Geolocation is increasingly important for retail businesses. Largely a mobile-driven phenomenon, the number of queries including “near me” has grown steadily over the years and, according to Google, a third of searches on mobile phones are indeed about finding local information.
But if there is one thing that is frustrating for a customer, it is to be given incorrect information and waste a trip because a shop has moved or the opening hours are out-of-date. Lucky for us, we have Google My Business (GMB). What is even better is that GMB is free, making it the perfect marketing tool for small and medium-sized businesses.
How to create a new listing
To start, you simply need to sign up for Google My Business. You will then be directed to your dashboard where you can enter your basic business information like phone number, business category, website address, opening hours etc…
Although this step may seem mundane, we cannot stress enough how important it is to take the time to do it properly as Google will use this information to make suggestions to users.
You will be asked to provide pictures of your business, from the outside as well as the inside. Google uses them to verify that your business exists, but they are also incredibly important as a marketing tool: they will give potential customers their first impression of your company so this is the right time to clean your window front, get you and your staff all glammed up and posing in front of your business, or possibly order new signage.
Google will then take you through their verification process before the listing is live and you will receive a postcard when you have been approved– be warned that it can take a month, so be on the lookout and be careful not to toss it in the bin! Once your business has been approved, you will be able to make any edits you wish to your listing.
How to recover ownership of the company’s listing
For existing businesses, recovering ownership of their listing is a fairly common issue. It may be that the employee who set it up in the past has left and you don’t know the login details; that you can’t remember who set it up or that you are taking over a business from someone else.
To get around this problem, create a brand-new Google My Business listing and use your domain name email as the primary owner. Google will ask whether you want to request management of the listing for the same location. Say yes and an email will be sent to the “mystery” owner. If they don’t respond within seven days – which they won’t – the listing will be released to you.
During the process, you may see the “owner’s” email address partially and this may help you identify who they are. If they were a former employee for example, you will just have to login to their email account to be able to reset the password and then transfer the ownership of your listing to yourself.
For existing businesses’ listings being transferred, Google’s verification is done with a phone call.
How to fix incorrect or outdated information?
Google’s local search algorithm uses the consistency of a business’ name, its address and phone number, so it is essential that they be up to date and correct.
Once your business has been verified, you can access all this in your Google My Business account, including pictures, contact details and opening hours.
As far as ‘consistency’ of the business details is concerned, it is about making sure that all online mention (that you control) of your company is identical and correct. It means that if your phone number changes, you should update your GMB listing as well as any other instance of your business details on social media, business directories and anywhere it appears online.
When your details are consistent throughout the web, Google ranks you higher in local searches and your presence will improve.
Show some love
Getting reviews from your customers has never been as important as it is now. Customer reviews can improve your local SEO, which in turn helps to increase your organic visibility online. Positive customer reviews can also help improve your business – how often do you find yourself reading testimonials of a company and those become the deciding factor on your patronage?
Now, how do you go about asking for GMB reviews? A simple and easy way to help get your customers to leave a review is to provide them with a custom review link – the link will take them directly to the review section for your business. Include the custom review link in your email marketing campaigns or personally send the review link to recent customers.
Benefits of the app
As a business owner, you want to make sure that you do everything in your power to facilitate people finding you, but it isn’t always easy to keep on top of all those nagging admin tasks. Thankfully, your life will now be made easier with Google’s My Business App.
Staying up to date and managing your business details is certainly important, and the GMB App has some great and convenient features. You can, for example, engage directly with customers by managing and responding to reviews on your mobile. It also offers some interesting analytics such as where and who many people are searching for you at a specific point in time and it notifies you when customers are talking about you. Another handy feature of this app is that you can have more than one person authorised to edit your listing’s information, allowing trusted partners and employees access to help update your business information.