Having an online presence has always been important. However, in this new COVID-19 pandemic environment in which we find ourselves, it is essential. As we write this, Ontario is in stage 3 of the reopening. That means that many businesses, such as restaurants, may not be able to serve as many customers as they did before the pandemic due to social distancing requirements. What’s more, customers may not yet feel comfortable dining inside a restaurant or standing in line at the counter or check-out line for products. Making it easy for customers to find you online can help keep your business thriving, even in these unusual times. One of the best ways to do that is by optimizing your website (SEO) to be visible to people searching in your area for your particular goods and services. Another key task is taking advantage of Google My Business. A seasoned digital marketing partner like Website Design Kingston can help you make the most of these opportunities to draw customers, organically to your business.
What is Google My Business and why you need it now?A Google My Business account allows business owners to engage with their customers via Google search for free, without having to visit your business website. Surprisingly, fewer than half of all businesses have taken advantage of this useful, free and potentially lucrative, tool. A Google My Business account lets your business appear on Google Maps, Google Search, and more. It allows customers to get a summarized view of your business, with your address, phone, and hours instantly visible, this differs from organic search results that can take years to perfect. Google My Business is particularly useful to connect with those searching for a business in your area looking to buy now or in the near future. If you don’t already have a Google My Business profile, all you need to do is visit this link. You can complete your business profile and a confirmation code will be mailed to your business address. Once you receive the code and claim your listing you can start reaping the benefits in just a few minutes. Important to note that Google will automatically create a listing with or without your participation, its robot crawlers will grab all information it can find online and create what its algorithm thinks is the most useful information. You cannot trust this to be accurate so it’s better to always claim your business profile so you have complete control over public-facing data. Making the most of Google My Business post-COVID-19 means making sure that your information is up-to-date. Many Ontario businesses have changed their hours since the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to update your profile with every such change so that people searching for your business will know. Recently it has been reported that any website with a mention of “Temporary Closed” written on their landing pages will be noticed by the Google crawlers. Google will then automatically update your GMB listing as “Temporary Closed”. If your business profile on GMB receives this designation you should immediately change it because that action will drop you out of SERPs and the Map pack results.
Optimizing your Google My Business ProfileTo optimize your My Business profile, make sure that your contact information matches the Google map. That means things like using a local telephone number rather than a toll-free or call center number. It also means making sure that your postal code matches the address that Google has for you. For instance, if your company uses a corporate address, rather than the local one, it will hurt your visibility on Google search. In addition, you’ll want to…
- Fill in your business description and category carefully. You’ll also want to spend a little time on your business description and your business category. Think of the description as a mini META description and make sure to use a keyword and a local descriptor. For your category, be as specific as possible from the canned list of Google options.
- Add photos. Add photos of your location and your products to your profile. Business profiles with photos are twice as likely to be considered reputable. Google gives you the option to upload a profile photo, a cover photo and a video to showcase your business. These can be your photos or user-generated images (used with permission).
- Ask for reviews. Google My Business is also linked to reviews that customers post on Google about your business. It just makes good business sense to solicit reviews. After all, more than 90 percent of consumers today look at reviews before making a purchasing decision. To make the most of your reviews, make sure to monitor your profile and respond quickly to all reviews. While it’s essential to respond to negative reviews, posters appreciate your acknowledging their positive reviews also.