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How to make the most out of your Google My Business Listing

Does your business or organization have a verified Google My Business profile? If you want your business to have a strong digital footprint, then a robust Google My Business listing is essential. The information in your Google My Business profile is what appears in Google’s “3-pack” and the map listing. Optimizing and verifying your Google My Business listing is important, especially after Google’s recent algorithm changes that favor local results

Luckily, the Google My Business interface is easy to use and customize. You can access via desktop or download it to your smartphone through iTunes or the Google Play store. It is also completely free to use. While it is easy to use, it does take some effort to live up to its full potential. Read on to see how to optimize your Google My Business listing.

Verify Your Listing

First, make sure you have verified your listing and that you are an owner. Often times, you may realize that there is already a business listing in Google. This listing might display a link that says “Own this business?” If you click that link, you will be able to claim it for yourself.

When you log into Google My Business with your Google account, you will have the option to create your business listing. If Google does not already have a listing for your business for you to claim, then you will need to verify your business through Google. To do this, Google will send you a postcard with a verification code to your business address; this card can take up for a week to arrive in the mail.

Please note that the address has to be your official business address where you receive mail. Google does not accept PO Box or UPS store mailboxes as addresses. If you are a service that does not have a storefront or physical location to serve customers, then you can mark it as a “service area” for a select region or mile radius. You can also hide the address in the listing.

Once your listing is live, make sure that all your information is accurate, such as your address, phone number, and operating hours. In the dashboard, you can add “special hours” for certain dates, such as holidays when you have altered operating hours.

Add Pictures

Business listings that include more pictures may see more user engagement and even higher rankings. Uploading photos to your Google My Business page shows that your business is legitimate. It offers a chance for potential customers to see your work or products in-depth. According to Google, on average, businesses listings with photos receive 42 percent more website clicks and 35 percent more direction requests from Google Maps than businesses without photos.

If you have a brick and mortar location, it is important to upload a picture of your storefront, especially if it is in a location that is not easy to spot from the street. If you are a service area business with no physical location, then you can upload photos of your past projects or show off your brand image by choosing photos of your company vehicles.

The general rule is: the more pictures, the better. It is even more beneficial to add pictures often, especially when you update your product line. If you have the Google My Business app downloaded on your smartphone, then you can easily snap and post.

In your Google My Business dashboard, under “Insights”, you can see how your photo quantity and views stack up against businesses like yours.

Add Menu Items or Appointment Link

In 2018, Google rolled out a menu feature for Google My Business profiles. The feature allows you to add list of your products and their prices right on your listing. This is not only helpful for restaurants, but also businesses with tiered services and pricing packages like car washes, salons, fitness studios, and home services.

The menu interface is easy to use, especially on mobile devices. Displaying your menu items or services on your Google My Business listing helps make your profile look more complete and also increase the level of user engagement with your business.

Additionally, if you have a page on your website where customers can book appointments, you can link to it straight from your Google My Business listing. This way, customers can quickly book an appointment without ever leaving the search engine results page.

Add Attributes

Attributes are specific descriptors of businesses beyond the standard categories. These attributes are generally crowdsourced by Google users, although you can select them as well. The available attributes differ based on what vertical your business is. For example, a bar may be described as “laid back” or “where the locals drink”, whereas a clothing store may have attributes like “has fitting rooms” or an “alteration service”.

Generally, the attributes assigned to a business are decided via a link on the listing in the search results labeled “Know this place? Answer quick questions”. However, you can manually check off your business attributes in your Google My Business dashboard under “Info”.

Ensuring that your business’ attributes are checked off are important for two main reasons:

Show up for more specific Map listings: When performing a local search, users can narrow down what they are looking for by selecting additional categories in the local pack or map search. For example, after searching “Restaurants in Austin”, the map view may also display sub-categories, such as “Patio seating” or “Dog-Friendly”. How does Google determine what businesses to list in these categories? The attributes feature. If your restaurant has a dog-friendly patio, then you should make sure that these attributes are checked off on your profile, or else you could risk missing out on these bottom-of-the-funnel customers.

