In a world of ever growing, ever changing business tactics, what are you doing for your business that makes you stand out among the rest? It’s hard enough making your business stand out against the store down the street. Brick and mortar stores everywhere, and right here in Louisville, KY have to compete against one another, but now more than ever, they also have to compete with online shopping, retail stores, and other businesses who have taken their products and services online.
Did you know that 97% of consumers use the internet when looking for a local product or service? How about the fact that there are 40,000 Google searches per second?
PER SECOND, guys.
This means there are over 3.5 billion searches per day.
We live in the information age. Whatever we’re looking for can, quite literally and quite often, be found at the click of a button and delivered right to our doorstep.
Do you see where we’re going with this?
If potential consumers in the Louisville area are actively looking for products and services, are you doing everything you can to make sure they’re finding yours? Being found online is hard enough without the right digital marketing strategy in place. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re not utilizing Google My Business and basic optimization features for your company, you’re doing it all wrong.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free, easy to use tool for businesses and company owners alike to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.
By utilizing Google My Business, all of your most vital business information is stored in one spot for customers to see online. And the best part? You have complete control over what you decide to feature on your business listing.
Your company information, like your company name, address, phone number (NAP) and website URL, all appear on your Google My Business listing. You can also select a business category, list your products and services, and provide a description of your business. Finally, and maybe most importantly, you can respond to reviews and interact with customers who have shared their experiences while working with you.
When optimized correctly, your Louisville business will show up in local search results for keywords and common phrases that fall under the user’s search intent. This means that keywords that refer to your products and services will match what the user is actively searching for.
It’s not enough to know WHY people are searching online for products and services just like yours. In order to turn those potential customers into repeat buyers, you have to understand HOW they are searching, too.
Sit down, my friends, and get ready to take notes. You’ll thank us later.
Understanding Search Intent: Knowing Your Consumer
So far, we know it’s important to be found online. We know that consumers in Louisville are searching for products and services just like yours. So how does understanding search intent better help you with basic optimization for your Google My Business listing?
Search intent, often referred to as keyword intent, is the ultimate goal of the person using the search engine. Understanding search intent means you understand HOW consumers are searching for your products and services.
When a person sits down at the computer or grabs their cell phone to use the internet, no matter what phrases or keywords they are using, they are trying to accomplish something. This means they have the intent to find an answer to their problem, or in this case, they want a company, product, or service to help make their lives a little easier.
When users perform a search, they often want…
- To Go Somewhere: The user wants to find a specific site or page where they can get their hands on whatever they may be needing. In addition, they can be looking for a specific business to visit. These types of searches are dominated by branded keywords, like “Panera Bread in Louisville, KY” for example.
- To Know Something: The user wants an answer to a specific question. Often, users who have this goal in mind will use search queries that will include phrases like “how to”, “what is”, “where is”, “why do”, and so on.
- To Do Something: The user wants to complete an action. This could take place in the form of calling your business, submitting a contact form, or signing up for your email list. In terms of ROI, this is also what we refer to as conversion.
So now that we know why people perform searches online, let’s take a look at how they’re searching and why it matters for your business.
You see, good ol’ Google has this thing called an algorithm. Well, actually, they have a ton of these. And they’re pretty fancy. These algorithms allow for search engines to interpret search intent, and in turn, display the appropriate results related to that specific search intent.
This often occurs in the form of phrases such as
- “Product/Service in City, State”
- “Product/Service Near Me”
- “Best Product/Service in City, State”
Other common phrases used when performing searches can include
- “How To”
- “Where Is”
- “Why Do”
Real life examples can be things like “plumbing company in Louisville, KY”, “best BBQ restaurant near me”, “why do people invest in digital marketing” and well, you get the picture.
The key takeaway here is that when a user sits down with the search intent of figuring out a solution to their problem, or finding someone who can help, you want to be the business they can count on.
You can’t do that if you can’t be found online.
