How easy is it for your business to be found?
It doesn't matter how great, groundbreaking, or necessary your product or service is if people don't know where to find you, you are in trouble.
In the past, the solution to being found was a combination of having a great location where you are visible and outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing was all about pushing your message out.
Techniques of outbound marketing include:
The problem with outbound marketing is it's all interruptive tactics. It's about shouting to be heard and that's annoying, especially when you consider that we are all bombarded by thousands of messages a day.
Today effective marketing for your business begins with inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is about pulling people in rather than pushing a message out.
It's about positioning your business to be found by those who want to know about your business.
According to research data, 88 percent of consumers pre-research their buys online before making a purchase either online or in-store. That means businesses that do not effectively maintain a web presence are missing out on an enormous competitive advantage --- not to mention new customers and revenue opportunities.
As e-commerce explodes due to COVID-19, more and more businesses are migrating to the web.
Some businesses go entirely digital but most businesses have at least some form of an online presence.
In spite of an online web presence, it's still difficult for many businesses to be found.
What you eventually discover is a digital presence isn't enough -- whether it's a website or social media presence.
The key is you must be findable.
Google My Business
One way to construct an effective local digital presence is through a Google My Business profile page.
Google search currently controls a stunning 92 percent of the global search market. If you want your business to be found online by customers, you need to be listed on Google.
It's as simple as that.
But Google's digital dominance doesn't just begin and end in the digital realm. Google's reach extends into the real world through its indispensable Google Maps application, which brings search into the real world.
Google Maps helps customers find and navigate brick-and-mortar locations. It also offers customer reviews, photos, list of services, and even provide product suggestions. Considering that Google Maps controls over 70 percent of the consumer mapping sector it's imperative your business have a local presence.
That is where Google My Business comes into play.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool aimed at providing consumers searching online with the most relevant information based on their search intent.
In essence, Google is making it easy for buyers to connect with sellers.
Benefits of Google My Business
Managing information online is crucial. Bad information, such as a wrong address, poor reviews, or conflicting values statements, can lead to a loss of sales as well as a loss of consumer confidence.
Google My Business allows you to manage your business information quickly and efficiently across Google platforms. Businesses that verify their profile information through Google My Business are also twice as likely to be seen as reputable organizations by online shoppers.
An essential component of building consumer confidence and driving sales online is through transparent reviews. Think of Google's review feature as an opportunity to engage customers and address complaints.
Virtually all consumers (97 percent) look to online reviews to inform their purchasing decisions. Google My Business gives businesses a vital avenue to directly engage with consumers and showcase positive consumer sentiment in the form of customer reviews.
Find insights on how customers searched for your business, and from where those customers are coming. You can also find information like how many people called your business directly from the phone number displayed on local search results in Search and Maps. When you're ready, you can create and track the performance of Smart campaigns to spread the word about your work.
First Step: Get A Google My Business Listing
An important first step for any business is to claim and verify your local business' Google My Business listing. If you haven't claimed and verified (Google determining that your business is real) your Google My Business Listing, do that right now.
It's easy, visit https://www.google.com/business and follow these 4 simple steps.
Step 1: Open A Google My Business Account
Step 2: Create Account
Click the "Create account" link as shown above.
Step 3: Select "To Manage My Business"
Select "To managed my business" link as shown above.
Step 4: Enter Name, Email, & Password -- Click Next
Enter your name, email address, and setup a password and then click next.
Now you will be prompted sign-in and begin entering your business name and address. Make sure you enter correct information.
Many businesses just claim their Google My Business Listing and forget about it. What most businesses don't realize is your business is ranked by Google. Therefore you want to invest time into ensuring you optimize your profile. The following are 5 ways to optimize your Google profile to improve your search ranking.
5 Ways to Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
1. Maintain consistent information across the web.
Today, there are a great many online platforms, including e-commerce sites, review aggregators, and social media outlets that require daily, sometimes even hourly, monitoring and management. This can become a real problem when information is inconsistent or fragmented between platforms.
A business that relocates, for example, may forget to change its address on one platform or another, leading to consumer confusion, lost consumer confidence, and, ultimately, lost sales.
Every time a consumer clicks, they are expecting useful or valuable information. When clicks lead nowhere, or to incorrect information, this can lead to frustration. Informational accuracy and consistency is something for which every business must strive.
