One of the simplest ways to gain traffic and customers is claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Google My Business (GMB), is a listing of your business’ operating information, reviews, posts, and so much more.
To that end, there are a few things you should consider before diving into how to claim your business on Google.
What are your customers finding when they search for your business online?
If they need to know your phone number, how quickly can they access it?
If they want to know if you have parking available, how will they find out?
You need to make sure this information is available to consumers before they even reach your website.
Although most of this information can likely be found on your website, Google My Business indexes the content you provide for consistency across Google Search and Maps (Google Local Guides can also review and edit your listings for consistency).
But it’s not just a place to find basic information about your business.
When used correctly, Google My Business is a powerful tool that can increase your revenue and provide valuable insights about your customers.
I’m going to explain its importance and how you can optimize it to generate more sales.
The Number One Mistake Business Owners Make with Google My Business
Now, you can activate this feature and communicate one-on-one with your customers, answering questions, fielding comments, and increasing loyalty.
By activating the Google My Business messaging feature, you unlock the option for customers to ask you a question via SMS text straight from your GMB listing.
You can turn this feature on by clicking the “Turn On Messaging” button in your Google My Business dashboard.
Next, you will be asked to input a phone number you’ll want to use to chat.
It’s important to note that this phone number will not be shared publicly since your customers will be clicking the “Message” button.
If you don’t want to use a personal number, there are a number of alternative options.
Once you add your number, you will be required to verify it with a code you receive on your phone.
You’ll have complete control to turn this feature on and off and can update the number as needed.
Google also calculates a response time for you that will be shown on your listing. This is averaged from the length of time it takes you to respond to inquiries.
Finally, you can add a “Welcome Message.” This is what users will receive when they start a message to you.
A sample message could read, “Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate the ability to serve you and will respond to your request momentarily.”
Now that the feature is activated and ready to go, you will receive an SMS text message any time someone asks a question via the message button on your listing.
You can then directly respond in the form of a text message.
This feature fosters a closer connection between your business and customers. Your business can be perceived as more transparent, which can lead to increased credibility and sales.
But this service is only effective in sharing information with customers who activelyinquire.
Google also created an option to share news and updates right on your listing for those who may be passivelybrowsing.
Let’s take a look at how Google Posts can optimize your listing.
4. Add Posts to Share Business Updates
Now that I’ve shown you how to manage user-generated content on your Google My Business listing, let’s focus on the content you create.
This is where Google Posts come in.
Google opened its post feature it to all businesses in 2017. This feature allows you to share content about your business in a variety of ways. Some examples include:
Highlighting a new line of fall clothing with various product images
Showcasing an upcoming event you are trying to promote
Using a gif to relive a game-winning shot with your audience
Sharing a text update on a recent company advancement
The Seattle Mariners are a great example of how a brand is using Google Posts to promote highlights of their games.
Google Posts allows you to add text, photos, gifs, and even call-to-action buttons including:
You can begin creating posts after you have verified your Google My Business account. Once the verification is complete, your “Posts” option will appear on the left-hand menu.
After clicking “create post,” you can add text and visuals.
When creating your post, you should consider:
Google allows a maximum of 300 words per single post but only 60-70 characters will show up on the mobile and desktop display if you use a CTA button.
The entire text post will show on mobile if no CTA button is used.
The image you select should be a high-quality representation of your business. Google uses a 4:3 ratio, so the minimum dimension required is 400×300 pixels.
Speak directly to your audience. Don’t use industry jargon, but rather focus on sharing content that will move your audience to engage with the post.
Google provides insights (more on that in a bit) and engagement metrics for each post, but it’s also a good idea to set up UTM parameters for links as well.
After clicking “publish,” you can check out your post on your listing.
Now, it is ready and waiting for view by all those searching for your business. Make sure you review it within a week of publishing it since Google Posts disappear in a week.
Google Posts disappear after seven days unless you set a shorter time frame. That’s why it’s important to be timely and hyper-specific when crafting your posts.
Consider having a strategy in place and drafting an editorial calendar designated for your Google Post content.
That way, you can better integrate posts into your marketing plan and examine their impact on your business.
5. Track Customer Paths Through Google My Business Insights
As with any marketing tactic, it’s important to measure the impact of your Google My Business listing.
Google has built-in tools to help with that.
Google My Business Insights can tell you:
How customers are finding your business (direct vs. discovery searches)
Where on Google your customers are finding your listing (Search vs. Maps)
The actions your customers are taking on your listing (Visiting your site, clicking on directions, browsing the photo gallery, calling you)
Areas that your customers are living (based on direction queries)
Total phone calls and time when customers are calling
Let’s start with the most important question: How your customers are finding you?
They are using two types of searches: direct and discovery.
Direct searches show that your customers know about your company and are using your business name or address to find you.
Discovery searches involve searching for the business type or category—not necessarily the business’ name. This is common for people who aren’t familiar with your company.
Once you figure out how they are finding your listing, you’ll want to understand what they are doing with it.
Are they visiting your website?
Browsing through your photos?
While it is important to set up UTM parameters for links, Google My Business also provides an in-depth look at your customers’ actions in your listing.
Google My Business tracks user actions in their insights dashboard, which can help you understand what your customers find valuable in your listing.
Google also enables you to benchmark your user-generated content (specifically your photo gallery) against your competitors.
You can analyze your gallery’s photo views and compare them to other businesses similar to yours.
All of this information can be used to track your customers’ conversion path and provide a comprehensive understanding of your customers’ actions prior to reaching your website.
There are many ways customers can find your business. Google My Business positions your important business information in front of the eyes of potential customers who are looking for your product, service, or experience.
GMB helps with local SEO, offers a chance to engage with your customers via reviews or posts, and provides useful insights on your customers’ purchasing paths. On top of everything else, it is a free and valuable tool.
Not claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is like saying, “No thanks” to someone offering you a free digital sign for your restaurant right off a highway exit.