Google recently rolled out Google My Business, its latest marketing platform to help businesses pop up more readily when potential customers are conducting searches. Businesses that previously used Google Places or Google+ Pages to create local listings will find their listings now fully integrated across Google Search, Maps, and Google+. For those businesses that have not created a Google business listing, the time has never been better—or easier—to get started.
Google My Business targets businesses looking for local customers, such as restaurants, retailers, dentists, plumbers, electricians, chiropractors, law firms and auto dealers. Google My Business is ideal for a business with a physical address and storefront as a well-crafted business listing can guide potential customers to the business and generate phone calls. Google My Business can be a useful tool even for multinational corporations in need of a local footprint.
What is a Local Business Listing?
If you are a Google user, you’ve probably already seen local business listings. They are the listings on online directories and search engines that show a map with a business location and, often, contact information, hours of operation, website, forms of payment accepted and descriptions of products and services. When consumers search for locally available products and services, the listing is displayed in the search results when the business listing matches the content of the consumer’s search phrase.
Creating a listing is free, with Google My Business providing step-by-step guidance to complete a listing.
With Google My Business, Google wants to make search results even more relevant to users looking to find and compare local businesses and their service offerings. When a business manages its business listing well, it tells Google whether or not the business and location is a match for the query. If so, the business listing is displayed, including directions and customer reviews.
Why does a local listing matter? More than 70 percent of all Google searches are users looking for local products and services. A Google local listing is free, and when fully optimized with information that is complete and accurate, it will bump the business up in the search results. Also, claiming a local business listing before competitors do minimizes confusion with companies of a similar name. A well-done business listing may show up higher on search results than a business website and be more prominently displayed on Google maps. Additionally, business listings are mobile-friendly.
Company should be sure that the listing is as complete as possible. Leaving critical information out will compromise search results. The listing should include a full address, all phone numbers, website, contact email, hours of operation, payment methods, a comprehensive business description, the correct business category, logo image and attractive photos.
As with any marketing, quality is key. The quality of the business description will determine whether people click on the link. Businesses must invest the time to ensure the listing speaks directly to customers, conveys a value proposition and convinces them that the product or service will fulfill their needs. A poorly crafted description will cause the searcher to quickly move on.
There are numerous instances of inaccurate information contained within many directories, which may be the result of a business moving, a phone number change, company name change, domain name change, key products or services being added or deleted, changed business hours, or just simply information that was inaccurately recorded online and inadvertently propagated throughout the web.
Updating the company’s listing on a regular basis to a data aggregator that has established relationships with all the major search engines, local area directories, GPS/Navigation sites and mapping platforms will ensure that search engines can easily find the business via various searches. Regular submissions create citations for a website that improve a website’s ranking in search results. Google wants to see this consistency on all web properties.
The business that beats its competitors on search engine results and on Google Map listings is the business most likely to receive that first phone call, personal visit or engagement meeting.
Jim O’Donnell is a partner of 2TheTopMarketing Inc., an Internet marketing firm in Kingston. He can be reached at 603-642-8338. For more information, visit www.2thetopmarketing.com.