Google My Business makes it easier for businesses to maintain information consistency across Google platforms.
To fully optimize Google My Business, you'll need to provide the following:
750-word description of your business
It is crucial to maintain consistency of this information across all web platforms as Google My Business will use this information to determine how it serves up search results and Google Map suggestions to other people seeking to find what you offer.
2. Upload attractive, high-resolution images that are relevant to your business.
When it comes to the online marketplace, image is everything.
A consumer using a search engine to discover or locate products and services can only rely on images. That's why it is crucial to upload relevant and high-resolution photos to your Google My Business profile.
The more attractive and more professional the photos, the better. They provide important context for your business and serve as a first taste impression for consumers searching for information on your business. Furthermore, businesses that provide relevant and attractive imagery tend to be more trusted overall.
When consumers scroll through business listings online, they may see a series of previews of various businesses, including contextual information and imagery.
No consumer will choose the listing without information or photos over a competing listing with a professional photograph and comprehensive business information.
Businesses that add photos to their profiles receive over 40 percent more requests for directions via Google Maps and 35 percent more clicks through to their websites than businesses that do not.
Remember to upload your images in JPG or PNG format.
Ideally, your images should be no smaller than 1280 x 1280 px or "HD quality." However, most images won't need to be larger than 3840 x 3840 px.
Images smaller than 1280 x 1280 and 100kb in size may be too blurry or pixelated. Meanwhile, images larger than 3840 x 3840 will almost certainly lead to slow loading times.
3. Ask for customer reviews --- LOTS of them.
Think of reviews and ratings as digital testimonials.
While it may seem unfair to distill a business down to a number or a row of stars (ratings), it is the reality of a fully digitized society. It also reflects how we shop. We want to know what people are saying about a business. Therefore we all look for reviews and ratings.
Most people don't have the time to do in-depth research into all of their buying decisions. As a result, the vast majority of consumers rely on digital reviews and ratings as a shorthand for decision making, which can work in your favor. To give your business listing more power and be in front of more people, you need to collect more reviews and ratings.
An excellent strategy for collecting reviews and ratings is to simply ask. Once your Google My Business page is up and running you will have a Google My Business listing URL that you can send people for a review. They can also just do a search of your business and be able to provide you a review.
Not only will receiving positive reviews make your business look better online, but it will also allow the listing to be seen by more people and Google will give your site more authority in search based on the positive reviews you receive. This means more traffic to your website!
Google's search and suggestions algorithm prioritize listings that are not only positively reviewed but are reviewed by many people.
Don't forget to respond to and engage with customer reviews. Google My Business Listing will notify you via email when a new Google Review or Rating has been submitted. You will want to click on the link Google provides to send a kind message of thanks to the person who provided the review. It is important you do this because Google is gauging the dialog between customer and business.
Not only does this indicate to people reading the reviews that your business is responsive and responsible, but it can also deescalate bad reviews, and address pressing consumer concerns.
4. Add rich digital content on a regular basis.
Images are a crucial component of providing content for consumers. However, it's not the only content you should include on your Google My Business page.
Other forms of digital media, such as audio content in the form of podcasts or music, video content in the form of clips or motion graphics, and blog content are also essential ways to push your listings in front of more people.
Posting regularly via your Google My Business page lets searchers know that your business is active and engaged. More importantly, posting through Google My Business also allows you to push customers to other marketing channels such as your business website.
5. Play by Google's rules.
Here are the Google Guidelines for representing your business on Google My Business. It is important to familiarize yourself with their rules, or risk having your business profile and listings removed from Google platforms.
While not a substitute for reading the full text, we have provided some crucial highlights to keep in mind.
- Rental or for-sale property listings, such as vacation homes, model homes, or vacant apartments are not allowed.
- Listings not made by the owner or by someone authorized as a representative are not allowed.
- No misleading information.
- No low-quality or distracting content allowed.
- No promotional or advertising content allowed.
- Use your business's real name and use that name consistently.
- Google reserves the right to suspend or terminate any Google My Business accounts that violate their guidelines.
The goal for Google isn't to advertise your business; it is to push the most accurate and most relevant information about your business to potentially interested users. As such, businesses should provide accurate, relevant information, and high-quality content.
Being suspended by Google could be a business disaster. Because of this, we recommend caution when uploading any content and to follow Google's guidelines as provided HERE.