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Google Business Profile: The tool your small business needs

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Essential local business information

To attract customers to your small business, you have to have a presence wherever those customers may congregate. From a simple sidewalk sign to an active presence in your community’s Facebook group, the goal is to be top of mind when consumers need your products or services. One of the most effective ways to keep your business front and center is by creating a Google Business Profile.

Wait, is Google My Business dead?

No way! Google My Business is alive and kicking with a new name: Google Business Profile.

When I host Grow with Google marketing classes, I liken the Business Profile to a dating profile for your business. It’s chock full of business information, customer reviews, photos, videos, and several other ways for customers to get to know your brand. Just like a dating profile, the more details and content you add, the better your chance to woo new customers.

For any local business owner, this is, by far, one of the most powerful ways to get noticed when people are searching on Google. But is it worth your time to build and manage a Google Business Profile? To answer that question, let’s dive in to understand what it is and why it matters.

What is a Google Business Profile?

Is it a business listing? Is it a search result? Is it a social media page? Actually, it’s all of the above.

A Google Business Profile is a business listing that lives on Google and contains all of the pertinent information that a customer needs to consider your business. The information and content you add to your profile shows up on both Google Search and Google Maps. It looks like something you might see on Yelp or TripAdvisor, but with higher visibility and more options to customize how you appear.

 

Google Business Profile display example

If you were to search Google for “nail salon near me,” the first thing you’d most likely see is a list of three to four businesses that relate to your search. If you click on any of those business names, their corresponding pin on the map will change color and the information they’ve added to their Business Profile will appear on the screen.

These are all Google Business Profiles, and all of this information appears because it was most likely added to Google by the business itself.

Search results example of “nail salons near me”

 

If you peruse through enough listings you will notice that som appear more complete than others because the business owners took the time to optimize their Google Business Profiles.

These optimized listings have a much better chance of showing up on Google because the extra detail signals to the search giant that the business owners care how they appear.

Google Business Profiles also allow you to add posts and offers to them which will appear prominently when someone visits your listing. In this way the platform functions like a social media platform allowing you to share photos, graphics, videos, blog posts and more!

Why Google Business Profiles matter

If you’re sitting there thinking you don’t have the time to create a Google Business Profile, allow me to play Devil’s Advocate. Local businesses with Google Business Profiles get noticed! In fact, the average business is found in 1,009 searches per month, with 84 percent coming from discovery searches.

Local search is powerful

If people are going to learn about a new or existing business in their area, they’ll most likely use Google Search. Sure, some may discover your business by driving by or hearing about it from a friend, but the vast majority of people will discover it by searching on Google.

Optimizing your Google Business Profile will help prospective customers discover your business more often and likely lead to higher transaction value because your attention shines through.

According to Google research, local searches result in a same-day purchase nearly 18 percent of the time. Simply put, you can convert 18 percent of searchers into customers just by making sure your profile is complete and up-to-date!

Micro-moments dictate our buying decisions

Through analyzing its data, Google has found that when people want a product or service, they are willing to forgo brand loyalty to fulfill their need as soon as possible.

Staying with the nail salon example, say you are running errands and you destroy one of your nails. It’s sharp and dangerous, and you cannot wait to get it fixed. You pull out your phone and search “nail salons near me” to find a place to fix it right now.

This is what Google calls a “micro-moment.”

A micro-moment is the instant a consumer needs to know something, go somewhere, do something or buy something.

These moments are critical for businesses because the consumer is ready to purchase and actively looking for your products or services! If you are easy to find online, and your business can satisfy their need, then you have a very good chance of winning new customers.

This micro-moment phenomenon happens more than you think. In a two-year period, Google has reported over 900 percent growth in mobile searches for “___ near me today/tonight,” and that number has continued to grow. People want to know, go, do, or buy within 12 to 24 hours of the thought entering their head.

That’s powerful!

