If you want to gain traction in Google, there are so many different ways to do it.
If you’re a local business, you can’t ignore Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free, easy to use tool that allows businesses to manage their online presence across all Google platforms. That includes both Search and Maps. It helps customers find your business, and tells them all the important information they need to do business with you.
Think of this as your business profile for Google. It’s designed to confirm the most important information about your business, as well as give you a chance to fill it with information searchers will find useful, such as photos, video, even access to Q&A to help your prospects and customers be better informed.
Just like many online resources, Google My Business is free. But no matter if you’ve taken the first step and built your profile, or are still scratching your head wondering where to start, know certain nuances will help you gain traction in being found.
What Google My Business can do
When Google My Business listings first started out, they were basic, including little more than a business name, a phone number, and a website URL.
Over the years, Google has grown this feature to allow in-depth content to be placed in the offering. It’s not just about a simple listing anymore. Google wants you to show off your business, and really tell searchers what you have to offer. If you take the time, you have the tools to stand out above the competition, and use it as an effective local SEO marketing strategy as well.
But by adding more complex features, it also makes it more challenging to manage. And that’s where your business may be having problems. What if your information isn’t showing up? Google has guidelines to follow, but with pages of information, that can also be confusing at best.
Let’s look at some of the problems you may face using your Google My Business tool.
Your account is suspended
Google My Business is a free account. You don’t own anything. You must play by their rules.
And as such, a variety of things can happen to make them turn off your account. Even if you think you’ve done everything right, chances are you’ve violated Google’s terms of service in some manner.
It’s a good idea to review Google policies, walking through the data you’ve submitted to your Google My Business account in the process.
A common reason we see with smaller businesses is the way they list their addresses. According to Google’s rules, you cannot display a residential address on a Google My Business profile. To do so will get your account suspended. This is a growing error, especially as more people are moving to virtual environments.
Once you find the reason Google suspended your account, you can usually correct it by providing evidence or proof that you are a legitimate business. Photos, rental agreements, and other proof of your business’s location are often all it will take to get your account reinstated.
Your competition isn’t playing by the rules
Google My Business accounts are free for a reason. Google wants the information to be as helpful and accurate as possible.
Google hates spam. It has strived for high quality, accurate information since its inception.
Yet marketers have always looked for ways around the system.
While using keywords is a great way to have Google’s algorithms notice your content, certain Google My Business accounts will take the practice too far. Instead of listing their business name in the title, they will load it up with keywords.
Google has a way to overcome it. If you notice a business keyword stuffing, you can click on the Suggest An Edit link. Edit the name, so it includes only the company name, and not the extra keywords. This will bring it to the attention of Google, allowing them to review it and possibly make changes.
If you notice your competition doing more harmful, even unethical behavior, it is possible to file a complaint. Report any misleading or fraudulent information, and it will be reviewed by Google. The more information you can supply to help your case, the better. Use screenshots, photos, video, even investigative reports as to where the problem lies. They will give you a case number, and issue a response within a few weeks.
Your employees leave negative reviews
Sometimes you and your employees part ways on less than stellar terms. They may try and discredit your business by writing negative reviews.
The good news is everything is connected to a user, so it’s usually fairly easy to track. If an ex-employee tries to smear your name, it violates Google’s Prohibited and Restricted Content policy.
If you find a negative review, you can flag it by logging into your Google My Business dashboard and flag the review as inappropriate. If Google doesn’t remove it, you can contact them and provide further proof.
You cannot supply private information as proof. But you can link to things like a LinkedIn profile to prove a person used to work for you.
Your business isn’t found on Maps
If your business profile page isn’t showing a map, it can be for a variety of reasons. One of the easiest is if you haven’t verified your account. How can you tell?
Head to Google and search for your business by typing the name and location. In most cases, your business will appear in a box to the right. After your business information, including address and phone number, you’ll see a “Suggest an Edit” link. To the right, there may be an “Own this Business?” link. If it’s there, clicking on it and capturing it as your business will verify your Google My Business account, and activate the Maps feature.
For certain businesses, this may not be a deal-breaker in standing out in Google searches. But for super competitive markets, like lawyers or plumbers, there is almost no way you can do well in the search engines without actively controlling your Google My Business account. That includes activation.
If you’re actively working for better SEO on your site, Google My Business is necessary.
Are you using Google My Business as a part of your SEO strategy?
If not, maybe it’s time you did.