As a local business owner, you know that it all starts with getting people to notice your business. The challenge, of course, is to figure out the best way to do so. There was a time when you’d simply run an ad in the local yellow pages, but those days are long gone. We could talk about other forms of print advertisement, but, really, they’re becoming just as obsolete. In 2018, we’re deep into the digital age, and when people need a product or service, they’re generally going to look online.
Again, we can discuss different online channels, including social media and email. But when someone is actively looking for something on the internet, it’s a safe bet that they’re going to start with Google, the company whose name has become synonymous with web search. That’s no surprise, really, and it’s well-earned. As of the end of 2017, when internet users start a search from their desktops, that search begins at Google almost three-quarters (74.54%) of the time. When they move to mobile devices, that percentage jumps up to 93.02%!
People are searching for local businesses too!
If you think that internet marketing or web searches are all focused on far-off enterprises or information out in the mysterious cloud, think again. Folks are searching for local businesses as well, with 4 out of 5 consumers searching the web for local businesses, including addresses, business hours and directions. If that’s not compelling enough, here’s another statistic from the same study: Almost one in five (18%) of local searches results in a sale within a day of that search. That’s more than double the rate of sales for non-local searches.
OK, sounds great! But what’s Google My Business, and does it really matter?
I hope you’ve stayed with me so far, and appreciate the value of maintaining a web presence for your local business. But there’s also another channel that opens up a new realm of possibilities: Google My Business. Are you aware that your business has a free listing on Google? If you are, bear with me a moment. If you’re not, do a quick search for your business on Google’s site or on Google Maps. That free listing that comes up in the search gives you a world of new opportunities to interact with your customers. And, yes, it matters, a lot, and here’s why.
Now that I’ve found my listing, what’s the best way to use it?
I’m glad you’re still with me, and understand the benefits you can get from your Google My Business Listing. It’s great that it’s up there, and it’s free, but there are a few things you should keep in mind to get maximize your use of this amazing resource:
Claim your listing
If you haven’t done so yet, claim and verify your listing on Google My Business. Start here. To begin with, this allows you to make sure your information is accurate and up to date. It also allows you to manage information that others are posting about you, including edits they make to your listing. And those edits may come from customers, spammers, or even your competitors. Claiming your listing won’t prevent other people from making changes, but it will allow you to correct inaccurate information posted by others. Check your dashboard regularly to see what information is being suggested by others. And don’t forget that Google is constantly asking users who have visited your location to answer a variety of questions about your business.
Post engaging content
If you’ve spent any time here on the Rhino website, you’re probably not a stranger to this concept. We’re great advocates for content marketing, using engaging material on subjects with relevance to your target audience to attract visitors to your site. Google seems hip to this idea too, and makes it easy to post content through Google Posts, a feature which went live in 2017. Google Posts allows you to post promotions, special offers, promote upcoming events, post photos, and more.
Get user reviews and respond to them
Unlike rival business listing site Yelp, which discourages soliciting reviews from your customers, Google encourages asking your customers for reviews. I can’t stress enough the value of reviews in attracting new business. With 88% of users stating that they have consulted online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, this is a force that you simply can’t overlook. Google further encourages responding to all reviews, both positive and negative. I can’t agree more. We at Rhino have long advocated making good use of even negative reviews to engage with your customers and assuage their concerns, and I wrote this piece last year on how best to do so.. And of course positive reviews are a great opportunity to blow your own horn and run a victory lap.
Messaging with your customers
Google My Business even allows you to accept text messages from your customers and respond to them. Hesitant to give out your cell phone number for this purpose? You can use Google’s Allo app for an added layer of privacy, while still getting notifications if someone messages you.
If you’re intrigued by all this, but aren’t sure how to fully optimize your Google My Business listing, give us a call for a consultation.