You want to grow your client base but the thought of endless social media marketing and email writing has your left eye twitching. I get it. We've all struggled to understand what marketing efforts are effective for our new (or growing) enterprise. With all of the options for marketing that exist on the web, where do you start that will give you the best results? And, what should I spend to get started? The answer is simple and it's free (bonus).
Google has changed the way its search engine handles local businesses over the years. Today their flavor of a local business directory is called Google Business (simple enough) and it offers you an easy way to build your business without endless posting and high cost ads. Getting started is easy and this article is designed to help you focus on the important keys to using Google Business to engage potential new clients.
For the remainder of this article we are going to assume you have never set up a business profile and that you have an existing gmail account (personal or business). If you have already created a business listing previously and have let it just sit, then I hope you'll find some useful information throughout these steps.
To setup a business profile it is important that you have a few things in place.
- The phone number you want to use for your business
- the business address where you will be practicing
- the URL for your website (if you don't have a webpage you can do this without it)
Once you have those basics in place, use a gmail account to login to the Google business profile manager.
Go through the steps to add your business. Googles individual screens can change a lot and step by step directions is not focus of this article, please search for a video on the steps if they get confusing. Below are the areas of focus that will ensure your local listing gets seen more often.
Get your business name right
I know this sounds simplistic, but it is easy to leave off something important or follow Google's suggestion and get you connected to the wrong entity. This name does not have to exactly match your business name, so make sure that it also supports the nature of your business. Getting in a keyword into your business name is helpful in getting Google to support your listing. For example, if you practice is called Healing Touch make your listing Healing Touch Massage. This will help people know what you offer immediately.
Check your email
Some people have multiple email accounts for their business and/or their lives. If you created or are using a Gmail account you don't check often, realize that you will be missing out on Google's preferred communication method. Search history, local views, suggestions, updates, and reviews all will come through your email—so make sure you check it regularly.
Pick the correct primary category
Although no one knows Google's exact algorithm, search experts agree that your primary category is a huge factor in your rankings. Often there are a number of similar categories that can lead to very different results. For example the difference between "massage therapist" and "massage spa" can be consequential.
Match your website and your listing
If you have already created a website it is important that the information Google finds there matches what you are entering in your local profile. Match the way the phone reads "(360) 555-1212" vs "1 360 555-1212" will make a difference. Make sure address reads the same on the website and in your listing. In Google's eyes there is a difference between "suite 101" and "#101". Stay consistent.
Get on the Map
If your business has a physical location that you want people to find it is important that you place yourself correctly on Google Maps. All Google products are an interconnected web of information and they trust their own web more than a third party. Staying consistent on your website is important, but you must also stay consistent across Google products for an effective ranking.
Fill up your listing
Although Google local isn't considered a social media platform by most, it does allow you to post photos and articles in order to increase your ranking. Updating posts occasionally can be very successful at improving your overall rank, but I've found photos to be the easiest and most important. Add photos of the location, your staff, or events you attend. Anything, short of personal photos (a no no), will help build your presence.
Provide your business details
It is easy to skip business hours, services, or a basic description, but these are key elements to a high ranking. Keeping this information accurate is also an important element of success with Google and keeping potential clients happy. If they read you're open on Tuesdays, but your website says you're not, then you could easily lose a potential client.
Strong>Use the review system and invite reviews
One of the main advantages to having a Google Business listing is the use of the Google review system. Once your listing is complete there are two important facets to the review process that you need to keep in mind.
- Getting Reviews: once you create your profile you can go into your profile to find the "Get More Reviews" area on the home page. There you will find a button that says "Share review form". Once clicked it will share with you a link to your Google review form. You should use this link in correspondence with previous clients and in place where you want to invite reviews.
- Respond to Reviews: This is where checking your email on file is important. If someone does the take the time to review you, respond. If it is positive say thanks. If it is negative then respond nicely and take responsibility.
By creating a Google business and starting to build your reviews you will be on your way to the best and cheapest way to garner new business in your local area.
About the Author
Vince Williams is the CEO and co-owner of WellSpace Treatment Rooms. Throughout his 30 year career he has developed numerous businesses, been seen on the INC 5000, and helped independent businesses grow to new levels of success. Today his passion has moved into helping small business owners understand how to scale their practices into long-term businesses that support their families and local communities.