Four Easy Steps to Growing Your Online Presence: How to (Correctly) Set Up a Google My Business Account
Google My Business is the perfect place to start when it comes to growing your online presence. Having a GMB listing is one thing, but having one that correctly utilizes functionality and optimization can change the way people interact with your business online. You can do this one of two ways.
First, you can always work with a great digital marketing agency in Louisville, just like us. Better yet, you can book a free strategy session with our team to talk about custom solutions in regards to basic Google My Business optimization (and our other awesome Local SEO services) for your company.
Or, if you think you can tackle it on your own, at least follow our advice. We’ve made it simple for you to grow your online presence through Google My Business. Just follow the tips below:
Step 1: Create an Account and Add/Claim Your Business
The first thing you’ll want to do is head on over to Google My Business, right here: https://www.google.com/business/ and click the “Sign In” or “Manage Now” button in the upper right hand corner.
From there, you’ll be redirected to a screen that looks like this:
You’ll do as it says, and type in your business name on the line provided. If your business already appears on Google, it will pop up automatically, where you can just click on your business and go from there (more on this in a minute). If this happens, you can jump ahead to the “If Your Business Already Exists on Google” section down below.
If you don’t see your business pop up, you’ll select the option to “Create a business with this name”.
If You’re Creating a GMB Listing from Scratch:
You’ll be prompted to enter your business name again. Be sure to type in your official, legally registered company name.
Next, you’ll be asked to select a business category. Categories are used to describe your business and connect you to customers searching for the services you offer, so be sure to select the one that’s most accurate.
Spoiler alert: Don’t stress too much about this, as you can add additional categories later.
After you’ve selected your category, you’ll be asked if you’d like to add a location where customers can visit. If you have a physical storefront and conduct business face-to-face, you’ll want to select yes, where you’ll then enter the address of your Louisville business.
If your business operates strictly as a delivery service only, you operate online, or you visit customers at their location to conduct business, you’ll select no. When selecting no, you’ll be given the chance to set a service area, where you can select states, cities, and even zip codes to show which areas you serve and which areas you don’t.
At this point, you’ll be asked to share your company contact information, including your telephone number and your current website URL.
Once you’ve completed this, you’ll select the option to finish and manage your GMB listing. From here, you’re ready to verify your business. (Skip the next section and head on over to Step 2)!
If Your Business Already Exists on Google:
Remember that part from above where you were entering your business name on Google, and there was that option to click a pre-existing listing? Here’s the most tricky part to all of this. If your business already exists on Google, but you never created a listing, you’ll need to request access to your GMB listing and go through the ownership transfer process.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. How did my business listing appear if I never created one? Sometimes, online databases and major directory sites can pull your information across the web and a listing can be created for you. Other times, if you work at a chain company or franchise, for example, previous management or other employees can set these listings up as well.
For more information or help on this, just give us a shout. Let’s continue onto the important topic at hand, basic Google My Business optimization, with Step 2 in the process below.
Step 2: Verify Your Business
So now that you’ve created your GMB listing, you’re ready to verify your business. For those of you who had to request access to a listing that was already created, often, you will be prompted to re-verify your listing. So no matter which path got you here, at this point, you should be ready to verify your listing.
This step is actually rather simple. You’ll be asked to provide a name and address so Google can send you a postcard in the mail. This normally takes around 5 to 7 business days for first time verification, and can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days for re-verification purposes.
Your postcard will contain a pin number. Once your postcard arrives in the mail, you’ll come back to your online listing, sign in, and be asked to verify your listing from inside your Google My Business dashboard. Simply enter the pin number provided, and you’re all set to move forward with basic optimization for your GMB listing.
Step 3: Understanding the GMB Dashboard and Knowledge Panel
In order to be able to correctly optimize your listing, you have to first know where exactly things are within GMB and what exactly they do. That leads us to Step 3, understanding the GMB dashboard and the knowledge panel.
