This is the introduction to our new podcast series here at MK WAY. For our first episode, we will introduce Google My Business and answer our client’s most frequently asked questions about the feature.
What is a GMB profile? [00:24]
A GMB profile, now called the Google business profile, is a way for any local business to create a listing and get found on Google Maps.
You could be a brick-and-mortar store that just opened a new restaurant, or you could be a service-area business that doesn’t actually have your own store location.
You may be a painter, or you may be a tree cutting service, operating from your own home.
You can create an SAP, a Service Area Business, and create a profile that gets found on Google Maps. People looking for a local service will go there and find vendors that could provide that service.
Why do we need a GMB profile? [01:54]
Business owners could be missing up to 15% of local traffic. In addition to all the things that a local business may already be doing, like building a website, establishing their brand, and maybe doing some paid advertising – a GMB profile helps them get found on Google Maps.
It helps them get found on Google Search. The key to offline revenue is getting found online and sharing that experience.
The more you can get found online, the more business you can do, the more customers you can track, the more appointments you can book, and it’s all organic.
You’re not paying for any ads. It’s a great way for people to experience your business online first, without ever visiting the store or doing anything else.
Why should I verify my business? [04:52]
The reason most business owners verify their business is so that they can claim their digital real estate. So to speak on Google Maps, we know that Google in general owns about 95% of the internet search.
And there are a lot of other platforms out there, including Bing as well as Duck Dot Go, which is up and coming. But we can all agree that Google Search dominates. And so when you verify your business, you’re claiming your online real estate on Google Maps.
It allows other people to trust that you are in that location, that you’re a business that has been approved by Google Maps. It allows other people to see that you’re not a scammy virtual hotspot.
If I want to start a business in Europe, I would consider maybe getting a virtual mailbox because it’s cheaper than getting an office.
So Google verifies businesses with the name, address, and phone number, that you exist in that location, and that you have a presence.
And that gives people the transparency that when they go visit that location, the business is actually going to be there.
The more transparent you can be as a business online, before people experience who you are, view your pictures, go to your website, or check anything else out, the better it is for your brand and brand loyalty.
Would it be safe to assume, that if we see a listing on Google, it’s already verified? [09:26]
Not in all cases.
The way that Google Maps works are that it has listings that are verified, and also listings that are not verified.
For example, during COVID, we saw 40% of the businesses in Toronto disappear. Maybe slightly less, maybe the number is close to 30. Their businesses were still listed on Google Maps. Some of them were listed as permanently closed. Some were listed as temporarily closed, and some were just listed as open.
But when visitors actually drove there, they found that they were actually closed or maybe were rebranded as something else. So that presented a problem.
So on Google Maps, it’s important to find out if that business has been verified.
Google uses a community of Google Guides. They go around the community and they help Google improve their Google Maps, by changing the names of companies or phone numbers or addresses.
In some cases, the business may not even exist there. So it’s important for people to flag that.
One way you can verify the business is using the Claim My Business button directly, and you can do this on behalf of the business owner.
They’ll get a postcard in the mail and they’ll be able to verify their digital real estate space on Google Maps.
Let’s say we are looking for hair salon nearby, to check if a business is verified or not, what should we look for?
You’re going to notice that there is a Claim My Business button on there.
Those are businesses that have not been verified yet.
It’s impossible to say unless you call the business and find out and actually help the community out in knowing if that business exists.
The only way to really identify verified listings is if the business owner themselves logs in, to their own listing. It has a little blue symbol.
How is GMB going to help my business? [15:38]
Share the experience of the products and services you sell. Let’s say you’re a physiotherapy clinic that sells massages. Or you provide physiotherapy, RMT, registered massage therapy, aroma therapy, or something else like that. It’s really important to show these things.
What does the building look like outside? What does it look like on a sunny day? What does it look like in the winter here in Canada? What does parking look like? Is there parking?
So sharing that experience with someone else who’s driving a car will let them know that: Hey, where they can park is the parking underground. These little details help people plan their trips.
What are other insights you can get from this feature? [17:10]
We want to see how many people viewed the photos, and how many times they viewed them. So Google My Business or a Google Business profile will give you some insights. How many people clicked on directions to the business?
These insights will lead to conversions. Like how many people went to the website, then how many people booked the service or gave you a phone call to request the service?
Reviews from other people that they don’t know, are the number one factor. If someone shares a positive story with you about their experience at a massage place, or when they went for ice cream at an amazing spot, or they went out to dinner, you’ll see restaurants always have at least a 4.4 listing. Anything below that, people don’t even want to visit.
If the waitressing staff is bad or the food is bad or something else, it takes one bad review to cancel nine positive reviews. So if we can focus on great reviews, that’ll help you get more customers through the front door, more foot traffic into your business, and that’ll increase your bottom line.
How can GMP increase accessibility or improve accessibility for their target user, or for people in general? [18:37]
There’s a beta feature that Google released earlier this year. As you’re reviewing the business, it will give you an additional insight: What else could you tell us about this business? Its accessibility? Is there a ramp for more accessibility? Is there a better way to access it?
Who is it for? Is it LGBTQ positive? Are there other things that we should know about it?
So, not just in terms of typical accessibility. Standards, but also the other types of things that people are looking for, and the overall experience.
This beta feature may become a real-time feature and be much more available to other profiles as well.
What is the number one thing I should focus on to grow my business? [21:03]
The number one thing is GMB reviews. The reason they’re important is that they’re the number one ranking factor.
So if you want to rank better on Google Search, whether it’s Google Search Canada, Google Search USA, Google Search UK, or in the world, the number one thing is reviews.
So if you’re a business in Santa re Greece, and you’re trying to get more traffic to you, ask customers to give you a review. This could be as simple as having a QR code that people can scan on their way out, or literally the salesperson asking for the review. You have to ask because only 6% of people actually ever leave a review.
What can you do about bad reviews? [22:05]
Those are inevitable in some cases. There are two kinds of bad reviews.
If a customer is paying for the service, and you get a bad review, it’s on you to respond to that review and make sure you can make it right.
But there are also bad reviews in the sense of a scam. Someone who has never been to your business and who is just trying to ruin you. Sometimes you’ll get a competitor who doesn’t want you in their territory anymore. Maybe a new person opened up their business next to you, or maybe you opened up a business next to someone else and you have two chiropractors, literally side by side.
Maybe they get their friends to kind of bash the others to take their perfect 5.0 rating now to a 4.1 because they give three bad reviews.
It’s important that you can flag that, and more important that you let other people know reading that review what actually happened.
If you get a bad review, a mixed review, or we call them negative reviews, it could be because it might be your fault.
Maybe the staff didn’t clean the bathroom and it was really dirty. And someone made a comment about that. This is a great way for the owner of the business to respond to that comment, and respond with empathy and positivity.
If you’re a restaurant and the food is really bad, you’ve gotta own it. They’re going to see some positive reviews, but they’re also going to get to these negative reviews. And if it doesn’t have a response from the business owner, all it takes is that one review for that person to get discouraged, leave and go to a competitor. So you have to tell the truth and find out what happened.
It gives you the ability to now improve your services, improve your team, and teach them about how to become better people, better human beings, and to treat other people to serve in a restaurant.
You need to respond to a bad review with empathy and show how much you really care about that person. Acknowledge what happens. And see if you can make it right. Leave your email, leave a phone number, have them call you again, or have them visit you again at another date to renew that experience.