When I first launched my computer repair business, targeting suburbs in my local area, I used a number of marketing strategies. I tried a traditional leaflet drop, reaching 5000 homes but with little return on my effort and investment. I launched a Google Ads campaign (then called Adwords) which proved hugely successful and was my main source of leads in the coming years. But one of the most useful tools of all was Google My Business which offers any business owner a completely free means of promoting their business in their own local area.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) allows you to create an online listing for your business, which can then appear in Google Search and on Google Maps to potential customers. Applicable to both desktop and mobile environments, these listings typically appear underneath a local map at the top of a search engine results page (SERP). Google will normally show three local listings under the map and you can then click through to see more listings should you wish to do so. The screenshot below shows one of my own listings in the search results in response to the query ‘computer repairs carbrook’.
Getting Started With Google My Business
Google has made the process for setting up one of these listings very straightforward. Just head over to the Google My Business website, sign in with a Google account and follow the steps to get started. As part of the process you’ll need to enter a physical street address for your business. A verification code will then be mailed to you at this address and you’ll need this code to verify your listing. This is to confirm to Google that you do actually have a local business based at that location.
While you wait for your verification code to arrive in the mail, you can go ahead and set up the details of your listing so that you’ll be ready to go live as soon as the verification code arrives.
Your Google My Business Listing Details
Once you’ve logged in to the dashboard for your GMB account you should fill in as many details and provide as much information as possible. Google needs to know what your business is all about in order for you to rank well in search results.
A good place to start is by clicking on Info in the menu on the left-hand side of the dashboard. You can then enter your business name and the business categories in which you operate. Following this you should enter your business location or the service areas which you serve. In the case of a service business like my own, you should enter as many local suburbs as possible. Google will then use these to show your service area on Google Maps.
You should then enter your business hours, although you can choose to leave this blank if you’d like your business to appear to be open 24/7. Then add important details like your telephone number and website. You can also add a specific URL under Appointment links so that people can be taken directly to your online booking page. Following this, you can provide details of the services you provide. It’s always a good idea to enter plenty of detail here so that Google and your potential customers are left in no doubt as to what you offer.
One of the most useful features of a Google My Business page is that clients can leave reviews for you on your page. Anyone can leave a review after finding your listing in Google Search or on Google Maps but it’s essential to be proactive by asking previous customers to leave reviews for you. The dashboard allows you to Share your Business Profile or Request reviews by providing you with a link to send to customers so that they can click through to leave a review for you without having to search for you. Clearly those listings which have five star reviews are more attractive to potential customers than listings which have no reviews.
One of the great things about Google My Business is that you can create a listing even if you don’t have a website. This means you can really get up and running quickly. Obviously if you do have a website your rankings are likely to be better as Google uses not only the content of your GMB listing, but the content of your website when determining what to present to potential customers.
If you don’t yet have a website, Google My Business can actually create a website for you, based on all the other information you’ve provided. Click on Website on the dashboard to get started with that. I wouldn’t recommend this as the long term solution for your website but it’s a great way to get started if you don’t yet have one.
Ranking on Google Search
There are a few other items on the dashboard you should give attention to. In particular it’s good to add some photographs to your listing, and you can also add posts, detailing offers, updates and so on. You can add new posts regularly to keep your listing fresh. These features all add value to your listing so that when customers click on the listing you can grab their attention. However, even more important is that they see your listing in the first place.
If at all possible, you want your listing to appear amongst the three that are shown directly underneath the map (known as the Google 3-pack), and you should do everything possible to make this happen. According to a recent blog post by Moz the four factors which impact your ranking on Google are your business name, the categories you choose, your website and your reviews. Get these right and the rest should follow.
Hopefully, this overview has given you everything you need to get started with a Google My Business listing. Once you have this up and running you may also want to check out Microsoft’s equivalent offering, known as Bing Places for Business. It’s not exactly the same as GMB but it’s certainly another place where you’ll want to have your business listed.
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