Using our nail salon example, a potential customer may search for “manicure near me today” or “pedicure near me tonight.” If your nail salon was open until 8 PM with vacant chairs and willing nail technicians ready for new customers, but you had not updated your Google Business Profile to say so, how would that customer know? Better yet, how would Google know that you were open and relevant to the customer’s search?

If you make sure your Google Business Profile is robust and complete, those customers in micro-moments will be able to find you and make the decision to do business with you without having to go to your competition. You can’t let them get away!

Put your business on the map

A Google Business Profile puts your business on the map — literally.

One of the most important functions of a Google Business Profile is that it actually shows your business on Google Maps.

Businesses with storefronts and physical locations cannot afford to be absent from Google Maps.

Creating a profile gives you the opportunity to add complete and accurate information about your location, products and services, and business hours, which will help customers find you.

How to create a Google Business Profile

Are you ready to create or claim your Google Business Profile? The first thing you need to do is sign in to your Google account or create one if you don’t have one already.

Google Business Profile splash screen

 

Once you are signed in, search your address on Google Maps. On the screen you will see the map on the right and the information on the left. If there is no profile for that address, you will see a link that says “Add Your Business” below the image and address. If there is already a listing auto-generated by Google you will see the link “Claim This Business.”

Verify your business

Once you’ve created (or claimed) your Business Profile, you’ll need to verify ownership.

This step exists to make sure that people aren’t setting up profiles for businesses they don’t own or flooding Google with fake Business Profiles.

Depending on a variety of factors, you may see one or more of the following verification options available:

  • Postcard: If you select to receive a postcard Google will automatically send a postcard to the address you have used as your business within five days. Once you receive that postcard you will log in and type in the five digit code on the postcard.
  • Email: In some cases you may be able to verify by email. If that option is available to you, select it and Google will send an email to you with a verification link. Once you click that link you are good to go!
  • Instant verification: You may be able to use instant verification if you have previously verified your business with Google Search Console. To use this make sure you are creating your business profile with the same Google account associated with Google Search Console.
  • Video verification: Originally introduced in 2018, Google has brought back video verification to make it much easier and faster to verify your business. You may be presented with a QR Code that will prompt you to record certain videos of your storefront and signage to be uploaded for Google’s review.

Fill out your information

You don’t have to wait for your profile to be completely verified for you to add in more details about your business.

  • Select what kind of business: Make sure you select what kind of business you are. You can choose from a storefront business if you operate entirely out of a physical location, service-area business if your business provides products and services in a specific area, or a hybrid business if your business does both.
  • Choose a category: From there you need to choose what category best describes your business. You cannot make up your own category, but Google has more than 3,000 selections to choose from, so be sure to choose the category that best fits your business. This is important because it will dictate what options you get within your profile and how your business shows up in Google Search. (Note: You can add up to nine additional categories.)
  • Write a description: What would make a customer want to do business with you? Keep that in mind when you write a business description. Tell them what you do and how you do it while adding in one or two keywords to help with your SEO. Don’t include any hyperlinks in this area since it is not allowed and will look like spam.
  • Add operating hours: One of the most important things on your Google Business Profile is your operating hours. Be sure to accurately fill out your operating hours including any upcoming holidays or pre-planned closures.
  • Upload photos: Before your profile can be considered complete, you should upload at least five to seven photos of your business. For your cover photo, select what you think best represents your business because this image will be the most visible to searchers. Your profile photo can be a logo or a photo of your sign. From there upload at least five additional photos showing off different aspects of your business like your products, before and after service shots, or your team.

How to edit your profile directly in Google search

Once you build and verify your Google Business Profile, your job is not done. I always recommend setting a weekly or bi-weekly reminder to review and update your Business Profile.

Before you even attempt to find your business to edit the profile, you have to make sure that you are logged in to the correct Google account.

The first way you can access your profile is to visit google.com/business. This option will be phased out in the future and only be accessible to those who are owners of multiple Business Profile accounts, which brings me to your second option.

