Google business directory management is one of the most important parts of getting fresh organic leads online. It’s where most people start their search for a business online.
But that’s for new customers. What about referrals?
We all know referrals are the best kind of customer in any industry, that’s a given. So does that mean you should neglect your business online and not bother with a website, getting listed on directories, or getting reviews?
No. If you think it means that then you’re risking a lot. Even referrals do their research today and that research is always done online. While a referral is great and customers put a high level of trust in them, it’s not the end. People turn to Google to vet the referral and make sure they’re good to pull the trigger.
That usually leads them to Google which means Google business directory management is essential. Managing how your business appears on Google is going to determine how successful your business is online.
But how do you know what to do and how does Google business directory management work?
Fret not, you’ll quickly be an expert on the basics of how Google works for local businesses. I’m talking solely organic in this post, no paid advertising on Google.
What Is Google Business Directory Management?
It’s not what it sounds like.
There is no actual Google business directory. There are business directories online but Google doesn’t have one.
Just like their search engine did away with directories like Yahoo (yes Yahoo still exists but in a very different form since Google came along) it also doesn’t follow the directory format for business.
You’ll hear it called Google My Business and never Google business directory. You have a business profile and not a listing in a directory or even on any specific website.
Your job is to make sure Google is equipped with good and accurate information then they decide how and where to put it. Information from your Google My Business profile is currently shown in three different places.
Where Information From Google My Business Shows
Google pulls the information from your business profile and places it where convenient for Google. It will even pull information from other sources and add it to your business information.
Google could pull information such as reviews, data from your website, or even information from a third-party website. These are the three different places customers are likely to see your Google My Business profile on Google.
Google Search 3-Pack
This is the most prominent location your business information could appear on Google. Whenever someone searches for what Google thinks is a business search (and they’re usually right) some of the first organic results are the 3-pack.
It’s a map with dots all over it (each dot representing a business) and then a list of three businesses. There are many factors that determine the rank of these three businesses.
If you don’t make it to be listed in the top three then there’s a more places link. This link brings you to the next place your business can be seen, Google Maps.
There are two different ways a customer could find your business using Google Maps. The version above is on a computer. Below is from an iOS device which also shows a list of business near the customer.
I typed in a specific city but that’s not likely to happen with your customers, they expect Google to know where they are and to show results accordingly.
Being seen on the mobile version of Google Maps can be tough but it’s more likely than the desktop version. Paid ads push the organic business listings down quite a bit.
This will be the lesser-used method Google uses to display your business information from your Google My Business profile. It’s lesser-used because it’s only seen when someone searches your business by its name in Google search.
If someone knows your business and searches then they’ll find some really useful information. That is, if you filled your profile out well and keep it updated.
Yes, you need to update your business information regularly or at least check on it. Your competitors can change it, customers can suggest incorrect information, or Google can just plain get mixed up.
Any of that can and does happen which will lead to inaccurate information about your business. That likely will lead to unhappy customers or worse, lost customers.
37% of consumers will not consider a business with inaccurate information.The Why Before You Buy
We recommend using a good business listings management tool to make managing your business on Google and the 100+ other directories easier. Yes, there are other directories you still need to be on even though Google My Business is the most important.
How Will It Help Grow Your Business?
Having your business show up right when someone is searching for what you do is pretty powerful. If you say the right things and have the right information available for those searching, you’re likely to have them call you, come into your store, or schedule an appointment.
In the old days, it used to be that we only had the name of a business and a phone number from the Yellow Pages. Remember those? How about all the A+ and AAA and so on business names?
Thankfully those days are gone and now consumers have more information available to them to make a decision. They’re likely to visit your website, read about your business, and maybe call to get a price. All of that is available right from Google My Business.
Your GMB profile will contain everything a consumer needs to know if you’re a good fit. If it doesn’t provide it directly, a link to your website answers (or should answer) all remaining questions.
Consumers can find reviews so they can decide if a business is legitimate and trustworthy or not also. Having a well-optimized and complete Google My Business profile can boost your business growth online tremendously.
Also, if you claim your Google My Business profile and set it all up, you’re going to ahead of many of your competitors. Imagine if a potential customer has the option between a business that has no information and one that has what they need.
Which one will they choose?
Only 44% of local retailers have claimed their Google My Business profile.LSA Insider
No matter what you do, if you’re a local business then a well-optimized Google My Business profile with an informative and helpful website will get you more business online.
