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Google My Business: made for small and local businesses

Google recognised, long ago, the importance of local businesses and local search results. Since June 2014, when it first launched Google My Business, Google has been refining its algorithm and indexation (how it returns the search results) based on the user’s location and search history. It’s no wonder Google My Business is recommended by pretty much every marketing agency or internal marketer you’ll recruit.

If you search for guides, advice, and suggestions on how to optimise it – you’ll find a lot! Many of these aren’t even by Google themselves. 

Why are there so many? In the same way as the Innuit language has so many words and synonyms for snow, it’s because Google My Business is that important.

This blog is NOT another one of those guides. There are really good ones available, we don’t need to repeat them here. But when there is so much information available and you know it’s important, but not sure why or what to do about it, myths and questions can emerge. 

We wanted to dispel a few of the concerns you may have about Google My Business and cut to the chase of what to do with your Google My Business profile.

Why Google My Business is important

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It’s important for two reasons:

  1. These business profiles dominate the search results. On mobile, they often fill the entire screen before you start scrolling. On desktop, it will be the first ‘search’ result and take up maybe up to half of the screen, in addition to filling the entire right-hand side of the screen. That is a lot of pixels to be filled about your business, over your competitors.

2. Google infers from users’ search terms and search history, their current location, and whether they are looking for services/products near them. So even if someone doesn’t type ‘marketing support near me’ or ‘marketing support Brighton’ (for example) Google will still serve local-based results, which could include your Google My Business profile.

Set up your profile

This may sound obvious, but once you’ve claimed your business with Google and you can access your business’ profile, ensure you complete every section of it. Add in your opening hours, address, website link, contact details, services, upload your logo, and a few business pictures (your offices and/or examples of work completed as appropriate). 

Ensure your map location is correct and don’t forget to add in your service area (area of the country/county you work within).

None of this information should need updating again, except maybe your business hours and changes to your services over time, and just update these as and when necessary.

Customer Reviews

Probably the single more significant feature is the reviews. This is where you can invite customers to review your services and products. Customers give a star rating and can leave comments too. 

Sometimes businesses get nervous about getting bad customer reviews. But even if you don’t have a Google My Business profile, people can still review your business on Google. It’s better to be part of the conversation and be able to respond (to both good and bad reviews) than to pretend people aren’t talking about you. 

Routinely invite customers to review you on Google (you’ll have a dedicated link you can share with customers to make it easy for them). The only thing to note here is that it’s best practice to respond to reviews, even if it’s just a thank you. 

If there are any negative ones, a statement acknowledging the feedback and asking to take the conversation offline so you can resolve it, is typically the best approach. Responding to negative reviews like this can boost the perception of your business in the eyes of potential new customers as it shows you take the time with your customers and listen to them.

Also, it’s not just the reviews themselves that matter, but the fact Google pulls the reviews through to the search results. People can instantly see how many stars out of five you’ve been given. If you use Google’s paid search advertising, you can also use your review rating in the ad too. There is a direct correlation between your star rating, and an increase in clicks/actions from your Google My Business profile (website click through, call, directions, etc).

That’s about it!

It is that straightforward. There are other features and functions to Google My Business such as adding products, but in all likelihood, you are unlikely to see any further gains by investing your time and energy into it. Keep focusing on ensuring your business information is up to date and getting those reviews in, and your Google My Business profile will certainly generate calls and clicks through to your website.

For more tips and help with SEO for your small business, you may be interested in another blog of ours – How SEO works for SMEs.

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