When was the last time you pulled out your phone to look up a new-to-you restaurant, hotel or store? How about looking up one you do know of to see when they are open?
I recently heard that Villa Tronco, a family-owned Italian restaurant in downtown Columbia, is celebrating 80 years in business this year. So I grabbed my phone, put “villa tronco” in the Google search bar, and this is what came up.
As someone who enjoys a great meal, I was welcomed with all the information I might need right from the beginning. Quick buttons to click for calling the restaurant, to get directions, to save the page, or to visit the website. I can see that they are currently offering dine-in and curbside, but not delivery. I can see their hours and know that they don’t open until dinner time. I see their ranking, their price range, that they have 221 photos, and can even find their menu. And now I am planning to order curbside pickup.
GMB allows you to facilitate the curation of your destination through Google Search and Maps and has become a powerhouse resource of timely information about restaurants, shops, attractions, parks, and hidden gems across the U.S., especially in the time of COVID-19.
The main benefits of a current and comprehensive Google My Business listing are threefold:
1. Increased visibility in search
2. Better experience with useful information for customers
3. More traffic to your website, social channels and front door
Below is an expanded description of the Google My Business elements that are most useful for visitors:
Photos: Photos tend to be the first impression a consumer has of a place. Having a good photo of the physical location plus photos of the goods or services provided will help the listing stand out.
For the highest quality search representation of your business, start with these four basic categories: a company cover photo (the first photo customers see), the company logo, an interior image, and an exterior image of your business.
Questions and Answers: As the account owner, answering and managing questions presented by customers can help Google and other customers better understand your business and offerings. Having the most commonly asked questions here might limit calls and save you and your staff the time of answering the same questions over and over again.
Reviews: Businesses should not only monitor but also respond to Google Reviews on your account. Getting quality, 5-star reviews for your business is crucial to gaining new customers. It also helps you show up at the top of related searches. And let’s not forget that regular interaction also keeps the need for reviews top of mind. Learn how you can encourage the conversation here.
Business Categories: You can select up to 10 categories related to your business. You can only choose one primary category, so make sure that one best reflects the overall business. Adding the additional categories helps Google appropriately categorize your business and in turn, helps search users discover your business.
Temporary Updates and Service Options: Google My Business allows you to edit or set temporary changes to your hours and information. You will want to make sure business hours are updated with seasonal changes and holidays so customers get the most accurate information. The Service Options section will allow you to include information such as ‘delivery’ or ‘curbside pickup,’ which is helpful for those who are seeking out these options.
Posts: These week-long “events” act as small social media posts or mini-ads within Google. They can be used to showcase upcoming events, seasonal services or any special information that would be beneficial to a customer. The posts only last for one week before disappearing to ensure that the most accurate and up-to-date information remains in this space. If you have a date-specific event, use this as another free tool to promote it.
Before stakeholders can do any of the above, their organization needs to be verified through Google. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to do that. As the first step in this process, you can share this resource with your staff and your stakeholders so that all of your partners can begin to leverage this valuable tool.
When every new idea seems to dip into your budget, consider taking a breath and making sure your stakeholders are taking advantage of this free and valuable tool. Once you are confident this resource is becoming optimized by stakeholders within your destination, reach out to us for ideas to maximize Google My Business within your marketing strategy.