Despite several changes to structure, interface and name, Google My Business or Google Local…or Google Places is a fantastic starting point for all businesses taking their first steps online. This is down to the cost effective way this can be set up (it’s free!) and, long term, the way this can be optimised to have an impact on your wider search engine exposure over time.
For those not already using the service, it provides a great way to get your business listed across the most prominent Google locations such as Google Maps and Google+ via one management interface.
(Part of the Google My Business interface)
We wanted to give you a step by step guide around how this can be refined over time to provide the best reflection of your business online and in turn see more sales or enquiries via your website.
Step 1: Get your details right
It may sound obvious but ensuring you set this up with the correct company information around your contact info and address details is paramount to getting this ground in the best way possible.
As we all know by now, Google loves fresh content and is always keen to rank this highly. At the same time though they also hate contrasting information/change and getting this wrong here can really cause problems down the line.
All local business services are now linked together, including Google Maps, so if you get this wrong here it can snowball pretty quickly!
Core details which should be listed include your phone number & email, office/shop opening hours, links to your Google+ page and photos/video of your products or services.
Action points –
- Use the same details as on your offline marketing materials
- Allocate one individual to manage all changes in Google My Business
- Use the same address structure if you have multiple locations
Step 2: Keep things up to date
Google likes to measure how well you manage your accounts on an ongoing basis. Therefore even if you set this up in the very best way possible it will always trail off if you don’t keep your finger on the pulse!
There are several things you can do to show Google you’re managing your accounts well which are all designed to paint your business in a positive light too as they create what is known as social proof. For example a construction company can publish pictures and video of their latest projects, building trust through showing past experiences.
Action points –
- Add new images on a monthly basis, removing any irrelevant
- Reflect any changes to opening hours or product availability
- Video is really powerful in Google so if practical create something engaging like a tour or tell people why you’re different
Step 3: Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!
It is suggested that around 85% of online purchases have read or engaged with a product review on their journey to making a purchase. Google reflect this in the importance placed on reviews for your Google My Business ranking and wider search engine positions developed over time. Therefore you need to be trying to get online reviews from day one!
The best way to do this is to be proactive in your approach by physically asking your customers if they wouldn’t mind reviewing you. We’ve worked with client who have a tablet set up near the till and ask all offline customers to do this as they pay for their goods…a really strong approach for those bold enough!
This can also be factored into your email footer or invoicing process to keep reminding customers to do this throughout your communication process.
We always get asked ‘but what if I get a bad review?’. It’s an understandable concern but all established brands online have some form on negative reviews as you can’t please everyone all the time! People want to see how you respond to problems though and this is what you’ll be judged on rather than a negative review in the first place!
Action points –
- Ask as many people as possible for reviews
- Think of clever ways this can be factored into your services rather than bolted on the end!
- Respond to all questions or negative comments professionally and quickly
Step 4: Structure your data
It is important that all of the fantastic work outlined in this blog is fully picked up by Google to see the maximum response for your rankings. Google want you to present certain elements like your address and reviews in a specifically structured way.
This is known as ‘Schema Markup’ and basically entails adding the right code for Google to read this easily as well as it being in your site content. Further details on this can be found at https://schema.org/
Action points –
- Read up on Schema structure (there’s loads of blogs online explaining this further, like here)
- There are several generators online which can help create the specific code to add to your website
- If you’re unsure we’d always recommend speaking to a professional before adding to site code
We hope this in depth guide gives you all the information you need to set up and optimise your Google My Business pages and start seeing your first steps towards a successful return through your digital marketing strategy.
This localised SEO approach should be included in your digital strategy, whether being managed direct or with the help of a professional agency. If you have any questions we’re always happy to talk about any of the elements in this blog so please get in touch!