Your GMB dashboard is what you see from behind the scenes, so to speak. Once you log into your GMB listing, your dashboard will appear automatically. This is where you can upload and make edits to your business information, add pictures, and essentially, this is where you’ll navigate any time you’re optimizing your business listing. The left hand side of your dashboard will contain all the necessary tools, components, and features that can be edited and optimized.
Now, your knowledge panel is a different story. Your knowledge panel is what shows up on Google when a user performs a search. This is what potential customers will see as they search for you. The more information they can see, the better your listing is optimized.
A knowledge panel conveys your trustworthiness as a brand and authority in your industry, which are two things that heavily influence your website traffic and conversions. From a more search-focused standpoint, the presence of a knowledge panel is an indicator that Google understands your brand, can extract information, and assemble data related to your brand for potential customers to see.
That deep understanding of your brand by Google is a major factor in your business rankings on the local search results page. In order to achieve this, it all starts with exactly what you’ve been waiting for: basic Google My Business optimization.
Step 4: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s a lot to know in order to do this correctly. Getting to the basic optimization stage means that, when it’s all said and done, your listing will be easily accessible by potential users who are looking for what you have to offer, and Google will be more susceptible to feature your listing within the local search results.
So, where do you start?
The best place to start with basic optimization for your GMB listing is the Info tab, located right inside your listing’s dashboard. Anything that you didn’t contribute during the setup phase, you should fill in now and optimize to the fullest extent. This will include things such as:
- Your business hours
- Adding an appointment link (which we highly recommend, if you have a way for customers to book or schedule an appointment online)
- Your products and/or services
- Your business description
- An opening date
- Updating your additional categories
One key thing to be aware of here is that, depending on the primary category you’ve chosen for your business, you may only be able to add products OR services, but may not be able to add both.
You can select services from a pre-set list based upon your category, as well as create custom services. You can also include descriptions of your products, add photos, and provide pricing information.
Speaking of photos, you’ll notice inside your GMB dashboard that there’s a tab just for that. Here, you can upload pictures that highlight your company, your interior office space, your employees, and more. Adding photos brings your business listing to life and is a unique way to give customers a chance to get to know who you are and what you do.
Set Your Business Up for Success: Further Optimization Within Google My Business
At this point, all of the basic Google My Business optimization is complete. However, it’s important to point out that there is still a TON more you can do for your GMB listing to help increase your overall visibility online and within local search results.
There’s GMB Messenger, Google Posts, GMB Q&A, and more still to do. Not to mention, the reviews, where you can manage and respond, all from right inside your dashboard.
Once you’ve covered the basic optimization, everything else you can do inside your dashboard is more or less, an ongoing strategy to grow your online presence and requires work to keep accurate and up to date.
These other features are not a one and done type of deal. They require constant monitoring and attention to detail, if you want to optimize your Google My Business listing to its highest potential.
What better way to do that than with an ongoing, custom strategy, brought to you by one of the best digital marketing companies in the game, right here in Louisville? (That’s us, duh.)
Turn to the Professionals to (Literally) Put Your Business on the Map
At this point, you’ve created your listing, you’ve optimized it correctly, and now, consumers are finding you online. Not only is increased visibility one major benefit of basic Google My Business optimization, but now, you can also:
- Manage Your Information
- Interact With Customers
- Use Insights to Understand and Further Expand Your Online Presence
Being a business owner is hard enough. Trust us, we would know. So, yeah, all of that is great and all, but how exactly are you going to do all of that and successfully run your business at the same time?
The longer you wait, the more business you lose. Put your company on the map (literally) with proper basic Google My Business optimization.
There really are no excuses, folks.
We’ve given you the tools and taught you the tricks of the trade. If you don’t have time or don’t trust yourself to manage and maintain your GMB listing over a longer period of time, turn to the experts at One Thing Marketing.
We’re pretty good at what we do. See for yourself by viewing our most recent success stories. If we’ve already got you convinced, be sure to contact us to set up your free, one hour strategy session with our team, where you can talk about all things Google My Business and customize your own Local SEO strategy.
We can’t wait to hear from you, but in the meantime, happy optimizing!