What is a Google My Business listing and how can it work for your business?

Enabling your business to be found on Google Search and Maps can do wonders. It can help you to stand out from rival companies, be seen as being more credible, and most important, attract potential customers.

What is Google My Business?

This free online tool helps businesses and organisations manage their presence across Google—Search, Maps, Insights, Reviews and Analytics. By verifying and editing your business information, anyone searching through Google (Search or Maps) is able to get basic information about your business: company name, address, operating hours, phone number, and so on.

What’s better, having your information available in this way has the added bonus of creating the impression, among customers or potential customers, that your business is reputable.

There is even a mobile app, so you can edit your business information on-the-go and at your convenience, whenever you have anything new to update, such as your opening hours during public holidays.

How can you set it up?

  1. “Start Now” at https://www.google.com/business/.
  2. Choose or create a Google account that you’d like to register your business with.
  3. At the Map page, enter your business information. If your business has already been added, it will appear and you can claim it.
    1. If your business has not been added, “Add your business” and fill in the required information.
    2. If you’re not a local business, click the prompt “Not a local business?”
  4. Google will then create your Google My Business profile and account. Verify the address of your business with the verification postcard (some businesses are able to verify via phone or email), and you’re almost all set—all that’s missing is your business information.
    1. You’ll need this verification for other functions later, for instance, to see customer reviews.

What details can you add?

This is the essential information that you should add to your profile:

  • Business name
  • Company address
  • Telephone number
  • Category - to indicate the type of business
  • Operating hours
  • Website URL (if you don't have a website the platform will create a free simple site based on your listing info)

Other information to add that would be helpful for customers, especially if you’re catering to end-users, is:

  • Attributes: such as facilities that your business offers, or parking locations,
  • Photos: to give customers visual representations of your business and what you offer. These can really help you to stand out, and encourage clicks that you can convert to sales.
  • Website
  • Posts: Regularly update your listing with info around new products or weekly deals

Why list your business?

Your My Google Business listing is important because it can optimise your Search Engine Optimisation.

By helping you appear in local search results for queries specific to your products and services, it increases your visibility significantly and can present huge traffic opportunities when you are listed in competitive searches.

This visibility can be enhanced further with reviews, star ratings and check-ins, all of which you can encourage your customers to provide. You can also encourage visitors to upload photos of your business/products to increase visual appeal. By listing your business, you can therefore interact with customers and build relationships with them, even if just through social media.

How to manage and respond to reviews?

Customer reviews are, in general, a very good thing, especially because they can influence purchasing decisions in favour of your products and services.

However, you need to take the rough with the smooth and manage your responses to both good, and less positive, reviews graciously and professionally.

From your Google Business page, access your “Reviews” section and “Manage Reviews”. This will show you all the business reviews that have been made of your business, including when and by whom they were made, and the star ratings that have been given.

Simply “View and Reply” if you would like to respond to a particular user’s review.

If there are any reviews that you think violate Google’s policies, flag them as inappropriate. Remember, this should only be for content violation, not content that you personally disagree with. Google will make an assessment and, if necessary, remove it from your listing.


The benefits of a Google My Business listing to SMEs

It's free

The biggest benefit to small business is the fact a listing is free and plugs you in to the world's biggest and most popular search engine. The listing is a cost effective way to get your business info - contact details, operating hours, address - in front of potential customers who are searching for the products and services you offer. Additionally, if you have a physical location this is clearly shown on Google Maps so directions are easy.

You can build your own website

If you haven't got round to creating a website a My Business listing is a good place to start. Based on all the info entered into the listing you can create an automatically generated website for your business. It can be easily edited from either your phone or computer. You can add your own photos and copy. While building it is free you will have to pay for a custom domain. This means having a url ending in .com rather than the free option which ends in .business.site and will be harder for customers to remember.

Post regular updates

You can easily connect with your customers and let them know about new deals, specials, products or services by posting. By keeping the listing relevant with new information you'll encourage repeat visits - customers wanting to know what the next special offer is.

Insights

Google My Business will also give small business owners straight forward analytics on their listing. For those who've not used Google Analytics before this is a great starting point. The main segments are visibility, engagement and audience. Visibility shows how often your listing appears in search results. Engagement looks at how many clicks your posts get - by comparing these you'll be able to see which posts are more effective with your customers. Finally, audience breaks down demographics into age, gender and country.

To get started all you need to do is claim your listing and begin optimising it. By updating regularly Google knows the information is relevant and will potentially return the listing in search results.


Summary:

  • Google My Business is a free online tool that can help improve your online presence and provide useful information to potential and existing customers
  • Simply set it up, verify your business’s address, add your business information, and you’re good to go
  • Make use of photos to stand out further on Google and increase visual appeal to customers
  • When managing and responding to reviews: don’t get personal, keep responses short and sweet, express thanks, don’t sell, and if necessary, flag any inappropriate reviews