How to Get Exposure on Google for Your Local Business Without Paying for It

Google My Business (GMB)

8 Steps To Increase Exposure On Google

In our current culture, Google has transformed from a noun into a verb. Think about it. We don’t say “search for it” — instead, we say “google it.”

This is a direct result of people finding incredibly useful information by using Google’s search engine. If you think this is an accident or coincidence, then think again. 

You see, Google has developed a mutually-beneficial system between their company and other businesses in the world. Here’s why: if Google understands your business, then they can provide accurate information to their users about your business. If Google can provide accurate information to their users, then the users will continue relying on Google. If a lot of people continue using Google, then Google can make money from ads and paid services.

Google My Business (GMB)

It all comes down to creating a great experience for Google users.

In order to store and show accurate information about other businesses, Google has developed a tool called Google My Business. Basically, this is our modern-day version of the yellow pages.  And, if you follow the simple steps below to upload your business’ information to the GMB tool, Google will give you the equivalent of a FREE, full page, full color ad. 

So, what’s the holdup?

Your competitors are probably already taking advantage of Google My Business. And if they aren’t, then they will be soon. If you have any doubts, then think about your own experience researching new companies online. You’re probably more likely to purchase from the ones with a well-established web presence, right? They look more professional and modern, and this immediately instills a feeling of consumer trust. 

By considering your business’ appearance on Google, you can easily establish an edge over your competitors.

This guide is all about how to gain exposure by developing your Google My Business account. By following these eight easy steps, you can enhance your web presence and attract clients — for free — on Google!

1. Claim and Verify Your Google My Business Listing

To get started with the Google My Business tool, you first need to create your account. It’s very simple, and you can do so by clicking this link. You will have the option to either claim or create your business’ listing. If your business pops up when you enter your business’ name, then select it and claim it. If you search for your business but don’t find any results, then you will need to create a new listing. 

Either way, the next step is verification. This is the process by which Google ensures that you are the owner of your business. For most businesses, verification is done by mail. However, in some cases, you will have the option to verify by phone, email, or search console. Check with Google about the different verification options, and see which methods you qualify for. 

Be aware that verification can take up to two weeks — so don’t delay if you want all the perks of managing your business listing on Google!

2. Choose Categories for Your Business

After you’ve passed Google’s verification check, you will be prompted to select categories for your business. You can choose one primary category, and up to nine secondary categories. This may seem like a straightforward task, but really take your time choosing the best categories to describe what you do! After all, as of 2020, there are 3942 categories for you to choose from. 

The primary category for your business is given top priority in Google’s algorithm. This is the main deciding factor in whether or not your business will pop up during a user search. Be as specific as possible when selecting your primary category. The more specific you are, the fewer businesses you’ll be competing against. Plus, isn’t it refreshing when you search for something specific and Google provides exactly what you need?

As another rule of thumb, try to select as few secondary categories as possible when describing your business. This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually increases the likelihood of users finding you. You see, if you only use 3 categories to describe what you do, then Google will be dividing its user-directing resources into only 3 channels. On the other hand, if Google has to re-route users to your business based on 10 different categories, then this weakens the effectiveness of its algorithm. 

3. Add Images of Your Business

The third step is adding images of your business. Have you ever googled a business, and the only photo result is a vague snapshot from the Google Earth street view camera? Talk about off-putting, right? You definitely don’t want that to be a client’s first impression of your business. 

The images you upload should give potential customers a mini-tour of your company. This can be a physical tour, where you showcase the outside and inside of your building, or it can be more of a conceptual tour, where you try to communicate the feel and mission of your company. If you opt for the latter, then you may choose to upload photos of your staff, or photos of the products/services that your business offers. Place yourself in the shoes of your clients, and imagine what you would like to see before deciding to hire or buy from your company. 

Also, don’t just upload any old photos you have on hand of your business. These images should be high-resolution, and professional quality. They should also reflect your business in its current form. If you’ve redone the interior of your office, or if you’ve made a lot of new hires, then make sure the photos show your current setup. 

If you don’t feel confident taking photos yourself, then you can even hire a local photographer to do this for you. Or, you can ask a creative member of your staff to take the photos.

