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Why (and how) you should use Google My Business!

Google My Business (GMB for short) is an online listing for businesses. Not to be confused with Google Plus, GMB helps your business get found online – instantly! Here’s how to try it out for yourself. Type  the name of your business into Google (e.g. Melba Café, Melbourne) and presto – up pops a list of names, quick descriptions, locations, a handy map and customer ratings. Is your business there? A GMB listing presents a golden opportunity to attract customers. Best of all – it’s easy to set up (well, as easy as any Google service ever is) and it’s free! And the good thing about GMB is that you control what shows up for your business. You choose your own description, and add venue or food photos if you want.

So, if your business isn’t showing up, where do you start?

First, Claim your business. Again it’s easy. All you need to do is answer a couple of basic questions. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be asked to verify your right to ‘claim’ the business via mobile, email, or good old snail-mail!

Oh, and if your business is showing up, is the information as good as it could, or should be? Maybe it’s time to update details or photos, to keep things fresh and current?

What’s important?

 We’re talking about what’s important to your customers – not to you! This is what they want to know:

  1. Where are you and how do we contact you? (phone and email)
  2. When are you open? (days as well as opening hours)
  3. What’s your website address? (for checking out your menu)
  4. Are there any specific days you’re closed or have different hours? (think annual staff holidays, public holidays etc)

We know that the unexpected can happen, so you can update no. 4 on-the-go. Just as you’d update your answerphone message constantly, you need to be vigilant about maintaining your Google listing, so you don’t end up with disappointed diners standing outside a  business with a “closed” sign on the door!

And here’s a very clever little feature! If you don’t take bookings (or even if you do) you can include the average wait time for a table on your listing. If you opt into this feature, Google allows your potential customers to message you and check out if they can get a table, and  when. You’ll get an alert if you have a message waiting for you, and in the meantime, you can take another booking.

Picture this!

 In the hospitality business, good looks count! Add exterior photos so customers can instantly identify your location when they drive by or approach, and interior shots so they are wowed by the ambience and style. Some mouth-watering food shots will add that extra appeal, or even a photo of your menu, especially if it changes seasonally

People do judge books by their covers, so the more appealing your photos, the higher the customer conversion rate. Take some time to get the best possible shots, it will pay off.

So what’s next?

After getting the basics sorted, take a little time to make your listing even better. Personalise your details to highlight what makes your venue appealing, unique or special. Are you different in some way? For example, child friendly, vegan, off street parking etc.

GMB comes with a dashboard (think of this as a control panel) so you can make changes and enrich your online content. You can add new or popular menu items, promote special set menus to boost custom on quiet days, like an express business lunch, or a “dine and dash” pre-show menu. You can promote special offers for occasions like Valentine’s Day, or themed events. You can even add links to your blog, your Facebook page or recipes.

Fine tuning your GMB

 Something more to love about GMB is that it shares insider knowledge with you.

The ‘Insights’ section holds all the information about how your customers find you, how many have looked you up on Google, and at what times of the day. You can also see what they have clicked through to on your listing, and identify what you should be doing more of. More specials? More set menus? More recipes? You don’t need to guess, you’ll see exactly what posts your potential customers are interested in and do more of them.

Optional extras: If you don’t already have a website, GMB provides you with the option to create a free one. If you’re running a straightforward operation, this may be all you need. You can also connect directly with Google AdWords and start your own customised ad campaign.

Why you should bother

Yes we know. There are so many things you’re told you need to do to keep up, grow or just hold your own in the hospitality business. And it’s tempting to just pick the easiest one and stick with it.

Unfortunately, in these days of social media and non-stop connectivity, that single-minded approach no longer cuts the mustard. Life has changed, and you need to keep up!.

That said – GMB is great value. It’s FREE, so how couldn’t it be? If you’re still in doubt – here’s a quick recap:

  1. It’s free (we can’t say this often enough – obviously!)
  2. You’ll get a great return on the time and effort you put into it
  3. It captures your customers right at the beginning of their decision-making process
  4. Over 75% of all people prefer Google to other search engines
  5. 5 million people search Google every day for businesses or information
  6. It presents a ‘shop window’ to a ready-to-book window shopper!

To recycle that old saying – You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Check it out.

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