If your local business is struggling to make an impression online, that's only because you're not using all the tools available to you.
To make the most of your marketing budget, you should concentrate on strategies that give you the greatest return for the smallest investment – and some of the most effective marketing tools are free.
Google My Business is a free service that promotes local companies to their target audiences on the world's largest search engine. If you're not already using Google My Business, reading this brief overview should change that.
If you're already convinced and ready to get started, read our guide to how to set up Google My Business and make the most of the platform.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool from Google that lets business owners manage their online profile in Google local search results and Maps.
Any time you search for a company or service on Google and you see a detailed listing with information about what they do, directions, contact details and more, this is Google My Business in action.
The service also helps your business to get noticed when people search for terms related to your business. The better you optimize your listing, the more likely people will choose you over competitors.
7 Benefits of Google My Business
If you're a business owner, taking the time to set up or optimize your Google My Business profile will set you up for success in the long term. The key advantages of listing your business on Google are:
- Improve visibility
- Boost local SEO
- Control your business listing
- Keep customers updated
- Build trust
- Get insights on your audience
- Free and easy to use
1. Improve visibility
It doesn't matter whether you have an online business or a brick and mortar store – listing your business on Google will help you to reach more people and increases online and offline sales, enquiries and awareness of your company.
If you're not listed on Google's business directory, there's a good chance your competitors are. Google research found that 90% of search engine users haven't decided on a specific brand when searching for products and services, and most people click the first listing they see.
When you fill out your GMB profile with your address, contact details and opening hours, many searchers won't even have to click, as they'll have the information they need at a glance. The more convenient you can make the customer's journey, the more likely they are to convert.
If they want more information, they can still click through to your website.
2. Boost local SEO
Google My Business is a powerful SEO tool. Google gives local business listings priority on search results pages for relevant terms, even above well-optimized pages from established brands. This is an incredible opportunity for a small business or start-up to get exposure and connect with your local audience.
According to Google, 80% of consumers use search engines to find information about local businesses and 50% of consumers who check out a business on their phone visit their premises within a day. Setting up Google My Business and optimizing your profile should be part of every local SEO strategy.
3. Control your business listing
Even if you've never used Google My Business, you might have a listing already. Google's local business results and Maps take what information they can about a business, but such a basic entry can make your business look unprofessional. Worse, a listing with false or outdated information can lead to disappointment or complaints.
By claiming ownership of your profile, you can present your brand the way you want and make sure your listing is accurate and competitive. This also means customers won't have to visit third-party websites such as review sites that are out of your control.
4. Keep customers updated
Your Google business listing is more than a static profile. As well as making sure you update your details if they change, you can also make posts to your account to keep followers informed or raise awareness about new developments.
Posts can include images and video and they can be useful for everything from special offers and product launches to details of temporary closure or reopening (which proved especially vital during the COVID-19 crisis).
Like updating your website regularly, posting new content to Google My Business helps to keep your audience engaged and to keep you in their minds when they're ready to buy.
5. Build trust
Claiming and completing your Google My Business listing makes your company seem more credible and trustworthy. Google research found that customers were 70% more likely to visit businesses that had a complete profile and twice as likely to trust them.
You can build on this trust further by responding to customer enquiries in a timely manner and encouraging customers to leave reviews on your page. The social proof of positive reviews is more persuasive than any marketing you can do yourself, with Google research finding that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
6. Get insights on your audience
Like all the best marketing tools, Google My Business also gives you access to useful consumer insights. This can tell you how people are finding your listing through search, what interactions they have there, what types of posts are most successful and where you need to improve.
Delving deeper into analytics, you can get a detailed breakdown of your audience demographics, including heat maps based on direction searches that show you where your customers are based. All this information can be valuable for honing your campaigns.
7. Free and easy to use
Google My Business is a free service that could get you more exposure than other business directories that charge fees. Google has also made it easy to use, helping to level the playing field for businesses of all sizes that know how to optimize their accounts for the best chance of success.
Now you know the basics, read our guide to how to get started with Google My Business and sign up to our newsletter below to get the latest digital marketing news and tips in your inbox.