'Google My Business' - what is it and why should I use it?
Success on Google is earned by one of two types of business: Those with vast sums of money at their disposal, or those with vast sums of time at their disposal. Correct? Wrong.
For location-focused businesses, there's a vastly underutilized tool at your disposal that will help you greatly increase your presence on Google. You remember that little postcard from Google that dropped into your lap a few years ago? Google Places? Well, it's evolving and you really need to start taking advantage of the opportunity it offers your business.
Google My Business brings Google Plus, Google Local and Google Places for Businesses together in one easy-to-manage place.
It helps to make your business stand out from the rest with all the information potential and existing customers need about your business:
- Your business name & logo
- Address, with directions
- Opening hours
- Telephone number
- Customer reviews & ratings
Three out of four smartphone users have contacted a business they have found on their phone.
Source: Google / Ipsos
Let's see it in action...
Imagine we're searching for a bridal shop. Which of these has the most appeal?
Connect with your customers
In addition, Google My Business allows you to build a customer/follower base, share content, start conversations and respond to feedback. You can even connect face to face with them using Google Hangouts, or invite them to take a virtual step inside using Google Business View.
So why would you want this if you already have a website?
Well, why not? Google My Business isn't designed to replace your website, but it will certainly add value if used alongside.
Successful ranking on Google isn't about cramming repetitive keywords into your website. It's about giving your prospects access to the key information that differentiates you from your competition. Google My Business is an easy (and free) first step to help you in that direction.
1-in-5 searches are local, meaning someone is looking for a product or service nearby.
97% of internet users look for local goods and services online.
Attract more people with Google Maps Business View
Once you've got your business on the map with Google My Business, you need to start exploring ways for making your business stand out from the rest.
An innovative way to do this is with Google Business View - imagine Google Street View, only with the ability to step inside businesses and take a look around. It puts your business at the fingertips of potential customers, allowing them to take a look around from the comfort of their home, bus, train, car etc. from any device, 24/7, 365 days a year.
Your own Google Business View could help raise awareness of your business in your local area. This is particularly important for reaching out to younger generations who rely on the internet to find places to go and things to do.
Even if you've been established in your community for a long time, don't assume everyone knows you're there; consider the churn in your local housing market, you need a way to reach newcomers.
From virtual visits to footfall
People could use Google Business Views to book a specific table in your restaurant, arrange to meet a friend in your cafe, look at your hotel rooms, review the facilities your gym offers, or check out the sort of things you're selling in your shop. . Whatever your business, the next thing you know - your virtual visitors will be through your door for real.
Gaining customer trust is an essential part of the selling process. So even if you're an online retailer trading from a warehouse with no physical 'shop front', Google Business View can help boost your conversion rate by reassuring your customers that you're a real business with real products.
There's a small one-off charge for the initial photography; a small price to pay for an HD 360-degree virtual tour of your business that's available around the clock to potential customers. It's hosted by Google and yours to use on your website, Facebook and of course your Google+ page at no further cost to you at all.
Does it work?
Leekes Coventry store footfall is up by 20% year on year since launching their Google Business View.
NYC Restaurant Week
Booking conversion rates for restaurants with a Business View were 50%, compared to 20% for those without.
Just Food for Dogs
Experienced a 50% increase in click through rate from Google search after publishing their business view.
Five steps to get your own Google Business View...
Arrange a time for the photography to take place that suits you and your business.
Before the shoot takes place, get your business photo-ready.
On the day, the photographer will photograph the areas of the business you want to be included in the tour - this usually takes a few hours depending on the size of your premises.
...and relax. After your shoot, the photographer will take care of the rest and will let you know when your tour is live on Google.
About the authors
Steve is a Chartered Marketer and Google Trusted Photographer covering the North East of England. He combines his skills with passions, spending his time with small businesses to explore their marketing opportunities and photograph their premises & products.
Ian is a marketing strategist and advisor to business owners and marketers who seek to establish their niche, disrupt crowded markets and deliver an authentic brand with a true identifiable purpose. He helps organisations break convention and tell the story of their brand through his business Rhodes Consultancy.