Google continues to create ways for users to find everything they need without ever clicking to your website. Enter your Google My Business page. It’s a vital, easy win – if you know what to optimize.
A hard truth: Google is no longer interested in being the vehicle through which users get to your website. Over the past few years, the company has continued to unroll updates that allow users to find exactly what they want within the Google interface using maps, “local pack” products, and others. In other words: For location-based businesses, your customer may never even click on any search listing; they get what they need right there in Google.
As a digital marketing agency in the hospitality industry for hotels, wedding and special event venues, wineries, and others, we’ve paid keen attention to Google My Business. Launched in 2014 as a way to give businesses more control over what appears in the search results (both on Google.com, and in Maps) when someone searches a business’s name, your GMB page is now not only a huge ranking factor in Local SEO, it’s the tool that informs all of these native Google products. Basic information (think hours, address, phone), photos you want to spotlight, messaging, and Q&A are a few of the features that comprise GMB.
While the suite of tools is a boon to those eager to use it, it also puts less-digital-savvy businesses at a disadvantage. (By the way: if you’re completely new to Google My Business, this article walks you through how to get set up.) With that in mind, we outlined six ways to build a strong profile so that you get the most out of Google My Business.
Consider it an Extension of Your Website, and Update Often
All the basic fields – name, address, website, phone number, and business description should always reflect your business’s reality right now. When any of these things change, your first instinct may be to update your website, and then your social media profiles – but don’t forget Google My Business. In fact, Google penalizes businesses whose “NAP” (name, address, phone number) are different on their website versus their GMB page.
Monitor and Manage the Reviews
Google My Business offers excellent visibility to businesses – but if you’re not good to your customers, this is the area you’ll be exposed. Use your GMB page to respond to reviews on Google. It’s not just good customer service, Google has also made it clear SEO value increases for those companies who respond to reviews. Make sure you respond to negative reviews in particular (others are watching!) and check this section frequently. When you’re logged into your GMB account and tap the “Reviews” tab (next to the star icon) you’ll be able to see, filter, and respond to your reviews using three tabs: “All,” “Replied,” and “Haven’t Replied.” Google makes it easy to immediately see and reply to all reviews – good and bad – so you can thank a customer for their positive feedback, set the record straight, or apologize, if needed. If you’re too busy to proactively think to check your GMB page for new reviews needing replies, just click into the GMB settings tab and check the “Customer Reviews” box to be alerted to all new reviews via email.
Take the Conversation to Text
Have you noticed that nobody wants to get on a phone call these days? Wedding venue marketing expert Alan Berg told us as much, and the reluctance to jump on a call applies to other businesses, too. iMessage has conditioned us to send messages and expect quick replies, rather than picking up the phone. Google My Business offers a mobile app that lets you opt to receive and respond to messages from customers (prospective or otherwise) with your mobile device. You probably won’t want to use your personal phone number, but there are also third-party apps that will give you a second phone number that you can use for your Google My Business listing.
Curate the Imagery You Want Visitors to See
This is obviously a big one for us as a marketing agency in the hospitality space where showing off that breathtaking winery or view from that corner hotel suite may be stronger than any ad buy you could make. The photos you upload to your Google My Business profile will be mixed with the photos that your customers upload, but you can tag them (think “exterior,” “interior,” “food and drink,” “rooms,” etc.) to make it easy for visitors to browse through. Be sure to keep your photos fresh, too – if you only have imagery that’s a few years old (or more), people will wonder what’s changed. Finally, if you get just one thing right, make sure it’s your profile picture. It’s the first thing people see on this page. Imagine, “If this were the only photo someone sees about my business, would I want it to be this one?” Choose carefully.
Don’t Forget the Extras
If you’re a hotel, sometimes it’s the amenities you offer that are the difference between you and a competitor getting the booking. Have laundry service? Pet-friendly rooms? A spa? For special event venues and wineries whose businesses and offerings can be so varied (from AV capabilities to nightly events), Google My Business makes it easy to denote these things so that people quickly scanning a listing can qualify their choices and make quick decisions. Be comprehensive with the details – sometimes it’s something little that drives a booking.
Use Insights to See How You’re Doing
The information offered within the “Insights” tab is perhaps the richest section of Google My Business, helping you understand the rewards you’re reaping after configuring your profile. In this section, you can see things like the queries people use to find your business (sorted by unique users), a pie graph breaking down how customers are finding your business (divided by Direct, Discovery, and Branded queries), and where customers view your business (search vs. maps). You can also view the types of actions they take on the page (visit your website, request directions, call you, message you, etc.), how often they’re looking at your photos, and how many photos you have compared to competitors. It’s a treasure trove of information, and you can use the results to refine your listing and drive even more attention.