HOW TO DRIVE MORE CLIENTS TO YOUR BUSINESS WITH GOOGLE BUSINESS
BY Nina Zoukelman
With 82% of people going on Google to find local information, Google My Business is a great marketing tool. In fact, when a customer types in a search for a business on Google, the first result they will see is a Google Maps directory of the highest rated businesses in the same category near them. So by optimizing your Google listing, you improve your chances of getting new customers. So here are 5 ways to drive more clients to your business with Google Business.
1. Create a Business Listing That Makes an Impression
Google My Business is a great “storefront” for your business. It has reviews, questions and answers and other types of information that are useful for people contemplating whether to use your services. This is how you create an attractive Google My Business listing, in order to reach and engage new customers:
a. Create or claim your business listing
There is a good chance your business listing already exists on GMB. To check that, you need to go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click Manage Now:
In the next screen you can either claim an existing listing or create a new one. It’s important not to create a duplicate listing because that can damage your ranking on Google. So before creating a new listing, make sure you don’t already have one.
Just type in your business name. If you can’t find it, this means you don’t have a listing yet, so you can click on Add Your Business to Google to create it:
Once you’ve created or claimed your listing, you will be asked to verify it by mail, via a postcard sent to your business address within 14 days. There are additional options to verify -- via phone, email, etc. -- but those are available only for select businesses, defined by Google. The benefits of verifying your listing are two-fold: You get to control the content of your listing and enjoy a higher ranking on Google, as verified businesses are ranked higher than unverified ones.
b. Add your business info
After creating or claiming your listing, Google will ask you to add various types of business information. This includes your business name, address, phone number, business hours, website, etc. Make sure to use the same info as you do on every other channel, such as your website, social media, etc.:
Take the time to accurately fill out all the necessary details, to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact, book or visit your business. Imagine that a customer came to your business thinking you were open until 9pm, because that's what it said on your profile, when in fact you closed at 6pm... That customer would never set foot in your business again.
c. Pick the right business category
One of the most important details you’ll be asked to provide is a business category. You need to pick one primary category, after which you’ll be allowed to add 9 secondary ones.
After you've completed some basic details and gotten to your Google Business dashboard, you will be able to add more categories, alongside your primary one.
Just go to your dashboard and click on Info, on the left-hand side:
Then you will see your listing info. You need to click on the category, in this case "beauty salon", to add additional categories:
By adding those categories, you’ll be adding more keywords, through which customers can find you on Google. So any customers searching Google for the services or products your business provides, would be able to find your business if you've added the keywords they had typed in.
For example, if a user types in “waxing in Cleveland”, they’re more likely to see your business if you include “waxing salon” in your listing. Given that you also do haircuts and nails, you would want any user typing in those keywords to be able to find your business, too.
d. Set your business apart through your business description
Your business description is the place to detail what kind of services or products you offer, why you’re the best at what you do and what sets your business apart. Saying a few words about how and when you started your business is also a nice touch. It helps customers understand who you are and why you love what you do.
Google advises not to include details about promotions, prices or sales in your business description (you can do that in Posts, which we will discuss later).
Make sure the wording and the messages in your business description are in line with your brand and with previous descriptions, such as the one on your website. The same principle applies here: The more accurate your info is, the easier it will be for customers to find you on Google.
For example, if you’re targeting families as your customers, mention it. That way, when someone searches for "family restaurant" or “salon for families”, for example, there is a better chance they will wind up on your listing.
You can add attributes to your business description, which are tags like “Has Wi-Fi”, “Outdoor seating”, etc. These kinds of attributes can be edited by you. There are other sorts of attributes, such as “Popular with locals”, which you can’t edit or add yourself. Those will need to be added by Google. The attributes you add will also help you get discovered by people searching for these specific things.
e. Answer questions
Questions and Answers is a helpful feature on your Google listing, through which customers can find information that isn’t featured on your listing. They might ask you about services they’re interested in, or if whether you allow pets or accept cheques.
Answer the existing questions and keep an eye out for new ones -- you should be getting notifications on Gmail whenever a new question is posted. You should answer new questions as soon as possible, seeing as the customers who posted them are probably thinking of using your services. Don’t let those leads “grow cold” and lose interest in your business.
You can also upvote certain questions if they seem particularly relevant or important to your business.
2. Feature Your Services and Products
In addition to adding business categories, you can feature all the services you provide by clicking on Services in your Google Business dashboard. Google will offer you services to add but you can also feature customized ones:
Products is the feature that allows you to showcase your products -- and convert your customer’s browsing into an actual sale. One of the options is adding a button (it will say Buy or Order Online or Get Offer) that will lead from the Product page on Google My Business to your website:
For example, this is how the Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC is making use of this feature:
3. Add Beautiful Photos and Videos to Your Listing
According to Google, listings with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more clicks than those without photos. This makes photos an effective way to drive more customers to your salon with Google Business.
When you pick your photos, it’s important to keep in mind the identity and the character of your business. This is the place to really let your brand come into play: Share the best photos of your business and the elements that define it. If "fun" is part of your brand, use photos with bright, even neon, colors. If it’s all about wellness, then showcase the services and classes that convey this message.
Images of smiling staff will also help drive customers to your business by making them feel welcome.
This is also the place for presenting your best work and showing happy customers. These would draw in new customers looking to get a similar look. Just don’t forget to ask your customers' permission before using photos of them.
Other people can upload images to your Google My Business page too, and you should encourage customers to do so. Just don’t forget to keep track of the images to make sure no inappropriate images are uploaded. If users post images that weren’t taken in your business or are misrepresenting it, you can report those images to Google and ask that they be removed.
Another feature to capitalize on is video. Why? Because 72% of consumers would prefer to watch a video to learn about a product or service. Video is a highly engaging format, and it will allow you to drive customers to your business better than ever before.
4. Leverage Google Posts to Engage Your Customers
Another useful feature is Google Posts. Similarly to social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, Google My Business allows you to add posts that will be shown in Google search alongside your listing. Through this feature, you can add engaging content to your listing -- and use it to attract more customers. You can share:
- Deals, sales and promotions
- Upcoming events, such as salon happy hours or members-only events
- News and updates about the business: new services and products, changed location and business hours, etc.
Posts give you another opportunity to drive customers to your business by informing them of sales and promotions, for example, or cool events they would be interested in attending.
5. Reply to Existing Reviews and Encourage New Ones
It’s simple: The more 5-star reviews you have, the higher your chances are of being featured in the first 3 local searches that appear when your customers search for a salon on Google. In fact, 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, which makes it all the more important to manage your reviews. Here’s how to do that:
a. Reply to all reviews. Both the good and the bad. Why? Because 45 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews. And replying to the good ones is showing people you care about all customers, not just the complaining ones.
b. Be respectful when dealing with negative feedback. When dealing with negative reviews, make it a point to respond as quickly as possible. Adopt a respectful and professional tone, offering empathy. However, trying to resolve the matter online isn’t advisable, so in your comment, try to take the issue offline -- ask for the client’s details in order to solve it directly with them. This will increase the chances that those customers turn their bad review into a good one. You can find more info on how to deal with bad reviews here.
c. Try to get more positive reviews. This is a key element in your Google listing. Positive reviews will make an impression on your customers and encourage them to use your services. To make that happen, you can encourage happy customers to post their feedback on Google. You can either ask them in person (if you feel they’d be open for it) or add a link to your Google listing in your emails, website and social media.