4. Add Your Address and Phone Number

Next, you can add your address and phone number to your GMB listing so that potential customers can easily reach you. If your address and phone number are published in multiple places on the web (like on Facebook, Instagram, and your company site), then make sure that this contact info is the same across all of these locations. After all, you want to make certain that the people who want to buy from you can actually find you. 

Here’s another tip: when adding a phone number to your business, make sure it’s local. Potential customers may be confused if they think that you’re a local company, but then find an unfamiliar area code when reaching for the phone. They might assume that your business location is inaccurate, and they might even choose to do business elsewhere.

5. Keep Tabs on Your Reviews

When you’re about to hire or buy from a business, what do you look at to make your decision? The reviews, of course! So, now that you’ve uploaded all of your business information into your GMB listing, it’s time to consider your reviews. 

You want to get as many positive client reviews as possible, to convince other potential clients that you are the #1 option for the service/product they need. For this process, don’t worry about getting reviews specifically through Google — the search engine often scans the web and integrates reviews from other websites into your GMB listing. Just focus on the volume of reviews, not where they’re from. You can get reviews by reaching out to clients after they’ve received their product/you’ve completed the service, or you can offer incentives for clients who leave feedback. 

Also, remember to reply to clients who post positive reviews! This customer engagement leaves a good impression. Plus, other Google users will see that you care about providing a good experience to your customers.

6. Add Offers to Your Listing

If you look at your GMB profile, you will see that you also have the option to add posts to your listing. One of these post options is “offers.” With this option, you can let Google users know about special deals and discounts that they can receive through your business. What’s more, you can program these offers with special Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons, directing Google users to your website or order page. You have the following options for CTA buttons: 

Offers are a great way to grab Google users’ attention. Plus, in your GMB profile, you have the option to track users’ engagement with your offer. These valuable insights allow you to gauge the success of your offer, and to create a plan for future offers. 

7. Make Regular Posts to Your Listing

Now that you have a solid GMB listing, the work isn’t over. You need to stay on top of your business’ listing by adding frequent posts to your listing. These posts can be updates, events, offers, or new products. Each time you create a post, you have the option to add photos, videos, and CTA buttons to attract client attention, and to foster engagement. Think of this as the option to add additional advertising to your listing. What’s better than even more free exposure?

Plus, frequently posting on your GMB listing increases the likelihood that your business will appear in user search results. By having an active profile, there is more information linked to your business on the web, and therefore more material that may match your clients’ search terms.

Bear in mind that posts to your GMB listing are automatically removed after seven days. This is why you want to log into your account frequently, and add new posts to continue promoting your business!

8. Setup Messaging

By setting up GMB messaging, customers can contact you directly through your GMB listing. This increases convenience for your customers, as they are far more likely to contact you if all they have to do is press a little button next to their search results. Sounds pretty good for your business, right?

Here’s how to set up messaging: 

And presto — that’s it! You’ll receive a notification in the app every time a customer asks a question about your listing, and every time a customer tries to contact you through the listing. 

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The Art Of Storytelling Through Data

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The Art Of Storytelling Through Data

In this episode of Five Questions with… I am talking with JLA Analytics founder Julie Alig about the art of storytelling with data in business and how to present complex stories with data. This is part two of the interview. You can find the first episode on Visual Storytelling With Data here

How do you come up with the question that you're going to tell the story around?

Definitely in a conversation, it’s a back-and-forth with the customer. That’s the way I do it. That’s the way I’ve found the strongest results come out.

I might be the person in the room who has the most experience with research methodology, with statistical tools, this, that, the other. I’m not the subject matter experts of what my clients are. In my mind, any good research project – kind of like this – needs to be a collaboration between the subject matter expert and the people with the tools and expertise. 

Working with my clients, I really like to have that kind of conversation or communication continue, and if anything I like to over-communicate, because I want to make sure that I’m going in the right direction. I think I responded to one of your posts on LinkedIn and said something like,”Let your client, or their questions, be your North Star.”

That needs to be what I’m focused on. That’s where I find the best results with my clients.

