UPDATE 1/27/2021: The tech world is changing so fast right now. The silencing of conservative voices online is causing people to reconsider the trust they’ve placed in Google, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, etc. I’m writing another post addressing these concerns and an re-thinking how to best promote small businesses online using products from smaller, less intrusive tech companies.
I still think Google My Business is helpful for small businesses wanting an online presence, especially retail businesses needing people to come through the door. Google Maps is widely used and brings customers searching for a business near them offering what they’re looking for. That can’t be discounted.
I removed Sage Content Marketing’s Google My Business listing and am moving to Minds and submitting my site to the Brave and Yandex browsers for crawling. Almost all of my business comes from word-of-mouth and I don’t have a storefront. Sage Content Marketing doesn’t need to appear on Google Maps.
If you’re needing some guidance on moving away from Big Tech products, give me a call.
Not many business owners know about Google My Business.
It’s gone by a few different names in the past, most recently Google+, Google’s attempt at a social media platform which is now morphed into Google My Business.
And Google recently made other changes to their algorithms as well that are important for you to know about.
Giving answers to online searches right on the search engine results page (SERP) is Google’s way of getting people the information they want quickly. Google’s aim is to get people what they want without them clicking through to your website.
That’s called “No Click Search.”
In fact, 47% of Google searches are now No Click Searches. That number is expected to increase. And that means you have to work harder to get eyeballs on your company’s website unless you purchase advertising on Google.
Or, use this feature Google created to help online searchers find a business that offers what they want or need.
I know, I know, I know…Google wants control.
But until something is done about Google’s monopoly, this is what we have to work with.
Google My Business (let’s call it GMB from now on) offers small businesses a way to manage their online presence. With a GMB account, businesses can ensure the accuracy of their name, address, phone number, and website URL.
You’d be surprised how often this basic information is inaccurate, especially after a business changes ownership.
According to HubSpot, 46% of all Google searches have local intent. A GMB account increases your chances of showing up in the Local 3-Pack, that listing of three business that appears when you search “feed stores near me” for example.
ThriveHive says businesses appearing in the Local 3-Pack “get a whopping 700% boost in clicks over brands that don’t.”
The Local 3-Pack not only lists your business, it lists your location on Google Maps, your address and phone number, business hours, and your review ranking.
Clicking on a listing in the Local 3-Pack yields the same information listed in the previous paragraph in addition to buttons searchers can click for directions to your business, to get to your business’s website, and call directly.
Other features are the ability for searchers to reserve a table, make an appointment, find similar businesses nearby, send the information to your Google profile, and share the listing on social media or with others by text or email.
Any photos or videos of your business submitted by you or others will appear here as well.
Posts on GMB provide a way for a business to keep customers informed or even delighted with the content. The posts last for 7 days, except for Event posts that remain until the event is finished.
All of the post templates except for the What’s New template provide an optional button where you can add a link for customers to: Book, Order Online, Buy, Learn More, Sign Up, or Call Now.
The “Book” button allows customers to book an appointment right from the Google My Business post. Just add the link to where your business books its online appointments.
The “Order Online” button is perfect for adding a link right to the place to purchase a product or service being promoted in the post.
The “Buy” button functions the same as the “Order Online” button.
“Learn More” is a great button to use to link to a page on your website or a landing page containing further details about the subject of the post.
Use the “Sign Up” button to link to a page where people can sign up to attend an event in person or online. I’ve used this button to link to Eventbrite for a client who hosts horsemanship clinics and wants people to be able to sign up and pay for the clinic right from his Google My Business post.
And finally, the “Call Now” button has a field for a phone number allowing a customer to call your business right from the post on a mobile phone.
On GMB, a business can create different kinds of posts.
Want to promote a product? Use the post template called “Product.”
In the “Product” template, you can upload photos of the product you want to highlight, add a product name, select or create a category such as “shoes”, and have the option to add a price or price range and a button.
If you want to promote a limited time offer, use the post template called “Offer.” This template allows you to set dates for the beginning and end of limited time offer and the parameters of the offer.
Photos or videos can be uploaded to the “Offer” post. Videos need to be 30 seconds long or less.
There are optional fields for adding offer details, a coupon code, and a link to redeem the offer. Terms and conditions of the offer can also be added.
Want to announce something new to your business? Use the “What’s New” template. Photos and videos can be uploaded and a short description of what’s new to your business can be added.
