Google wants to help you get found by potential customers. Why? Because Google’s goal is to be the search engine that everyone goes to when they are looking for information. Check out this article about how to optimize your content for Google.
There’s more you can do to help your business get found in Google – no matter how your website is built (we use WordPress, but this applies if your site is made with SquareSpace, Wix, or any other website software). If you have a business, Google wants to know about it. Google’s free tool is called Google My Business and it will help your potential customers find you. It puts you on the Google map.
Map? What do we mean by map? If you search in Google for a service or store, paid ads are at the top of the results page and then local listings are shown on a map. Especially if you are on a mobile device, the map is critical. If your business is not on the map, you might as well not be there.
For example, if I search for “lawn service,” I should see the lawn services near me wherever I am doing the search. If I am in Arlington, VA, I will see different results than if I am in Chevy Chase, MD.
- This is a pay-per-click ad. These landscapers are using Google Adwords to get to the top of the listings, which is a quick way to get more traffic to your business/site right away. You pay only when someone clicks on the listing.
- These are the Google My Business listings. If there are more than three listings, you’ll get a toggle menu with the option to see more listings. This is what we mean by getting on the map.
- These are organic listings and might be in your area or in other locations.
You need to get your business on that map.
Your business might already have a listing in Google. Google is finding and adding businesses to their directory all the time. (Again, that serves their goal.) If you don’t know if you have a listing or have not created one, then you are not controlling the information that potential customers see about your business.
How do you find your business? Just Google it! If you see a listing on the right side of the page, it’s already in Google. You just need to claim it.
If you haven’t claimed your listing, there will be a link on the listing that says, “Own this business?” Click the link to claim it.
If your business isn’t already on the map, or if it is, but isn’t claimed, you cannot simply claim it with a click. You will need to verify that you are the person in charge of managing the business.
Go to google.com/business and Sign In to your Google account (you need to have or create a Google account to proceed):
Enter the name of your business on the next screen. If a listing exists with your name, it will auto-populate and direct you to claim it or request ownership. If it does not already exist, you will be able to create a listing:
When you claim a business in Google, they will send a postcard to your business address. This postcard has a verification code on it, and once you get it you’ll need to login to your Google Business account and enter that code. While this sounds cumbersome, you don’t want anyone, potentially one of your competitors, claiming your business!
Complete Your Google Business Listing
Once you have confirmed/claimed your listing, you need to make sure that the information in it is accurate. Google will auto-populate basic information, but you need to complete the rest. Add your hours, address, website, telephone, Facebook account, other social media, and add some photographs. Don’t leave any fields empty. Set up a profile photo, a cover photo, and additional photos of what you do or what you sell.
The more you add, the better off you will be. When people search for what you do, they will be able to see instantly if you are the business they want. And every time they click through to you, you are happy (people are seeing your business!), and Google is happy, too. Because it has given the customer what they were looking for.
How do I get my business on the list?
How is the list ordered? Is it alphabetical? Do I need my business to be called AAAAAAAAGlass, like you used to see in the now obsolete Yellow Pages?
There are a few ways to get to the top of the list, as well as make your listing stand out. The first is filling out your My Business profile completely. The next is creating Google Posts. A third is to ask your clients to review your business on Google.
We’ve talked about the My Business profile above. So what are Google Posts? Google Posts let you add new information about your business and products. It could be a link to a blog post, or new inventory, or a limited time special. If you go into your Google My Business account, look on the left menu and find the option for Posts. Click on that and write your message. You only get about 100 characters, so if you have something longer in a blog post, just enter the link to the post. And add a picture. We’ve all seen the research that says people respond to a picture more than just straight text. Preview and then create the post.
It will last for about a week before disappearing. These are not meant to be permanent.
Business Reviews In Google Are Increasingly Important
And finally, email your clients with a link to your Google page and ask them to submit a review. When people make purchases, give them a postcard or business card with a link to your Google page, or send a note in a thank you email. Reviews are important! Even bad reviews (no!) will move you up the list. In addition, you should reply to reviews – both good and bad. Potential customers (and Google) like to see that you are interacting with your customers and care about what they think about your business.
A caveat: don’t add reviews of your business yourself. Google will know if you do it. Reviews should come from people logged into their own Google accounts.
This is all well and good, but how do I get people to click on my listing?
It all depends on how much information you include. Do you have all your information filled out? Do you have photos? Did you include a photo of the front of your business, and a photo of you? Did you link to your website? Select a business category? A completely filled-out listing will likely result in better conversions (clicks) than an incomplete one.
Have you added a call-to-action? Think about your potential customer and what they are seeking. Does your Google My Business listing spell out that you are the person that can answer that need? They aren’t landing on that map by accident, they were looking for something you offer. What makes you stand out? Describe it in your listing and give them a reason to click.