If you’ve ever searched for your business on Google and noticed that–in addition to your business website appearing in search results–a card with images, contact information, directions, and hours of operation also shows up on the right-hand side. That is a ‘Google My Business’ listing.
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for business owners to manage their online presence across the Google platform, including Google Search, Local Search, and Google Maps. Google developed GMB to make it easier for online searchers to get the business information they need quickly and conveniently.
By having GMB, you can easily create, verify, and edit a business listing within the Google platform. Once the verification process is complete, you can manage your information as it appears across Google Search and Maps–allowing potential guests to find your business’ address, opening hours, driving directions, and contact information without leaving Google.
GMB listings work on all devices, so potential customers can find you no matter how they get to you online. This is particularly important with the increase of trip research, planning, and booking occurring on mobile devices and smartphones.
Research shows that over 90% of customers are looking for specific information about businesses when using search engines. This includes business hours, contact details, and location information.
As a business, it’s important to ensure you own this listing and update the information accordingly. This is because Google populates information about your business from other online sources and user-generated content (like third-party reviews, Q&As, user-suggested information and so on), regardless of whether or not you’ve claimed the listing yourself.
If you haven’t created or claimed your local business listing using Google My Business, now is the time to do it to ensure your business is presented with factual and reliable information.
To qualify for a business listing, your businesses must meet with customers face-to-face, at a storefront or within a specified local service area. This means that your business must have a location that receives mail (not a general vicinity or a parking lot). However, the address is not required to be public, as in the case of a service provider who has an office in a residential home and who works with customers at other locations (tour guides and photographers, for example).
Here are a few examples of ineligible businesses:
Visit: www.gybo.com/business and search your business name. You will likely return three potential results: your business listing is complete (perhaps it was claimed previously), your business information may be incorrect, or your business doesn’t have a listing.
Sign in to your Google Account or create an account for free. Follow the prompts to add your business information, including business type: storefront (restaurants, hotels, etc.), service area (taxi service, delivery, etc.), or chain or brand (products, brands, etc.).
The next step is verification – an important and crucial part of the process. You will have to verify to Google that the business you’re claiming ownership of is really yours. You will be given a PIN (verification code) which will verify your listing and the edits you have made will then be live. Google may ask you to verify your business by phone, text, or mail. Many of the DMO and RDMO offices across the province have registered as verifiers with Google and can assist you in fast-tracking your verification process. Please contact your local DMO or RDMO for further details.
Tourism Vancouver Island (TVI) is one of the RDMOs that are registered as a verifier with Google. TVI worked with the Vancouver Island Military Museum to get the Museum onto the Google my Business platform.
“The Google My Business Page has been an exceptional marketing tool for the Vancouver Island Military Museum. It has given us the ability to instantly update our site with current information, post updates, new pictures, and promptly respond to visitor reviews. The virtual 360 degree photo feature showcases our exhibits and displays to those researching interesting attractions in our city. Google is an extremely important component in the museum’s marketing strategy.”
~ Brian McFadden, Vancouver Island Military Museum, Nanaimo B.C.
Once verified, your listing is live! However, remember that a Google My Business listing is just one tool in your marketing toolbox, and doesn’t replace a business website. Instead it can help your listing stand out in the search results and on Google Maps, sending potential customers to your site.
Once you’ve got your listing up and running there are several functions and options that are available to you:
Update your profile at any time. You can download the Google my Business App for editing on the go, anywhere at any time.
Showcase your service and products. GMB has a section that allows you to add multiple photos and videos which can be viewed by users. This will give your audience a good overview of what you have to offer without going to your website.
Allow users to leave reviews. As a business, reviews are important. Gain customer interest and loyalty by encouraging reviews to be written. Businesses with positive reviews will benefit from a higher click through and conversion rate.
Insights. Gain detailed reports and analytics on how your GMB listing is driving business. This will accurately show website visits, number of calls to your business, and other user signals.
Regular posts. Your business has the option to post company updates and news. Share your latest offers through photos, videos, or text.
If your listing appears in a Google search, guests see that you have been endorsed and approved by Google and that you’re a legitimate business. One of the biggest benefits of GMB is the ability for guests to leave reviews on your listing. Positive guest reviews can help build trust for other potential guests when they hear how others have enjoyed their experience with your business.
GMB now has a posting feature where you can communicate announcements, events, and promotions to your audience. Keeping customers up-to-date on your business with relevant and useful information gives you a competitive edge. At the same time, each post has a specific call-to-action, making engagement easier and more likely to happen organically.
Your GMB listing is essential for SEO purposes as it enables your business listing to appear in local search result queries that are specific to your type of product or services. This can be vital for small business owners. It’s important to give customers the means to access your business easily and without questions. If you present your customers with as much information as possible from the beginning, they’ll be more inclined to click through to your website.
Don’t miss out on the benefits that a Google My Business listing has to offer. While you may feel like it’s just one more web page to manage and maintain, it remains one of the most important features in the digital world to help your business.
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