Four Tips To Successful Storytelling

I sit in all these meetings, I get Powerpointed to death, with slides with a gazillion data points on them. We spoke about taking this data, understanding the North Star, answering the questions, pulling it together so you can tell a story with it, but now you have to deliver it.

What’s your tips and tricks for boiling that down, putting it onto paper so that people in the room can understand it and so when it gets passed around outside the room they can still follow the story.

That’s the question isn’t it? That’s the 64 million dollar question!

I think that’s where a lot of your skill and expertise come into play. You really have to distill down all the findings into something very short and small. I forget who but there was a British author who said,

"I would've written a shorter letter if I had the time."

1. You have to be concise and get right to the point.

 I would say the tip is: A – keep going back to those original questions and make sure that you’re still focused on those. B – I really get a lot out of visuals.

2. Communicate so much with visuals

I was just on a call with a colleague last week, and she was talking about a process, and I whipped out my journal and drew a little picture, and held it up for her, and she was like,”that’s exactly it!” She got it.

So I think we’ve all been in those situations. The danger though is that you’re going to load up too many ideas and too many concepts into one poor little graphic or image. I really like using maybe a couple of visuals to tell a story, and in a storyboard kind of manner.

3. Stick to the basics, and throw everything else in the appendix.

 That’s kind of what I used when I was writing my dissertation in grad school. All those great supporting analyses, stick ’em in the appendix.

I love that storyboard analogy. It’s like these are the ones you can always pop out and say, “Okay are we gonna use these images in this order? Is it telling the story that we want?” Instead of “well there’s a slide, and now there’s another slide…”

4. That you and your client or customer are on the same page.

 So, especially from that first slide, statement of the problem, statement of the question, and what you’re going to do with it.

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What Is Geofencing?

What is geofencing?

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing marketing is location-based ads where a user’s location is recorded via the internet, and advertisements are only shown to people in a specific location target.

Marketing professionals use geofencing to pinpoint specific advertisements based on the target audiences exact location.

The targeted users participate in location targeting when they use applications or programs where they are prompted to enter their location or allow a web service to access their location.

Geofencing ad campaigns are ideal to find consumers based on exact locations and serve “hyper-local” advertisements and messages. Geofencing campaigns can be set up across multiple types of online advertising campaigns, such as search engine advertising, display advertising, remarketing, and video advertising.

Here are some examples of how businesses can use geofencing to enhance their digital marketing efforts and unleash the full power of geofencing marketing:

What is geofencing?

Geofencing advertising is supported by Google Adwords, Facebook and Instagram. Once you select Locations you can expand the geofencing options in the Google Adwords campaign.

For most local geofencing marketing campaigns, you will select the option of entering a location.  Most of the tools have preset locations already loaded, especially large or highly populated areas.

The best part is Geofencing is incredibly affordable. Neither Facebook nor Google Adwords charges any additional fees to set up geofencing campaigns.

Not only is geofencing cheap and relatively easy to do, it’s effective. You add more specific targeting layers to local online marketing campaigns, which boosts performance.

For local businesses, the more locally targeted your message is, the better it’s going to perform when your customers are local.

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Why Longer Content Is Smarter Content

Why Longer Content Is Smarter Content

According to a recent report from SEM Rush long form content (3000+ words) get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and 3.5x more backlinks than articles of average length (901-1200 words).

In a study of over 700,000 articles, the research shows that shorter articles (300-900 words) are 4.5X more likely NOT to be shared that long form content of 3000+ words.

Content Length: Impact On Performance

Long form content: Impact on Performance

Key Takeaway:

 In comparison with articles of average length (901-1200 words), long form content (more than 3000 words) has:

Shared Articles By Length

non shared articles by length

What is remarkable about this study is that 88% of articles over 3,000 words get share. While a shorter article (under 600 words) is shared less than half the time.

The data proves the hypothesis that people are more driven and engaged by blog posts containing more information. These studies have also shown that long form consistently outperforms short-form when it comes to shares:

The most frequent objection we hear when we recommend to clients that their content marketing strategy needs to include more long form content is that nobody will read it. The data shows that a well written long-form article will not only be read, but it will be shared also.

