By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
You’ve probably seen Google My Business before when searching for “restaurants, shops, petrol stations, etc. near me,” on your mobile phone. The listing will display the name of the business, its rating on Google Reviews, opening hours, address and contact details. Depending on the kind of business you run, you can list a menu or a list of services too. Customers then have the option to make bookings/appointments directly through your listing.
Put your business on the map
Despite being so helpful, a high percentage of UK small businesses don’t manage a search engine listing or map listing for their business. It’s easy to set up in a few clicks and track updates through the accompanying app. Or if you need more, Google can help you to create a fully mobile-optimised website in less than 30 minutes.
Build brand awareness
Recently, Google added a new functionality where you can add your branding as well as a cover photo and a selection of other photos that really show what your business is about. To target even more customers, you can also add special offers to your listing and post regular updates or share new products and services.
Analytics on the tool help you monitor engagement, including clicks, calls, bookings and follows. You can review these performance metrics in your Business Profile page on Google. Users can also control how their business appears on Google search and Google Maps. If you run a service-based business such as an electrician or an accountant, you can even let customers know where you’re based.
Get more reviews to boost your search ranking
It is important to keep your listing up to date. Customers can leave reviews and it always looks better if a business responds to any online reviews, good or bad. It’s worth noting that you can’t remove customer reviews from your listing. However, if there is a particular review that is unhelpful, you can flag it to Google and request that it is removed.
The best thing to do if you receive a negative review is acknowledge it, respond (and, if appropriate, apologise) and then send an email to your happy clients asking for a review so that the first one new prospects come across when they search for your business is not negative. It actually lends you more credibility to have a less-than-5-star rating, as a large number of full marks reviews can look a little spammy and false. But you don’t want a potential new client looking you up only for the first thing they see to be a 1-star review from an angry or disappointed ex-client, as it could colour their opinion of you.
To request Google My Business reviews from your clients simply go to your dashboard at http://business.google.com and scroll down until you see Get More Reviews (or Get Your First Review, if you haven’t got any yet). Make sure you’ve set your Google My Business profile short name to something appropriate; for example, ours is ‘KnowlesWarwick’ so our URL is https://g.page/KnowlesWarwick/review. You might prefer ‘Business-Name’, but as long as you’ve set your profile short name, your URL will be https://g.page/Business-Name/review.
Send this link to your clients and ask them to leave you a quick review, not only will your business look more credible and attractive to potential customers, but having Google reviews actually improves your chances of being found in searches, as Google wants to serve its users with the best and most relevant results, and social proof such as positive reviews are a huge factor in this.
These days most customers search online when they want to find a business (usually using their mobile phone, but we’ll get onto mobile-first indexing in another post). By listing your firm on Google My Business, you maximise the chances of new customers finding your firm.