Perhaps you just created a Google My Business listing, or perhaps you’ve had a listing for a while. Let’s talk about how to make that listing really pop so that your business is more visible and more appealing to potential customers browsers, and also well-optimized for search engines.
One of the most powerful tools available to business owners on their Google My Business profile is the business description. Every business listing has one, but many owners waste this golden opportunity. You have 750 characters (about 150 words) to describe your business any way you want, and this description will appear prominently whenever a Maps user clicks on your listing. The only restriction: no URLs and no HTML—just plain old words.[/vc_column_text]
Keywords are powerful. However, avoid stuffing your listing with keywords and market-speak. Instead, write simply and powerfully about what your business does, using language that is both accurate (for the search engines) and appealing (for the human readers). You want to inform someone who has never seen your business before, and you want to attract all those who are in need of your services.
If you aren’t a wordsmith, don’t despair. All you need is a plain but attractive description of what your business does. If you have to, hire a professional. A short blurb like this isn’t going to break the bank, and it’s an opportunity to make a positive first impression.
Famed photographer Ansel Adams once said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”— and you don’t have to be a wizard with the camera to recognize this. There’s no better way to give your potential clients and customers a vision of how your business can help them than by adding photos and videos to your Google My Business listing.
However, don’t waste time and energy on multiple static architectural shots. It’s not likely that your future customers care about the awning in front of your business. (Though if your business is a little hard to spot or blends into the neighborhood, a crisp clear photograph of what your storefront looks like from the street might be a great idea.)
Instead, focus on images and video that show happy customers being delighted by what you do. Bear in mind that your customers are going to be able to add their own pictures to your listing, so you might want to clean up any eyesores before your listing goes live.
Real reviews have real impact. With the rise of the Internet and the democratization of the review process, word of mouth has replaced professional reviews as the gatekeepers of quality. Reviews give potential customers insight into how satisfied your past customers were, and also inform them about what makes your business special.
With online reviews, your customers do the marketing work for you. A steady stream of positive voices from happy customers will produce an organic and credible review feed. Get the ball rolling by inviting a few select satisfied customers to write reviews. Don’t hire anyone to create fake reviews for you – instead, focus on delighting your actual customers and they will return the favor.
Related eBook: The Power of Online Reviews (free download)
As you know, creating a Google Listing will put you on Google Maps. One of the most unique features of Google Maps is that users can submit questions about business listings, and then other Google Maps users can answer those questions. Users who regularly answer questions and add useful information about the locations in their hometowns become known as Guides.
You can’t directly add questions about your own business, but you can answer them. Sign up as a Guide here and when questions about your business pop up, provide definitive and accurate answers. Those answers will then appear in your Google My Business listing both directly in the tags that Maps assigns to your business, and indirectly in the search listings.
For example, if your restaurant is handicapped-accessible and that information has been confirmed by a Guide, then you are much more likely to appear in a search for “handicapped-accessible restaurants near me”.
When it comes to online listings, getting complete will help you compete. There are a lot of entries to be filled out in your Google My Business listing. Make sure you fill every spot Google gives you, including the business category, address, phone number, web page, hours of operation, description, photographs and videos, and reviews. Many business types have additional slots appropriate for the business. Restaurants, for example, have a slot for a menu URL. Leaving those slots unfilled may cause a prospective customer to go somewhere else.
Google+ is not just a punchline. Odds are, you aren’t using Google+ for very much, if at all. Depending on your business type, that may be a missed opportunity. There are a lot of people still invested in the Google+ platform, and a lot of specific communities that use it heavily. If even a part of your potential customer base is in those communities, then Google+ postings relevant to your business can drive interest and attention back to your Google My Business listing.
Additionally, those Google+ postings are going to count as refreshed content to Google itself, which will keep your listing relevant in the rankings.
There are a lot of social networking sites outside of Google+ that also can link directly to the success of your Google My Business listing. Make sure that Facebook business page has a link to your listing, as well as your other social media outlets. Cross-connecting your business social media accounts will maximize the exposure your business gets, and will help customers who use even one of your platforms to end up increasing their involvement with your business.
Your My Business listing is your business’ storefront on the Internet. Keep it attractive and up to date, and it will reward you by keeping the customers coming in.