Google My Business profile has become pivotal to generating leads online. The overwhelming impact that Google has made on how consumers search, select and buy can’t be overstated. Even with the economy now reopening and vaccines rolling out, consumer behavior has been permanently altered.
- 79% of consumers have stated they’re unlikely to return to their old ways of purchasing, because they have acclimated to their new digital lifestyles.
- Furthermore, 79% of consumers expect businesses to continue enforcing health and safety restrictions if recommended by the CDC.
Consumers now plan ahead about when and where to shop, and this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. That stands in marked contrast with past offline “browsing” behavior, where people typically went out and visited numerous stores on a spree, checking out options, comparing prices and making a day out of their shopping experience.
Due to this shift in behavior, local “near me” Google searches grew globally by more than 100% in 2020. As some states reopen their economy due to relaxed social distancing restrictions, it’s important for businesses to get a leg up where customers start their journey – on Google.
If you’re seeking to leverage Google My Business to generate leads, it’s imperative that you optimize your listing.
In our latest episode of the Break Room – Birdeye’s new audiobook – we outline some essential tips for optimizing your Google My Business listing for success. You can learn these tips by listening to the episode via the audio player below – otherwise, read on.
In this post we’ll share all of the tools you need to help attract more customers through Google My Business. There’s a lot to cover so let’s dive right in.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free business listing that local businesses can use to manage their presence on both Google Search and Google Maps. It’s similar to other listings on online business directories, such as Yelp and The Better Business Bureau, but it’s found directly in Google and Google Maps search results, and therefore doesn’t require users to visit a third-party site.
How to optimize Google My Business to generate leads
Simply having a Google My Business listing isn’t enough to effectively generate more leads, especially as more businesses are competing in local SEO. It’s important to leverage the full suite of tools Google My Business offers.
The significant increase in local Google business searches makes the benefits of optimizing your GMB profile pretty apparent. Yet despite this, 56% of local retailers have still not claimed their Google My Business listing. That creates an opportunity for them to get on par with, or even to leap ahead of their competitors.
If you’re seeking to grow your business then it’s important to set up your Google My Business profile effectively to drive maximum results.
1. Make sure your NAP information is accurate
Let’s start with the basics. In order for your Google My Business profile to rank well in local business searches, you’ll need your NAP (name, address, and phone number) to be accurate.
If your company’s contact information is outdated, inconsistent or incorrect, the consumer who looked up your business will likely be significantly inconvenienced. These days, even minor inconveniences are enough to lose customers.
You may think this is simple enough to manage, but many businesses fail to fill in accurate NAP information on their GMB listing. In fact, 71% of consumers reported that they’ve had a negative experience because of incorrect local business information found online.
Here’s some examples of what to look out for:
2. Choose the right business category
Did you know the primary GMB category is the number one “local pack” ranking factor? Choosing the most relevant primary category as well as additional GMB categories all play a large role in how a business shows up in local searches.
Google My Business categories show both Google and prospective customers the kinds of services you provide. For example, a realtor that also does appraisals can choose categories like “real estate agency” and ”real estate appraiser”.
If you’re in the right Google My Business categories, it will increase the likelihood of your business ranking higher for relevant searches. If you’re an urgent care facility, you’re much more likely to show up in searches for “urgent care near me” if you have “urgent care” as your primary category.
Here’s how you can make edits to your Google My Business categories.
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- If you have multiple locations, go to the location whose category you want to change.
- Go to the “Info” tab.
- Click the pencil icon next to your primary category. This should show up under your business’s name.
- Edit your primary category, or click Add another category.
3. Get comprehensive with listings
As we’ve already mentioned, consumer behavior isn’t changing dramatically anytime soon, even after being vaccinated. Even as the economy reopens, a large portion of the population will only choose businesses that make them feel safe. 62% of consumers say they will only choose businesses that continue to enforce safety guidelines, even if most Americans receive a vaccine.
In order to attract these consumers, you’ll need to provide accurate information about your social distancing protocols to get them to convert.
Make sure to list pandemic-relevant details in your GMB profile such as masks required, no-contact delivery available, safety dividers at check out, etc. Be sure to fill out as much information as possible to establish trust with customers and, of course, with Google.
