It has been around for quite some time now but for some reason local business owners still overlook one of Google main’s service offerings that can lead to an abundance of phone calls and sales leads for any type of local business.
Maybe it is because Google always changes the name or perhaps it is because Google – as it often does – makes things quite complicated for business owners to claim and optimize this source of leads. I am talking about Google My Business listings. AKA Google Maps, Google Local or one of half a dozen names Google has given their local business directory over the last number of years.
Google My Business Explained
When you do a search for a local business more often than not you’ll see 3 to 5 Ads appear at the top of the search results then you’ll see 3 listings with pink map markings beside them. Those 3 listings are from Google My Business.
Google My Business is Google’s own small business directory. It is a free service (for now) offered by the company to get business owners to take advantage of this valuable real estate and share company information with Google.
Those 3 listings are those that Google considers the most relevant to the search being performed and unless your company appears in those top three spots, Google My Business holds little from a lead generation aspect. However, if you DO appear in the top three, this can be a honey hole of phone leads and website traffic.
How to Get into the Top Three
Of course, Google won’t tell you this nor will the publish anything concrete about how to improve your rankings for your business listings but those of us that have been doing this for a while have come up with some theories. Here are some of them:
- Claim your listing. Incredibly, Google tells us that as much as 60% of all their business listings remained unclaimed by their business owners. While unclaimed listings can rank, it is rare.
- Get positive reviews. Once you get 5 positive reviews on your Google My Business page, the little gold stars will begin to show beside your listing. Those little stars will engage visitors and attract more clicks and more phone calls.
- Complete your profile to 100%. Do this when you claim your listing.
- Apply proper SEO practices to your primary website associated with your listing. The better your website ranks, the better your Google My Business listing will rank.
- Get consistent citations on popular directories. List your company with Yelp and other business directories but make sure your company name, phone number and address all appear the same on each site. Any discrepancies tend to confuse Google and adversely affect the chance of ranking.
For years I ignored this source of sales leads. Then I heard a story of a mobile mechanic that was getting so many calls from his Google My Business Listing that he couldn’t keep up with them all. He was getting hundreds of calls per month so he started selling the leads to his competitors.
I also have a client now that sells replacement windows. His site is all over the first page of Google’s organic rankings and I remember him telling me one time that he also gets an additional 30-40% increase in leads from his Google My Business rankings. That is nothing to sneeze at.
This has been a short overview of Google My Business and a few best practices for ranking your listing on Google. Your job now is to claim your listing (if you haven’t done so already) and go through the checklist above to ensure it is optimized. The other nice thing is that these listings tend to jump in rank much more quickly than a website would in the organic listings so don’t hesitate. Get out there and do it.
This is an article Mike Cooch wrote for Entrepreneur.com.
I’m just like most other entrepreneurs I know – I have at least three new business ideas before I get out of bed in the morning. And the ideas just keep coming throughout the day.
Thankfully, after years of trial and error as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to evaluate my new ideas carefully to determine if they are actually an opportunity, instead of just an idea.
Even more importantly, I’ve learned to evaluate if it’s a good opportunity for me and the lifestyle I want to create for myself.
I do that evaluation by asking twelve questions that I’ve found are critical to determining if a business is right for me. If I have more than a few ‘No’ responses, I can immediately cross the idea off of my list and forget about it. If it’s all ‘Yes’ responses, I know I have an idea with real potential.
Here’s the list of questions, with some of my thoughts explaining why each is important to me:
Will this business support the lifestyle I want (income, ability to travel, flexible work time, etc.)? I work to live, not live to work. I also love to travel and have flexibility in terms of when I get my work done. That immediately disqualifies many businesses.
Is there proven demand for the product I am going to sell? Creating demand is hard, slow and expensive. I’d rather capture my share of already existing demand.
Is there a clear value proposition that will make my product unique in the marketplace? Business is no fun if I don’t have some sort of competitive edge.
Is there a very clear way to market and sell my product or service through existing channels? Leveraging existing sales channels is the fastest and easiest way I’ve found to get a business off the ground profitably.
Can I leverage online marketing and social media to grow this business? These are two of the most powerful business-building forces of our time; I want to be sure to take advantage of them.
Will this business have gross margins of at least 50% and/or net margins of at least 20%? At the end of the day, a business has to make money.
Can this business become a sellable asset? The big win often comes from being able to sell and exit your business when you are ready, but not all businesses are easy to sell.
Can I automate the majority of the operations of the business? I try to take advantage of as much automation as possible to reduce the overhead of operating a business.
Can I easily find someone to successfully run the business for me? Eventually, I’ll likely want someone to run the business for me. Is this a business that can easily be handed over to someone else, or does it require my specific knowledge and talents?
Is this a business that I’ll find fun and interesting to run today? Yes, life insurance is very profitable, but it’s not fun. Profit is not enough; I want to be in businesses that I actually enjoy.
Is this a business that other people will find fun and interesting? I’ve found that it’s much more enjoyable to be in a business that other people think is fun and interesting.
Is this something I’ll still be willing to run seven years from now? The reality is that most businesses don’t grow as quickly or as profitably as I’d like.
If I am still running this seven years from now, will I still find it enjoyable?
Use these twelve questions to evaluate your business ideas. You should be able to answer ‘Yes’ to the far majority of the questions.
If not, drop the idea and be thankful that you didn’t invest your time and energy into something that ultimately wouldn’t fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams.
Now, go build something!
Thinking of starting a business? Already have one, but haven’t created the lifestyle you’re looking for? Download our free guide to creating a business that gives you the freedom to decide where, when and who you work with.