Are you leveraging your responses to Google reviews and using the new Google My Business (GMB) tools to get a leg up on your local search competitors?
If not, here are some major points to consider when boosting your GMB presence.
1. Encourage Reviews
Reviews are one of the best ways to grow your GMB profile. They cost nothing but do much to raise your business’s profile to organic searchers.
Think about how you might go about weeding through a large selection of local general contractors if you have never employed one before.
You have no idea if the claims made on a contractor’s website are accurate since you don’t have third-party confirmation of areas such as costs and quality of workmanship.
In this case, what you need are GMB reviews to raise you up in local searches.
People who look up contractors in their area will be more likely to trust your business if they see you have 10 or 15 reviews in the four-to-five-star area.
But those reviews won’t show up overnight.
You often have to do a little outreach to happy customers to get them to leave reviews at all.
You can do this by email, postcard, or simply by asking them verbally to review their experience with you.
Another option is to take advantage of review-management platforms such as BirdEye, ReviewPush, and Pozative. These programs allow you to:
- Organize your customer reviews.
- Send text message review requests.
- Respond to new Google reviews directly from email alerts.
No matter how you do it, your review requests should encourage customers to be honest and detailed in their analyses.
Ask them to provide original photographs of the work you did for them or a product you sold them.
Photos are great for increasing your GMB profile’s visibility even more.
2. Avoid Spammy Tactics
Google is definitely smart enough today to know when someone is trying to cheat the system by, for instance, automating content, creating doorway pages, and keyword stuffing.
The same idea applies to GMB.
This is Google’s own tool, so why would the largest, most robust search engine in existence let you get away with spammy tactics such as paying people to leave positive reviews?
Potential customers are going to trust real, honest reviews.
Google and those review sites I mentioned do, too. They know when you’ve paid some dubious website to provide a fake five-star review for your business.
In fact, review sites are able to detect spammy reviews and will flag your site as being dishonest.
The flag will result in a popup that users will see when they arrive on one of your pages, warning them not to trust your site.
The same concept applies to offering incentives, such as future discounts, for people to leave positive GMB reviews. In this case, doing this could simply backfire on your online reputation.
If people mention the incentive in their review, potential customers might think their praise is false.
At the same time, trying to bribe people for positive reviews glosses over the potential facts of a situation.
Even if people had negative experiences with your business, they won’t say so in their reviews. This makes it more likely that future customers will be “fooled” and end up having a bad time when they expected something better.
3. Respond to Negative Reviews
Instead of working harder than you need to by engaging in these kinds of tactics, I advise you simply to preempt negative GMB reviews before they happen or to respond diligently to bad reviews that do come through.
The former would obviously require you to dig in and make sure that every aspect of your enterprise is running smoothly.
Cater to your customers at all times, and if something goes wrong, be understanding, address it then and there, and make sure people leave happy.
When negative reviews do appear online, reach out to those customers to apologize and empathize. This shows the general public that you care about your clients even after they depart your establishment.
4. Leverage New GMB Tools
My final recommendation for boosting your GMB profile is to take advantage of the relatively recent additions Google has rolled out for its online business tool.
One such feature is the Google Marketing Kit, which allows you to create free stickers, posters, and social media posts for advertising your business’s promotions and events.
In particular, the social posts should be an enormous boon to your online presence. You can create cool posters of your positive reviews, featuring blurbs from the text, and then share them on your social media platforms.
GMB also now lets users follow your business’s local profile just as they would on a social network such as Facebook or Instagram. Followers would then get access to your business’s:
- New GMB social posts.
- Blog posts.
- Product updates.
All of these things help to increase brand awareness in your followers.
Lastly, Google Posts let you advertise new coupons, deals, and events in creative ways. You can even use images, videos, and call-to-action buttons to drive up user engagement.
Google Posts is a great GMB advertising method because its analytics feature lets you see how users interacted with whatever you posted. You can use the data you discover to craft even better posts next time.
In the not-too-distant future, keep an eye out for GMB’s “local favorites” feature, which will award digital and physical badges to the top 5 percent of local businesses per category.
Not many details are known about this yet, such as whether the categories of businesses will be separated by region, and, if so, how those regions will be partitioned.
As you can see from the effort Google is putting into its new GMB tools, the search engine giant wants you to build up your business’s local profile.
Having a vigorous GMB presence will help local customers find you, and encouraging those customers to leave positive reviews will drive even more clients into your establishment.
It’s a win-win all around.