According to Google, 80 percent of all consumers use Google to find local information. This alone makes Google crucial for small and independent businesses. But to make the might of the world’s largest search engine work for you, you need to know your way around Google Business Manager.
Google isn’t a mere search engine. With Google My Business, it gives you a central hub for all your local marketing efforts. Understanding how it works will help your local SEO and boost your sales.
Google My Business is an online directory where you can list your business. By effectively listing and managing your profile, you could be featured on the local pack and other search results. Your business can also be seen through Google Knowledge Panel or Google Maps.
Google Local Pack: Also known as the Three-Pack, these are the top three businesses that the search engine packs together for certain local searches.
Google Knowledge Panel: If someone were to search for your establishment specifically, this information, containing all relevant details like address, category, phone numbers, etc. will appear on the top right, similar to a Wikipedia entry.
Google Maps: This shows the direction to local businesses based on searches.
Local businesses don’t have the marketing power of large brands. You may not have the budget to hire digital marketing teams or conduct market surveys. But if you know how to use it well, Google My Business can be your digital marketing aide. Whether it's better than Facebook's Business Manager is another question entirely.
Increase awareness: Any prospective customer or client will be able to see the necessary information about your business. A listing on Google My Business thus gives your business credibility.
Integrating Google’s power: This is the easiest way for an independent business to ride on the power of Google. Now you have a chance to be featured in the local pack, knowledge panel, and maps. These are what consumers will be first looking at in the search results.
Collect, display, and manage reviews: Perhaps the most important benefit of Google My Business is that it allows you to collect, and showcase your reviews. Google reviews can make or break a business and with Google My Business, managing them is easy (link to “Brand new business owner? Here's our top tips for managing Google reviews”)
Get business insights: It will show you what queries people use to search for your business, how many times your profile and posts are seen, and the age, location, and gender of your viewers. Local businesses can easily add a manager to Google My Business to manage and know more about their customers. (link to “How to safely add a manager to Google My Business”).
If you find that your business is already claimed, it could be due to two reasons. You or someone from your business may have already done it and forgotten about it. Or another business may have claimed it.
If someone else has claimed it, you’ll see a message that the business is verified. In that case, you’ve to click on “Request access” and give your details. The existing business owner will have a week to respond. Google My Business will inform you via email whether your request has been approved or denied.
You need a physical address to get listed. But you can give an address and choose not to display it by clicking on the “Clear address” button on your address.
100%. Completely free, no strings attached.
Google My Business is crucial for local businesses to raise their awareness, direct consumers, and collect and manage reviews. The fact that it is free makes it even more compelling for independent businesses to manage their online reputation.
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