Internet usage across the globe is increasing all the time and one search engine, in particular, dominates. Google has become the leader in online information with daily search volumes of 3.5 billion, which equates to 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. If you want information on any subject nowadays you usually ‘google it’!
Google is the search engine giant with the mission to “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. It is now the most likely launching point for anyone who is researching products and companies, or your business!
For this reason, it is essential to make sure your online information is accurate and up to date. An important first step for any business is to claim your free local listing on Google My Business (GMB). This is the information that will show up in Google Maps and Google’s Local Finder. We’ll look at the easy steps to create a robust presence for your business so that you can be found easily online.
1. Claim and Verify your Free Business Listing on Google
Whether you are aware of it or not, your business probably already has a listing on Google – but it may or may not have accurate information and by claiming and verifying your listing, you can also add information as well as improve your ranking in search results.
- Claim your listing – start by going to the Google My Business site and signing up for a new account from the “Start Now” button at the top right of the page. Begin entering your business name in the field provided. As you type, Google will suggest possible matches from business listings that already exist in Google's database. If your business is already listed you can claim your listing or, simply continue on to enter the information about your company.
- Fill in the details – enter your address and be specific, so it is easy for potential customers to use Google's Map service to visit your physical location.
- Place a marker on the map – a map of the local area will appear, simply position the marker in the right spot for your premises.
- Choose your category – select a category that best matches your business to help you attract customers who are searching for businesses like yours in your area.
- Phone and website – add your phone number and the url for your website
- Business hours – include your normal business hours.
- Photos – photos of the team, your product or location increases engagement and adds credibility – which all helps with your search engine optimisation.
- Claim it – the final step is to confirm that you are authorised to manage the business on Google. Claiming your business allows you to control the listing and update information as needed.
2. Encourage Current Customers to Add a Review
‘User reviews’ appear under your google maps listing and provide valuable information about your company to potential customers. Positive reviews not only provide the endorsement that adds your perceived trustworthiness but will also improve your list ranking in search results. If your clients are happy with the service they receive from you, they won’t mind being asked to post a review. Plus, it gives their business exposure, too.
Make the process easy by providing your customer or client with a direct link to your business on Google Maps and easy instructions on where to find “Write a Review.” Use a URL shortener such as Bit.ly or Google's URL shortener to simplify the link.
You could ask them to post a review on your Facebook page at the same time. Always take the opportunity to thank them for their review, especially as an online response, as it demonstrates the great relationships you build with clients and customers.
3. Maintaining your Google Listing
By keeping your listing up-to-date you have an immediate advantage over those who are not. When you have completed your updates, it doesn’t end there. Check your business listing on a regular basis to make sure your information remains current. When you do, add more photos and check any reviews that may have been added. You may not realise it, but anyone can suggest an edit to your listing. Google does its best to provide accurate information about local organisations, and therefore allows for “user-generated content”, in order to create a more complete business profile. However, if you are the page manager for your business listing, Google will now notify you of the suggested edit.
4. Ensure Your Information Is Correct in Other Online Directories
Outside of Google, there are many other online directories that potential customers may use to search for your business. General business listings like Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, Yellow Business and Facebook are key listings to use, but you'll also want to look at directories specific to your industry, such as financial services. The main goal is to make sure that your business information is listed and accurate on key sites. Search engines like consistency, so keep a master document with your company address so you can copy and paste from it. This ensures your information is the same wherever it appears.
Claiming and updating your business listing in online directories, and Google, in particular, is an important first step in your digital marketing strategy. It helps your customers to locate and learn about your organisation, giving them more confidence to do business with you.
Higher relevance and accuracy from a complete Google listing and positive reviews will also improve your search engine ranking – plus when you respond to reviews, it shows that you take customer feedback seriously.
The small amount of work required to ensure your business is accurately represented on Google goes a long way toward improved online marketing results.