Since the dawn of search engines, business owners and marketers have dedicated resources and time to coming out on top when their customers search for products and services online.
The term ‘SEO’ (search engine optimization) was coined as far back as 1997, and gained popularity as marketers and web-savvy business owners realised there were tweaks they could make to their websites to ensure they were at the top of certain search results.
But Google, and other search engines, are constantly improving the way they rank and promote results, and merely optimising your website is no longer a foolproof way to secure the top spot.
Google is looking for the most relevant results to show the user when they punch in a search term. They’re matching keywords and locations to ensure the results meet the requirements for this.
And the results no longer just include websites – they include ads, websites and Google My Business listings. The latter of the three gets the prime position, and there’s a reason for this.
The Brisbane Business Hub recently heard from customer experience expert Karl Schwantes, the Founder of 5 Star Reviews and Managing Director at Xennox Diamonds, about the importance and potential of your Google My Business profile and Google reviews.
When used to its full potential, Karl says your Google My Business profile can deliver the same sort of value in your business as having a full time marketing employee. Furthermore, Google Reviews and your My Business profile can account for half of your website SEO if optimised well, and 93 per cent of people say online reviews have an impact on their buying decision.
With that in mind, here are four ways to get the most of your Google My Business profile.
Optimise your profile
Google My Business profiles are set up so that a user can get information about a business at a glance. As such, Karl says the more information you put into your My Business profile, the better.
“Your Google My Business profile isn’t just about your business name, operating hours and links to contact information,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to tell Google exactly what products and services you offer, and strengthen your reputation around that.”
Karl says it’s important to ensure the keywords in your profile match the terms that people are searching for. Ensuring you have relevant and correct information in your profile is also very important, as you want people to find what they’re looking for when they see your listing.
Karl says the addition of My Business profiles to search results is changing the way people search for and retrieve information.
“Google is supporting the rise of ‘zero click searches’,” he says, “which means it’s supporting users to find the information they are looking for without having to click anything in the results.
“This is the reason why Google My Business takes the most prominent spot in search results, and it’s the reason why dedicating resources to this tool is so important.
“You might have Googled a business’ opening hours, address, menu, or their service offering, and found the information you were looking for without having to click a result. That’s zero click searching.”
Post on your My Business profile
Karl says you can treat this as if it’s another one of your social media accounts, and you should be aiming to post on your profile every week with a business, product or service update, including keyword-centric copy and relevant images.
Google rewards this because it tells the search engine that your business is active and relevant, and it gives it more relevant keywords to connect searches to.
Ask for reviews
Google reviews add to the search clout of your website or My Business listing, but a review in and of itself isn’t enough to do the heavy lifting.
Karl says your reviews are more valuable if they include the keywords for the services and/or products you offer. The more specific, the better.
“In-depth, relevant reviews about your product or service, that include keywords that match your offering, are more valuable than having a higher number of reviews that don’t include those keywords,” he says.
Karl says 86 per cent of customers will leave a review if you simply ask them to. Yes, you’ll have to get used to a few nos along the way, but the yeses you receive will far outweigh the pushback.
Respond to reviews
Lastly, once you receive a review of your business, Karl says you should be responding to each and every one, to help build a positive reputation.
And if you’re afraid of 1 star reviews, Karl says don’t fret.
“You can turn a 1 star review into a 5 star review,” he says. “The important thing to do if you receive a 1 star review is don’t respond immediately, and don’t respond emotionally.
“Take it as an opportunity to turn a negative review into a positive review, and turn the conversation around. You may not win back that customer, but you’ll save your reputation for everyone who finds your business online and is reading your reviews when considering buying from you.”