If you already own a small business or are just starting out, you know that you need an online presence including a website and a few social media accounts. But how will customers find you? The same way they find everything these days, of course: Google. In fact, nearly 70 percent of online searches in the U.S. were conducted on Google, 1 with an increasing number of those searches for local businesses.
Google has taken note, making it easy for small businesses to manage their profile on Google Maps , Google Plus , and other sites by consolidating access onto a single dashboard called Google My Business.
Here are six steps to getting the best out of your business’s online presence:
Stake your claim. Unless your business is brand new, it’s likely that Google already knows about it, which means that a listing already exists. By verifying that you own a particular business, Google gives you additional control over how it appears in search and map results. To start, visit Google My Business . If you have a Google account, you’ll need to sign in. If not, the site will ask you to create one. From there, you can verify your ownership via phone, text, or other method.
Check and add information. The first thing you should do is confirm that all the information Google has about your business is complete and correct. “The main thing you have to coordinate across your online presence is the NAP information: Name, Address, and Phone Number,” explains Grayson Carter of Lead Cadence, a marketing agency located in Orange County, California. “Sites use these to distinguish individual businesses; you want them to stay consistent across every listing.”
Encourage reviews . Google loves reviews, so ask your satisfied customers to share their experiences and rate your services on Google and other sites such as Yelp . “ Reviews for local businesses are very powerful, so if you can get your customers to give you great feedback, and convince them to tell the world about it, that builds authority with the search engines,” Carter explains.
A word of warning, however: The best reviews are genuine, so don’t beg for five stars or worse, encourage fakery. Google’s sophisticated algorithm may find you out and penalize your listing.
Keep it fresh. One of the best capabilities that Google My Business offers is the ability to augment your listing with images and even video. Consider this free advertising, and keep those assets rotating with fresh content. You can also use Google Plus, the search giant’s social networking site, to post news, events and offers directly from your My Business dashboard.
Set up a Google+ page. Creating a Google+ business profile offers a number of benefits, like improved rankings in organic Google searches and the opportunity to put your business description in front of millions of Google+ users. Check out Google+ to learn more.
Go the distance. Google may be the biggest, but it’s not the only game in town. Other sites, such as Yahoo and Bing , offer similar services, while social networking and review sites offer additional marketing opportunities.
Managing your business online and “getting on the map” is critical to success. In addition to the Google My Business dashboard, you can get even more exposure when you sign up with Optimum Online. As an Optimum Business customer, you have the ability to turn your business into an Optimum WiFi hotspot and get your business listed on the Hotspot map for free, so millions of Optimum customers have more places to find you! The key to maximizing your visibility both online and off is to make sure that your business makes a strong impression wherever it appears on the web. Take the time to make sure each and every listing puts your best foot forward.
To learn more about how Optimum can help get you on the map, call or chat today.
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