4. Upload photos to your GMB profile
The more photos on your business listing, the more likely you are to win new customers. Google reported that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites. Chances are you practice this in your own consumer behavior. When you search for businesses online, you’re more likely to click on a business that shows you what their products, offices/stores, etc. actually look like.
Google My Business allows you to easily upload photos to your profile. The photos section can be found on the side menu in your GMB account.
To increase your chances of converting searchers, Google recommends businesses upload the following:
- At least three strong exterior photos, taken at different times of the day and showing the approach to the business from common angles
- A minimum of three interior photos
- Product photos for the most popular products and services you offer
- One image of any common areas your business may have, such as reception
- A minimum of three management and team photos
- For bars, restaurants, and cafes, images of the most popular food and drinks
- For hotels, images of guest rooms
Photos provide consumers with a visual preview of what to expect, and this helps to build trust. The more photos you share, the more leads your Google My Business listing will generate.
5. Establish a steady stream of fresh customer reviews
While GMB may be the number one local ranking factor, reviews take the second spot. Healthy reviews management on your GMB profile can have a tremendous impact on your local search ranking.
It’s important to regularly generate new Google reviews and manage them as they scale. 89% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase, which is exactly why Google prioritizes them as a local SEO ranking factor. Additionally, 69% of consumers today believe that online reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant.
Customers will be able to write reviews on your GMB profile, and those reviews will be publicly visible, so it’s important to proactively generate, monitor, and respond to reviews as you receive them.
To ensure you’re getting a regular stream of reviews, you’re going to need to consistently ask for them — you can’t just expect them to come rolling in on their own. Regularly requesting reviews means you’ll be able to show positive, recent reviews on your GMB profile, proving to consumers that your business delivers a superior experience.
6. Turn on Messaging for your GMB profile
Remember the industry data we shared that showed consumer behavior isn’t changing anytime soon? One emerging trend from the pandemic was that more consumers checked to see if a specific product or service was available before visiting a business. Given that 67% of consumers plan to confirm online that a desired item or service is available before visiting a business, even after most Americans are vaccinated, this trend is likely here to stay.
Your GMB profile does share your company’s phone number, however a whopping 75% of consumers prefer messaging a business instead of calling. That’s where making it easy for prospects to message a business comes in – and now, Google has even done that, with the introduction of Google click-to-messaging, right from a business’s Google My Business search result.
Google’s click-to-message makes it easy for customers to get in touch with your business, literally at their fingertips, from mobile entry points like Google Maps and Search.
What does that mean for your business? You can now answer questions quickly, and therefore attract more customers.
You can even turn on “Request a quote” which displays a button with that CTA on your Business Profile in a customer’s search results. Customers can then use this button to request a quote from their mobile device directly on your GMB profile. When a customer requests a quote, you’ll get a message in the Google My Business app and the web messaging portal for eligible users.
You’ll also get an email notification with a response form. You can reply directly from any of the notifications. These options make it easy for you to review quote requests and connect with potential customers.
Additionally, customers can request a booking from your Business Profile on Google. The option to request a booking may appear to customers when they message with a business if you’ve enabled this feature.
As more businesses compete online, this powerful tool will help businesses stand out from the pack by providing a new layer of convenience for consumers – and it will have a direct impact on your lead generation goals.
7. Tying it all together – Experience Marketing software
Effectively managing your Google My Business profile entails managing your listings for SEO, generating and managing reviews, and quickly responding to customer messages. While this may seem overwhelming, leveraging Experience Marketing software allows you to seamlessly tie all of the pieces together into one centralized solution.
For example a consumer seeking to purchase a new BMW X3 starts their customer journey by searching for “BMW near me” on Google.
The average consumer chooses a business from Google’s top 3 search results with the most reviews and highest star rating – which in this case is Peter Pan BMW.
From there, the consumer can message Peter Pan to check if they have the X3, without leaving Google. The relevant team member is alerted and can now chat with prospects while they’re still on Google.
It’s that easy.
This is what the modern customer journey looks like, and Experience Marketing software provides you with all the tools you need to drive growth in one intuitive platform.
Birdeye offers businesses listing management tools, powerful reviews management, and a Unified Inbox so you can manage Google Business Messages directly from our platform, all thanks to a direct integration with Google.
Birdeye provides multi-location businesses with a complete Google marketing package, one of the many reasons why more than 60,000 businesses use Birdeye to help boost their local SEO and win new business.