Brand• Brand positioning• Digital Marketing• Free Marketing• Google My Business• Marketing• SEM• SEO• social media

Google My Business Ultimate Guide & Tips 2020

google my business ultimate guide 2020
With such a flooded market, how can so many other companies, including yours, build their brand and win the business with new customers? The short-term answer: free marketing (for right now). The long-term answer? Brand positioning. The best way in 2020 to market your business and build your brand is to create and optimize a Google My Business (GMB) account. This will be crucial for Google displaying your business for local search results. The best part? It’s free to run yourself, and the more you add to your account and use Google products, the higher your business will rank as you interact and engage with customers.

The following article will go into detail how you can optimize your page and come out on top against the competition. If they aren’t using a GMB page or are not optimizing it, you can take the fast and easy advantage when it comes to search engine marketing (SEM). The way marketing is done is shifting over to digital, year by year, tactic by tactic. Taking advantage of this technology will benefit your business in 2020 and years to come. let’s take a look at what factors play into optimizing a GMB page.

1. Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is simply understanding your target customer and what your competition is doing WRONG. You create a plan to make that right, but utilize the internet to your advantage. Now the precious art of digital marketing comes in to play. How do you leverage your digital marketing efforts to build your brand over the competition, and is it feasible? The short term answer: Yes, but it’s not over night.

The untapped potential and leverage that exists right now for utilizing digital marketing for your business to promote growth is astounding. Marketing has taken a turn down a digital road and opportunities have widened for so many industries.

Google continues to dominate

Google has made it to where their website is the main source of all information that generates from search. They display quick results that can solve a lot of users questions without having to visit the provider’s website. Of course they place those who pay as the very first results, but they want users to spend more time on their site. They have also had experienced failure when attempting to compete with major social platforms, and a recent result is the removal of Google+. The good news is that Google awards those who uses their products, which gives Google My Business the green light for teaming up with and including in any strategy.

With so many free and paid platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to know what’s best for your business. You’re busy with customer service and working close with your team. Now let’s cut to the chase. we’ll begin with the best (free) social media platform heading into 2020 for your small business. Google My Business. Yes, after researching the new features and overall intentions of GMB, I’ve decided that it’s truly a social media platform that small businesses need to take advantage of while it’s still available as free marketing!

2. Google My Business Overview

Google My Business offers a convenient way to track how many users see your business during a Google search. This includes map views of your location and how much activity surrounds views of your content (photos, specials).

google search
Google search block (2019 Google)
About 10 or even 5 years ago, the first thing a prospective customer will do when considering your business is give you a call. They may have found your number on a business card or obtained one through word of mouth (classic free marketing). That was the first and most powerful form of communication that went down back in “those days”. Today, we all Google a business before we do anything else. We run a search on the search engine giant to find websites, social media accounts, contact information and reviews. It’s the number one thing that we use. Don’t kid yourself, you know you do too! Google pushes businesses with GMB accounts to the top of the local search results.

Google My Business is a great way to create and customiz your business page through Google. It allows searchers to see important details about your business such as hours, locations, posts, photos and more. You can interact with customers by asking for reviews and engaging with them through a messaging feature. GMB can honestly be viewed as a new social media tool. It works well with digital marketing solutions and other business growth interests.

With GMB being free and directly associated with Google,  it’s simply a great free way to tell Google what you do and offer is best for their customers searching for your service. Running ads can be done through Google AdWords, but creating a free GMB account doesn’t do anything but good when considering your ROI. The only asset, which is the most important, is your time, but it’s Free marketing!

3. What’s First? Sign Up

Choose “manage now” to get started (2020 Google)
Sign up with a Google account and navigate to:

https://www.google.com/intl/en_us/business

verify your business. This is done by Google sending you a post card to your location and entering the code online to let them know you exist (or email and phone options for select businesses). Next, fill out all the information you can on your profile, including: your service area, hours, phone number, website URL (don’t have a website?) and description. Lets’ revisit the ways to verify your business.

Snail mail

It’s old school, but you can select the option for Google to mail you a post card with a verification code. It takes a few days, but when it arrives enter the code on your account and you’re verified. All your hard work optimizing your GMB account will now go live!

