Concerned about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management? As a business you should be concerned!

It is important to know that you can gain more control over what displays in an online search for your business. One of the first (and possibly most important) steps in any local SEO strategy is to gain more control of brand search results by claiming or creating your Google My Business (GMB) listing.

Being sure your business is on Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and in the organic results in general. It also provides space for accurate up-to-date business information and opportunities for a more comprehensive and attractive online “first impression”. This valuable data makes it easier for viewers to find information about your company even before they get to your website and can drive them to the website for even more detailed information.

This critical piece of your dynamic online advertising is free and begins with setting up an account at Google. You can get started by visiting or just click on the Own this business? from the GMB listing for your company.

Once claimed, the listing should be optimized to take full advantage of its features and help gain the attention of potential customers. There is even an area that can be considered an online ad space, with proper management. The more current, complete and full and the listing, the more control you gain over what viewers (your potential customers) are immediately seeing with a brand search of your company. Statistics support the fact that most website traffic generally comes through Google searches so controlling what is displayed there has a growing importance.

The GMB should be monitored as frequently as possible to ensure that the information remains accurate. This is also where the online community can begin to interact with your business and, again, monitoring is needed to be sure that proper client and community interactions are well maintained.

This listing is also where critical customer reviews and rankings are displayed. If you are asking “Why is this important to my business?” consider the following: According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Consumer Review Survey:
97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses – 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked — with 74% having been asked for their feedback
79% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year

With this kind of importance on reviews, be sure you are asking for reviews from your clients. There are many ways reviews can be obtained but the most important is to simply get started and ask for them. Though this can sometimes be an unwieldy task, you could at least be sure to provide a link to your customers to leave you an online review. If you are interested, follow the directions here on how to obtain a direct review link. Even “bad” reviews are important, as they can bring to your attention an issue that was not clearly evident and can actually be the basis of taking some corrective action within your business to better your customer’s overall experience. Of course, be sure to respond to as many as possible (especially the “bad” reviews”) so that the reviewer knows that their feedback is appreciated and so this interaction can be seen by others online as well. This will give the client and potential customers a sense for how you handle varied situations as a business and that you care about their experience.

Google does provide guidelines for content and reviews and you can read more information on Google’s guidelines here.

Once completed, statistical information on your business’s visibility is provided by Google through the listing that you may find quite interesting and helpful. When logged into the business listing, this can be found under the Insights tab and can be a tool for adjusting the optimization of your GMB. There you will find such information as how viewers found your listing, where they find you and what kinds of interactions are taking place from your Google My Business listing (such as how many calls to your business are made through the listing).

Hopefully this overview has impressed you with importance of the GMB and has encouraged you to go create or log into your account and take appropriate actions. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact SM-Blu Digital at 716-254-6130.

About the author:
Marie & SM-Blu have over 20yrs of combined experience on the Internet. They have been hosting, building custom, beautiful & functional websites since 1994, helping clients increase sales with modern Digital Marketing ideas that can lower advertising costs AND increase sales. They also offer a variety of IT services targeted toward small to medium sized businesses.