Google My Business: How It Works, Why It Matters, and Who Should Care
- Google My Business pulls together many strands of Google’s offerings such as Maps and Search to create a business directory that tells users who nearby is offering what they want.
- For local businesses, having a GMB profile set up is not just a good idea, it’s essential.
- If you don’t have a lot to spend on digital marketing, Google My Business is a great way to get some decent online recognition in your area.
- The Insights feature allows businesses to understand what their customers are looking for, allowing them to focus on providing and highlighting exactly that.
When it comes to the online world, Google likes to cover as many bases as possible. For many people, Google makes up their entire online world. So, it’s no surprise that their business platform, Google My Business (GMB), is increasingly becoming an all-you-need one-stop-shop for local business.
Not only does it help them get found by their customers more easily, but it puts them in touch with their target audience and gives them analysis and metrics on who their customers are.
What’s Google My Business?
Google My Business pulls together many strands of Google’s offerings such as Maps and Search to create a business directory that tells users who nearby is offering what they want (e.g., ‘pizza places portland’ or ‘shoe repair duluth’). Basically, a user searches for something and Google checks this local business directory to give them the most relevant results for their location.
GMB also rolls up its precursors Google Places for Business and the Google+ Pages Dashboard into one entity, so everything a small or medium-sized business needs is now in one spot.
Here we’re going to take a closer look at what Google My Business does, why it matters for your business, and how you can use it to deliver the results you need.
How Does Google My Business Work?
There are a lot of different layers to GMB and how it can be used, so we’ll start by taking a look at the essentials.
1. Creating your account
When opening an account, the first step is to give Google basic information about your business, such as its name and address. Even if you hadn’t already informed Google of your business, they may already be listing it through data collected from your website or review pages like Yelp, in which case you can apply to “Claim your business”.
2. Verifying ownership
Google will ask you to verify that you are the owner of the business in question, such as by sending a code postcard to an address or phoning the business. Once this is complete you will have sole permission to alter information about the business.
3. Filling out your Google Business Profile
Since Google My Business is all about helping users and businesses to connect with each other, filling out your Business Profile details correctly is important but also quite simple. Details like opening and closing hours, and whether you work on weekends or do deliveries give searchers a better idea of what you’re offering.
4. A Google My Business Website
GMB has also expanded to give small businesses the option of creating a website that offers them further flexibility on what visitors will see and lets them paint a clearer picture of what they’re about. Initially, it is populated by the info and photos already associated with the Business Profile, but businesses can add their own photos and text and customize designs, just like a normal website.
5. Using GMB Posts
Posts on Google My Business are updates that stay up for a week. They mention temporary news, such as special offers, events, or a new product. They are brief, customizable messages that keep visitors up to date with what’s happening in your business and also have a CTA functionality to allow customers to book, order, or buy directly and online, as well as redirecting to landing pages or signing up to further communication.
Research by Moz suggests that even though only 60% of businesses use Posts, they are widely viewed by visitors and add another weapon to your conversion arsenal.
Why Does Google My Business Matter?
Improving Your Local Visibility
For local businesses, having a GMB profile set up is not just a good idea, it’s essential. That’s because Google My Business basically is your whole web presence in Google Local Search, which for small businesses is really the only search that matters. As Google has noted, 76% of mobile users making a local search visit a physical location within a day, and 28% of those searches result in sales making it a valuable and decisive market.
Getting You in the 3-Pack
With conversion rate statistics like that, it’s vital for businesses to be recognized in their local area. For Google search that means getting in the local ‘3-Pack’, i.e., the small block of three local business results that appears between the paid search ads and the organic query results. This is usually displayed with a Google map snapshot, showing where the businesses are physically located. Google states that they take three main factors into account when deciding who gets in the 3-Pack:
- Relevance: How close the search term relates to the listing
- Distance: How close in physical terms the business is from the searcher
- Prominence: How popular and well-known a business is. This is where SEO and Google My Business efforts come in as Google counts page positions and review numbers in this factor
Your Google My Business profile also matters because this is the information that populates the Knowledge Panel on the right of Google’s search results page and on the left of the Google Maps viewer.
Overall the Knowledge Panel appears in around 40% of searches and is a key convincer for searchers as it provides a lot more information about your business than a standard SERP result, immediately showing them opening hours, recent reviews, overall review score, and pictures.
Pro Tip: Photos play a huge role in Google My Business success. As well as being counted as a ranking factor, Google’s research shows that businesses with photos get 35% more click-throughs to their website. While an extensive Brightlocal study found that businesses with 100+ images get 960% more search views than the average business.
Who Should Care About Google My Business?
Companies whose business is related to location
According to Google a third of mobile searches are location related and are growing 50% faster than all other searches, which means that despite the global nature of the internet, a huge amount of interest is decidedly local. So, for firms that do any reasonable amount of business locally, being on top of their Google My Business game can make a serious difference to their reach.
This can be anyone from a hardware store or ice-cream place where all customers live within a 10-mile radius to digital marketing agencies or specialist clothing firms whose catchment area could extend hundreds of miles.
Anyone looking to boost their SEO
We’ve gone in-depth into local SEO before and one huge takeaway from that was that 25% of search traffic comes from Google My Business. With so much of a business’ local SEO pulling power coming from that one source, it should be top of the list for efforts at boosting local rankings. Not only that, but as query relevance, time spent on a page, and click-throughs all effect general SEO, making an impact on SERPs on a broader scale can be considerably boosted by being effective locally.
Businesses who don’t/can’t spend a lot of time on their digital marketing
For many businesses who find it tough to get around to working on their SEO and digital marketing for whatever reason, Google My Business is a great way to get decent online recognition in their area. The local 3-pack results are basically a snapshot into a local business directory, so a company’s profile is the same as having a listing in the Yellow Pages was a few decades ago.
The automatically populated website feature of GMB and the fact that the basics of day-to-day business are given prominence all add to the feeling that Google My Business is becoming the “new homepage” for small businesses, something that 64% of marketers in a Moz survey agreed with.
Companies interested in knowing more about their customers
Another major reason why Google My Business can be so helpful for small to medium-sized businesses is its Insights feature. This provides a whole range of information about your customers and their actions related to your business such as:
- What search queries are being used to find you
- How many times you were found through Google Search or on Maps
- How often searchers request directions to your business
- What device was used to find your business
- How many views your photos are getting
This information allows companies to tweak their online presence to maximize their reach and conversion power. Understanding what your customers are looking for in relation to your field allows you to focus on providing and highlighting exactly that.
Trust the Experts
At Redefine Marketing Group, we pride ourselves on staying current with cutting-edge digital marketing strategies. Our local SEO team is standing by to support you with all your local SEO initiatives, GMB included. Have questions? Reach out today.