customers walking to business
Google My Business

Warning! You Can No Longer Afford to Ignore Google My Business

I’m often asked by small business owners, ‘What’s the secret sauce for getting more customers?’ I almost always answer, ‘Managing and optimizing your Google My Business listing can bring more customers to your door.’ Unfortunately many small business owners don’t take advantage of this golden marketing opportunity to turn more prospects into customers. Now is the time to have a strong local presence on the search engines―particularly Google.

Why Google?

Because that’s where your customers are. According to NetMarketShare,

Google is responsible for over 93% of search traffic online.

A recent Google study has also revealed that four out of five consumers utilize search engines to find local information. They are primarily searching for businesses that are nearby, seeking business hours, directions, product availability and store address.

Consulting firm Oxera reported, consumers consider claimed and verified Google My Business listings two times more reputable than businesses that are not. They also found that businesses are able to generate more clicks to their website from their listing.

It absolutely critical that small businesses claim, optimize and actively manage your Google My Business listing TODAY! {Finish reading this article first 😉 }

 

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a powerful online marketing directory. It provides local businesses the opportunity to manage their presence on the most popular search engine in the world.

Businesses that actively manage their listing exponentially increase their chances of connecting with more customers.

Last time we checked more customers means more business! Only 44% of small businesses have actually claimed their business listing―this could mean a lot more business for you! CHA! CHING!

When a potential customer searches for a business or service on Google the most relevant businesses will appear. Information populated directly from their Google My Business listing will be visible. The visitor will see: address, business hours, directions, phone, photos, questions & answers, reviews, videos and website.

How does an unclaimed Google My Business listing look?

Boring. Dull. Easy to miss or scroll past…

I break them down into two categories: Unclaimed Inactive and Unclaimed Active.

 

unclaimed google my business listing
Unclaimed Inactive Google My Business Listing

 

 The an Unclaimed Inactive listing is the dullest of them all.

Notice in the screenshot above the business has not claimed their Google My Business listing.

When the listing is claimed and verified the link that says ‘Own this business?’ (highlighted in yellow) is not visible. Important business info is missing from the listing; including business hours and website link (highlighted in blue). Additionally there are no reviews (highlighted in green) or photos (highlighted in light blue). (Side Note: I realize with the color highlighting the image doesn’t look dull, but consumers think that it is.)

This hair salon is missing a prime opportunity to own and control their listing. They should add accurate contact information. Doing so makes the listing visually more appealing and useful to potential customers. This business should also be actively requesting reviews from  satisfied customers.

 

Unclaimed Active Google My Business Listing
Unclaimed Active Google My Business Listing

 

The Unclaimed Active listing is able to shine through because of its loyal customers. They leave reviews, post photos, use the ‘Questions & answers’ feature and add useful information about the business.

Essentially the local community is managing the listing. Similar to the Unclaimed Inactive listing it has not been claimed and verified by the owner. This business is missing a huge chance to engage with their community and market directly to potential and existing customers. They should claim their listing answer questions, comment on reviews, post offers, videos, etc.

 

Where will my Google My Business listing appear?

Glad you asked! There are three places on the Google platform that potential customers can view your Google My Business Listing:

  1. Google’s Knowledge Panel
  2. Local Search Results
  3. Google Maps

Let’s dive in!…

Google My Business Knowledge Panel
Knowledge Panel

On laptop and desktop computers the Knowledge Panel (highlighted in red above) is displayed on Google’s right side bar. When customers do a branded search (search for your business by name) your listing will appear in the Knowledge Panel.  All of the information provided when you claimed and verified your listing will be displayed.

 

Google My Business smartphone
Google My Business Smartphone View

 

On mobile devices the Knowledge Panel is featured at the top of the page instead of in the sidebar.

 

Google My Business local search results on laptop
Local Search Results

Just think about it: your potential customers can view your Google My Business listing in their search results. All they have to do is search for keywords relevant to your business. If you haven’t figured it out yet this is MAJOR…because more customers can find you with ease!

SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TAKE NOTE! These boutiques have connected to their Google My Business listing:

  • address
  • category (boutique/women’s clothing store)
  • description, phone number
  • price range (denoted with $$$)
  • reviews
  • picture

 

Google My Business Mobile view
Google My Business listing Smartphone View

Three businesses will also populate in the local search results on a smartphone. The same information that appears on desktop/laptop search results will appear with mobile searches.

With one exception…

The address is replaced with the actual distance the searcher is in relation to the businesses location/storefront.

 

Google My Business on Google Maps Search Results
Google Maps

 

Your Google My Business listing will also be visible on Google Maps.

After claiming your listing it is very important to select ONE category that represents your business the best.

Why is this soooooooo important? I thought you’d never ask!

Google connects their users with businesses that have the most relevant information for the search terms that have been entered. If you select the wrong category or none, Google will have a difficult time matching your business with relevant searches. As a result your business will NOT be visible in the search results or recommendations. Which ultimately means less business or no business for youYikes!

In the Google Maps listing above notice that each search result (highlighted in red) for keywords ’boutique chicago’ have the words ’boutique’ or ‘women’s clothing store’ indexed as the category. Adding your category optimizes your listing. Ultimately, increasing your chances of getting in front of more customers with your offerings.

Another great way to get your business in the top of Google search results organically are customer reviews.

Listings with reviews tend to sore! Notice in the listings above, businesses with the most reviews (circled in yellow) rank higher than those without them. Start politely requesting reviews from your satisfied customers, if you are not doing so already.

 

Google My Business listing Maps Smartphone
Google My Business Maps Smartphone

 

In the Google Maps app a smartphone searcher will see the map and two or three relevant businesses. In the screenshot above the businesses that rank first have claimed, verified and optimized their listing.

There is also a blue click-to-call button for searchers to conveniently make calls directly to the business.

Searching for a business on Google Maps on a smartphone shows buyer intent. Why? Because there is a very high probability that the user is looking to visit a store in that moment.

According to Google, 

  • 76% of people that use their smartphone to search for a nearby product or service end up visiting up at a related business within one day
  • 28% of those searches end up making a purchase

Therefore, it is imperative that your Google My Business listing is complete and accurate.

Businesses that take the initiative to manage their business listing. Those that do will be far more noticeable in the search results than their unclaimed competition.

 

What happens if I don’t claim my Google My Business listing?

Simply stated, you will LOSE business! Potential customers that could be using your stuff won’t be able to find you. Small businesses are really missing out if there is inaccurate or no information at all on your business listing.

If you opt not to claim your listing Google will do it’s best to piece together relevant information about your business. Keep in mind that this information is not always reliable.

EVEN WORSE… If you don’t claim your listing your competitors can!

They can even input inaccurate information about your business in a effort to drive business away from you!

How do I get started managing my Google My Business listing?

Claiming your Google My Business listing is a fairly straight-forward process and you can get started here: google.com/business.

After signing up online, you’ll be required to verify your business via phone or postcard. After verification your listing can ‘go live’ or be activated.

While you are waiting for your list to be verified you can begin setting your listing up. Add accurate information and engaging content. After your listing goes live, it is crucial that you monitor and manage your Google My Business listing regularly.

Now some of you might be thinking…

 

I totally see the value in claiming my listing! BUT I just don’t have the time, knowledge or resources to see this thing through. I have a business to run!

HANG IN THERE, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend you actively manage your listing on your own. Unless you REALLY know what you are doing.

The State of Local Marketing Report highlights:

  • 38% of local retailers that manage their business listing on their own found their efforts to be “ineffective”
  • 37% of local businesses that outsource listing management report that it’s “extremely/very effective”​

Unless you truly are equipped to manage your listing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis―ditch the DIY route.  Partner with a Google My Business Expert that loves, lives, breathes and sweats this stuff out of her pores! I would love to help get your business on the right track and keep you there.

REMEMBER! You are passing up a huge opportunity to market directly to consumers on prime real estate in the search results if you do not own your Google My Business listing.

Have questions about Google My Business? Let me know in the comments below! 😀

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Ashley Neal is a certified Digital Marketing Consultant specializing in, Local SEO, Google My Business and PPC Ads for small businesses seeking to grow.

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