The better way to access and edit your Business Profile is through Google Search itself. While signed in to your Google account, simply search your business name or type the words “my business” and you will see it appear at the top of the search with the headline “Your business on Google.” Click on “Edit Profile” and you will be able to start editing.

Final thoughts

Creating and updating a Google Business Profile is one of the most important things you can do for your small business. Search engines, especially Google, are how most people find the information they are looking for. If you spend your time making sure your business is represented correctly on Google Search, you are allowing those potential customers to find you!



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Growing a Business

Shopping Video – New Marketing Trend

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One of the best ways for marketers and business owners to increase sales and engage customers is video shopping. This new marketing trend involves using video content to promote and sell your products.

Here is everything you need to know about shopping videos for business owners.

What is Video Shopping

Video shopping involves using video content to promote your products/services with the aim of increasing sales. With a shopping video, business owners can show off their brand and give relevant information about their products and services. Also, videos help influence the decision-making process of buyers and increase sales.

Types of Shopping Videos

There are two main categories of shopping videos, and they are:

Live Video Shopping

This type of video shopping involves creating a live presentation of your products. It is not pre-recorded, thus making it easy for customers to interact in real-time.

Non-Live Video Shopping

In this case, you record the video and then upload it on platforms where customers can find them. While you can’t get real-time responses from customers, non-live videos are easily accessible, unlike live videos.

Engaging social video ads

Benefits of Video Shopping

Video shopping can provide many benefits for business owners and their customers. Some of the advantages of video shopping are:

1. Engaging Visuals That Increase Sales

Consumers generally prefer video content over text because they are a more expressive form of content. With video shopping, business owners can create an interactive environment where customers can engage. This form of engaging content increases your chance of converting visitors to actual customers.

2. Increase Brand Awareness

Business owners can increase the chance of being seen by their target audience through impressive shopping videos. Shopping videos prove to be a convenient way to promote your business and increase brand awareness.

3. Convenient Customer Interaction

Video shopping helps engage with customers in real-time, thus making them feel seen. You can chat with customers one-on-one, which makes it easier to serve their needs. Whether it’s a car dealer chat or a skincare consultation, you can count on video shopping to improve rapport.

4. Bring Products to Live

With video shopping, shoppers can easily browse products in real-time. For example, fashion brands often bring clothes to life by making a video of how it looks on a real person. This will help customers have a feel of how the item will look on them, and this can increase sales.

5. Easy to Create

Creating shopping videos doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process. Shopping videos tend to be short and easy to make without requiring a professional. With a smartphone or camera, anyone can make a marketing video that converts. Also, there are many channels and platforms available to create videos that will persuade visitors into being actual customers.

6. Increased SEO Ranking

Videos tend to perform better than other forms of content, and having them on your website will increase your SEO rankings. This makes it easy for customers to find you and do business with you.

Video marketing

If you are running an online business, you need to keep up with new marketing trends to boost your brand. One of the latest marketing trends to implement is video shopping. When done correctly, video can help provide valuable information for customers, boost engagement, and increase sales.

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In Business, Image Matters. How to Improve Yours?

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Your business may boast of excellent products and/or services. However, nowadays, excellent products and services simply aren’t enough to help a business survive and thrive in the long run. What your business also needs is a strong image – one that can help it stand out from its competitors.

But how exactly do you go about improving the image of your business? To know the answer to this question, read on as we take you through all the steps you can and must take to take your business forward towards success.

photo credit: August de Richeliu / Pexels

1. Face-to-face interactions with people

We may be living in the digital age, but nothing can beat face-to-face interactions when it comes to telling people about your business. Here are some ways through which you can inform people about your business and what it’s all about:

Meet people and start conversations

It’s unrealistic to expect that people will know about your business if you don’t reach out to them. So, start going out and attending events.

Business-centric open meetings and conferences would be the best place to start. At these events, you’ll run into several businessmen like yourself. You should make the most of these opportunities to start conversations with others from the world of business. This will gradually let people know about your business and the products and/or services it has to offer.

