One important means that small to medium sized businesses can use to improve their local search rankings is to create and optimize a Google My Business account. This is a simple and free way to establish your presence on Google. It also puts your business (literally!) on the map - Google Maps. If Google authenticates your business, users may see it come up in the sidebar when they search for related products or services. This is free advertising, so you definitely want to take full advantage of this tool.
Creating a Google My Business account does not take a great deal of time. You will need to:
- Input all of your information about your company's location, phone number, hours of operation, products or services, payment methods, as well as basic information your customers may want to know.
- Add photos, including your company logo, pictures of your building, products and/or services, and staff.
- Verify your listing with Google.
Once you have your GMB profile set up, you can ask your customers to review your business, respond to customer reviews, and create new content, including videos. Like any other marketing, you want this aspect of your business marketing to be informative and engaging. You want to draw potential customers in, to make them curious about what you have to offer. Keeping your pictures, your sales, and your product list current and giving feedback about reviews or questions promptly and in a friendly manner are all great ways to accomplish this.
This November Google altered Google My Business' capabilities in two ways. The first was that Google now allows businesses that have not yet opened to create GMB profiles and plot their companies on Google Maps. This allows companies to begin to create an online profile and presence and enhance their local SEO while they are preparing to open. They can cultivate their customer base beforehand so that on opening day local search is already working for them.
The second change Google made was to modify how it handles service-area businesses who deliver or visit customers within that service area. Business address and service area are now separate fields. Companies can choose to enter their address, their service area, or both. Prior to this, companies that only did delivery or direct mail had to list a physical location even if they did not want the public to search them out. Now they can list only their service area instead.
We are no longer in the days of the Yellow Pages. Today we have search engines, and Google is by far the largest. The good news is that you can control your business's brand directly through your Google My Business listing and keep it fresh as your company expands or changes its products or branding. It's also free and connected to a map so your customers have an additional way of finding you. If you haven't taken advantage of this service, you should do so now. If you would like help with Google My Business or local search, call us at Corporate Conversions. We have helped many clients set up and continually freshen their online presence in order to improve their rankings and get more leads and sales!