Depending on your age and lifestyle, you might not be fully aware of just how important your business’ online image is. It is crucial, because we live in a fully digitized world, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t google some information daily. But while having an online reputation is good for business, not having one can be detrimental. So let’s dive into why having an online presence is so important – and how you can use one of the basic tools you should have in your arsenal – Google My Business.
Why an Online Presence is Important
When we want to go to a new restaurant, we look them up online to see the menu, the prices, and, of course, the reviews. There’s only much your website can do because reviews posted on third-party websites will always be more credible. And if we want to go to a hardware store on a Saturday to pick up some rope, we’ll google the store to check when they close. And if in any of these cases the online search comes up empty-handed, we’ll think that they might have closed, or that they’re sketchy or just pick a different option because we can find more reliable information there. So you can see why you need an online presence as a basic necessity, now let’s move onto the details.
How to Use Google My Business
When you search for a business in Google, there is a separate panel that pops up that features the actual store that you’re searching for and gives you details in one spot. It’s something that most people rely on when googling a business, so you’ll want to have it up to date and relevant. Let’s go over the steps:
Claim Your listing
Just because you haven’t claimed your listing on GMB, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Someone might have made it for you, without you even knowing. This is just another reason why you should have a listing of your own. You can claim a listing by following the steps of making a GMB account and submitting it for a listing. There are several ways to confirm you are the actual owner of the business, including by phone, PIN, etc.
Setting it Up
Once you have your account, you’ll want to set up the listing. Post a picture that shows off your business and add all the relevant information. The most important of which are the address, contact, working hours, and website. You’ll also want to add a short description of what your business is.
Make GMB posts
One feature that is often overlooked on GMB is the option to make posts directly to the platform. Some things that are worth posting on your GMB are business updates (especially in this time of crisis when a lot of things are changing!), events you want to promote, offers or products. This will appear right below your GMB listing and it’s an easy way for your customers to access more information.
Once you have everything set up, you’ll want to maintain and update it. If you have a changed phone number, different working hours because of a holiday or some other big change – post it! People rely on the information on the listing, and if you say the store is open or they can reach you in some way – but it doesn’t turn out to be true – you’ll lose their trust.
Customer reviews are posted right below your GMB listing. Customers can freely leave reviews, and it’s up to you to respond to them and manage them. You should be replying equally to both positive and negative reviews, never arguing or dismissing what is said. Always wish your customers a good day and invite them to come back another time – you’re looking forward to seeing them. This is a crucial step in communicating with your customers and it’s another way to humanize your business and build trust with your customers. People rely on reviews to vet businesses, but they will also look at your answers, so always remain friendly and welcoming.
Having a Google My Business listing will take you minutes to do, but it will bring so much. If you’re a small business just starting, it’s a way to get noticed, features on google maps, and overall draw crowds in, and if you’re an established business, it will help you expand your reach and offer your returning customers a fresh insight into your business. You seriously have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so what are you waiting for?