Email

Choose the email option (for select businesses) and check your account. Follow the instructions inside the email and verify your listing.

Phone

For select businesses, you can verify your account through phone. Choose the “Verify by phone” option. Check your phone and follow the instructions.

4. Rules of GMB

Customer Contact

There are some rules that are worth learning about. First, your business has to make some sort of contact with customers during your listing business hours.

Ownership

You have to own the business to open a GMB account. Promotion purposes of someone else’s business won’t fly. This is unless you’re an authorized representative, such as an SEO/SEM marketer, friend or affiliate of the owner.

Honesty

Don’t make false claims about your business or fabricate reviews. This isn’t good for your business or Google’s reputation. If any rules are violated, Google will quickly suspend your account.

For more on guidelines for representing your business on Google, click here.

5. Features of Google My Business

The following is the features that run the GMB platform. Optimizing all areas of the business profile will help Google recognize you as the authority and preferred choice on local search. Their aim is to provide their users the best returned results, and with a well-polished GMB account, you will be seen as the top option. When users search for a particular service or product, the search results return a “localized pack”. The localized pack is the box that shows up with a list of businesses that are relevant to the particular search term. You want to be listed in this localized pack and will need to optimize your account to rank higher than the rest!

Posts

google my business posts view
Recent posts view (Google 2020)
Posts are an easy and powerful way to provide advertisements with the app. Posting updates with your business such as new inventory, finished jobs or practically anything will allow Google to display your business in a professional and informational manner to your potential customers.

Google suggests creating and sharing posts that contain content that will help your customers know more about you and your business. Be sure to keep it family-friendly and follow the content policy. You can add photos, videos and GIFs with a 10-photo limit per post (Google, 2020). All posts are visible through search for 7 days and can adjusted to 14 days. Posts are a great way to communicate with current and potential customers.

What’s new

This tab shows the more recent posts. You should use the “What’s New” area of GMB to post updates and content relating to your business. After completing a job, posting here is the best place to show off your work.

Events

Keep customers informed and post whenever you have a event relating to your business. Use a photo or video to promote the event and add the description, start/end date and more details, if applicable, which includes an option for a button to be added.

google my business add event
Click on “Post your first event” to get started (2020, Google)
add details to google my business event creator
Add details to your event (2020, Google)

Offers

Offers are small ads that can be ran through your GMB account page. Creating an offer is done by choosing the blue “Add Offer” button on the top of the Posts page. You’re ad will look something like this:

Offer for 20% off custom logo design (2020, Google)
Adding and editing information on the post begins with the offer title. Add a short description of what you’re offering and jump to the start and end date. You can make the ad run as long as you like. There is an option to add a particular time for the offer to start and end as well, which can make the duration more specific. The editing area goes on asking for offer details, an optional coupon code, a link to redeem and terms and conditions. 

google my business offers detailed information areas
Add details to your offer (2020, Google)

Videos

Videos can also be added to your profile page. Just follow simple content rules, such as avoiding hate, violence and anything explicit. The content of the videos has to be original and relevant to your business. Avoid any spam and protect the privacy of others involved. It is also acceptable to use YouTube videos on your account, playing directly on the search screen. Here’s More on the Google My Business content policy.

Make sure the video is less than 30 seconds, up to 100mb in file size and 720p resolution or higher.

ad photo to google my business page
It’s simple to upload photos right from your mobile device (2019 Google)

Photos

You can add photos your account where they will become available to users searching Google for things your business offers. You can set up a welcome offer that will help convert page followers to customers. This is done by offering them a special discount. Welcome offers through GMB are equivalent to coupons and unique offers that can be quickly accessed by customers when searching for heating and cooling services. Having promotions and eye-catching ads for easy view will prove to have a high ROI when considering it’s free marketing. It’s a great way to keep your customers updated without only using Facebook. You essentially have a Google version of Facebook through Google search (the most used search engine). Combined with a website, you’re online presence will increase dramatically.