Important Parts Of Google My Business To Manage
There’s a lot of information about your business that can be included in your Google My Business profile. There are some parts of your GMB profile that are more important than others, though.
There are many guides out there for the complete setup of your Google My Business profile but I’m just going to focus on a small part of the most important parts. An entire book could be written about all the gritty details of setting up your profile correctly.
With a good guide, the setup process doesn’t have to be as hard, though. A good business listings management tool can help make it a lot easier and take some of the complexity out of it all.
Now onto the most important things to pay attention to in your Google My Business profile.
This is one of the most important parts of your profile and one that’s easy to gloss over. Don’t gloss over it and choose whatever pops up first.
You want to make sure you do a good search for the most specific category that matches your business as a whole. Secondary categories should be reserved for other categories that describe other parts of what you do.
For example, if you’re a pediatric dentist then your main category should be that. As a secondary category, you might include the more general dentist category.
While reviews are debatable on how much it affects the overall rank of your business on Google properties, they’re no doubt important. Even if they don’t help you rank they are still an extremely important trust indicator for customers.
No matter how well you have your business profile set up on Google My Business with no reviews it’s hard to trust your business.
If people write good reviews for you that also have keywords that are relevant to your business then they absolutely do help you rank. Those keywords will be called out by Google in searches where your business appears.
It’s not important to have a solid 5-star rating, either. It’s proven that people actually trust a business more if they have an imperfect rating. Anything between a 4 and 4.9 stars is great where 4.3 stars average is the sweet spot.
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. It’s an acronym for the three central pieces of your business information.
These must be absolutely accurate and consistent from Google My Business to Yelp and back again. Yes, every directory should have this information accurate and consistent. You should have the same phone number across directories and the address displayed in the same way.
Here are some examples of what could go wrong with each of them.
The name of the business or person needs to be consistent across all directories, even to the website linked in the GMB profile.
That means these two names are considered completely different and can confuse things like Google and other directories.
Dr. Stevens Anderson DDS
Doctor Stevens Anderson Doctor of Dental Surgery
That means you must be very careful to have them identical.
The address of your business should always be consistent and accurate. That means every part of the address needs to be consistent. These two addresses are formatted very differently and that’s not good for your Google My Business profile or your business.
If your website shows one format for the address and on Google, it shows another, you’re not consistent enough.
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside St
Portland, OR 97209
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside Street
Portland, Oregon 97209
Street is spelled out in one and abbreviated in another, this is bad. Also, Oregon is spelled out in one and abbreviated in the other. Choose one way to display your address and stick with that everywhere online.
This one is a bit harder to get inconsistent than the others. It’s not impossible, though. Just make sure you’re using the same phone number because whether you type it with parenthesis or not doesn’t really matter. In fact, some websites won’t allow you to type parenthesis in and that’s OK.
Just make sure you use the same phone number across all profiles and on your website. Also, be sure to use your full phone number with area code and all.
Don’t skimp and just put your seven digits, that’s confusing to consumers and most people are programmed to dial all 10 today anyway.
This one is important to write something helpful for potential customers who know nothing about your business. It’s not a good place to spam keywords or put useless information to try to sell. It’s also not a good place to say “hi welcome to my business” and leave it at that.
There are guidelines from Google on what’s good to put in your business description. Stay within those guidelines, write a good amount about your business like what you offer, what sets you apart, your history, or anything else helpful (that’s taken right from Google).
Claim It, Manage It
If you haven’t done so already, the most important thing you could do for your business is to claim your Google My Business profile if it already exists. Make sure you do a search before you create a new one, nothing is worse than a duplicate listing of your business.
Google business directory management is important but Google My Business isn’t the only place to make sure your business is listed. There are other major directories that are also important and there are many other non-major directories that are still important.
Then there are all the specialty directories out there. Depending on your business there could be several niche listings websites in addition to the major websites. We’ve written several guides on niche directories for many industries and we continue to research and write more.
Of course, the easiest and most effective way for you to have the most complete and accurate presence online is to use good business listings management software. Nothing will compare to the accuracy and ease of use you will get with something like Loclweb Marketing.
With the right management and tools, you’ll be getting more business than ever before from the internet with the top rank in your city. If you’re in doubt of how accurate your business is listed online, get a free business listings scan to see for yourself how hard it is to keep consistency manually.