Which One of These Platforms is Vital?
If you run a small business, you need Google My Business. This is quite a departure from how I feel about most online platforms. I bang on quite frequently about how I don’t believe social media to be mandatory.
However, if you don’t optimize your Google My Business profile, you’re undoubtedly leaving money on the table.
Google My Business is the listing for your business that shows when someone searches you, or what you do. It looks like this when someone Googles your business name:
Google My Business is vital for 5 main reasons:
- It refers people to your business, whether in person or via your website;
- It helps with local SEO;
- It sets customer expectations around issues that could otherwise negatively impact your business (like holiday hours or parking);
- It offers insight into who is searching for you; and what is probably the biggest reason,
- It increases your credibility, and helps your buyers choose you more easily.
Credibility is a big bonus because it’s otherwise quite difficult to shift your credibility level for free. People who find you through your Google My Business listing are up to fifty percent more likely to spend money at your business.
Google argues that a GMB listing increases credibility because businesses have to go through a verification process to get one. Customers know if you have a GMB listing, you’re legit.
Consumers Need Help Narrowing it Down
I’m not quite so sure that’s entirely it. I think it has more to do with proximity. You have a whole internet of choices. Google presents you with a top handful and shows you some basic info about them. I think it’s about proximity. Your business’s listing is … there. That’s a big step in helping buyers make a choice. I have some experience with this as a consumer.
In the summer of 2006, my now-husband ML and I were living on opposite ends of the country, so we decided to spend our vacations together.
We’d only been dating for about six months, so he was still in the “trying to impress me” phase. He flew me to New York and booked a suite in the Times Square Westin. (which in our 20s seemed very cool, and not at all touristy)
When we got to the hotel we were starving. The concierge assured us the steakhouse in the hotel was great, and better yet, 12 steps away.
Thing is, I’m a vegetarian. But again, STARVING. I figured they had to have something I could eat. Did I mention it was 12 steps away?
I realized my error when the server wheeled the meat cart to the table. A cart piled high with cuts of raw beef, to give you a better look at what you would be ordering.
In the middle of the meat pile was a plastic display lobster. The server picked it up, in case we had never heard of lobster in Canada. Suddenly I saw the crustacean’s two beady eyes start moving around. Not plastic. Real. A very alive, undoubtedly very bummed 2-pound lobster.
Even if you aren’t vegetarian, I challenge you to eat something that has already given you the side-eye.
It seemed unbelievable to me that I had chosen the restaurant, but I definitely had. It met my criteria at the time: it served food, and it was there. That is the power of proximity.
Google My Business can funnel hungry customers right into your business by virtue of the fact that your listing is right there. As long as you don’t gross out the customers that it sends your way, it’s a great deal for you.
The numbers back it up, especially for companies that show up in Google’s coveted “3-pack,” or shortlist of three businesses that pop up first on search. Businesses in the 3-pack see a seven hundred percent increase in clicks of businesses that don’t.
The question is, what makes some show up in the 3-pack?
How to Use Google My Business
No one knows the exact algorithm, but your best bet is a complete, accurate, and regularly updated listing with the following elements filled out:
- Basic details (hours, location) & contact information
- Detailed company description
- Service or product menus
- Updates (this is where Google has retained some of the features of Google+, and you add updates like any other social media platform)
Reviews are one of the most important elements of your GMB listing. Some research has shown 88% of customers trust credible online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
That’s why I recommend small businesses put a concerted effort into cultivating reviews. In fact, I have created a free tool that tells you how to create a self-sustaining review pipeline, which you can download here.