Is a Bad Google Business Listing Costing You Good Clients and Customers?

Google Business Listings

The Value of Having a Local Google My Business Listing

Google has over 90% of global market share for search engine volume, so if you’re going to spend time on one local listing, make sure it’s Google My Business. It’s free, and you’re going to increase your online visibility exponentially by having it optimized.

Creating your Google My Business listing will ensure you are capable of appearing on Google search results pages and Google Maps. Here’s why showing up in local searches is crucial for your business’ success:

  • 4 out of 5 users search for local information on search engines like Google. They’re looking for information like addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, directions, and more.
  • 50% of people who perform a local search on their phone visit a business within 24 hours, and 34% of people who use their computer or tablet do as well.
  • According to Google, their data shows “consumers are searching for local information everywhere, on every device, at every point in the purchase process.”

You can start creating a Google My Business listing (or find out if you already have one) here.

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Many businesses make mistakes when they set up their Google My Business (GMB) listing. Below are some of the most important actions you need to take — and mistakes you need to avoid — when you are creating or updating your Google listing.

Make Sure Your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) Are Precise and Accurate

A lot of businesses don’t understand how important accuracy is for online listings, especially Google My Business. Here are a few pointers to make sure you get the most out of your GMB and all your local listings:

  • Don’t try to stuff keywords into your business name. Search engines like Google want to ensure that the name of your business in the real world exactly matches the name of your business online. If it doesn’t, you will look suspicious at best. Make sure the business name you use for local listings is the same as what’s on your letterhead, your website, and everywhere else.If you want to work keywords in (and you should), put them into your business description instead.
  • Don’t get lazy about grammar, punctuation, and other details in your address. Make sure the street address you input for Google My Business is exactly the same as the address that shows up on mail that comes to your front door and that is on your website. That includes capital letters, hyphens, or any other unique typographical features that your particular street address may have. If you have a suite number, floor number, or building number, be sure to include it. This is not an opportunity to give directions to your business. Only use your official address. Cross streets, intersections, landmarks, parking instructions, and other similar details do not belong in your address field.
  • Use the best phone number — and use Google’s preferred notation. Google wants you to use a phone number that connects directly to your business. A local phone number that rings in your office is best. Google recommends formatting your phone number in the following way:

(555) 555-0123

Phone numbers on your website should be formatted the same: put the area code in parentheses, use a space, and include a hyphen between the first 3 digits and last 4 digits of the telephone number.

If you have a vanity number that spells something out, don’t use letters in your listings. Only use your numerical phone number. If you have your vanity number on your website, make sure your purely numerical phone number is fully included as well. This will help search engines match up your listing with your website.

  • Choose an accurate category that describes your business as a whole. Google recommends choosing a category that completes the statement, “this business is a _____.” Somewhat counterintuitively, Google also recommends choosing the most specific category possible for your business. By doing so, you will actually get displayed for broader categories.Unless your business obviously fits into multiple categories, choose one category to start. Once your listing is established, people may recommend other categories to add or to change. Also, as your web presence becomes more developed, new or alternate categories will be easier to verify based on user engagement, your website, and other factors.

If you can get these essentials right, you’re well on your way toward showing up in the “local 3-pack.” Those are the local results that appear on and beneath a map in some searches. Before Google will start displaying your business, though, you’ll need to verify your listing.

Verify Your Local Listing by Mail

Once your initial information is entered, you will need to verify your business actually exists by having Google mail you a postcard with a unique 5-digit code that you can use to authenticate your Google My Business listing.

Google recommends that you don’t make changes to certain parts of your listing while waiting for your verification code. For example, do not change:

  • Your business name
  • Your business address
  • Your business category (or categories)

Outside of those important details, you will want to update every possible piece of information you can in your profile to make sure you are taking advantage of all the free publicity your Google My Business listing will give you online.

Add Everything Possible to Your Local Google Listing

You want your listing to be representative of your business. Your potential clients and customers will often see information from your local listing before they actually visit your website or your physical location. Put your best foot forward by adding as much information as possible to your listing. Here are some especially important facets that you should focus on:

Your Business’ Photos and Video

You can add many different types of photos to your local business listing. You can even add a video that introduces your business. It goes without saying that these images and videos should look professional and align with your brand.

RELATED: How (and Why) to Take Great Photos

The Hours Your Business Is Open — And When You’re Closed

Make sure to include your hours of operation. Doing this prevents you from frustrating potential clients and customers who try to call or stop by outside of your normal working hours.

You also want to make sure to regularly update the dates on which you’ll be closed. You can note holidays, professional development days, and other occasions that your office is closed so people don’t try to reach you when you’re unavailable.

A Link to Your Website

One of the many benefits of having a local listing is that you can direct more traffic to your website from search engines. When you include the link to your website, it should be to your top-level home page. Don’t send users to a dedicated landing page, and don’t link to a social media profile.

Here’s what that looks like for our marketing agency in Google:

Google Business Listings

We recently started updating the featured post every 4 days for ourselves and our clients, and the results have been staggering:

Google Business Listings

Since we started this free social media marketing service for our clients, they have seen dramatic increases to their visibility in Google search.

Get More From Your Google My Business Listing — Here’s How

Simply having a GMB local listing is going to create new opportunities for you. But there are many ways you can supercharge your Google listing using other marketing strategies. For example, you could:

  • Create an email automation campaign to ask satisfied clients or customers to leave a positive review.
  • Create a content marketing strategy to regularly present fresh, new website content in your listing.
  • Work with professional photographers and videographers to create compelling imagery that attracts new customers and clients.
  • Build a dedicated page on your website to schedule appointments so you can link to it from your local listing.
  • Establish a social media monitoring strategy to keep your listing up to date and respond to questions, reviews, and other time-sensitive developments.

LaFleur Can Help You Get New Business From Google and Other Social Media Platforms

Ultimately, Google My Business listings are just one part of a much more complex marketing landscape online. While getting your local listing up and running is smart first step, you cannot take a “set it and forget it” approach to your digital marketing.

At LaFleur, our uniquely qualified and experienced marketing professionals stay ahead of emerging trends to provide our clients with outstanding service — and outstanding results.

If you need help with your online marketing, give us a call at (888) 222-1512 or fill out a quick and easy online contact form. We’d love to have a conversation about the business goals you have and how we can help you achieve them.

References

Google. (2014, May). Understanding consumers’ local search behavior. Google. Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/search/how-advertisers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search-download/

Search engine market share worldwide. (2018, January). StatCounter. Retrieved from http://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share

David VandeWaa has spent over a decade teaching writing, literature, and history in high school and college classrooms. His work has been published in academic journals, he has traveled extensively in Europe, and he occasionally posts anecdotes about his experiences on his blog.