Consumer behavior has changed a great deal in recent years, and the Internet is obviously a main driver. Today, the search for a product or a local business often begins on the Internet, and only after conducting extensive online research do consumers head to a local brick-and-mortar business. The implication is that your business must be found online, and that having solid Google search listings is invaluable—not merely from a branding perspective, but from the standpoint of actually sending foot traffic into your place of business. Google My Business is one of the easiest ways to achieve higher online visibility—and in this post, we’ll show you how it’s properly leveraged.
The Benefits of Google My Business
You probably know what a Google My Business listing is already—because you see them every time you research a local business. Basically, this is the entry you see for local businesses on a Google search results page, including a link to the business website but also driving directions and some basic contact information. If your business has received reviews from Google users, a star rating may also be included in your listing.
The benefits of having a listing are considerable. According to Google itself, “the average well-maintained Google My Business listing gets five times more views than listings which haven’t been claimed by their owners.”
Claiming Your Google My Business Page
The first step you should take to actually implementing Google My Business is to do a simple search for your company name; you’ll likely see some Google My Business results, displayed at the top of the search engine results page.
You may see your business name displayed there, along with a map—and if so, that means you already have a Google My Business listing. Look for a link that says “Are You the Business Owner” and click it to claim the listing.
If you don’t see that link, or if you don’t see a business listing at all, that means you’ll need to create it. First, sign into a Google account that you set up for your business. (It’s usually best to have an account separate from your personal one.) Once you’re signed in, go to www.google.com/business and select the “Start Now” option.
Google will then ask you for some information, most of it pretty straightforward—your business name, your country, your street address, etc. Make sure you check and double check all the information you enter for accuracy, and list your business name the way you want it displayed to Google search engine users.
Note that Google will also need to verify your business, and it will give you a few options for doing so. Verifying by phone is the quickest and easiest, so choose this option if possible.
Once you’re verified, Google will set up your Google My Business page. You’ll have a chance to add some addition information about your company and also to review and confirm your basic contact details. Some of the options will be to provide your business hours, a logo, a website, etc. The more information you can provide, the better!
Earning Citations for Your Business
Once you have a Google My Business page, you’ll have your first online citation—basically, a reference to your business that isn’t on your own company website. This is invaluable for your SEO. The next step is to use Google My Business as a jumping off point to earn more citations. The more you have, the better it will serve your rankings—both for your company website and for your Google My Business listing.
Note that a citation doesn’t necessarily have to be a backlink; you can earn a citation with just your business name, and no URL needed. Note also that there are a lot of places where you can register for a citation easily and without having to pay any money. Some of the common options include Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the Yellow Pages, but we’d also recommend reaching out to any professional organizations you belong to, local Chambers of Commerce, industry guides or contact databases, etc.
The one thing that’s crucial about earning citations is ensuring that you have your NAP (name, address, and phone number) information displayed consistently across these citations; any variation will detract from your SEO power. So for example, if your company is listed as “Big Al’s Pancake Place” in one citation, that’s how it needs to be listed everywhere—on your website, your Facebook account, and yes, also your Google My Business listing. “Big Al’s Pancakes” isn’t the same thing.
Likewise, the same phone number should be listed for each citation, and your address should be presented in just the same way; don’t list “Main Street” in one location and “Main St.” in another. For more information on the specifics of Citations, be sure to watch our Citation Services Webinar here.
Reaching Customers Through Google My Business
Google My Business is an important way to make your company more visible to Google search engine users—and the end result will be more website views and ultimately more foot traffic. Moreover, it’s a good way to boost your number of total citations—something that should always be on your marketing radar, and a job that’s really never done.
Whether you need help setting up a Google My Business page or properly optimizing it—or for that matter earning additional citations—that’s something our team would love to assist you with. Reach out to enCOMPASS Agency today to start that conversation.
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