Google My Business (GMB) is an innovative Google tool that can help small businesses grow for little payout. This tool is more than just another online directory listing. But rather a unique way for potential customers to find your business via both “Search” and map. GMB allows for you to post photos, video, business hours, updates, promotions, and more – allowing for more organic engagement. Through analytics and review funnels, GMB makes it easier than ever to understand and engage your ideal customer.
GMB vs Facebook
Many businesses put more emphasis on their Facebook presence than their GMB profile. When compared, who actually delivers more conversions for small businesses? With Facebook, the payment required to get found or “sponsored” in the algorithm is only increasing. But Google does not require any payment for your profile. Why pay more to “maybe” get found scrolling? GMB can get you in front of new potential customers quicker and easier for no cost. Facebook organic (no promoted) conversions are at a plateau and only weakening. GMB consistently generates clicks and conversions for reputable brick and motor businesses with great reviews who follow Google guidelines.
Google My Business and Its Impact Potential
The first thing you need to do is either set up or make sure your Google My Business (GMB) page is completely up to date. When you personally set up your GMB page, you know that listing is accurate. Its approachable interface allows you to update your business information on Search, Maps, and Google (GMB) all in one location any time you need to make a correction. You’ll need to include information such as how to contact you, operating hours, photos, products and services, website links, and any other important details or descriptions.
This information is critical as it influences the information in your business’ Knowledge Card. GMB allows you to connect directly with customers 24/7. And it can even monitor and respond to their reviews of your business. Your GMB page is a great way to keep (potential) customers connected with all the wonderful things your business does. Not to mention is a great tool to promote specials, new products, or link blogs to your website!
Search Engine Results Page
It is extremely important for small business owners to understand that Google does not want its users leaving the search engine results page. Google’s stated mission is to organize all of the world’s information, and they are well on their way to having done that. They now want to have you access all of that information through a variety of widgets that we described this time last year in Get to know SERP features. It will not be long before very few of your customers reach your website. They will see your Knowledge card, read your reviews and get placed in Maps on their phone and will never see your site. Your site becomes a source of information for Google and it needs to be built in a different way than in the past so that the search engine can read it and understand it. We will discuss this next week.
National Competitors: Posting Local Content
You may be thinking you can look to the SEO tactics of large, successful businesses in regard to your own SEO strategy. But local businesses need to play a completely different SEO game than large corporations. A small, local business simply cannot compete for the same keywords. But you can tweak the keyword according to the suggestions at the bottom of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). For example, if it is a local search when you search for a topic i.e. Chiropractor, Google will reply with “near me” as another term to use.
On the strategy side, as you’re diving into your ideal client personas, take note of the things they are interested in and how you can incorporate it into your local marketing strategy and editorial calendar. For example, if you own a small smoothie shop, you might find that your ideal clients are consistently perusing flea markets and farm to table food events in local Pittsburgh communities. Just that insight alone can help you create a variety of local content.
Content and Google My Business
Perhaps you write blogs about your favorite farm to table events or a recipe of your favorite farm to table smoothie blend. Maybe you even sign up to be a vendor at those events. Being at an event is then a means of developing social media, hashtags, Google My Business, and blog content promoting the event. You can utilize a video of the event for an edge. Or you could even Livestream portions of it on your social media platforms! The possibilities are endless! In other words, creating local content about things that your ideal client is interested in is the key to local SEO.
Last but not least, it is important that local businesses do the things that Google My Business (GMB) is looking for when promoting local businesses in the much-desired Google Snack Pack Map results. Another factor used in ranking in the Snack Pack is the number of reviews your business has and where those reviews are. Businesses with more reviews will be selected for the Snack Pack over businesses with less. This is another way of getting found solely through Local SEO. If your website has reviews it should have them in structured data – again we will cover that next week. Google is actually “crawling your reviews” on public directories (like Yelp, Facebook, YP.com, etc.) and on your website and using those keywords to help your customers find you.
It’s now easier than ever for customers to leave you a review. And unfortunately, in this case, the concept of there being no such thing as “bad publicity” doesn’t necessarily ring true here. Now, Google might raise an eyebrow if you have zero mediocre or negative reviews. Meaning that it’s actually better to receive one or two not so great reviews. But only if you have enough positive ones to cancel them out.
As studies are showing, consumers rely more on the feedback of other consumers more than any other group. As more consumers research before buying, too few reviews could leave you out in the cold. It is clear that local reviews are going to increase in number. Especially as Google and other directory providers make it easier to provide reviews. As users are rewarded or challenge to create more reviews, small business owners need to get much more proactive. You should assume that every one of your customers is a potential critic. Even on your worst days, each person is only human and should be treated as such. You should also assume that the photos that are snapped in their place of business will end up online. Finally, you need to consistently monitor and respond to reviews.
A Chiropractic Example
If you want to get found for being the best chiropractor in your area for moms, encourage them to leave you a review. Make it easy for them to do so. When it is easy, chances are they will say something like this review from Google for one of our clients:
“ I originally came into Dr. Zock’s office from a recommendation from my doula. I was in my second trimester of my pregnancy when I started seeing Dr. Zock. She is certified in the Webster technique for pregnant women, which I was seeking a chiropractor who was familiar with pregnancy adjustments. I now have a 9-month-old and still see Dr. Zock monthly for maintenance. She is amazing and has helped me out tremendously during my pregnancy and now postpartum. I highly recommend Dr. Zock for all of your chiropractic needs. She takes the time to understand your needs and to know her clients. Also, as a bonus, they offer massage therapy too, which are equally as great as the adjustments. All in all, you won’t be disappointed if you come to Zock Family Chiropractic”
As a consumer, who are you going to trust more? Dr. Zock or the reviewer who left her name publicly at Google? And Google pulled out the underlined keywords in helping decide when her website showed up in the coveted “snack pack”.
Remember, when you’re a small, local business, it’s important to keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses that come with being small and local. It means you can’t mimic the same strategies as large corporations as you have a very different kind of marketing budget. You have to focus on local and acquiring reviews. As marketing experts, we believe your strategy should start by fulling taking advantage of all the benefits that come with creating your GMB profile. Stay tuned for deeper dives on building a proper website for local even if it is a GMB one-page website, creating review funnels, and utilizing keywords. For a free marketing assessment of your current strategy, click here.