[Case Study by Justin Moran, WorkspaceMA]
I own a small ‘hyper-local’ business in the increasingly popular flexible office/coworking industry. When entrepreneurs, small business owners or remote employees from larger companies can’t work from home, they search for businesses like mine. Most often, they’re searching for a small private office, coworking, a meeting room for rent or a virtual business address.
My business is a hyper-local business because typically no one outside of 10 or 12 miles becomes a customer, except in rare cases. Also, traditional advertising and digital banner ads have little return on investment in my experience. While I do spend some money with Google Ad Words, I spend a proportionally larger amount of time and effort on a free Google product – Google My Business. Millions of businesses use Google My Business (GMB) to promote their products and services, and in my mind, it’s replaced traditional yellow pages as an online powerhouse to bring in new business.
I decided to invest a lot more time and energy in GMB following a conversation with a former Google engineer who seemed to be in the know. In so many words, he told me that Google was amending its SEO to reward those who invested time and content in GMB. That was all I needed to hear.
My goal as a business owner is to be at or very near the top of any Google search for services my company provides to qualified prospects. What’s a qualified prospect? It’s someone who gets out of bed one day and tells the world that, “Today is the day. I’m finally going to do something about my work environment.” I imagine they’d start a search on Google for the nearest coworking space, first thing in the morning, over coffee. Wouldn’t you?
Because I’ve put the time into keeping my GMB accounts up to date and continuously post new content, I’ve been rewarded with the first or second position in any search result, and I’m happy to share my strategies.
What are the key areas in Google My Business to focus on to yield better results?
Everyone loves to check out pictures online. Make sure yours are up-to-date and look good. Think of it like a real estate listing. When you look at houses for sale online, real estate agents have clearly hired a professional and choose only the best photos to post. If it’s in your budget and appropriate, consider hiring a Google certified photographer to take 360-degree photos. It’s a great way to showcase your business.
According a 2017 article in Inc. Magazine, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as friends. Most business owners I speak with ask, “how do you get reviews?” The answer is simple: You ask for them. Write a personal email to five customers each week, and ask them to write a review for you. You’d be surprised how many people actually do it.Each time you receive a new review, good or bad, it’s essential to respond right away. Reviews create engagement and let Google know that you care about your business and your customers. More importantly, Google loves the content you’re creating! If consumers continually find value in searching Google for good content about the things that are important to them, Google will reward the owners and authors of that content.
The post section of Google My Business is a great way to publish fresh content about your business. Each post expires in 7 days, and GMB will remind you when it’s about to expire. Posts allow you to publish new content about your products, services, employees, etc. They also provide simple calls to action that allow customers to call you directly, order online, visit a landing page or sign up now. Again, this is a simple tool that helps create new content and engagement. See a trend here?
- Products and Services
The more information available to GMB about your business, the better. That means, beside your contact information, pictures, and reviews, it’s important to list and describe the products and services your business provides. For example, if you own a landscaping company that also installs backyard fire pits, be sure to feature that as an additional service. If someone searches for a fire pit installation near you, wouldn’t you want to be listed near the top of the search results?
It’s also key to accurately complete ALL of the information Google asks for. If you have multiple locations, the Google My Business listing for each location must be looked after and continuously updated. As a small business owner with three locations, I think I spend about an hour per week working on my GMB listings.
If you want more business and love the idea of free marketing, I can’t think of a better marketing partner than Google. Create a Google My Business profile that clearly tells your ideal prospect what you do, what you sell, how to reach you, and give them a reason to call you. Plus, reap the added benefit of free publicity as you repurpose all of your blogs, posts, events, articles, photos, and more.
Is it worth it to spend an hour a week to build your business and get the attention of Google? If you don’t think so, we should talk.
My name is Justin Moran, founder of WorkspaceMA. Looking for even more exposure? Email me here and ask about my podcast. You might just be a perfect guest.
Note from Robin: Justin worked with me for six months to ramp up his business. Read his review here.