Prepare a pitch

When you meet potential customers, you have to be prepared to speak spontaneously about your business. At this juncture, it’s important that you don’t fumble or sound unconfident. After all, what you tell people about your business will form impressions in their minds – and you’d want those impressions to be positive, wouldn’t you?

This is where preparing a pitch can come in incredibly handy. Write it down first and then keep practicing it out loud, and make changes where necessary.

Participate in community events

Your local community is the first pillar of support for your business. So, get out there and try playing a role in all community events. At these events, you should promote your business in a friendly and welcoming manner.

This should encourage members of your local community to take an interest in your business and what it has to offer. Sure, this may not result in immediate sales, but it will definitely improve your business’s public visibility.

Businessman in a fancy coffee shop

2. Make your business appear professional

A surprising fact is that the modern-day consumer values professionalism more than the quality of products and services. Of course, product and service quality is important, but if your business lacks professionalism, it will lose out on customers.

So, to make your business appear professional, you can put the following steps into practice:

Invest in a business website

The internet is arguably the biggest platform for businesses nowadays, which is why you should invest in a dedicated website for your business. We recommend hiring professional web developers and designers to curate your business website. This will ensure that your website looks and feels professional.

Apart from setting up a website, you should also pay attention to its content. Quite simply, it should have all the information that your target audience may want to know, i.e., contact information and information about the business. Your business website should also have a blog with consistent posts. This can go a long way towards ensuring your expertise within your niche.

Set up a dedicated email account for your business

Using your personal email account as your business’s email account is nothing short of a criminal offense. That’s why you should set up a dedicated business email account. It’ll help you achieve consistency with your branding, and it’ll also allow your business to look professional to the people who subscribe to your business newsletters.

To set up a business email account, you need to first create a domain name and then get in touch with an email provider. Two of the best email providers out there include Office 365 for Business and Google Apps for Business. Both options provide business-class email along with features such as online storage and document editing. The best thing about these options is that they’re quite inexpensive.

Provide 24/7 Customer Service

These days, consumers expect the companies they buy products and services from to be available for them 24/7. Fortunately, the widely availble virtual assistant and reception services such as those provided by www.virtualreception.com.au can do that for you – both on and off office hours – to any types and sizes of business, from freelancing digital nomads to multinational corporations.

Social media manager

3. Set up your social media for success

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are excellent places to market your business and its products. Here are a few ways to make your business succeed on social media:

Create business profiles

On all major social media platforms, you have the option of setting up personal profiles and business profiles. It’s best to create the latter type of profile as it is designed specifically for business purposes.

During the setup process, make sure that you include relevant info in the bio sections. Don’t forget to add links to your official website and other social media handles as well.

Post relevant content regularly

All social media algorithms tend to favor accounts that post relevant content on a consistent basis. So, irrespective of the social media platforms you’re active on, make sure that you’re posting new content as much as possible.

Not posting regularly can limit your business account’s reach and stall its growth on social media.

Keep branding elements consistent across all platforms

If your Instagram page looks drastically different from your Facebook page, your target audience is bound to get confused. That’s why it’s vital to use similar branding elements across all social media platforms.

The branding elements you should focus on keeping consistent include your business’s logo, its imagery, and its voice, i.e., the tone of communicating with your audience.

Encourage users to engage with you on social media and interact with them: Through the use of call-to-action (CTA) messages, you can encourage your followers on social media to engage with your posts. You should also spare time to respond to your followers’ comments.

Business owner in the Portugal-based office
photo credit: Fauxels / Pexels

Takeaway

There are quite some things to consider in your endeavor to increase your buisness image. However, focusing on the three above is more than sufficient to get started: Meet people and tell the about your business; make an effort to be professional, especially in your online presence; and lastly, make use of social media platforms to your advantage.

Be sure to do a lot of trials-and-errors so that you can form the best practices for your company.

