It should come as no surprise that one of the most common ways that people find new businesses in their area is through Google and Google Maps. For restaurants and storefronts that are missing from Google Maps, you could be missing out on scores of new customers. Luckily, it's easy to remedy this.
Whether you're a brand-new business or you've recently moved to a new location, there's an easy way to update Google on your new contact info.
1. Create a Google My Business Listing.
Google allows business owners to update how the search engine displays their business in local listings for both the search engine and Google Maps. Creating a My Business account is free and gives you control over how your business is viewed.
First, sign up on business.google.com. You can add the basic information and address of your business, but before you can edit and gain full access to the My Business features, you need to verify that you're affiliated with the business.
The most common way to verify your business is by having Google send a postcard with a verification code to the address you listed for the business. (Note: There are some cases when Google can send you a verification code in a text message, phone call, or email, depending on what kind of business you're running.)
You may find that your business is already listed on Google but displays incomplete or inaccurate information. Business listings can be added or edited by anyone, which is why it's important to verify your business and keep the information current so it continues to display accurate information.
2. Manage your listing.
With a verified My Business account, not only does your business show up on Google Maps, but you can customize your profile in several ways, which includes uploading photos of your business. There's no limit to how many photos you can add, so restaurants can add pictures of their menu items, shops can display their products, and event spaces can show images of their rental spaces.
My Business provides other features to add to your page depending on your needs. You can customize the different fields in the information panel to display your hours of operation and a link to your website, for example. Like most business listings, the panel features quick links to dial your business phone line or create a reminder regarding your business.
Google enables you to add business-specific features, such as a menu for restaurants and booking for hotels or event centers. There a several booking and scheduling services that are compatible with Google, so you can link users directly to them to schedule appointments.
3. Engage your customers.
The My Business listing gives you opportunities to communicate with customers, including a Q&A page where you can post frequently asked questions and answers about your business. You can also add regular posts to your listing, updating customers on what's new with your business thereby giving you a new pipeline of communication to customers.
Google reviews are a big part of your listing, so you can use it as an opportunity to directly communicate with your customers. It's not encouraging when you get a negative review, but there's a way to turn it into a positive experience.
There is a special approach to responding to negative reviews. If that happens, respond to the review quickly, empathize with the customer and ask for a second chance to do right by them. You'll have a public display of your timely and high-quality customer service, and you may even convince the customer to change their review.
Last, Google My Business provides data on how customers interact with your business listing. You can see how much interaction your listing is getting, including how many times users jump to your website from the listing, request directions to your business or call you directly from the Google Maps app.
You can even see where your customers are coming from on Google Maps, allowing you to make better business decisions on where to advertise or open new locations. [For more information on how to use Google My Business, read this guide.]