Whilst Google Websites have limited functionality, the ability to quickly build a digital presence, means the Google Website function can be a useful start for all businesses looking to get online.
While in your Google My Business account, in the left hand menu, you’ll see at the bottom a ‘website’ option.
When you click on this, you’ll be met by the following pop up:
Not a ‘full’ website in all results, but in terms of trying to get online quickly, it should prove sufficient for the needs of some SMEs.
Once you click ‘edit’ in the pop up, you’ll be left with some choices to make:
You’ll be able to choose your header image, the theme (from a selection of twelve), you can update the text that shows on the site (headline, description, summary header, and summary), and you can also select a Call to Action button for the site. I.e. the button which leads people to get in touch with you.
Obviously, it’s difficult to make any major plans at the moment, but by ensuring that you use the summary to make clear your intentions, and offer an appropriate button, this could give your customers a chance to help out during a difficult time.
For example – for services such as hairdressers, tattooists or for independent booksellers or fashion shops, it could be an opportunity to sell vouchers for services redeemable at the end of the crisis. Or maybe your business has consumables you could arrange to be delivered.
For tradespeople it could offer a chance to explain the safety measures they are likely to implement when they attend a job at a property.
Once you’ve set up your GMB profile and your ‘website’, you can also use a lot of other features:
Allowing business to create content directly on Google (which then ranks for brand name Search Engine Results Pages), Google Posts can serve as ‘business cards’ (as Search engine Land called them a while back). In addition to this they feature at the top of the results page for various branded searches.
As with Amazon and Facebook, Google My Business allows brands to interact with their reviews – both for the purpose of building relationships and for complaint handling.
While Google reviews are still vulnerable to manipulation, interaction with consumers is a major part of a modern digital presence so, while it does require improvement, the option to engage in conversation with consumers is an important one to have.
Book an appointment
Appropriate businesses can funnel users directly to a web page to book an appointment – these appointment pages are available for any local business, they will also play a part in your business receiving automated calls the Google Assistant’s automated booking system, which has begun to crop up more frequently in the last few years.
Optimising your profile
While the main advice is ‘fill in anything you can fill in and double check it’s correct’, there are several areas where a little effort can go a long way – some of these will only feature on your GMB listing, but it’s worth taking advantage of as much as possible.
With 750 characters to play with, there’s little reason to worry about your word count, but do consider that only 250 (approximately) of these will be shown without the need for expansion. You’ll need to make sure that you communicate your USP early in the description – with the rest a condensed ‘about us’ or ‘mission statement’.
If applicable, you can add services, service descriptions and even a price list – all of which will show up as part of your GMB listing and on the list that appears on the Google website.
While there’s no hard and fast rule on these, it’s fair to say that they were set up to compete with similar business page posts on Facebook.
So, if you’re posting something to Facebook – be it an award win or special offer – you should probably start using GMB posts too.
These posts are crucial space to communicate any changes to your business at this time, especially alternate ways to reach you whilst premises are closed.
While reviews are great to have (the more the merrier, in fact), you should look to respond in a professional manner to all reviews – not only is complaint handling in GMB considered a trust building exercise with consumers, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that such responses can improve rankings, as the activity suggests trustworthiness to Google (all the more important as authority and trust drive search forward).
There are plenty of reasons to add photos to your GMB listing – but we’ll let Google do the talking here (taken from their support.google blog):
Your listing is a great place to showcase the photos that capture your business. Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.
While you’ve only got 30 seconds to play with, you can say a lot about your business in that short time. The video – which can be uploaded in the ‘Photos’ section of your GMB dashboard – should, however, be done as well as possible.
Think of it like any other piece of marketing – the better it is, the better it reflects on your brand. You can make great videos on a phone with no additional equipment and there are plenty of free video editing options online.
Some final thoughts on GMB and your Google website
The two really go hand in hand, so there’s no reason to skip one or the other – they could represent a bridge between no online presence and the next step of developing, or having developed, your own website.