It is well-known that Google is the No. 1 search engine in the United States, and a great way to find local products and services. But what many business owners aren’t aware of is Google’s free listing, Google My Business. Not using it could be costing you customers and money.
When a consumer searches for a business on Google, the business listing shows on the right side of a desktop screen or toward the top of a smartphone screen. These listings are free for businesses to claim and verify, but they play an important role in SEO. Let’s look at the step-by-step process of not only claiming your business page but why it’s important for your business.
Start with searching for your business on Google. If your business shows up on the right side of the page (on desktop) and the words “Own this business?” appear, that means that no one has claimed the business (a good thing if it’s yours!). Click the link that says “Own This Business,” and follow the directions provided by Google. Before your Google My Business profile becomes active, Google will need to verify the listing to ensure that you are the owner of that business.
This can be done in three ways—automated text or call, e-mail or postcard by mail. E-mail and text options can be completed within minutes while a postcard by mail may take up to five days. Once your Google My Business is verified, you can edit details like hours, service location, addresses, photos and reply to reviews left on your business listing. An additional feature that’s also important is Google My Business posts.
This feature provides content within your Google My Business profile viewable by consumers searching for your business (think coupons, special sales, events, product or service highlights, team spotlights or informational content). More importantly, this content plays a role with SEO by increasing your page rankings, thanks to clicks to the call-to-action button on your posts. It also helps to drive online traffic and phone calls to your place of business. Keep in mind, however, that unlike a Facebook post, a Google My Business post is only consumer-facing for seven days. It is recommended that you update your posts at least once a week, if not a few times per week.
Through your Google My Business profile, not only can you manage public information about your business, but you can also assign other staff to help keep up with reviews and posts. You can have conversations directly through your profile with the messaging feature, create an ad, and review, through Insights, what keywords people are using to find your business on Google.
Insights is a great tool to not only see what keywords people are using to find you but where they are finding you, like Search or Google Maps. It also gives you information on where they go once they do find you. Do they call you? Visit your website? Ask for directions? Google My Business Insights can even tell you how many phone calls you’ve been getting directly from your profile. This is great information to have if you want to tweak your website, start or refresh your Google Ads campaign keywords or just understand how much traffic is being driven from Google versus other sources such as social media.
Again, Google My Business is free! It just takes a little bit of time to set up, and then, depending on the number of reviews you receive and how often you want to post, just a short time every week to manage.
As originally published on Forbes.com. Clearbridge Branding Agency is a digital marketing agency located in Glassboro. Visit ClearBridgeMedia.com.