Should I Never Write A Short Form Post?

These findings don’t mean you should avoid using short-form content at all. We want to make a crucial caveat here — content length should vary depending on the user’s intention in the first place and, secondly, on the type of content.

We would never make a blanket statement that you should never write short-form content. The following content topics may work well (and even better) as short-form content:

Subjects that can’t meet the word count of long-form content, which is 1200 to 2000 words or more, should also get the short-form treatment. If you come across these topics, reassess their potential value to your company and your target audience.

FAQs about long-form vs. short-form content

What is long form content?

Long form content describes content with a 1200- to 2000-word count. This kind of content offers users more value because it takes an in-depth look at a topic, answering a user’s initial question and then their follow-up questions.

What is short-form content?

Short-form content describes content with less than 1000 words. This kind of content offers users a brief overview of a topic by answering their initial question and sometimes directing them to content that answers related questions.

What is the difference between long-form and short-form content?

The simplest way to explain long form vs short form work is this: Long form is longer and requires critical thinking; short form is short and can be skimmed or scanned.
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Four Reasons Why You Should Be Advertising Right Now

Small Business Advertising Package

Four Reasons Why You Should Be Advertising Right Now

When the Stay at Home order in New England gets lifted, are you positioned to reach out to past customers and let them know that you are open for business?

The normal reaction to a recession or global pandemic is to cut company spending. And the first place they go to make those cuts is usually marketing. But that is a big mistake.

There are endless reasons why company’s that choose to invest in digital advertising when times are tough also do better in the long run.

Here are four reasons why we think you should be advertising right now. 

Small Business Advertising Package

#1 It’s cheap right now!

Both Facebook and Google have reported a decline in advertising revenue due to the coronavirus. In essence, there’s more digital ad space available right now than buyers as companies who are too focused on the short-term have paused their ad spend. 

According to a study from IAB, digital ad spend for the March-to-June period is expected to be down 33%. It has not been this cheap to acquire a customer from paid advertising in years. That window will close soon.

#2 You need to maximize sales

If revenue is an issue, you need more sales. To get more sales, your consumers need to know what you’re offering. That’s where advertising comes in.

Companies have been using Braveheart Digital Marketing for close to two decades to drive leads, sales and revenue through their website. Let’s Start Strong together! Start Strong is our new Economic Recovery program to maximize and optimize your marketing efforts. Let’s have a conversation!

#3 Maximize what you get from your ad budget.

Did you know that 43% of all search-related conversions happen over the phone? And that 65% of businesses find their most valuable customers are calling them because they are ready to do business?

Let us set up an advertising campaign where you only pay when a conversion (lead form completion or phone call) actually happens. This is a great way to maximize your ad budget.

#4 You’ll gain market share

While your competitors are cutting back on spend, there’s a room for your brand to take precedence in the mind of your target consumers. This is a rare opportunity for smart brands to shift the whole competitive landscape in their favor in the long run.

If you have gone dark with your advertising and are ready to emerge stronger and clearer, we can help you with our Let’s Start Strong together!

Start Strong is our new Economic Recovery program to maximize and optimize your marketing efforts. Let’s have a conversation!  Contact us today to get started.

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What is geofencing?

What Is Geofencing?

What is Geofencing? Geofencing marketing is location-based ads where a user’s location is recorded via the internet, and advertisements are only shown to people in

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How To Use Data To Drive SEO Changes

Data Driven SEO

One of the most common questions we get asked by business owners is how can they determine whether or not their  current SEO efforts are really working?

That’s a terrific question. To answer, we use data driven SEO analysis and optimization to deliver great results for our clients.

The process of working with us looks like this:

1. We Set Expectations

At our initial kickoff meeting with a client, everyone agrees to how success will be measured. Using data that shows the amount of visitors, leads, sales, and revenue generated sets a historical basis on which we can predict future results. Mutual agreement as to what success will look like and how it will be measured is a key component of producing great SEO for your website.

