Small businesses live and die by Google. Especially local ones.
Raising your Google search positioning by a single spot could earn you a lot of new business. If you fall below the top three results, your company may as well not exist.
There are some things you can’t control about your positioning in Google search results or Google Maps. For instance, if another similar business is closer to the searcher than yours, and all else is equal, it’s likely your competitor will show up ahead of you.
However, there are some simple things you can do in Google Business Profile (GBP), so more people will see your company in a prominent place in their Google search results. Check out our top five.
1. Ask for (Good) Reviews
Getting positive ratings and reviews is one of the best ways to improve the presence of your Google Business Profile. They cost nothing but do a lot to raise your business’s profile to organic searchers.
Positive reviews send a signal to Google that your business serves people well and that it can feel confident recommending it to its users. Even if there’s a competitor closer to a searcher, Google will be more likely to feature your business if its reviews are superior. Good reviews will also seal the deal with prospective customers who have never done business with you because they confirm that the positive things you say on your website are accurate.
Happy customers generally don’t think to leave reviews. Google reviews are often what people turn to when they think they got bad service or purchased an inferior product, whether it’s true or not.
Develop a process for asking happy customers to rate your business and say good things about it. Ask in person, over the phone, or in chat (depending on how you conduct business) and follow up in an email that includes a link to where they can leave a review. As a final step, launch a social media campaign asking your customers for reviews. Use messaging that explains how it will benefit a business they love. Also, ask reviewers to include images of your work or products in their reviews. Google Business Profiles with pictures or videos are more likely to be featured on the search engine.
Tip: Take advantage of reputation-management services like what we offer at Dodgeball Marketing. You can tack on reputation management to our already awesome Google Business Pro package.
2. Don’t Get Spammy
Google is smart enough to know when a business website is trying to game the system by doing things like automating content development, creating doorway pages, and keyword packing.
The same applies to GBP.
Google GBP is not going to let businesses get away with spammy tactics that could artificially enhance business profiles, such as by publishing paid or fake reviews. Google can tell when you’ve paid a dubious website to provide a fake five-star review for your business. If Google detects this, it will flag your site and warn people not to trust it.
This kind of warning can be more harmful to a business than not appearing on the top sites served up to searchers. The latter makes a business invisible. The former turns it toxic.
3. Prevent Negative Reviews
Always do everything possible to prevent bad customer experiences. However, if you have a negative customer situation occur at your business, resolve it quickly, ideally before the person puts down the phone or leaves your business location. It may take time and cost money, but it will likely cost less to resolve the issue than the lost opportunities that could result from a bad review.
Leave people happy, so they’re not tempted to turn a bad phone call or in-person interaction into a Google rant.
4. Address Bad Reviews
No matter how hard you try, you’ll get negative online reviews. It’s inevitable. Every business makes mistakes or has a bad day.
When negative reviews appear online, respond by apologizing, empathizing, and making it clear that you are determined to make things right. This shows the general public that you care about your customers. It may even help demonstrate the negative review was unjustified or too extreme.
5. Leverage GBP Social Posts
Google offers small business owners tools to optimize the use of Google Business Profile. Among the most valuable are the social posts available through it, which can be great for promoting a business and enhancing its online presence.
GBP lets users follow your business’s local profile just as they would on a social network such as Facebook. Followers will then regularly see your business’s:
Latest social posts
All of these things help to increase brand awareness among your followers. Remember to use images, videos, and call-to-action buttons in your posts to increase user engagement.
Google Posts is an excellent GBP marketing tactic because its analytics tool lets you see how users interact with your content. You can use the data to improve your posts over time. As you see increased interaction with your content, so will Google, which will raise your profile on the service.
Google wants you to optimize your business profile on the platform. It encourages healthy competition among local businesses so it can identify the best ones to serve its users. While this is a benefit to Google and the people who search for information on it, you can use it to the advantage of your business, as well.