See what customers think about your business: Remember, we mentioned earlier that these attributes are crowd-sourced. While your business listing will contain the attributes that you select, you are also at the mercy of what other Google users have to say. In your Google My Business dashboard, under “Insights”, you can see a bar graph of the top attributes that your listing ranks for. For example, if you own a restaurant, you may notice that your top attributes are “noisy” or “popular with students”. This can tell you a lot about what customers think about your business and your atmosphere.

Take advantage of Posts

Google posts are like social media posts that show up in your profile. Think of it as free advertising. It’s a great place to showcase news or updates, events, sales, or new products. To create a post, you can add an attention-grabbing image, a short snippet, and a call to action link.

When posting, there are a couple of factors and limitations to keep in mind. The posts expire from the search results after 7 days, however, users are able to scroll through past posts, which are displayed in a carousel format. If you create a post with a date on it (e.g., “Open house on August 9”), the post will expire after that date. You can add up to 1,500 characters, but only the first 100 characters show up in the snippet, so you should try to keep it concise. Also, Google may crop the images on the sides, so keep that in mind when choosing a photo to avoid having important elements cut off.

Answer User Questions

Another feature of Google My Business profiles is the ability for users to ask questions. Many business owners may be unaware of this feature and may miss out on the opportunity to address questions from potential customers. Similar to some review sites, users (and you) have the ability to “vote” for helpful answers, as well as the ability to flag a bad or irrelevant answer.

Anybody can answer the questions. They are often answered by other Google users. Business owners should respond to all questions to ensure the utmost accuracy. Also, potential customers will be able to see that you are an engaged business owner who quickly addresses customer concerns.

You can also take advantage of this feature by submitting frequently asked questions (and answering them) on your listing. Google does not have any rules against business owners leaving questions on their own profile, so there is no penalty for doing so. Plus, it will make your profile look more complete and give potential customers more information that they may be looking for.

Respond to Messages

Google My Business also allows users to message business owners directly. Unlike other features like the user questions or reviews, you have to opt-in to this feature and turn it on through your dashboard. You can also turn off the feature at any time.

Once enabled, you will be able to receive direct messages from customers in the form of a text message, which you can respond to in real time right from your phone. For users, they will see an option to “message” your business, with a note that displays your average response time (the lower, the better). The messages are exchanged via a masked number, so both you and your customers’ personal phone numbers are safeguarded. Messages can be exchanged via a regular SMS message or through Allo, Google’s messaging app.

Monitor and Respond to Reviews

Of the many features that Google My Business profiles offer, user reviews are the most important. Your star rating shows up right underneath your business name in the listing, so it is likely the first thing that potential customers notice. In addition, a large quantity of reviews helps build trust and authority.

The higher the number of reviews you have - and the higher your average star rating - is a big determining factor in your listing’s placement in the Google “3-pack” on the top of local search result pages. Users are more likely to click through to websites listed in Google’s 3-pack. This is all but confirmed by Google, who says “more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking.

As a business owner, it is a good practice to respond to all reviews - both positive and negative. When an unhappy customer leaves a bad rating, this is your opportunity to make the situation right. Sometimes, customers will update their reviews after a business owner follows up to rectify a bad situation. Even so, users will notice that you respond to your customers’ bad experiences, which helps build trust. When you acknowledge positive ratings, customers will know that you appreciate their business.

See SpaceCraft’s topic on best practices for responding to user reviews.

Engage with and optimize your Google My Business

Since Google My Business is a free service, you have nothing to lose by verifying and optimizing your Google My Business listing. After you have verified your listing, make sure to add high-resolution images, accurate information, and a link to your website. To really make the most out of your Google My Business listing, however, you should also consider making regular posts, responding quickly to customer questions, and responding and engaging with customer reviews.

It is very easy to optimize your Google My Business profile, but it can also be time-consuming. With SpaceCraft’s marketing packages, we help you verify your Google My Business Listing. We also keep your information consistent and accurate on 70+ local listings, in addition to providing monthly reports so you can see how your listing performs over time. Get started today by calling (888) 534-2183 to start improving your online presence.

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