Small businesses know that reaching a wide customer base can be difficult and Google strives to create technology to simplify this problem.
Did you know that four out of five people use search engines to find local information and that they want their search ads to be customized to their specific community? Google and Ipsos MediaCT found this statistic while studying over 5,000 smartphone users in 2014. Without your business appearing on a prominent search engine, like Google, your website may be lost in the depths of the internet.
It is likely that you already know that having an online presence is important. Whether you have been in business 5 years or 50 years, there is a strategy you have utilized to draw in customers. While Google may not have all of the answers, they certainly have a number of easy-to-use tools that can simplify your online marketing strategy and help open doors to reach new customers.
To gain access to these innovative Google tools, you simply need to create a free “Google My Business” account online. This account is similar to that of an online dashboard that, at the click of your mouse, gives you a wealth of opportunities to interact with customers, prospects, your local community, and even competitors.
Once you have created your listing, Google will begin the verification process to ensure that your business is searchable and that its location will appear on Google Maps. This can be done by a phone verification or a mailed postcard with a special pin number to complete the process. You will want to be sure that you are posting the most accurate information because, once it is entered, your potential customers will be able to see it.
However, if your information changes, like your business location, name, or telephone number, Google will allow you to easily make updates to your dashboard. Another feature they once removed is surfacing again and it is this tool that will help you make changes more easily.
You Can Edit Your Business Description In Google My Business
Google My Business used to be called Google Places back in the day. There was a feature to add a description to your business and they took it away. Well, guess what, it’s back! Google is now allowing business owners to write and add descriptions of their services. This description can be up to 750 characters and will show up when a customer uses Google Maps on their mobile device and clicks on your business’ name. An information panel will then appear with the data you entered on Google My Business, such as hours, reviews, address, and busiest times etc.
One way to use this description feature to your advantage is to input information that will attract the most customers. This is ultimately a chance to catch the viewer’s eye and ensure that you stand out from other similar companies. Consider crafting a description that will showcase what your business offers, what makes you different from others, the history of your business, etc. Keep in mind the Google rule of 750 characters or less, and be sure not to include any links. This is a relatively new feature that was only rolled out last month so, if you don’t yet have the option to use this tool, just be patient. It will either appear on your dashboard soon, or you can always contact Google to see which businesses it is being released to next.
Standing out among the hundreds or thousands of businesses in your local community can be difficult. If you are trying to prominently make a name for your business on a national or even international level, the stakes are even greater. Ultimately, it takes extra effort on your part to ensure that your business’ top traits are conveyed online. These two new features that Google has rolled out for Google My Business users can be of great assistance.
Women-led Business Icon
The question is, “Is your business women led?”
- If the answer is yes, this new Google feature will appeal to you. If your business is led, owned, or was founded by a female, Google’s women-led icon (a red symbol) will appear near your business name on mobile search results. This feature will need to be activated in your Google My Business dashboard in the “Attributes” section. When a customer is searching for your business on their smartphone, this Women-led icon will appear in the “highlights” of your business section.While this may seem like a small feature, Google has created the Womenwill initiative to help stem economic opportunity for women to grow and succeed. It can help lessen the gender gap issue that is prevalent in many countries and ultimately can help customers support businesses run by women. Google reported that almost half of working-age women don’t take part in the formal economy. By adding this feature to the Google My Business dashboard, women-led companies thrive because customers may choose to support them.
- If your company is not women-led, there are other attributes and icons that are available on the dashboard that you can use to your advantage. If your business is LGBTQ-friendly, offers unisex bathrooms, or is wheelchair-accessible, it also qualifies by helping your customers feel at ease and welcome at your establishment. These attributes will display just the same as the Women-led icon would display and each can help to uniquely highlight features of your business.
If the business you own is a restaurant, you are in luck. Google announced earlier this year that restaurant owners can now add and edit menus on their Google My Business listing. This feature will be beneficial for mobile users, who will have the option to browse through menu items including names, descriptions, and the prices of each dish. If you want to create sections on the menu such as appetizers, entrees, wines, desserts, etc., this is also an option.
This feature is found in the Google My Business information tab for many restaurant businesses, but not all. Currently, it is only available for English-speaking locales. Also, it is important to note that if you list your company as a “bistro” or “cafe,” you may not yet have access to this feature because only businesses under the “restaurant” category have been granted access. This is another example of how your business can stand out. If you offer an incredible happy hour deal or a coveted rare wine, customers will be able to see this information without needing to go out of their way. It is this kind of high-quality online presence that can showcase your business and what it has to offer.
While ensuring that your company stands out from the crowd is important, there is a way to accomplish this more organically than simply posting data and adding buttons. Connecting with the community you are trying to reach is incredibly important in not only getting the name of your business out there but creating an emotional connection with your customers and prospects. This leads to the last of the Google My Business features that have been recently released.
Google My Business Videos
As part of the Google My Business Photos dashboard, video content is now a feature that can be added. This can help to make your Google listing more robust. By creating and sharing photos and videos on your listing, you can help to stay engaged with your customers. They will feel like they are getting to know you through the content you share, as if they are being given a behind-the-scenes look at your company. These photos and videos can also help you stand out and differentiate your business from competitors.
The more content you are able to create and share, the higher chance you have of customers seeing this content and spreading the word about your company, either through social media or by word-of-mouth. In simpler terms, when someone gets to know your business, they are more likely to become a customer. As of January, video clips that are uploaded to the Google My Business dashboard can be 30 seconds in length and, once they are added, will live next to your photos. Please note this feature can take up for 24 hours to be live on your listing.
It is easy to see that all of these Google My Business features, no matter how small they may seem, can lead to a robust listing that will help drive more traffic to your business. Google reported last year that, “businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust, 38% more likely to attract in-store visits, and 29% more likely to see a purchase.” With these statistics, it is clear why creating a listing and utilizing these tools can be beneficial to the growth of your customer base. Google My Business has become a must-have tool for spreading the word about your company and what you have to offer.