Google My Business Photos
Photos displayed to a Google user (2020 Google)
google my business photos free marketing
Utilized listing with photos (2019 Google)
Adding photos can enhance customer centricity when searching for services you offer. When your company shows up next to a competitors, interested customers will click on each tab to learn more about your business. When they do, they have quick access to your photos of recent jobs without having to click through to your website and search for that content. Very convenient and beneficial when customers are looking for a great heating & cooling company on the fly. Don’t underestimate the power and reach of Google, ever!

google my business pictures team at work video identity
Roberts Consulting Firm (2020, Google)
When you access your photos on a desktop, you’ll get a view similar to the one above. There is an area to see all posts in an overview, videos, at work, team and identity (logos). 

Geo-tagging your photos will help strengthen your local reach. The more relevant photos of your business offerings help to strengthen your positioning in local results. GMB photos are displayed around 720px X 720px, so it’s important to watch how your photo is posted. 

Mobile vs Desktop 

Speaking of 720px by 720px, I noticed recently that it’s best to post your photos on a desktop computer to your account. If you add a photo from your phone with the same dimensions, it will display on desktop searched with two vertical black bars with your image smashed in-between. If you post that same photo on a PC, it will look great both on a desktop view and mobile. It’s important to focus mainly on mobile optimization, but from a quality perspective, get it right on both. 

google my business mobile photos view
Mobile photos view (2020 Google)

Viewing statistics

Stats never lie and will lead you to learning more about your customers and how effective your GMB account is. The more relevant content and interesting posts/photos you share, the higher your numbers will go up.

google my business account hub
Google My Business views, searches & activity metrics over the last 28 days (2019 Google)
Posts and viewer activity can be viewed conveniently. GMB has a easy to navigate app. Reviews are critical to ranking higher and making a great first impression on the user. When people go to Google to search for something, most of the time it’s with intent. They are looking for a solution to a problem in their life and your reviews and stars are something they instantly gain a level of trust with. 

Customer reviews

attorney local search engine optimization lawyer marketing
Google My Business Local Search Results For “Attorneys near me” (2020 Google)
google reviews for a party rental business in southern maryland
Google Reviews for Fisch Inflatables – Southern Maryland Party Rental Company
Reviews are the best thing that shows up on your profile. When someone searches for a local services or product, the top three or four listings will grab the attention of the user. If the number one listing has all the right information (business name, address, phone number, or “NAP” for short) but there are no or a few bad reviews, their eyes will immediately float down to the next listing. Personally, before even considering the wonderful world of digital marketing, I did, and still do that same exact thing. Reviews are flashy, attractive and trusting. If you have loyal customers that you communicate with frequently, chances are they have a Google account. If so, send them a link directly from your mobile GMB app and kindly ask for a review. A little time invested in that will work wonders against your competitors in local search results.

Always respond to your reviews. Google recognizes this as clear communication.

GMB reviews update 6.2.2020

Recently, COVID-19 has disrupted the review capabilities from posting to responding to them. Google reported that they were working with a limited staff, thus affecting some areas of GMB features. The good news is now that has been lifted. Reviews can now be posted and responded to.

Services

Detailed services (2020 Google)
You are able to add your business services if you’re service-based or in the health and beauty or food and drink industry. It’s a great place to showcase what you offer and what your business is about. Maximize all the space you can with the descriptions of the services and make sure to proof read the contents before submitting!

Business name, address & phone number (NAP)

Google My Business Name, Address & Phone Number
Local business name, address & phone number (NAP) (2020 Google)
Your business name, address and phone number are essential pieces of information that can’t be left unattended. This info helps you rank higher and has to be updated accordingly. When and if a change happens, be sure to update your GMB listing, website, social media and anywhere else your NAP exists. Major search engines will identify you as a real business with more relevant, accurate and local contact information.

Creating a shortname

adding a shortname to google my business
Adding a short name to GMB listing
Short names are similar to handles, such as the Instagram handles you may be familiar with. It includes the @ symbol, then your business name. The shorter the better! The short name will help customers easily identify you on search and map and is used to share the link to gather more reviews.