This template is perfect for promoting an event. With the “Event” post template, all the details about an event can be put on Google along with a button customers can use to sign up, learn more about the event, or even purchase tickets.
I use this post for my client to draw participants to his horsemanship clinics. His customers can sign up for the clinic and pay for it right through his Google My Business Post.
As of this writing, businesses need to keep their customers informed of how COVID-19 is affecting how they do business. This template announces that the post is a COVID-19 update and includes the optional buttons described above.
This template allows only for text and an optional button – no photos or videos.
One feature I really like about GMB is “Insights.” Think of it as a mini-version of Google Analytics where you can see the number of times your GMB page was visiting over a certain period of time, how often your map listed is viewed, how many clicks go through to your website or links to the buttons on your posts.
Best of all, GMB shows me what search queries are being used to find the page. This list of keywords and phrases shows how people are finding a business on Google. Using this list of keywords and phrases helps me create content for my clients’ GMB pages and on their website content to help them show up in searches.
“Insights” also shows the number of times your business is found by direct search (typing your website address into URL field) or by discovery (searching for an answer using words and phrases). This will help you know if your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is set correctly or if it needs some tweaking.
You can see if your customers are viewing your business on Google in Google Search or Google Maps and when these views happened.
In “Customer Actions” you can see when your GMB page resulted in a visit to your website, a phone call to your business, or a request for directions to your business through Google Maps.
You can also see how many times your photos and videos are viewed.
It’s pretty easy.
The URL for Google My Business is business.google.com.
You can sign in and create a GMB account using the Google account you use for your business. If you don’t have a Google account, just create one. I recommend having a Google account for your business that is separate from your personal Google account, though. That way you can create a business Gmail email account separate from your personal account.
For my clients, even if they have a business and personal Google accounts, I create a completely separate one for them that I use to manage their Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster, etc. I learned through my first client that using their existing Google account gives me access to their email, Google Drive, etc. Of course, I provide my clients with the login information on that Google account I create for managing their online needs.
Once the GMB account is created, you will be asked to authorize that you manage the business. You choose the form of this authorization: a code sent by text message to your phone, a postcard with the code sent by mail, or an email with the code. Sometimes a business showing up in a Google search needs to be “claimed.” You must “claim” your business to manage a Google My Business account for it.
I’ve seen a few times when the unclaimed Google result of a business profile results in the business phone number on Google being incorrect because a business changed owners, or the address is incorrect because a business moved or a street name changed. That can make authorization a bit challenging, but be glad Google doesn’t make authorization easy.
They’re wanting to make sure this really is you and the business really is yours. If you experience this, call me. I’ll be happy to help.
Once the code is entered and you are authorized, you can begin adding your business’s name, address, phone, website, hours of operation, etc. Fill these fields out as completely as possible and click Save.
Add high-quality photos and videos of your business. Upload your logo. Upload photos and information about products to showcase.
It can take 24-48 hours for your page to become live because Google reviews the information for accuracy.
If you don’t have a website for your business, you can create a simple one through your GMB account. Just click on “website” in the left column and follow the instructions.
I have no experience with a GMB website so I don’t know if this is a good idea to do or not. I did find this article with examples of GMB websites. If you have a website created through GMB, please email me with a link to your site. I’d love to see it and link to it so my clients can see what’s possible.
Having a branded email (email@example.com) address lends authority and professionalism to your business.
Google offers branded email for a small monthly fee. If you need a branded email for your business, it can be set up through your GMB account. (My clients get free branded email through Siteground web hosting if I create a website for them).
Google Ads can be purchased through GMB. New accounts get a $100 Google Ads credit and the ad is paid for per click.
You can manage different storefront locations on one GMB account.
Adding people to manage your GMB account is easy as well under the “Users” listing in the left column.
Google My Business is essential to your business’s Google search presence.
I create a GMB account with all the websites I create and set one up for businesses wanting to improve their SEO. I think GMB is more important than social media because it leads customers to your business and website rather than your social media page. With social media algorithms constantly changing, you want to draw customers to your website, not a social media platform. Social media companies are ad companies and, in a sense, are competing with you.
That’s another article, though.
Use the form on the About Me page of this website, or give me a call if you have questions about Google My Business. I’ll be glad to set up a page for you or help you set one up.