Are you a freelance writer or do you manage a writing business? Then it is almost essential that you have a listing on Google My Business. Not only do you need to be discoverable online by potential clients, but you also need to rank higher in search results.
Google is a competitive web browser that’s worth appearing on. But to rank on the first search engine results page (SERP) is a battle. That’s why you need to have more than just your own website. Google My Business is therefore essential to your marketing strategy.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool that allows you to promote your business profile and website by showing up in Google searches and maps when potential customers carry out queries related to your business. After all, NetMarketShare explains that no less than 70 percent of all web searches are carried out via Google.
The critical features that you can add include location, what you offer, categories and work hours/days.
Claiming and Verifying Your Business on Google
To ensure your business shows up on Google you need to claim and verify your business.
Claiming Your Business on Google
Claiming your business on Google is the same as getting your Google My Business listing. Below are the five simple steps to get started:
1. Sign in by answering the questions and confirming that you are the owner. Or create a Google account for your business if you haven’t already got one.
To do this, click on “Create account,” and fill in the details required.
2. Now, visit Google.com and type in your business name and city in the search box. Then hit enter. Once the results are showing, click on “Maps” to find your business on Google Maps.
You should see a map of your region. If your business is already shown, it means it’s been added by Google (probably via a third-party tool). If that’s the case then the step you need to take is claiming it. Click on “Get started,” and provide accurate answers to all the required details in each field to show that you are the legitimate owner. Also, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions before submitting. Then, open Google Maps, search for your business and select the one you own.
Once the business listing page is opened, the next thing is to scroll down and tap, “Own this business?” Pick your verification option and follow the other on-screen instructions.
If your business is not already shown, see the remaining steps below.
3. To add your business, go to “Maps.” Look to the top left-hand corner of your sidebar and click on the menu – the three horizontal lines.
4. Scroll down through the menu and select “Add a missing place.”
5. This click will open up a box where you can add your business details. At this stage, take your time to review your details before you click “Claim this business.” Within 24 hours you will receive a confirmation mail along with a link to the listing.
Getting Your Business Verified on Google
The next step after claiming is to verify that you own the business. An unverified Google My Business account is a waste of time as you won’t be able to see and respond to customer reviews. Also, updates to your page will not be seen by your customers.
Here are the steps to complete the verification process:
- Log in to your Google My Business account.
- Select the business you would like to verify.
- Click “Verify Now.”
- Google will need to send you a PIN – verification code. By default, the PIN is sent via postcard to your physical business address. Other options are call/text to a phone number or an email to a given email address. You are free to choose which verification method you would like (phone, instant verification, bulk verification, email, video chat, local guides, product experts, and others) but the options differ based on your business type and location.
- Fill in the details required for the option picked, submit and wait for the code.
- Once you receive your PIN, you need to sign in again.
- Click “Verify location” from the menu.
- Enter your five-digit PIN in the box provided.
- Click “Verify.”
Now, your business is visible on Google searches and maps.
Writers often ask, “Does Google My Business really help my business?” Yes, it does. These listings appear at the top of Google’s search results, making them a prime location when trying to get new customers. Your listing will be seen before the user sees the normal search results, making it more likely that they will visit your website.
However, a Google listing alone (without showing up in search results) is not enough to secure you a spot at the top of the page.
There are a few factors that determine where your site will appear relative to other businesses. So if you want to get your website to the top of that list – and therefore drive more traffic to your business page/website – it’s time to optimize your Google My Business profile.
Proven Tips for Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile
Any business can claim to have a Google My Business account but to rank higher in search results is a different ball game. That’s highly competitive. Below are proven tips you should consider for optimizing your Google My Business profile.
Input Complete and Accurate Data
Search results won’t favor your business simply because you are listed on Google. The web crawler is more concerned about the completeness and accuracy of the information you have provided. There is no room for guesswork. Specifically state your offerings, your category, your location, your business hours, and how your potential customers will get access to what you sell. Above all, make sure the business information you have on your Google profile is consistent with any that can be found on other digital platforms.