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5 Ways Virtual Headquarters Pandemic-Proof Your Business

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The coronavirus pandemic battered many businesses to the ground. At its peak, we saw businesses either shutting down or struggling to make ends meet. We had job cuts and salary cuts left, right and center. Businesses across the world, especially small businesses, are still suffering from the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Even now, with things finally opening up, many businesses are skeptical of the times and have gone into planning mode.

Every business now wants to create a contingency plan for when things start to go out of hand. Many businesses which were able to survive the pandemic were the ones that were prepared. The ones that had a contingency plan and a disaster management plan ready to roll out.

photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions / Unsplash

Taking a cue from this, all every company wants to plan for right now is this: What to do if and when a pandemic hits again? Is there a way to pandemic proof your business?

One step that most businesses have taken is setting up a virtual headquarters.

What is a Virtual Headquarters?

Virtual headquarters or a virtual office is a physical address of your online business. At this physical address, you can create shared workspaces, meeting rooms, and set up a virtual assistant. You and your employees can continue working from home, but you still have a physical address for your place of work.

But why would you go to all that trouble when everyone is working from home? A number of factors come into play here, the biggest of them being the pandemic. As more and more businesses attempt to pandemic proof their businesses, they are striving to find the right balance between remote working and having a physical office. For a lot of businesses, a model that works better is having a watered-down version of a physical space up and running.

Remote working

 

photo credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Here are some of the main advantages of opting to have a virtual headquarter for your business in order to keep it as pandemic proof as possible.

1. You get a prestigious office address

First impressions matter. And having a prestigious office address on your business card certainly makes the right impression. This point becomes even more significant if you are a small business that’s trying to make it big. A calling card with a flashy office address sends a positive sign to potential clients — about your seriousness regarding the business and your credibility and professionalism. A prestigious office address is also something your employees will be proud of.

So you get a great address without the long lease and the major utilities and upkeep costs involved. An absolute win-win.

2. Expansion is easy

It is a lot easier to expand or even downsize your business when you have a virtual headquarter. This is because you do not need to think about the physical space aspect of it. Need to hire more people? Go ahead without worrying about where they will sit, if you will need to lease a new floor, or if the office space is enough.

Thinking of moving a department offshore? No need to redo your office space lease to physically downsize. Having a virtual headquarters gives you the flexibility without the constraints.

3. Your employees can keep working remotely

Having a virtual headquarters does not mean a proper office space that employees will eventually return to. You and your employees will continue to work remotely while being associated with that one physical address.

Depending on how big or small your virtual headquarters are, you can make room for monthly in-person team meets. You can even give some employees to have the option to book up a terminal and work from the office once a week. Or you could simply reserve your physical address as a place to forward mail and work calls. The possibilities are endless.

Excellent customer service

4. Customer service are made easy

When the pandemic hit, too many companies had to suddenly shut shop and move everything online. While the transition came with its own hurdles, one of the bigger issues was customer service.

Shutting shop completely may cause some technical issues with providing customer service. Having a virtual headquarters means that you can now use the available virtual services, such as 24/7 customer service – which can be a critical success factor in winning customers during the pandemic.

5. Better work-life balance

Just knowing there is a demarcation between your work life and your personal life helps a lot in trying to strike a balance. As great as working from home is, many find it very hard to disconnect completely from work. This happens when the place you work from and the place where you relax overlap.

A lot of employees are prone to giving out their personal details more easily while working from home. This may be to receive official correspondence via postal mail or receive calls on their personal mobile number. While this may seem like part and parcel of remote working, it makes disconnecting difficult. Things seem tougher when you proceed to go on leave or a holiday but are constantly being bombarded with work calls, emails and postal mails.

When you have a physical headquarters, employees are able to make use of the virtual receptionist to handle calls and also have an address to forward relevant mail in their absence. This provides a much-needed demarcation between personal and professional life.

Business team meeting in a Virtual Headquarters

Takeaway

A virtual headquarters may not work for a particular business type. On the other hand, it may be the thing another business needs to flourish. It is important to evaluate all the pros and cons before you make a decision for your business.

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