by Brittany McSorley
When potential customers do an online search for your business, Google’s My Business feature is responsible for what they see on the right-hand side of the page. GMB, which offers unique, customizable listings, has the power to give local businesses a huge visibility boost. You need only follow a few steps to verify your business and make sure a customizable Google listing appears when a potential customer searches for you (whether they’re using traditional Google or searching through Maps). The feature allows business owners to reclaim some control over their online presence, which, thanks to fair-weather friends like Yelp and TripAdvisor, can easily get away from us. Plus, seeing a business associated with such a trusted and recognizable brand puts customers at ease. We’d all much rather have a Google listing pop up on a customer search than an outdated YellowPages link, right?
As this Search Engine Land article from last month explains, you can use GMB not only to update your listing, but also to engage directly with customers from a phone, tablet, or computer. Keep everything up to date by customizing your listing with business hours, contact info, and photos. You can also respond to Google reviews of your business, and even create a website based on the information in your listing.
This is all useful, but the Google My Business feature with the most potential, in our opinion, is the relatively new ability to add content to your listing in the form of posts, similar to the way you already share content on Facebook and the like. You can post directly to your listing, giving customers vital information like updates and offers before they’ve even clicked through to your website.
GMB is a relatively new platform, but it’s already made customization incredibly simple. Simply Google your business name, and you can update your listing directly from the search results page. This includes creating and sharing new posts, adding photos, and adjusting business information. As Search Engine Land explains, “Brands can take advantage of this platform to promote the latest sales and offers directly from Google’s search results. Individual store managers could go in and add location-specific promotions as well, helping them build awareness with a digital audience.”
The platform is still evolving, working its way toward more Yelp-like options. A recent addition is its Q&A feature (right now, it’s Android-compatible only), which allows business owners to answer common customer questions that will be displayed with their listing. Users can also rate owner responses, making for a useful combination of community feedback and customer engagement. A new Chat feature is still in pilot mode, but it aims to open a direct line of communication between businesses and potential customers. The whole brick-and-mortar thing is rapidly becoming less necessary, don’t you think?
If you haven’t yet taken advantage of your customizable listing, you can get the lay of the land with the GMB guide here. Turns out you can get quite a lot of marketing work done in the time it takes a customer to Google you.