2. We Use Data to Drive Tactics and Measure Success

We use data as a way to explain to our clients what we want to do and what the expected result(s) will be. Here are a couple of ways we do that:

We Identify Indexing Issues

 

Obstacles preventing search engines from indexing all the content on a client’s website can sometimes be a challenging concept to grasp for business owners. That’s why we show corresponding data that illustrates the effects of indexing issues.

url errors

As we implement our tactics to fix indexing problems (like 30,000 pages generating 404 errors), we show our client the corresponding charts that illustrate the number of errors declining. That way the evidence of our progress is on full display to the client.

Meta Tags:
Rewriting or updating meta tags is a common SEO tactic, but many business owners respond to the request to update these tags with “Why?”

Instead of offering vague statements about SEO best practices, we show the client the CTR for specific pages, saying that we want to rewrite the tags on those pages to increase the CTR and send more traffic to the site.

meta

In the above example, we would focus on the third listing which has 6% CTR. Not only is 6% low compared to the other pages, but with an average position of 5.3, that CTR should be in the double digits. Without needing SEO experience, our client can clearly see the problem and will recognize the results of our work when we fix it.

3. We Focus on Impressions

The “old” way of doing SEO was to target a keyword to a specific page and optimize that page around that one word or phrase. Google updates over the last year or so have changed that tactic. Pages are now more about themes than specific words or phrases.

When we talk to a client about updating or tweaking a page, we bring data that shows how many impressions that page is getting. An impression is the number of times that page shows up in the search engine results page.

Using the page outlined above, we can see what keywords Google associates with the page. In this case, over 100 different keywords have caused this page to show up in Google search results in the last 14 days.

keywords

Armed with this data, we can follow the changes that we make on the page, and the client can see the improvement at the page and keyword level.

The client can also see the improvement at the site level as the chart below shows. As a result of the successful implementation of our SEO recommendations, this client saw an increase of over 2,500,000 impressions in a 90 day period!

impressions growth

Why bother with ranking data, when you can instead focus on impressions and CTR at the page level?

Don’t let SEO be a mystery. Contact us today to begin measuring your success.

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Visual Storytelling With Data

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Visual Storytelling With Data

In this episode of Five Questions with… I sit down with JLA Analytics founder Julie Alig to talk about visual storytelling with data. This is part one of a two-part interview.

Can you tell the audience a little bit about your background Julie?

At heart, I’m basically a storyteller. As I look back I’ve really always been interested in stories. It was in grad school that I really got interested a lot more in data, using data and marrying that with stories to be able to really have an impact. I went to the University of Chicago, I got my doctorate in Political Science, I did a lot of work in quantitative methods, survey research, that sort of thing.

What I really wanted to do was be able to understand how to use data, and how to use it in a very honest, methodologically rigorous way, so that people could really feel what the story is in it, and beyond that to figure out, “what do we do with that? Where do we go next?” 

And so that’s what my company does. We work with clients that have a lot of data and don’t know what story it’s telling, and who need someone with the tools and the expertise to come in and work with them to figure out what’s going on and plot a course for going forward.

Common basis of understanding

With COVID-19 there’s just so much data that’s out there. I think Andrew Cuomo has done a really good job of visual storytelling with data by condensing it down into understandable parts.

Most data analysts do not do this. When you have a complex dataset, what are some of the tips and tactics that analysts can use to sort of take that and tell a story around it that people understand.

With a complex data set, you can answer a whole lot of questions, and you can do a lot of really fun stuff. I think we’re all pretty aware of all the powerful machine-learning algorithms out there, a lot of these very, very complex statistical analyses. I find, honestly, that if you can’t tell a story, even if it’s a complex story, if you can’t tell it in a very simple way then what good is it?

 You might have all of this data, you might have these really cool hierarchical clustering algorithms or whatever you call them – logistic regression of whatever – but if you can’t get down to and answer that question that your customer or client has then what good is it?

I think that’s where thinking of this in terms of visually telling a story with data helps me, and I think it helps other people to think about breaking that down. The first thing you need to do as a practitioner when you start having a conversation about a really complex topic is to make sure you find a common basis of understanding with your audience, with our client.

