In this post we discuss one key element of any local business marketing plan: a Google my Business listing. The history of Google My Business is complex. It has evolved from Google places to Google+ local to its current form. The details are available in this post from WrightIMC, so I don’t intend to cover them here.

The challenge for many small businesses with a local customer base is how to get more sales without relying completely on referrals and repeat work. It is difficult to secure a high profile for the business website on Google without significant investment in local SEO

The importance of a Google My Business listing should not be underestimated. Those making location-based searches are often looking to buy. It potentially delivers a high profile on Google, for free.

When a prospect performs a search with a local component (Florist in Canterbury or Italian restaurant in Skegness), the Google Local Panel often appears towards the top of page1 Google. Securing a place in the top three positions (the 3 pack) in the panel gives a business with a local customer base a profile on page 1.

The top 3 listings of a Google local panel include information on the business address, opening times, phone number, and reviews. It may also include a thumbnail photograph or a website link and directions link. A click on the more places link opens a panel showing more businesses that Google considers relevant to the search phrase. Obviously, the objective should be to obtain one of the first three listings. Even better, the top listing.

There is a simple verification process to follow that can (worst case) take a week or two to complete, but once verified a business can go ahead and update its listing. It is possible to add more content, including business information, services/product information and photography.

You can add posts to cover what is happening in the business or to promote events. Customers can be engaged via Chat. There are sections to manage reviews and links to the website.

There are many factors that determine what position in the local business panel a business can secure. Distance from the location centroid, local links to the business listing, the number of reviews and the amount of information provided in the panel all play a part. It is important to set up your profile correctly and ensure business information is consistent across the web.

 

To learn more about the range of marketing tactics available read our marketing tactics guide

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