Another thing to consider is how closely your business is related to the search query. The closer they’re related, the higher up on the page it will appear. That’s why it’s recommended that you provide specific, detailed, accurate, and complete business data on your Google account.
Use Targeted Keywords
Getting optimized for appearance in search results requires using important keywords. For all the pieces of information you input, from business description to product description and others, leverage keywords. Don’t forget that digital users also use certain phrases when searching for information online, so know your audience and think of the kind of words they are likely to use when searching for information related to your business.
Google insight reveals that businesses that incorporate photos in their Google My Business listings get about 42 percent more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and an over 35 percent increase in click-through rates to their websites.
First, make sure you have a profile photo and logo image, then consider adding more. Mind you, think carefully about the kind of images you put up, especially your profile photo.
- Use visually appealing images.
- Make sure the images actively represent what your business offers to prospective clients.
- Get a professional designer to create a unique profile photo that really captures your business.
- Use your brand logo as the profile picture.
- Pick any random picture (except purchased) from the internet. Or, do you want your business to share the same profile picture with another business?
Based on Google’s content policies, the photo and video guidelines are:
- The acceptable photo format is JPEG or PNG.
- Photo size must be between 5KB and 5MB.
- The image must be real as depicted – void of filters.
- It must be clear and highly focused on the object.
- Google recommends 720px tall and 250px wide for photo resolution.
- Video file size should not be more than 75MB.
- Acceptable video length is 30 seconds.
- The recommended resolution for video is 720px or more.
Request and Respond to Reviews
According to the Local Consumer Survey, 91 percent of consumers reveal that positive reviews encourage them to patronize a business. At the same time, 82 percent claim that they are less likely to patronize a business with negative reviews.
Never miss the chance to request a review from a satisfied customer. You can do this by sending a link to your customers via Google My Business.
Now, when it comes to using reviews to optimize your profile, how responsive you are to reviews is another critical factor. When a satisfied customer drops a review on your Google My Business page, acknowledge their goodwill.
Below are some examples of positive and negative reviews from customers, and the responses they got from the business. Your response to a negative review, in particular, is more likely to redeem your brand’s personality than either ignoring it or arguing against it.
Regularly posting to your Google My Business profile means that you are both providing the information your customers need and meeting Google’s preference for valuable content. For every photo/video, make sure you have an accompanying valuable post. It need not be long and don’t forget to add a call-to-action (CTA).
Provide Instant Communication and Accessibility
Yes, include an accessible local number in your Google My Business profile. But beyond that, to get to you, leads are more likely to use instant messaging than put a call through. Messaging is an effective way to personalize and customize the way you interact with a lead. You can use the messaging feature in Google My Business to do this.
Consider Your Business in Its Local Area
Proximity is important! How far is your business address from where the user is searching? The closer you are, the higher you will appear in the rankings. Well, that’s if the searcher specifies their location in the search phrase and it matches or is close to yours.
How popular is your business in its local area? If it’s popular, Google gets this clue through articles, reviews and address listings crawled from other sites. And this is more likely to influence your appearance with a higher ranking in search results than other unpopular businesses in that area.
Keep Potential Customers Interested
How often your business listing gets clicked when it appears in search results influences whether you will rank higher on the list or not. A website that is receiving more search traffic is more likely to receive a higher ranking.
This is because it’s a message to Google that users are getting value for the time spent. And this traffic can be as a result of offline popularity, social mentions, backlinks, and SEO content, etc.
What this means is that it’s not enough to appear in a prime location on Google’s search results. If users don’t click or they clicked through but left abruptly, this starts passing a negative message to the algorithm. Visuals, headline, and ease of navigation are some of the tips that encourage them to click, stay longer, and get value for the time they spend there.
Although there is not much you can do about some of these things – for example, you can’t control where people are searching from – knowing about all these factors will help you shape your marketing strategy and grow your writing business. And hopefully, get you a little higher in the ranking.
Getting your Google My Business profile set up and integrating the optimization tips above is already a giant leap forward.
But remember that gaining better visibility and increased patronage for your writing business via Google My Business is never a one-time effort. It’s something you’ll need to keep returning to and updating regularly if you want it to gain traction.