waiting for Verification, there should be a MAIL icon on top left hand side – if all your details are correct, you can just click Mail but you MUST verify at a later date.
It can take between 3 days to 3 weeks to receive the POSTCARD VERIFICATION (I’m talking a physical postcard to your address you want verified). The postcard will include a unique verification code, which you’ll enter in Google My Business to confirm that your business is located at the listed address.
Whilst waiting for verification, take the time to look at your website. Is it clear? Are the marketing messages obvious? Have you optimised it with audience researched keywords, image optimisation with excellent Call-To-Action (CTAs) buttons for an easy user experience? Why not take some professional pictures of your business, you, location?
Accept Verification and then sign in at google.com/business. Your Google My Business dashboard will appear!
BEGIN USING YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Your Home page is easy to navigate.
CREATE A POST….don’t cry or procrastinate – it’s much more simple than a website’s full on 1000 + worded article for your blog page, that we’d recommend you write….
Posts and Blogs
Small businesses should take this opportunity of writing posts and blogs (separate to your website’s blogs) and it offers a variety of posts you can create to promote your business:
Posts also allow you to include a call-to-action (CTA), creating the ultimate user experience.
Current CTAs are:
Do searchers click on Google My Business Posts?
Moz has done some awesome research on the return on investment/time spent if you Post (with a good marketing message). It found out that if you take the time to create a Post (Blog) on Google My Business, there was a high chance of converting potential searchers into a customer — or at least someone who is going to take the time to look at your marketing message – so make sure you keywords and initial sentence (don’t bother with hashtags) is very clear.
As Google says, once you’ve created a post – you can share by its prompt social media icons (at that point you can add hashtags – according to which platform you are sharing with – e.g. Insta 30 hashtags, Twitter 2 or 3).
Don’t be greedy now. Remember, it is for LOCAL businesses. So why not support local businesses too? Focus on keeping your NAP continuous on all your online branding.
What is NAP …we hear you ask?
Local SEO Citations – building citations to improve your rankings in Google My Business and Google Maps.
NAP is an acronym that stands for your business Name, Address and Phone number.
Google uses your NAP when evaluating the online authority of your business. So really important you have this entered correctly into your new account AND consistently throughout all your online branding.
Google Insights provides you different ways to understand how customers interact with your listing:
How customers find your listing
Where customers find you on Google
What your business is known for
You can link your Google My Business and your Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) to this site. Target carefully, know your demographic, geographical reach and what you want to sell. As Pickled Ginger Marketing is an organic digital growth agency we do not offer PPC and Ad help, however, all digital ads have their place. We would just say to ensure your domain and url is established (together with any FB Ads you might do also) as you might be throwing good money away as your reach isn’t as great.
When it comes to Google Ads and targeting certain keywords, although Google say there is no correlation, asking any SEO and we notice that that keyword will drop down severely on the rankings once that Ad has stopped…..
NO PHYSICAL ADDRESS?
What You Need To Know About Hiding Your Business Address on Google Maps:
Google’s legal team will nag every department to never mislead its users in any way. It therefore demands reciprocated respect. Historically businesses were taking the mickey so Google stepped in with stringent guidelines regarding listing business addresses. Business owners now, must be held accountable for their listed business address, with the account needing a genuine physical location where the business exists. In effect, it’s helping small businesses and high streets survive.
How To Hide Your Address On Google Maps
If your business does not serve customers from a commercial location, if your business operates from home or your business serves customers at their location…. you should be listed as a service-area business on Google and should choose to not show your business address on Google Maps.
To hide your business address:
Login to your Google My Business account.
Select “Info” on your dashboard.
Then select “locations” page and ensure that the card view mode is selected.
Select “manage location” option. Click “edit”.
Navigate to the address section and you will see a pencil icon.
Click on the icon and move to the section that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” and select the option “yes”.
If you had not previously added any service area, now is the time to add it.
Once that’s done, ensure that the “I serve customers at my business address” option is not selected.
Lastly, click the “apply” button to save the changes you have just made.
Service area businesses (SAB), including those that work from home or out of a mobile unit such as a vehicle, are required to hide their addresses. Likewise, businesses with offices that are not staffed during listed business hours must also hide their location.
Google requires that businesses only list an address if they are able to accept customers at that location.
There are 3 important guidelines set by Google for listing a business address.
Use a physical location as an address
PO Boxes located in remote places are NOT considered by Google as a physical valid address.
If you use a temporary address where no staff are present during regular business hours, you should not list that address,
The following businesses aren’t eligible for a business listing:
Rental or for-sale properties, such as holiday homes, show homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.
An ongoing service, class or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent.
So Google is a business, and it’s there offering us, as consumers, the most relevant, fast and authoritative answer to our searches, which is amazing. The global machine is doing extraordinarily well and therefore their many initiatives and predictive algorithms can seem easy to access. If you’re not an SEO or digital geek, one might think it’s a great idea to begin one of Google My Business’s own new websites….
This section under your dashboard isn’t for you to add your existing URL, it’s for a new website entirely.
If your business already has an existing website the team at Pickled Ginger Marketing would recommend NOT opening up a new website via Google My Business. Google are clever, they are making it easy for you, HOWEVER, what they haven’t explained is that all your hard work and any search optimisation you have done on your existing website (whether is WordPress, Squarespace, Wix or a CMS) will be superseded by this NEW GMB website.
If you don’t already have a website in existence and you ONLY want local website traffic leads, then go for it.
We just say think about it before you begin the build, it’s won’t dovetail and help SEO, on the contrary, it might make it worse.
Google is by far the largest search engine in the world and definitely in the UK. Here are some statistics to remind us all the sheer scale of why Pickled Ginger Marketing work with Google’s algorithms when we work with our clients:
Global Market Share
UK Desktop Market Share
UK Mobile Market Share
Ultimately Google My Business is effective Local SEO, which should be part of your digital marketing strategy if your business wants to attract more online local leads, if you would like your clients or customers to find you easily (as it comes up on Maps) or general brand awareness.
Google will list your business (possibly) even if you haven’t confirmed or verified that it’s yours – so claim it!
Elaine and the team at Pickled Ginger can help with Local SEO, come and grab a coffee for a chat about boosting your local online leads or contact us online.