Start the new year off right by planning ahead and setting new goals! Now’s the time to work towards growing your business and expanding your reach. There are plenty of tools out there, but we have you covered on a simple yet effective way to grow your practice. Google My Business is one of the most powerful and easy-to-use tools that can bring you real results.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free easy-to-use tool that allows businesses with physical retail locations to manage how they appear on Google Search and Maps.[i] Google Listings are a quick and easy way for people to find businesses such as restaurants, cafés, shops, bars and retailers online.
Creating your very own GMB account can drastically increase your search visibility, therefore increasing foot traffic and sales at your practice. This is because when prospective customers are researching local businesses online, they are generally ready to make a purchase, or least highly interested in making a purchase.[ii]
People don’t often research “optometrists in my area” without having an intention to consult or book an appointment with an optometrist.
In a previous blog, we highlighted the importance of keeping your Google Listing page up-to-date and accurate, especially during holidays because it can potentially make or break your foot traffic. Now, we’ll show you how to set up your Google Listing page properly to ensure prospective customers get all the information they are looking for.
STEP 1 – Sign In
Click here or type “Google My Business” on Google to arrive on the GMB home page. Once you arrive on the page, click “Sign In” on the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Use the Gmail account you would like to have associated with your practice. If you do not have a Gmail account to associate with your business, create a Gmail account now.
STEP 2 – Add your business name
Type in your business name and then hit “Next”.
STEP 3 – Select a business category
For this step, it’s best to be as accurate as possible in the business category you select. Choose the category that’s most fitting for your practice from the list that Google provides you. This will tell Google what specific customers should see your Google Listing. Simply type the category(s) that are most relevant to you such as “Optometrist”, “Eyewear retailer” or simply “Retailer”.
STEP 4 – Let people know where they can find you
You’ll be asked if you want to add a location your customers can come to visit, click “yes”. The page will bring you to another window where you will be asked to enter your practice’s physical address.
STEP 5 – Pin your location
Now that you’ve written your address, make it even easier for your customers to find you by dragging and dropping the red pin on the map to show your exact location. This way, for any customers that are unfamiliar with your practice or your location, they will be able to zoom in and out of the map to locate you.
STEP 6 – Do you serve customers outside this location?
This next step will ask if your business delivers products to their customers, something more relevant for restaurants and maybe some retailers. However, if this service does not apply to you, click “No, I don’t”
If this does apply to you, click “Yes, I also serve them outside my location” and input the zip codes that you offer delivery to.
STEP 7 – Let your customer know how to contact you
This step also crucial because customers need to have a quick and easy way to contact you. Most consumers will search a business on Google with the goal of finding a contact number to reach you or a website to find out more about you.
Make it easy for them by including your phone number and website (if applicable) to make it easier for them to get in touch with your business. You can, of course, choose which number to provide but for a practice, the front desk or reception number would be ideal or a number for someone at the practice who will always answer the phone and can provide general information for all activities linked to the practice.
Avoid using your personal cell phone or any other number that won’t be answered since it will be frustrating for customers not to be able to reach your practice.
STEP 8 – Verify your GMB account
For this final step in activating your Google My Business account, Google will ask you to verify your business before they display your listing. This is an essential step because Google needs to verify that your business is legitimate. Here’s how to verify your account:
There are a few ways for you to verify your Google My Business account which can be done via:
STEP 1 – Choose a way to verify
If you choose to verify by phone, click “Verify by Phone”.
Enter your cellphone number so that Google can send you a verification through text message. Once you receive the text with the code, enter it onto the page and hit enter.
If you’d like to verify by email, click “Verify by Email”.
Go to your email inbox and look for an email from Google My Business. In this email, you will find a verification button, click this button and you will be verified.
If you choose to verify your business by mail, click the “Mail” button and double-check that your address is correct. You can also add a contact name for Google to address the postcard to. Google will send a postcard to your business location and may take up to 5 business days to arrive.
Once the postcard arrives at your practice in the mail, log into your GMB account and select “Verify Now”. In the code field, enter the five-digit verification code written on your postcard.
If for some reason your postcard never arrives, don’t worry. Sign back into your GMB account and click the big blue banner found at the top of the screen reading “Request another code”. Google will send you a new postcard and you can proceed to verify your business.
STEP 9 – Finish your profile
Once your business has been verified*, you can now manage the rest of your Google Listing and add even more information and images to make it easier for potential customers to know who you are and what you offer.
At this point there are some important things to keep in mind, lets go through them together.
· ALWAYS OPTIMIZE YOUR ACCOUNT
It’s important to include information such as your operating hours, any other contact information you wish people can see, a short description (100-200 words) to explain who you are and what products/services you offer.
It’s also important to add images such as your storefront for people to get a sense of what to look for when they decide to visit or images of products you offer and even a friendly picture of your staff to show that you are a welcoming local business.
*If you chose the postcard option to be verified, you can continue to manage your Google Listing information while you wait for the postcard to arrive by mail.
· OTHER PEOPLE CAN CHANGE YOUR ACCOUNT INFO
You should be aware of the fact that customers have the power to edit or add information to your Google listing page including text and images. Customers can add images from their visit to your practice – you may have seen this if you’ve ever Googled a bar or restaurant, customers will post images of the food and décor to let others know how it looks.
This could both improve or hurt your business, so be sure to check in occasionally to see if they have updated your operating hours, descriptions or any other important information you have. If they have and it’s inaccurate, make sure to change it back to the proper information.
· KEEP YOUR INFO UP-TO-DATE
GMB makes it easy to constantly update your business information such as your opening hours (especially during the holidays!) and contact information. Consumers can be frustrated if they see your Google Listing says you are open until 9:00 PM only to find out you close at 5:00 PM once they have already reached the location.
It’s also just as frustrating for them to call the number that’s provided on the Google Listing to find out that no one is answering after constant calls or that the number is no longer available.
· USE CUSTOMERS REVIEWS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
When consumers Google businesses, reviews can make or break their potential to come visit you. And just as it is important to keep your business hours up-to-date, it’s also important to have fresh and positive recent reviews.
Consumers are more likely to take your business seriously if they see that someone has reviewed the quality of your products or services a few weeks ago versus a few months ago. It’s also important to encourage your happy and satisfied customers to leave reviews for you!
You can make it interactive by messaging back and thanking them for dropping by. It’s also equally important to respond respectively to any bad reviews, tell them you are sorry for any inconvenience they may have experienced and let them know how they can get in contact with you to rectify the situation.
Once you have your Google My Business profile up and running, it becomes interactive with the customers. As mentioned, customers can now leave reviews and add images after visiting your practice.
It also makes it much more likely for them to come visit you if your business shows up on Google during their search. Once you get the ball rolling, you will also be able to track your customer’s interaction with your business and you’ll be able to answer questions or leave comments for them. It’s an easy and powerful step to launch your business forward into 2020.