Google My Business is a great tool for any company to start branding themselves and building visibility. It was created by Google to inform web users of local business listings allowing them to find services they are looking for via search and Google Maps. Once users find a business, they can add pictures of the store, office or grounds of the business and even add reviews and commentaries.

Of course, Google allows businesses to manage a lot of what appears on their profiles.  This includes adding the business address(es), descriptions of the business, making social media-like posts with text and images and responding in line to reviews.

Because web users are increasingly more likely to see your Google My Business listing rather than your website, it’s essential that businesses take the necessary steps to use the platform to tell their story the way they want their audience to see it. For businesses that generate leads online,  a well-managed Google My Business profile could revolutionize your sales.

If you are responsible for marketing a business online, here are five essential steps to take to make sure you cash in on your Google My Business listing:

Take Charge of Your Listing! Get passwords to your profile.

The primary owner of a Google My Business listing should be the owner of the business that you’re listing. The reason is that you want to make sure that you have all the insights that Google gives you that will help build your business. If you’re an established business then you will want to take control of it (some business can verify by phone or email.  Many will need to verify with a postcard.) Avoid scenarios where it’s the public that tells your business story without your input. This can be especially troublesome if an unscrupulous competitor seizes control of your site and posts damaging content. If you’re a new business, the first thing you have to worry about is putting your business in the Google profile since Google might not have done it for you. After you’ve done that, you can start taking the steps to use GMB as a way of building a presence online.

Make Your Listing Accurate

Your online listing should describe your actual business.

What do people need to know about your business versus your competitors?  What time do you open and close? Have you verified all of your addresses so that pins appear for all your locations on Google Maps? Remember that you’re Google My Business listing is the first thing that 85% of internet searchers see when they are looking for what you are selling, so make sure that you’ve verified everything.  It’s also what helps them drive, rideshare or bike to your business when they use Google Maps.

When telling your story online, remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Post professionally shot photos of your products, of your employees interacting with clients and with each other and caption each photo with short descriptions of what you offer.

Go one step further by including a 360 panoramic view of your business’ interior shot by a professional photographer.  This and other images can end up being featured in Google Maps and on the first page that Google generates when people search for the service or products you offer.

Be Honest and Credible

It pays to be honest online.

Google is continually improving its business practices to benefit authentic businesses that describe themselves accurately online.  Only show locations where you actually have a real-world presence. Make sure you are actually there when people show up during your posted business hours.  Do business respectfully, reliably and at a fair and consistent price.

Make sure that the link to your website works, that your website is fast loading and web friendly and that you are there to pick up the phone when people call.  If people ask questions to you on Google My Business or go to your website and fill out a web form – make sure you get back to them in a timely manner.

In the long run, this will lead to good reviews from the public and higher rankings for your keywords from Google and other search providers.

Manage Your Reputation

Ask your favorite customers to leave you nice reviews.

Google allows anyone to post a review of your business.  They are invited to use up to five stars to rank their interaction with your business and enter their extensive comments about you. The best businesses soon get plenty of five-star reviews with positive comments to match but even the best-intentioned businesses run into difficult clients.    You can go on to your profile and thank customers for the kind words – and try to interact constructively with the less-than-kind ones.

However, inviting your happy customers to leave you a good testimonial on Google is the best way to keep your reviews trending positively.

Post Regularly

Google prioritizes listings that consistently show they are still doing business.  They assume you are doing well when you have a steady stream of reviews, post every few days and get regular visits from clients (google knows clients are visiting when their phone is at your location!).

See to it that your business’ profile is active and that your own contributions to the story look professional and project the best image possible.  It is worth hiring a professional copywriter, SEO manager and photographer to maintain your Google My Business along with your other social media and blog posts.

People are used to seeing great content online these days and well-lit, well-choreographed, professionally edited posts are one sign of a business that is serious about quality.

These steps are what’s going to elevate your Google My Business and make your business more well-known. With Google My Business, there is plenty you can do to make sure that you use all of the features and benefits that Google My Business offers.

Parker Lake is an Account Manager at OptFirst Internet Marketing – a Google Premier Partner.  Coming from a development agency and a corporate sales background, he has a laser-like focus on improving his clients’ bottom line.  The team of content experts, programmers, and marketing analysts at OptFirst help organizations make more money through better use of internet advertising, better websites, and better mobile apps.   

Looking to level-up your company’s internet game? Reach out to OptFirst here.