Google Business Listing is a database of information that Google has collected about businesses. This information includes businesses’ names, contact information, physical location, website, customer ratings, and links to online profiles with sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Google uses this database to populate its search results when people search for businesses or services, as well as to power tools like Google Maps. For this reason, your company’s Google Business Listing is an important component of SEO and ranking. The more complete your Google Business Listing is and the more you engage with it, the higher you will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).
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What Are The Benefits Of A Google Business Listing?
A complete and accurate Google Business Listing makes it easier for potential clients to find you. In our post “How Does Social Media Marketing Work?”, we discussed how most customers no longer rely on phone books to find services, instead turning to the internet for faster, more updated information. As of January 2020, a whopping 87.35% of those searches are conducted on Google, so clearly ranking on Google is important if you want searchers to find your business.
But how does having a listing in this database actually raise ranking? One criterion Google uses for ranking is authority. If your listing contains lots of information, Google’s algorithms will automatically assume your business is more authoritative. Further, Google rewards engagement, and a Business Listing makes it easier for searchers to engage with your business by clicking on your phone number or email address to contact you, sharing your information, searching for directions to your business, or reading your reviews. Finally, Google Business Listing is specifically for local businesses that customers can physically visit, such as hair salons, grocery stores, and doctors. Simply having a Google Business Listing will improve your local SEO. With an active listing, your business will appear in searches when people use the “what’s around” feature in Google Maps, search for directions to businesses around you, or search for businesses in your industry. This helps small businesses compete with larger chains that do not appear in the Business Listing results.
Another benefit of having a Google Business Listing is that it increases your credibility. Users tend to trust Google search results, so when your business shows up in these search results, uses are more likely to trust you, too. Because businesses do have to go through a vetting process before their business listings go live, customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business reputable if it shows up on Google. And beyond the vetting process, users can see customer reviews in a company’s Business Listing, which inspires confidence in your business as long as your reviews are positive and you address negative reviews quickly.
How Do I Create A Google Business Listing?
If your business doesn’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to set one up. This will require you to provide the name of your business, its physical address, website, phone number, and delivery or service area (which is optional). You’ll be encouraged to add pictures of the outside of your business, which can help customers find you, and you’ll be given the option to upload video as well. It may take up to 24 hours for your listing to appear.
If your business already appears on Google Maps even though you never set up an account, this may mean that someone has already added your business to Google Maps. In this case, simply find your business listing on Google Maps and select “claim this business.” Clicking this link will open a series of prompts that will help you complete your business listing.
Google does require owners to verify ownership of a business when they are claiming a business listing that was created by someone else. They do this by providing you a PIN that you will have to enter online to gain full access to the listing. You can receive the PIN through a phone call or text to the number on the listing, an email to the email address listed for the business, or by a postcard sent to the business’ physical address. Regardless of how you receive the PIN, it will be accompanied by a link where you can enter the PIN to gain control of the listing.
How Can I Optimize My Google Business Listing?
Most people who claim a Google Business Listing set it up and forget about it. Unfortunately, they’re missing out on a good deal of traffic. It frustrates customers and looks bad for businesses when they allow their listing’s information to become outdated; old phone numbers, email addresses, or website links send the message that businesses don’t care if customers can find them.
Also, recognize that anyone can edit a business listing. This means if your listing is missing information, well-intentioned people (or pranksters) can complete your information for you. Additionally, Google encourages to submit information on businesses through a link on your listing as well as through surveys users receive in Google Maps. So it’s important to review your listing regularly. If you make reviewing your listing a part of your social media management, then you are less likely to have problems with incorrect information.
But beyond keeping contact information updated, your My Google Business Listing can be a great way to drive traffic to your blog or website through Google My Business Posts. These posts are similar to social media posts in that they contain a small amount of information and are promoted for only seven days. (Old posts do remain in your listing, but will not appear as high up in the listing.) You can use these posts to advertise offers (like sales or specials), announce updates to your business (such as changes in hours or new content releases), or to add events (like conferences or webinars). Posts show potential clients that your business is active and responsive, and allow new users to learn more about what your business can offer them and how your company works. And by including links in your posts, you can encourage users to visit your website, increasing chances for conversions.
Google Tools For Engagement And Brand Management
Finally, a business listing offers some great free tools for businesses. For instance, if your business uses a supported scheduling tool, you can integrate it with the booking button on your listing and have customers set up a meeting with you without actually having to contact you.
You can also turn on messaging from your Google My Business Listing and receive texts from clients who are interested in your business. Not only does this help you respond faster, but Google will consider this engagement when ranking your site. When you turn on messaging, you can choose to have messages sent to your personal phone number or a separate number using an app like Google Allo or Google Voice.
Another important tool for engagement, as well as for brand management, is My Business Listing online reviews. Business owners are allowed to solicit reviews from their customers (there are some guidelines to keep in mind), and many choose to do this by adding a button to their website or including a link to their business listing in follow-up emails to clients. Unlike sites like Yelp!, business owners are allowed to respond to reviews on their Google Business Listing. This can be a great way to model the kind of customer service your business offers and build your credibility with potential customers. (Pro tip: If you find responding to reviews difficult, Google provides suggestions to help you respond to reviews.) And these reviews really do have an impact. According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Consumer Review Survey, 30% of respondents said that they judge a local business by whether it responds to reviews, and 85% of consumers reported that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
A Key Component To SERP Ranking
Once you have it set up, managing a Google My Business Listing isn’t hard. It requires much less effort to run than social media accounts, and the impact to SERP rankings makes that little bit of effort more than worthwhile. In fact, optimizing your Google Business Listing might have one of the highest returns on investment of any SEO work you can do.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s a “set it and forget it” situation. Regular maintenance is important to keep your company’s information accurate and to impact your engagement with the platform. Low engagement with your Google Business Listing can also negatively impact customers’ impression of your company. The best way to maximize the benefits of your listing is to incorporate it into your regular weekly social media strategy.
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