Google Reviews And Your Local Business

Google Reviews And Your Local Business

Google is a big beast – the most visited search engine in the world, it processes 3.5 billion searches every day and is increasing by about 10% year-on-year. You may think your small, locally-focused business can’t really benefit from Google, but the truth is, it really can: Google’s facilities for local businesses are some of the most important online marketing tools you could ever hope to utilise, and best of all – they’re free!

One of the greatest tools available for local businesses online is Google Reviews; yet these are often feared by small enterprises. We’ve all read news articles of small businesses going ‘rogue’ on Google Reviews and writing witty, harsh or firm responses, but this aside, there’s real business benefit to be gained from using the service correctly.

Here, we uncover the ins, outs and optimisation potential of Google Reviews to identify how best they can contribute to your online marketing efforts.

What Are Google Reviews?

Google Reviews form part of  Google My Business functionality online. Alongside the business information lodged with Google for search users to find, (such as your name, address, business information, opening hours, directions and website details) users can leave a review on how they found their experience with your company.

All of this information combined reassures Google that your business is real, does what it says, and that it is in fact located where you say it is. Google will feature your local business alongside others on Google Maps, and rank businesses in order of what the algorithm determines to be most relevant to each users search criteria.

Google Reviews are (should be!) honest and unbiased customer experiences documented as part of your Google My Business online presence. They’re similar to TripAdvisor type reviews; written by individuals, but within Google and not hosted on a third-party website.

How Do Google Reviews Work?

Google Reviews are written by customers who choose to take the time to write them. When a Google user is on a Google My Business listed, they’ll see the option to ‘Write A Review’. They can then go on to complete a form with a 1 to 5 star rating, and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences on their interactions with your company. This review will then be posted alongside any others on your Google My Business listing.

Local businesses aren’t able to write reviews on themselves, but they do have the option to respond. Businesses should (must!) respond to all reviews – positive, neutral or negative! In some cases, if you suspect a Google Review to be unfair or fake, a request can be submitted for it to be removed.

How Do Google Reviews Impact Search Rankings?

Google Reviews may seem like just another part of the many online marketing priorities small businesses have to juggle, but in fact, they’re very important!

Google Reviews add a great degree of authenticity to your Google My Business listing and increase the algorithm’s judgement of ‘trustworthiness’ from your brand. Local businesses with reviews will rank higher in the SERP (Search Engine Page Results) than those without reviews, and will feature a snippet of a positive review (if there is one) in the shortened version of the listing. Googles search algorithm changes all the time, but at present, Google Reviews are only second behind otherwise organic search ranking in their SEO priorities. This means that a local business’ first priority should be basic SEO; and their second, Google Reviews.

Google likes reviews because they confirm the credibility of your business as well as provide a good indication of how well you’re thought of in the local area, and the quality of your products or services.

Why Do Google Reviews Matter?

When customers (both potential and existing) search for local products or services, they know that what they’re seeing is primarily a marketing presence – after all, we all understand that it’s 2020 and we need to present ourselves well online when we’re talking business.

This means that more than ever, people value genuine, personal experiences shared; it’s the digital version of the typical word-of-mouth recommendations that business have thrived on for years! Google’s algorithm agrees and embraces third-party independent news and views on your company and its products and services. Without Google Reviews, everything on your Google My Business is technically just marketing.

How Can I Encourage Customers To Leave Google Reviews?

Of course, the success of your Google Reviews is dependent on actually having them, and it’s an important for you to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave you a review. There are lots of ways to encourage your customers to leave you one, and these include (but are not limited to):

  • Set up a bespoke link for your business’ Google Reviews so that it’s as easy as possible for Google users to access the ‘write a review’ page (this is easily done through your Google My Business suite)
  • Email customers after their purchase/visit, share with them the link to leave a review, and ask if they would’t mind
  • Include a link to leave a Google Review on your regular email newsletters
  • Post a link to leave a Google Review on your social media channels
  • Showcase the best reviews and share them to social media channels – people are often more likely to leave one if they think you may share their words onwards
  • Take onboard any constructive feedback given in reviews and respond to them stating how you intend to enact any changes. People love to feel as though they’ve contributed positively!

How Else Can I Utilise Google Reviews Of My Business?