If you don’t have that common basis, that foundation from the get-go, you’ve lost them. It doesn’t matter how great your R2 is or this, that, the other. It’s over their head and you’ve lost them, and what good is it then?

So I really try to stay true to what the original questions were, and really think about how someone is going to use the data. We all fall under these traps of going off on tangents or going down rabbit holes. For me, analysis is really iterative.

Coming back to the questions, answering a few more questions, coming up with a few more findings, and then going back and iterating. Almost like a palimpsest.

Presenting too much information

What I find a lot of times is that analysts we work with or have seen elsewhere, they’re so focused on showing that they’re the smartest in the room that they just go really deep. They lose everybody, because yes they are the smartest one, because they own the data, but you have to be able to – as you say – bring that up to that story point at the top that says, “these are the terms that we can all understand, and this is the story part that’s around that.” 

That’s powerful when it works, it’s a really tough meeting when it doesn’t, when you go too far with that.

Yes And full disclosure, I’ve been doing this for 20, 25 years, I was a young analyst way back in the day! There is something really cool about when you’re able to find something that allows you to dig and dig and dig, and come up with something. You get excited about it and you want to share it!

I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that in the past, but you need to come back to,”Okay, so what? What are we gonna do with this? Does it really answer the question?” 

And if it doesn’t, okay, let’s stick a pin in it, stick it over here in the parking lot and get back to the question at hand: how can we really help the client or the customer to make a difference?

 

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Consumer Insights And Behavior – Part Two

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Consumer Insights And Behavior

In this episode of Five Questions with.. We’re continuing our conversation with Captify CEO and co-founder Dom Joseph about pulling some insights into how  consumer behavior has changed as a result of  the Coronavirus. Part one of our conversation about changing consumer behavior and consumers in a COVID-19 world can be found here.

What are some consumer insights you have on the type of messaging that resonates with consumers today?

I think there’s been some very clever stuff coming out from some brands that have managed to move quickly. I do think some messages have been a bit ‘done-straight-away’. 

I saw a funny meme yesterday that got sent around about brands trying to evolve their messaging to the emotional state of the country right now but still trying to sell their product straight away afterwards. Consumers will really see through that sentiment.

It’s a tricky one for brands to work out. I think they’ve probably got to try a few things and iterate and find out what

I think this causes a lot of problems for a lot of companies because often the link between creative and media buying strategy is so disparate that actually a lot of brands won’t be able to move quickly enough. They won’t be able to adopt and listen. You’ve got to have a different message right now.

One of our biggest clients, KFC , were very, very quick to change. Their slogan is normally ‘finger lickin’ good’, and right now we’ve been told not to touch our faces! I was very impressed with how quick they were to do that. So, some brands are able to change their messaging and make it right for the scenario, and a lot of others are going to really struggle.

Again, we’re just here to help. If consumer insights can help inform that creative strategy, and if we can help with the creative build, then that’s something that we would do. Then, we can offer to help you guys out. I do think that companies have got to evolve it right now. You have to really understand your audience, which is a very difficult one to work out.

Who does Captify work with?

https://www.captify.us/We work with about 700 brands around the world. Most of it is still with agencies. We’ve really built up a lot of our setup focused on servicing agencies. However with a lot of our agencies, we’re starting to get a closer integration with the brand itself. That is very much of interest, because what we don’t like is being too cut off from really getting the best out of our product. 

The best way to use Captify ‘s product is in combination with the client’s data, so we can actually look at the full end-to-end customer journey. We can overlay our first-party client’s data on our data to see and understand the search behaviors of their users and that allows us to be able to pull the consumer insights from the data. 

If we can match all the search data we already have on those users it gives us a much richer understanding of what your existing or high-value audiences have been doing over the last twelve months, what have been the trigger points. 

If we can get to that level of integration with a client then we’re able to do much more stuff together and the consumer insights get more powerful, the way that you can react quickly and customize content is more powerful. 

The ideal client at Captify is one where we are using our product to its full capacity to inform everything from strategy to buying, all the way through to measurement. We really strive as a business to be a core partner that can be used at all stages in that journey. There’s no specific brand, we work in every vertical, but our biggest verticals are travel, automotive, finance and retail.

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