6. Why This Works

Google My Business offers a convenient why to track how many users see your business during a Google search including map views of your location and how much activity surrounds views of your content (photos, specials). This data can be collected and used for your digital marketing campaigns. Free marketing, free data. It can’t be beat. Google often communicates with you about your account, such as suggestions when to add posts and to responds to recent customer reviews. If you have an employee who can spend some time optimizing your listing, or if you’re interested in a Google My Business manager, setting up an account is worth the time.

Optimized Listing Example

our client ranking number one through local search engine results
The system works! (2020 Google)
When I started my consulting firm, my business idea and model was to consult people on how they could improve their website. That’s all, just a consultation. I quickly realized that was a mistake and learned how to create custom sites for businesses and have now evolved into social media marketing with a focus on branding and Google My Business as the top application (Facebook is number two!). My first website client was Elite Maintenance, and I recently was asked to update their Google My Business page which had been inactive for quite some time. A few days later and BAM, their ranking number one for different local search terms (see image above). The system works.

Watch the competition

One interesting feature about Google My Business is your account page shows what “businesses like yours” are posting. It’s an advantage in the sense that you can study posting habits of others and work your  social media marketing  strategy around it. Posting more photos, posts, offers and updates will put you above others in search results. You can also search right from Google your main competitors specifically and follow updates and posts they make. With 3.5 billion searches per day across the globe, almost half have local intent. That’s a lot of people searching for what you offer even in your area on a smaller scale!

google my business competition tracker
Watch what others are posting to GMB (2020 Google)

7. Is GMB Really Free? Hopefully Not For Long

As of right now, yes, GMB is free to create an account with and rank. Google recently released surveys asking users if they would be willing to pay to rank with their service. Currently, ranking in the local search pack can be done with an optimized listing and gathering 5-star reviews. If Google decides to charge for ranking high in the search pack this means two things will happen.

Google makes millions

With so many businesses listing on GMB and creating great leads and relationships with customers, $50 a month or so is nothing. Google makes millions, on top of their fortune, but small businesses can continue to benefit from the service. How is that even more beneficial to yours? Weeding out the phonies. The other result of Google charging for GMB rankings?

Legitimacy

Service-based businesses, in particular, are suffering from being buried deep in Google search rankings. Even though a business is much better and way more qualified than some other comapnies, they rank lower. This stems from various reasons, but contractors who aren’t licensed and practice shady search ranking habits such as duplicate websites will be removed. How? Google will include the legit company’s license number and verify it’s validity. That’s huge.

fake business on google my business local search pack
Fake HVAC Repair Listing For Generating Leads
I have became aware recently that some of my competition practices black hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. They create fictitious service companies on GMB and create fake websites that generate leads. When unsuspecting users click on the phone number they are connected to the marketing company that then sells the call to the highest bidder. How do I know it’s fake? No address. Generic website with no reviews or unique photos. I worked the HVAC distributor counter for 8 years in this area, and never heard of this business. Requiring a license per listing will completely eliminate these type of practices. As a result, Google’s users will have a better experience and legit companies will enjoy high rankings. It’s a win-win.

8. About Us

Roberts Consulting Firm is a brand-first, quality-minded digital marketing firm based out of Southern Maryland. We love to make change for our clients and do whatever we can to help promote growth and success. We are listed as a Google My Business agency and love learning more and more about the benefits of using the app and other social media channels to promote businesses. If you have any questions about Google My Business,  Google advertising,  or anything marketing related, click on our logo below and we would love to hear from you!

digital marketing brand positioning services maryland
Brand First marketing

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4 comments on “Google My Business Ultimate Guide & Tips 2020

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[…] Google My Business is a valuable marketing for HVAC tool to take advantage of. There are many features such as adding photos, posts, specials and more to boost your visibility. If you would like to learn more about the platform, check out this article we wrote named Google My Business Ultimate Guide and Tips. […]

[…] Google paid ads. If your sole intent is to grow and to grow fast, the best way to do so is invest in paid ads. Right now, Google Guaranteed provides contractors with a green check mark that places high in rankings, on the first page. This check mark comes with the guaranteed that the contractor the user clicks on will deliver great service and can make claims up to $2,000 if not. In order to grab a spot with a check mark, you’ll have to run background checks and provide your license number. More about Google Guaranteed & Google My Business. […]

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