“Consumers search for products and services online—including by searching on Google,” said Kristen Hintze, director of consumer engagement for Digital Air Strike, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based consumer engagement technology company. “If you do not make yourself as visible as possible online, including on Google, your customers will be more likely to find and research your competitors.”
The following five steps explain how to harness the power of Google to keep your business competitive. (In most cases, you can access your GMB page via a web browser at google.com/business, or via the free Google My Business mobile apps available in the iOS and Android app stores.)
“A critical first step in properly maintaining your Google My Business page is claiming and verifying the listing,” said Hintze. “This gives you control over the information being displayed and helps boost your local SERP (search engine results page), allowing your business to rank higher when consumers search for you.”
In order to claim your GMB page, you must first have a Google account. If you don’t have one, sign up for a free Gmail address; this will be your login for all of Google’s services. Then go to google.com/business, do a search for your business and follow the instructions for claiming your page. This is especially important if you find that the information showing up about your business is erroneous.
“If your business page is unclaimed, it may be riddled with misinformation, broken links, or even the wrong phone number/address,” said Niles Koenigsberg, digital marketing specialist at Fig Advertising figadvertising.com in Denver, Colorado. “You don’t [want] to start off your relationship with prospective clients on the wrong foot.”
If your business name doesn’t turn up when you search for it, follow the instructions at google.com/business for adding your business’s listing.
Once you have access to your GMB page, fill in (or make corrections to) the information listed there: your business name, physical address, hours of operation (don’t forget special hours for holidays), phone number, website link, description, business categories, and links to social media pages. You can also upload your practice’s logo, plus photos of your practice.
Google will use the information you enter, especially your address and hours, when people do a local search for businesses near them.
“Google also uses geolocation on most people’s smartphones because they have that on for convenience,” said Drew Aversa, founder and CEO of Aversa Enterprises and author of the book “Grow It Now! The Business Leader’s Handbook to Driving Revenue, Engagement, and New Opportunities.”
“When people search for your business, if you have current hours, location and relevant Google reviews, you will rank higher in search results as Google offers the most relevant results within the area being searched—for example, ‘spa near me.’”
It’s best to fill in as much information about your business as you can, especially in the “categories” and “services” sections, said Koenigsberg. He suggests checking out the listings of other local massage therapy businesses for ideas.
“Take some time to research your competitors to see what other categories they’re listing for. And your services are the perfect places to drop in important keywords and phrases, which may additionally help your rankings.”
Finally, use your listing to give potential clients a glimpse into what you do and what your practice is like, Hintze suggests. The more information you include, the better.
“Examples that will help boost your rankings include high-quality photos of your massage therapists, your facility and the products you sell, short videos with either no audio or closed captioning to physically show your customers what your business is all about, and posting regularly on the page to alert customers of specials, showcase your products and services or write about a happy customer with a new video or photo,” said Hintze.
Your GMB page allows customers to leave you ratings and reviews. Hintze suggests being proactive about asking clients to post reviews, as these play a role in how Google ranks your practice.
“The number of reviews and your overall positive rating can impact where you appear in the search results,” Hintze said. “Google wants to connect consumers with the most reputable businesses, so make it easy for them.”
You should also make it a priority to respond to all client reviews, so potential clients can see you care about your customers. “It is key to maintaining an open line of communication and helps to build customer and brand loyalty,” Hintze added.
What about client reviews you may have on other sites, such as Yelp? While it’s not clear whether they directly influence Google’s ranking of your business, noted Koenigsberg, it is possible that Google uses them—and it never hurts to have great reviews wherever your business is mentioned.
It’s critical, said Hintze, not to let your GMB page get out of date. “Make sure the information is always correct and consistent with the content on your business website, as this will positively impact your SERP ranking,” she said. “Make sure you update your GMB page every time you update information on your website!”
Outdated information on your GMB page may not only confuse clients, but also negatively impact your local ranking. “Google relies on those listings to provide relevant information to searchers,” said Koenigsberg. “So, if your listing has different information on it than what is listed on your website (e.g., inconsistent hours, wrong phone number, etc.), Google will take note of that and likely show other listings before yours.”
Hintze also suggests including the answers to questions potential clients might have, such as details about your practice’s COVID-19 precautions. “It is a completely free and easy way to provide consistent updates about your company,” she noted.
By finding and claiming your GMB listing, filling it in with rich, detailed information about your practice and keeping it updated, you’re taking advantage of a powerful (and free!) online resource that specifically targets potential clients in your geographical area.
Allison M. Payne is a freelance writer and editor based in Central Florida. Her recent articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “Massage Therapists Take Action to Support Cultural Competence,” “COVID-19 Long-Haulers Puzzle Health Experts” and “Are You (And Your Data) At Risk? 10 Cybersecurity Steps You Need to Take Now.”
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