Shout about your reviews! Your website designer will be able to channel recent reviews directly from Google to your website so that any visitors will be able to view them. Also share your 5 star rated reviews on your social media channels to increase their visibility.

Woya Digital is making business growth through digital marketing affordable for any business through our pay monthly marketing packages, with no upfront investment! If you’re a local business owner looking to increase your business visibility, check us out and get in touch!

The Importance Of Google My Business For Local Business Marketing

The Importance Of Google My Business For Local Business Marketing

Small, local business marketing can be challenging – it can so often feel like your message is lost, in the ether of big-budget firms investing heavily in ad campaigns and influencer sponsorship. Interestingly, the biggest of the big corporations has designed it’s own features to encourage small business growth online without having to heavily invest in social media marketing – introducing Google My Business.

What Is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is the all-encompassing Google facility for small businesses, allowing them to carve out their niche in both their local area and with a wider audience online. GMB gives a local business marketing opportunity in the midst of its huge global presence.

When you google a business, if it has an office, shop or location, you’ll find a listing to the right-hand side of the top search engine results with its basic details: name, photo, address, phone number, other contact details, opening hours, link to website. This information is all populated from a GMB account and gives a premium overview of small business information.

Google My Business also increases your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This helps to boost your web presence, ensures your name and address appear on Google Maps when users search online locally, and gives the ability for those searching on Google to access reviews on your business. All of these features help drastically with online business growth online.

How Much Does Google My Business Cost?

Unlike most local business marketing, GMB is completely free to use! Businesses are free to invest into paid search and other advertising practices on Google if they so choose to, but to claim and maintain a Google My Business listing, is free.

How To Claim Your Local Business Listing

Claiming your GMB listing couldn’t be easier. Simply go to www.google.com/business and sign up to a new account if you don’t already have one. Follow the instructions and fill out the relevant online form to start the process.

For security purposes, and in order to fully verify that you are the owner of the business you’re trying to claim on GMB, a postcard will be sent in the post to your primary business address. Once received, follow the instructions on the card to unlock and activate your listing.

Why Is It Important for Local Business Marketing?

Google is the search engine master, with over 63,000 searches completed per second every day of the week. The word ‘Google’ has become a verb, and it is now by default the easiest and quickest research option for people all over the globe – no matter their query.

To put it simply: where you don’t appear, your competitors will. With Google being the default search engine for most people, it makes sense for your small business to be front and centre of their related queries… and if you’re not, they’ll end up going to your nearest competitor.

Post On Google My Business

Businesses don’t need to make much extra effort to post to their GMB any more or considerably differently than they would their usual social media presence. It is important to post regularly, but posts can be re-purposed from other social media channels. Just amend post text wording so the content isn’t entirely identical, and you’re good to go!

Google loves varied content, so when posting to Google My Business, be sure to mix it up. A good variety of updates and text, photos and offers will keep the algorithm happy and ensure your small business shines.

Local business marketing has come a long way since it relied on notices in parish newsletters, signs by the sides of roads and leaflets posted through doors. Now, business of every shape, size and type need to have an online presence and Google My Business is the ideal way to manage just that. A call to action can still encourage both potential and existing customers to contact you in the manner of your preference, but positions you as experts in your field and as ‘top of the listings’ when anyone searches for anything related nearby.

You may only serve and sell locally – but your customers may now come from all over!

Woya Digital is making business growth through digital marketing affordable for any business through our pay monthly marketing packages, with no upfront investment! If you’re a local business owner looking to increase your business visibility, check us out and get in touch!

Encourage Customer Support Through Google My Business Support Links

Encourage Customer Support Through Google My Business Support Links

These are (as you’re completely aware) ‘unprecedented times’ for business. Across the globe many companies, particularly SMEs, are struggling to operate as normal. Through the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing market impacts, businesses must continue to invest in marketing and business growth where they can to ensure they have a business to go back to when things revert to (dare we say it?) ‘normal’.

Google have been working in a variety of ways to help local businesses continue to trade. One such way they’re doing this is through the creation of Google My Business Support Links.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a one-stop-shop for businesses to manage their presence across Google. This includes (but is no means limited to) their entries on search results, contact details, map locations, photos and reviews. It’s free to manage and is an invaluable marketing tool, especially for small and local businesses.

