For your business, being found locally is likely crucial. Google My Business remains an excellent tool for achieving this goal. You’re probably aware that Google Maps consistently ranks high in search results, and businesses with reviews also perform well. With GMB, you can improve your local ranking on Google without spending a dime!
What is Google My Business?
Similar to most Google services, GMB is free to use. It allows you to create a business listing, placing you as a “pin” on the map, ideal for local search results. Here, you can input standard information such as opening hours and a description.
Why Use Google My Business?
Here are the five main reasons to utilize Google My Business:
- It’s entirely free to use.
- It enhances local visibility on Google Maps.
- Business information and directions are readily accessible.
- Customers can easily view your business hours.
- Interested parties can directly read reviews.
What Do You Need for an Account?
If you already have a Google account, you can log in directly via the GMB page. Otherwise, you’ll need to create an account. If you use AdSense, Google Ads, or G Suite, you can use the same account. Search for your business to gain access for adjustments; you’ll need to undergo a verification process through phone or mail. A fixed address is necessary for businesses, as even webshops in the Netherlands must provide a physical location. Google prefers brick-and-mortar stores, particularly due to opening hours.
Completing Your Business Profile
It’s crucial to fill out the profile as comprehensively as possible. Include address information, contact details, opening hours, photos of your establishment, etc. A complete profile tends to rank better on Google and is convenient for your customers to find all necessary information. Ensure consistency across all platforms where your business is listed, including GMB, your website, Facebook, and other channels. Google aggregates this information to determine your ranking. Keeping your business profile uniform across platforms adds value, even when the algorithm changes. These mentions are known as “citations” and don’t necessarily need to be linked to your website.
Note: Keep your business information up to date on all platforms where your business is listed. If you’re listed on other directories, ensure those are also updated if you relocate or change phone numbers.
User Reviews Matter
If you operate a local business, chances are you’re not the only one in your sector. The value Google places on your business heavily depends on the number of reviews you receive. It’s not about the size of your business or the number of customers, but the quantity of reviews you manage to gather. Don’t wait for customers to find their way to Google reviews on their own; politely ask them to leave a review. You can find the direct link to Google reviews for your business via GMB and share it with your customers. Of course, ensure you provide good service, as a poor score can be detrimental. It’s also a matter of reciprocity; if you treat your customers well, they’ll be more inclined to positively review your store. Since you can see the rating from as few as two reviews, it’s essential to gather as many (positive) reviews as possible to counteract any negative ones.
Note: It’s not about reviews on your website but about reviews directly on Google! However, publishing reviews on your website can also improve your Google ranking.
Sharing Messages via Google My Business
You can also post brief messages via GMB, which will be displayed for a week on your business page on Google. If you utilize this feature and post new messages regularly, you’ll also rise in local search results. Google favors active business owners, so you’ll need to invest some effort. Consider promotions during holidays or share interesting news.
Paying for Listings on Business Pages
You’re not only visible on Google for customers but also for administrators of business pages. They may approach you, preferably by phone, with a standard script to “verify” your details and then try to sell you a paid subscription cunningly. Although citations and backlinks are important, paid listings on such pages usually offer little value. An exception might be a sector-specific business page, but you can often get a free listing there. Be cautious with paid listings; they often yield little return.
Google My Business or Website?
With this focus on Google My Business, is it still necessary to maintain your own website? For e-commerce sites, definitely, as besides selling products, GMB is less valuable for web-only stores. Additionally, Google will determine your ranking based on the quality of your website, so it’s a case of “the more, the better.”
Claim your business on Google My Business and complete your profile. Ask your customers to write reviews and keep your business information up to date everywhere. This way, you’ll rank better on Google!
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