Last time you searched for a store or restaurant, you probably factored Google My Business profiles into your decision. These results are the business profiles that Google puts right at the top of search results. While they’re not as complete as a website, they’re a fantastic source of at-a-glance information ranging from a business’ hours to their menu, a blurb about them, and options to go to their website or contact them. If your business doesn’t have a profile here, it’s time for you to create one – more details on the technical setup here. If your GMB is anything less than top-notch, it’s time for a refresh. Google My Business is a top way for businesses small and large to attract customers and clients, and you don’t want to miss out on the massive amount of traffic and attention Google can generate for you.
Why a Good Google My Business Profile Is Crucial
1. Show up in local searches
Virtually any time anyone makes a location based search, like “tax professionals near me” or “lodging near Grand Teton National Park,” the first results the Google search algorithm will show are actually Google My Business profiles. Developing a high-quality Google My Business profile is the single best thing you can do in terms of low-cost SEO. It will get you seen and noticed.
2. Be more credible and get more visits
Google and its business profiles generate instant trust. In fact, customers are 70% more likely to visit businesses with complete GMB profiles than those without. Furthermore, complete profiles are twice as likely to be considered reputable and trustworthy than incomplete profiles, which is why you should make sure to fill out and update all your information.
3. Easily update your hours, photos, and more within Google My Business
Your GMB profile is a big part of your public “face.” Fortunately, it’s easy to update in accordance with any changes you might make. Updating your business profile is even simpler than updating a website. You just have to log in to your profile and conduct some brief changes. This is useful in case you have redesigned your space and want to display photos, have a new menu you want to add to your profile, or want to update your hours either permanently or for an upcoming holiday.
How to Manage Your Google My Business Profile (Including Negative Reviews)
1. Respond to all of your Google My Business reviews promptly
Just like social media accounts, there is very little point to having a GMB at all if you aren’t planning to consistently engage. While there’s less engagement involved on your Google profile, it’s far more critical to engage with the customers that interact here. Whenever someone uses the Ask a Question or Leave a Review functions on your profile, you need to make sure you are responding quickly and appropriately. In most cases, this should be pretty easy – answer their question or thank them for their business and feedback. However, if you get a negative review, it can be hard to avoid seeing red, especially if you think the review is fake.
2. If you get a negative review, be polite, don’t make excuses, and follow up
Unfortunately, every business owner will get some negative reviews at some point in the life of their business. The most important thing is to stay calm, pay attention, and be polite. Never respond in anger to a customer, even if you believe the review is fraudulent. Check back through your customer records to verify whether the reviewer actually visited your business. If not, Google has a process for reporting inappropriate or fraudulent reviews. However, reported reviews may or may not be removed. For this reason, it is crucial to respond to all your reviews, even those you think are fake. Respond to fake negative reviews the same way you would respond to authentic ones – apologize for what went wrong, offer to make it right, and thank them for their feedback.
For all reviews, make sure you follow up. If the review is positive, this can be a simple sentence or two. If the review is negative, offer a resolution, then check back – if they take you up on your solution, they might be willing to change their review. What you don’t want is for potential customers to dismiss your business as an option due to unresolved negative feedback.
3. Make sure to keep your profile updated
Your Google My Business profile is a great place to get information to your customers, but it’s not a “set it and forget it.” This is a great opportunity for continuous improvement. The most critical piece to update is your hours – if your hours change, the last thing you want is customers getting frustrated because you’re not open when you said you would be. You also might want to periodically update your photos, especially if you have a picture of your menu, or your description or location.
Google My Business is without a doubt one of the most powerful free tools for small businesses to get the word out. Do you have a profile? Did this post spark any ideas? GMB is one piece of the larger equation of off-page SEO, which you can learn more about here.