What is a Google My Business Support Link?

A Google My Business Support Link allows customers to support your business online, even if they’re not able to currently come and visit you at your physical premises in the way they would normally. This is through 2 types of support links, which we detail below.

Types of Support Links

There are two types of Google My Business Support Links: donations links and gift card links.

Gift card links allow customers to do as is plainly indicated – purchase a gift card.  Gift card links can link through to either a page on your website or to a supported gift card provider. The gift card bought can then be used at a later date by the customer in exchange for your goods or services to the value of the card.

Donation links link through to fundraising page provided by a supported supplier and allows customers to donate to your business without expecting a product or service in return.

The donations and purchases made through Google My Business Support Links can be a fantastic way to keep money coming in to your business, and to promote continued business growth by encouraging customer loyalty.

Who’s Eligible?

In order to install Google My Business Support Links, your business must fit the following criteria:

  • Have been verified on Google My Business by 1st March 2020
  • Must have a physical store presence
  • Must be based or operating within a list of various countries – the UK is one of them

How to hold a Successful Google My Business Support Link Campaign

If you are eligible and believe that your business would benefit from launching Google My Business Support Links, now’s the time to get on with it! There are some ways to optimise your campaign’s reach, and we’d recommend the following:

  • Use Google’s marketing tools to create posters and social media posts to promote your support links and drum up awareness and support from your community and customers
  • Keep messaging positive, but honest. Let your customers know how much you’re looking forward to seeing them again and can’t wait to get back to business as usual!
  • Stay focused and be specific! If you intend for gift cards to be used for a certain purpose or have a set idea for them, say so. If your donations are to be used toward funding something specific, state so. Explain why you need and value their support so much.

Google have again demonstrated their commitment to small businesses with the launch of Google My Business Support Links. For more info visit the Google Help Pages.

If you have not yet claimed and registered your Google My Business account, we suggest getting this done as soon as possible. This will allow your business to make use of Google support initiatives into the future. If you need support in getting this sorted, don’t hesitate to shout out to us at Woya!

Woya Digital is making business growth through digital marketing affordable for any business through our pay monthly marketing packages, with no upfront investment!

Free Google Ad Credits for SMEs

Free Google Ad Credits for SMEs

As the COVID-19 crisis deepens and uncertainty continues to loom for small businesses unable to operate as normal, Google have stepped up to support their SME community by offering free Google ad credits for businesses who advertise with them.

This generous move will hugely benefit a range of SMEs with their marketing and communications throughout this unprecedented and very challenging period.

What are Google doing, exactly?

Google have set aside $340million worth of ad credits for SMEs to use on their site. This allows small enterprises to continue their marketing through the coronavirus crisis, even if they’re unable to trade or are trading in a different way. Whilst a marketing tool, the aim of this is to facilitate communication – so that businesses are able to communicate effectively and keep their customers and communities abreast of what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and any changes in basic operations. This could cover just about anything; from food retailers pivoting to contactless deliveries, online shops needing to advise on longer lead times or even brands advising of a temporary shut-down in services.

Google have also set up a fund for $20million worth of ad grants to help public service institutions communicate with their communities, and a further $15million in cash grants for non-profits.

What are Google ad credits?

Google ad credits are monetary credits against a business’ Google account which they can invest in advertising in various formats throughout the Google platform. These ads can be in the form of sponsored ‘top of the results’ listings, Google AdWords, classic banner ads or re-targetting campaigns; depending on what works best for your business.

As lots of advertising options on Google work around dynamic and ever-changing price brackets, there’s no ‘set price’ per ad option – so credits of block amounts make more sense and work more easily than charging a fee from a bank account every time an advert is placed (and in the current climate, lots of SMEs are struggling with internal cashflow anyway).

This is great – but what are Google getting out of it?

Well, they certainly have the cash, but also: SMEs are the backbone of Google’s business. Google rolled out their ‘Google for Small Businesses’ program just last year and continue to be the biggest search engine, and therefore biggest visibility platform for tens of thousands of SMEs worldwide. Whilst there’s definitely a need for SMEs to be able to communicate effectively during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, it’s worth noting that it’s in Google’s interest for these businesses to survive this period, so that they are there to invest again when life resumes to normal.

