Things may not go back to the way they were, but as small businesses, we’re always adapting to the times in order to reach and serve our customers to the best of our abilities.
Thankfully, so much of what we are asked to learn and implement as business best-practices during this global pandemic situation will serve us well long after the immediate virus threat has passed.
One of the top to-do list items for our business – the moment we locked our doors to the public – was to make sure that our Google Business listing was up-to-date. We knew that we would need to change our operating hours but did not yet know how else we would need to adapt. Beyond that, we wanted it to be painstakingly obvious to the people who searched for us that the listing was regularly updated and that the safety of all parties during the pandemic was at the top of our minds.
That’s when I did a Google Search for Google Business best practices. Here, I’m sharing my top tips and findings that we’ve implemented at our business and that I think all small business owners and operators should consider. The best part: making these changes and keeping your Google Listing up to date is completely free and only requires occasional check-ins.
1) Download the Google Business app to your phone
While the service can be accessed on a desktop computer, I strongly recommend keeping the app on your phone for quick updates. I’m able to change my holiday hours for the upcoming long weekend when the thought crosses my mind as I wait in a grocery lineup!
2) Add your own favourite business photos to your profile
Customers can submit photos alongside their reviews of your business. This type of “User Generated Content” is great for credibility, and can be supplemented by your own selected images to create a more well-rounded picture of what it’s like to visit your business. Some ideas for photos you can add to your profile: menu items, products, exterior and interior shots, seasonal photos – everything that represents your business.
3) Get familiar with the term “Local SEO”
The basics of a Google Business Listing are things like your business name, address and phone number, the link to your website and a short description of what people can expect when they visit. You can take this opportunity to make sure that what you list on Google Business is exactly the same as what’s listed on your website or anywhere else online that you have listed your contact information, like your business social media pages. If they are not identical, your search engine ranking will decrease and your page will not be found by people who are in the area and searching for a service or product that you offer.
4) Take advantage of your Google Posts, Offers and Events
Google Business’ post function is more utilitarian and time-sensitive than Facebook posts. A post lasts a set amount of time and then disappears, making it ideal for short term messages like special hours or upcoming promotions. These posts look a lot like Google Ads that show up alongside search results. They also allow functions like “Book Now” or “Call Now”, which are powerful Call-To-Action terms. During the first week of the state of emergency closures, we used Google Posts to let people know that although our cafe would stop serving coffee, as an essential service, our bike shop was still open by appointment during listed hours. We added a “Book Now” button to our listing in an instant.
Take your time optimizing your Google Business listing and don’t forget to check-in at regular intervals: I usually do a once-over of my listing whenever I go to change my holiday hours, which works out to about every 6 weeks. As the first point of contact for people who are searching for your business or ones like it, the most important thing to keep up-to-date online.
Join our Live Q&A with Laura Voskamp
Do you have questions about Google Business listings? Or about the ways to enhance your listing? Join Hastings as we do a live Q&A with Laura Voskamp, “tourism-marketer-turned-small-business-owner ” (co-owner of The Brake Room) and do a deep dive into the world of Google Business.
Laura will be fielding questions from participants and discussing how to make the most of your free Google Business Listing based on her own experience with her business.
Laura Voskamp is a tourism-marketer-turned-small-business-owner who has lived in the Bay of Quinte region her whole life. She spends her screen-time breaks with her husband, riding their bikes around Hastings and Prince Edward counties to find the best gravel backroads.