Running a small business can be an uphill battle — and so can understanding the best strategies to take to make it successful. If you are just starting out with your small business, you might be looking for any and all the help in your market/area. Google My Business has been a lifesaver! 

 

One of the very first things you may have done when writing your business plan was a Google search to see the local competition around you. Googling is one of the first things your potential clients will do, too,  when they’re looking for a service or product you provide. In fact, according to EMarketer 34% of product searches start through the use of Google. If that sounds like a small percentage then keep in mind that more than 3 billion Google searches are performed every day (that number grows daily!). 

 

With these facts in mind, ask yourself: how intune are you with your business’s current Google search results? The answer to that question, at least for local search results, may lie in whether or not you are using Google My Business.

 

What is (and Why Should I Use) Google My Business? 

 

  Google My Business is a better way for small business owners to address and control their business’s local Google search results. It’s geared towards businesses that meet with clients or customers face to face. This means if you run a retail shop or run your business from an office, GMB is for you. 

 

Creating a Google My Business account is easily done by using your Google or Gmail account to verify and claim your business.  

 

So, what does a Google My Business account offer? As a small business owner, you’ll want to fine-tune the way that your company shows up in a search. The information that shows in your business’s Google search results can make or break whether a potential customer will buy your product or service. Simple mistakes in search results can easily hinder new customers from choosing you. These easy-to-make mistakes are easily avoided if you are using Google My Business. 

 

A GMB account gives you the ability to edit categories like your business hours, address, phone number and location on Google Maps. These bits of information are vitally important to the Google searcher. Why?

 

These days 60% of all searches are performed on mobile and close to half of those take into consideration the mobile user’s location. If your business is listed at the wrong address it won’t appear in that user’s location when they search for “florist near me” or “bakery near me”. Furthermore, a customer might have a question that can only be resolved by phone. They may also want to learn more about your business or product via your website. 

 

Another feature of your GMB account allows for a generous keyword-focused description of your business that will help your Google ranking and search engine optimization results. These categories of your Google My Business page are all equally important but getting the fine details right matters the most. 

 

The Details That Matter Most to Your GMB 

 

When you are starting your Google My Business account you’ll want to focus on all the small details that make up the larger picture. As mentioned above, categories like address, phone number, website and map location are hugely important to your business’s success. 

 

Having the right details on your GMB account can drastically increase the chance of your business appearing higher in rank during a search. After all, how else will someone find your office, call you or know where exactly to find you if that information is missing? 

 

There are other areas of your Google presence that you want to be sure to update. Using GMB, you can upload photos that will appear when your business profile pops up in a search. This will give you control over your brand and how your clientele views the representation of your company.

 

 Why do photos matter? Well, plenty of businesses are represented by awkward photos that were taken by customers or visitors. So, instead of a blurry shop front, random selfie or photo unrelated to your store, you can post photos that feature your products, business, and staff.

 

Posts, which are similar to those on Facebook or Instagram, are an important feature that you should utilize. Posts are a great way to quickly promote any deals or offers you’re running. Posts give the Google user immediate and pertinent information regarding what you offer without their having to scour your website or social media accounts for that information. These posts expire after 7 days, so you can easily run weekly specials or promotions with a link to a coupon code. 

 

You can also use your account to create events. You’ll have a 1500-character space to describe your event with relevant keywords (and especially the first 100 characters that preview the text) to attract potential customers searching for similar events. Lastly, GMB is also a great spot to easily read and respond to your customer’s reviews. 

 

Guidelines for Handling Your Business Reviews

 

With the use of your GMB account, you can address customer praises and complaints in a prompt fashion. 

 

There are a few simple rules to follow when responding to reviews. One of the most important requirements is replying within 24 hours. Responding quickly shows that you care about your clientele. It demonstrates that customer service is your priority and that you value feedback. Allowing a negative review to fester can push a customer to post further. One bad Google review can become that bad review copied and pasted onto Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, FourSquare or OpenTable. 

 

When dealing with a negative review don’t reply in anger. Instead, take the time to thank the customer for their business and their feedback. Keep your reply short and offer to speak with them offline (whether via phone or email) to further discuss and resolve the matter. Never forget:  A negative review is an opportunity for you to improve your business.  

Positive reviews are wonderful and thanking the customer for their business and feedback is the least you can do. You can also use your response to plug in important keywords. For example, a customer leaves a review about enjoying the ambiance and selection at your floral boutique. A reply can look something like this: “Thank you for your feedback! We love that you enjoyed our shop and floral selection! Check back in the coming weeks for our autumn arrangements to decorate your home this Fall!”. 

 

Customer service and search transparency are made much easier with the use of a Google My Business account. It ultimately allows your business to have a competitive advantage over other small businesses in your area. 

 

Looking for more information on how to set up your Google My Business and further improve your small business’s success? Take a peek at this printable ‘cheat sheet’ on the Top 10 Tips to Get Found on Google Search and Maps. 

 

Tessa Burnett Witmer has been a small business owner since 2007.  She is the owner of Hattie Rex,  a gift shop in downtown Bozeman, and Lightbox, a consultancy that helps small businesses sell online.

 

KRose readers can get 20% off Hattie Rex products with the code KROSE until September 23, 2019.

You can also attend Tessa’s  free, in-person Google Business classes through Prospera or discuss Lightbox’s consultation options for your business’s areas of need such as Website Design, Content Marketing Strategies,  or goal-focused Help Sessions. Schedule a free 15-minute discovery call today!