Is my business eligible for free Google ad credits?

If your SME has advertised with Google either directly through the site or with one of their advertising partner companies since 1st January 2019, you could be eligible. You’ll have to still have an active Google Ads account for your business, not be in debt to them and have followed the Google terms and conditions relating to adverts with those you’ve already placed. Ads placed previously can include YouTube and Display, as well as on Google, although these two will need to comply with the relevant regulations.

How do we get free ad credits, and how long will they last for?

There’s nothing to do! If your SME is eligible for these free ad credits, Google will notify you by email and place them directly into your account. This is an ongoing process as the team at Google HQ work through verification and eligibility, so is expected to take place over months rather than being done automatically overnight. Any free ad credits received can be used on advertising across any Google platform and will not expire until 31st December 2020. You can use as many or as few of them as you like at any point during 2020, and any unused credit will simply disappear as the clock ticks into 2021.

This is a fantastic opportunity for SMEs to improve their customer comms through the coronavirus pandemic and continue to demonstrate your willing to operate and service where you can. Don’t miss out – if you get some free Google ad credits, spend them, and keep the conversation open with your customer base.

Woya Digital is a digital marketing agency made up of experts in our various fields. We make business growth through digital marketing, affordable for any business!

Temporary Disablement of Google My Business Features

Temporary Disablement of Google My Business Features

The ways in which the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all are still being realised, but online, you’ll have noticed social media and news feeds changing up the ways they prioritise activity and posts. Almost every website you use will likely now have a statement or signpost to further information on COVID-19. One business marketing facility however has made some major temporary changes – and that’s GMB (Google My Business).

What is Google My Business (GMB)?

Google My Business refers to the overall management tool of a business’ presence on Google – through search results, maps and local listings. Qualifying business’ can claim their Google My Business listings for free and work from there to optimise their web presence. This includes standard SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) work, ensuring a mobile friendly offering and co-ordinating your business’ online presence across all digital channels, not just your website.

Temporary GMB Changes

There are several services within Google My Business that have been suspended currently. At present these include, but may not be limited to in the future:

  • New Reviews – Users will be able to publish and view their own reviews, but these will not be publicly visible
  • Review Replies – Entirely suspended. There will be no new reviews, but businesses will also be unable to respond to existing reviews on their profile
  • Q&A – Entirely removed. Existing Q&As have been removed and the feature has been suspended
  • Adding, Claiming and Verifying Listings – All businesses that are not health-related will be re-prioritised for these services and can expect delays
  • Editing Business Information – All businesses that are not health-related will be re-prioritised for these services and can expect delays

Although not confirmed by Google in their statement or other official comms, there is anecdotal evidence online to suggest that there may also be suspensions and/or delays in service in regards to the approval process of posts, user-generated content and business usernames (especially where reference is made to ‘delivery’ or ‘takeaway’).

Why is Google My Business Making These Changes?

Google officially released a statement on Friday 20th March 2020 detailing the changes that they would be making to Google My Business and explained why they were doing so. Put simply: Google are being a responsible employer and lessening any services that rely on their staff having to be IN the office to operate.

It’s fair to say that given the prioritisation of health-related businesses over other sectors, that Google are also being responsible toward the communities within which they operate and are supporting public health efforts, as well as looking out for small businesses who otherwise may be inundated with questions from the public on their protocol and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic disruption.

What Happens Now?

None of us can predict exactly how this current situation will pan out or how long it will last. Therefore, there is no set time scale for the reinstatement of these facilities back to their prior service levels.

What Can My Business Do About The Changes?

Realistically … nothing. If you’re a healthcare business, make it clear in the name and/or listing information of the company. Ensure your marketing and SEO is clear across all channels and that your website is mobile friendly and adaptive.

If you’re not happy with something specific in your Google My Business (GMB) online marketing presence and are unsure how to fix it, or at least to lessen its effects on your search engine results, get in contact with a digital marketing specialist, as they may be able to advise you further. You should also log your query with Google, but if you’re not a healthcare business, be prepared to wait for an official answer.

Woya Digital is a digital marketing agency made up of experts in our various fields. We make business growth through digital marketing, affordable for any business!