How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes in Google My Business
by Geoff Hineman
Have you set up your Google My Business listing? Are you managing it to ensure your information and updates are up-to-date and accurate?
If you answered "no" to either of those questions, you should address them immediately. Google My Business is a fantastic way to engage with potential customers before they even visit your site. If you are not maintaining it properly, however, it could be misleading—if not outright upsetting—to potential customers.
To that end, we are going to review some of the most common errors we see in Google My Business listings and ways to prevent or correct them.
Claim Your Listing
If you don't claim your Google My Business listing, you are really putting your business at the mercy of others. Are you comfortable with that?
Sure, you can suggest basic edits, such as your hours, phone number, address and website URL. You can also upload photos, but as a customer not an owner. That also means that your customers—even the unhappy ones—can upload photos, too. And there is nothing you can do about it.
Next, if you customers leave undesirable reviews, you won't have the ability to address those reviews. And we all know that unhappy customers are the ones quickest to leave reviews.
You also won't be able to take advantage of Google Posts, which lets you create content directly on Google that will appear highly ranked in Google search results for your brand name.
If you leave your listing unclaimed for long enough and it lies untouched, being able to have it work for you, going forward, becomes more difficult. For example, a user to suggest and edit to Google that your listing doesn't really exist. Google could accept that edit and shut down the listing completely. There is also the risk of a competitor claiming the listing. In fact, they wouldn't even have to claim it to suggest edits to your phone number and URL that go to their business. And since you haven't claimed your listing, Google has no way to notify of such changes to the listing.
Don't put this level of control in other people's hands. If you haven't claimed your Google My Business listing, simply go to the knowledge panel that comes up when you search your company's name and click on "Own This Business." Google will give you an easy set of steps to follow after that.
Permanently Closed Businesses
If your business closes up shop, or a previous incarnation of your business resurrects as something new, you should edit your Google My Business listing to reflect that the business is closed. Sure, you may feel like you don't need the old listing anymore, so it's no big deal.
Only, it is.
Failing to list your business as permanently closed has the potential to offer a very bad user experience. For instance, someone could see your listing and come to your location only to find the doors closed or a new, unrelated, business in its place.
What a waste of time and a tarnish on the history of a business that people worked hard to build.
When you list your business as permanently closed in your Google My Business dashboard, Google will filter it out so that it no longer displays in their map pack.
Not Enough Information
Okay, so you set up your Google My Business listing and forgot about it. That happens to the best of us. You owe it to yourself to check back in and make sure everything is up-to-date and as comprehensive as possible. Every so often, Google will give you new fields in which you can share even more information with users. You should take advantage of providing more information.
Also, it's always possible that you missed a few fields when you first edited your listing. Doublecheck those. Make sure your hours, phone number, and URL are current. It might not seem like a huge deal, but it would be a shame if a potential customer went to a competitor over something that is so easily fixable.
If it has been a little while since you check in on your Google My Business listing, you should make some time to check in very soon.
To piggyback off the previous point, another reason you'll want to revisit your Google My Business listing regularly is to make sure that all the information isn't just present, but also correct!
One very common piece of misinformation that occurs all-too-regularly is incorrect business hours. This can happen most when there are seasonal hours that don't get updated in the listing. Another way the hours can be off is if there are holidays during which you are closed, but not everyone else is. If you don't update your listing for the holiday, you could, again, have people show up to find your doors closed. Or they could be calling repeatedly, just to get your answering service.
Map Pins in the Right Places
One of the benefits of entering your address is that you get a map pin! This is ideal for GPS and we all know how important GPS has become in recent years. Yet, it can be very easy to overlook the map pin in your listing, especially if there are quite a few other pins in your area. Still, you need to ensure it is correct.
By doublechecking your map pin, you might also discover that you have accidentally entered your address wrong and instead of being at 2557 Washington Avenue, you are listed at 5227 Washington Avenue. That's blocks away! Or maybe instead of Helm Street, a typo has you listed Elm Street? That could be clear across town!
By verifying your map pin is in the right location, you can save your customers and your customer service folks a whole lot of time and trouble.
If there is one single area that businesses muff the most often in Google My Business, it's reviews. To begin, some people ignore reviews altogether and don't answer to positive or negative reviews. Time and time again, though, surveys show that users prefer business that engage with customers. It builds trust. By not replying to reviews, it essentially sends the message that you just don't care about customers (and potential customers), their opinions or suggestions. So, you should make a point to answer reviews, whether they be positive or negative.
For positive reviews, a simple thank you will often suffice. If you remember something about that particular transaction, feel free to mention that, too. It shows you care about every customer and the details that surround them.
On the other hand, negative reviews are a completely different bag of burritos. Nobody wants them. They can incite frustration (or even anger) on your part. You must suck it up, though. Responding to negativity with negativity shows a lack of professionalism and nobody wears that well.
The first thing you need to do is assess the review. Some reviews say more about the reviewer than the business. Other searchers can see that, too. These reviews are ones you can often never win back over because some are to unreasonable to ever be appeased. Do your best to be polite, offer to remedy the situation and suggest the customer call you directly. Some people change their tone when they are speaking to an actual person and not just blasting a seemingly anonymous diatribe into the either.
If the negative review seems reasonable and reviewer seems like a rational person, you have more room to address the situation publicly so that other users can see an actual resolution occurring.
Finally, look at every review—both positive and negative—as an opportunity to flex your customers service muscles and win over some new business. Realize that you won't be able to make everybody happy all the time, but neglecting reviews makes nobody happy every time.
Question and Answer (Q and A)
The Q and A feature in Google My Business is relatively new and, as such, tends to get overlooked. It shouldn't be ignored because a question from a prospect gives you a chance to gain a new customer. If you leave questions unanswered, prospects will find other business that will be happy to answer their questions and serve their needs.
Sometimes, other people can answer those questions in your Google My Business with wrong answers, which might be even worse than just losing the business to someone else. Because you run the risk of losing the business and trust.
One way to get ahead of the situation is to take advantage of the ability to pose your own questions. This is a great way to look at your FAQ page and pull some of the most popular questions and answer them before prospects even have a change to ask. In this case, it would also be worthwhile to touch base with your customer service reps once a month or so to see if any new questions are trending.
If you can answer user questions in the Q and A section of your Google My Business listing, you afford your customer service reps more time to deal with other customer issues and ensure that everyone's needs are being met.
Not Including Photos
For as fascinated as we are, as a society, with looking at pictures online, it's mind-boggling how many businesses do not include pictures with their Google My Business listing. Sure, Google will sometime put a street view image with the listing, if they have one. Is that the picture you want, though?
If you haven't already, take about eight good photos of the exterior of your location. Then take another eight good ones of the inside. Get shots of employees working; maybe some shots of orders being packed. These types of pictures make a connection with customers and potential customers. It brings some personality to the business.
"Located In" Feature
Google now lets users edit the "located in" feature in Google My Business. This is particularly useful if you have a location in a mall or shopping center. To ensure your Google My Business listing presents the correct "located in" information, simple do a Google search for your business. If it needs updating, you should be the one doing the updating, rather than leaving it in the hands of others.
Google My Business can be a great tool in helping potential customers find you online and in person. Too often, though, many businesses don't use Google My Business to its fullest potential. Some completely neglect it.
Do an audit of your current Google My Business listing. If you have any of the issues listed above. Set aside a few minutes to get it in tip-top shape. For assistance with your Google My Business listing or any other digital marketing needs, contact Lett Direct or drop me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org today!