Google It

Claiming and managing your Google My Business listing is a critical part of lead generation

Our tech-heavy culture has a tendency to turn nouns into verbs, not the least of which is “Google.” So when it comes to customers finding your business listing, the Google My Business service is not something you want to leave unmonitored.

Kristy Verity, brand strategist and owner of Vee Media in New York, says hot tub dealers are doing themselves a disservice by not using GMB to bump their company higher on Google search results. “You can gain prime SEO,” she says. “Google gives organic search preferences to those who actively update their listing. When people use search terms such as ‘hot tub dealer near me,’ your GMB listing will be exactly what they are looking for.”

This primary position is even more critical on a mobile device, which has less screen real estate, says Scott Reynolds, co-owner of The Get Smart Group, a marketing firm in California. “If you have your GMB profile filled out completely and your competitor doesn’t, you’re already at an advantage,” Reynolds says. 

To claim your Google My Business listing, Google your company name and location from a computer. A box will show your business name, address, phone number, website and anything else Google has already compiled from your online presence. (Check for inaccuracies.) Click the “claim this listing” button at the bottom of the box and follow the steps.

For a spa retailer, having correct information on Google search results can mean the difference between gaining and losing a customer. “If they had a [hot tub] party Saturday, they might want to know when you open for shock Monday morning,” Reynolds says. “And that better be accurate. I promise you, if your GMB listing says 6 a.m. and you don’t open until 7 a.m., you can have a very angry customer. This can be avoided by keeping your listing up to date.”

Even if a hot tub dealer doesn’t actively manage its listing through GMB, consumers can still leave reviews on what Google populates in consumer search results for that company. More significantly, consumers can make suggested changes to business information. And unless the business is claimed and managed through a GMB account, you’ll have no idea these changes are made.

“Google thinks people are altruistic for some reason and trusts the general public to update your business address, phone number or store hours,” Reynolds says. His No. 1 recommendation for managing a GMB listing is to use an email address management checks frequently so they don’t miss email notifications about reviews and suggested changes. “When someone makes a suggestion, it will first email you and give you about 10 days to approve or reject the suggestion,” Reynolds says. “If you do nothing, [the change] goes live.”

In addition to listing regular business hours, Nichole Larmie, social media administrator for Two Men and a Spa Dolly in Arnold, Missouri, strongly encourages businesses to utilize the special hours option for sales or when closed for holidays or emergencies. “Customers will look at your business negatively if they make a trip to your location [on a holiday] and you’re not open as advertised,” she says.

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Laura Varnon, marketing coordinator for The Spa and Sauna Co., says the value of GMB is amazing considering it’s a free service. The company has a listing for each of its five locations spanning Nevada and California. In addition to showcasing promotions, videos and photos, and managing store information and reviews, Varnon says the Insights tab is very helpful.

“It allows you to see actions from the information on your Google My Business listing, such as who visited your website, requested directions, called you directly or messaged you,” she says, noting that the company sees approximately 1,250 actions in one month from its five GMB listings. She also recommends checking the Insights tab for the keywords that led people to your listing and using that data to inspire blogs, videos and tagging on social media and your website.

Larmie also encourages posting pictures to a GMB profile. “Pictures make a massive difference,” she says. “They don’t have to be super high resolution, professional pictures, but anything that represents your business, products or customers positively will get your business noticed a lot more.”

Verity recommends including pictures of your storefront if you have one — including virtual tours — and your service/delivery crew. “Anything to personalize your listing,” Verity says. “Customers love feeling like they know you already.”

Reynolds recommends additional free services like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Site Tools and Google Tag Manager, all of which can be linked to your GMB account. “They get progressively more complicated,” Reynolds says, “but they give you more and more Google love — for lack of a better term — the more of these you utilize on a regular basis.” If you have a Google AdWords account, you can also connect that to your GMB listing.

Asking happy customers to leave a review on your Google listing will help generate more search result leads. Two Men and a Spa Dolly adds polite wording and review platform links to the bottom of all digital communication with customers. Larmie is pitching customer discounts to the company owner in order to incentivize positive reviews. “Showing your customer [how badly] you want their feedback positively reinforces their value to your business,” she says.

When a customer is particularly happy, Varnon says, The Spa and Sauna Co. verbally asks for a review, providing a web form in a short email reminder to those who agree, which includes a link to the company’s GMB page. Varnon adds that it’s important to “respond to any and all reviews, positive or negative, preferably on the same day or as soon as possible, because reviewers get alerted to your response.”

Taking advantage of all of these attributes of Google My Business is worthwhile, Larmie says. “GMB is one of our more valued tools for marketing,” she says. “We utilize it [and social media] heavily for reach and promotion of our public image.”