Recap: The buyer’s journey is the research process an individual takes to transition from a prospect to a customer.
Your customers go through the same thought process before making a purchase. The process is called the buyer’s journey.…
Google My Business is one of many tools we use at WSI Connect to increase traffic and generate leads for our clients.
It’s a powerful tool for local businesses. Verifying your business with Google is the only way to show up in the local pack, which we estimate receives 40%-50% of the clicks for each search (far more than the ads above them).
By using the features outlined in this guide, we increased engagement in just one month for our client in the example below.
Inside this post
- What is Google My Business (GMB) and Why is it Important?
- Getting Started with Google My Business
- Completing Basic Information in GMB
- Optimizing GMB
- Analyzing GMB
What is Google My Business and Why is it important?
A Google My Business (GMB) account lets you claim and manage how your business is viewed in Google Search, Google Maps, and Local Finder.
Your listing appears as a knowledge panel on Google Search (see example below). It displays key business information before a user clicks through to your website, provides a simple method for contact, and increases traffic to your website, social channels, and business.
Getting Started with Google My Business (GMB)
1. Claim your business
The first step is to claim your business. While signed into the Google account you use for your business, do a search to see if your business already has a listing. If so, then click the “Own this business” button as seen below. (If you’re on a mobile device, the button might say “Claim this business” instead.)
If your business doesn’t already have a listing, visit https://www.google.com/business and follow the steps to register your business.
Important Note: GMB listings can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location or travel to customers for service. Online-only businesses and rental properties are ineligible.
2. Verify your business
Once you’ve claimed your business, you must verify it. Go to your listing on GMB and click the “Verify Now” button. Select from the available verification options, which might range from entering a verification code sent through a postcard, phone call, or email.
Sometimes Google will request a video chat to verify you have a physical store or a service vehicle. Once verified, you can edit your GMB listing.
Complete basic information in GMB
Enter as much information possible in your GMB listing, especially in the following areas:
Choose a relevant category for your business. You can choose up to nine categories, with the first choice being the primary one. The primary choice is the most important category, as it’s the only one that shows on your listing, but each category must be directly related to your business. This will improve your search rankings and help reach the appropriate audience.
An optimized category will increase visits through discovery searches, when visitors discover a business through searches for products, services, or business categories. Additionally, a well-fitting category will make other informational fields available. For example, restaurants can include menus and hotels can include buttons for checking room availability.
ii. Name, Address, Phone (NAP)
Having a consistent NAP throughout online directories and your social media presence is vital to the Google local algorithm. Verify this information is accurate and matches the information on your website and in local directories.
If you use a call-tracking phone number, list it under “Primary Phone,” and put your local and/or toll-free number under “Additional Phone.” Otherwise, list your local phone number under “Primary Phone” and your toll-free number under “Additional Phone.”
iii. Service Area
The service area feature is available for businesses who visit or deliver to local customers. For example, if you’re a residential laundry delivery service provider for local customers, you can list your service area by city, postal code, or area. You can also create separate descriptions for each service category you offer, including their name and price.
iv. Hours of operation
Input your normal operating hours. Many businesses change their hours throughout the year so update this as needed. Be sure to adjust your hours for holidays or special occasions. Google My Business even has a specific section where you can add “special hours.”
Attributes are specific features of your business that can differentiate you from competitors. Your business category determines the attributes available for your business. You can select as many attributes as you want, but don’t flood your listing with too many. Select your top five attributes.
Sample attributes include No-Contact Delivery, Checks Accepted, Accepting New Patients, Outdoor Seating, and Private Events. It’s beneficial to compare your attributes to local competitors and select what could pull customers from them to you.
vi. Business Description
Ensure your business description is rich with relevant keywords about your product and services, but don’t go overboard. You have a character limit of 750, but only the first 250 characters are visible in the knowledge panel before it’s truncated.
Make sure to include the most important keywords within the first 250 characters. On a desktop computer, the business description appears in the knowledge panel towards the bottom, below your reviews. On a mobile device, you can see the business description if you click on the “About” tab. This makes it extra important to have keywords visible as soon as possible, as these are the terms customers search for when they’re looking for your services.
Photos are the first impression of your business and should be professional looking. They should be in a JPG/PNG format and at least 720×720 pixels. Try to have the highest resolution possible.
Your image options include:
- Profile Image (your logo)
- Cover Photo (the photo that best represents your business)
- Additional Images (photos relevant to your business)
You can’t control which photo appears first, but you can influence Google’s algorithm with a compelling Cover Photo. If it gets high visitor engagement (i.e. visitors click on it far more than other photos), the algorithm will promote it more often.
Here are some GMB photo suggestions:
- Exterior photos (minimum of 3)
- Interior photos (minimum of 3)
- Product or service photos (one photo per product or service)
- Team photos (minimum 3 showing management team and your employees)
- Office rooms
- Event photos
GMB is not the place for stock photos, as those can be flagged and removed. Focus on images related to your business location, products, and services.
Pro Tip: Name your images with keywords related to your business to positively impact your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.
Videos are a great way to highlight key information visually. They appear in the “Videos” section when visitors click to view your photos on a desktop. Once you’ve uploaded two or more videos, a video tab will appear on your mobile device listing.
These are the specific requirements to keep in mind when posting videos:
- Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
- File size: Up to 100 MB
- Resolution: 720p or higher
Here are some GMB video ideas:
- Product demo
- Highlight an employee
- Interview employees
- Tour your office
- Showcase how one of your products is made
Pro Tip: Most searchers have a short attention span, so keep videos short. You can also add videos to Google Posts.
Input your main website URL. You may also have the ability to input your specific URL for your menu, reservations, or appointments. These options are available depending on the primary category chosen for your GMB listing.
This feature is only available for food and drink, beauty, and other service businesses. It allows you to categorize and list out all your services, food items, or products including prices and descriptions. Potential customers can easily see what you have to offer before navigating to your website.
Double check your location on the map and ensure the marker is in the right place. If not, log into your Google My Business Account and navigate to the “Info” menu. Click the address field and drag the red marker to the correct location. Changing the location does not update your address information.
4. Optimize your Google My Business Listing
Once you have the basic information for your business input into Google My Business, you can optimize your listing for better search results.
i. Booking Button Feature
If your business depends on appointments, you should incorporate the Booking Button feature, which allows customers to book an appointment directly from your GMB listing. Google automatically places a booking button within one week on your GMB listing if your scheduling provider is a Google integration.
Within one week, your scheduling account is automatically linked to your Google My Business account.
ii. Google Posts
Posts don’t impact your search ranking, but they’re a great way to keep your listing relevant and encourage searchers to visit your website or take other actions. Posts appear more prominently on mobile than desktop devices, and will become increasingly important in your local search strategy.
Each post can have a Call-to-Action (CTA) button that encourages users to take action. Available CTA buttons include Book, Order Online, Buy, Learn More, Sign-Up, Get Offer, and Call Now.
Keep this in mind with Google Posts:
- Images appear in 4:3 ratios. Focus on having your most important information centered in the image.
- Minimum image/video width is 400 x 300px
- The first 100 characters of your description will display in the knowledge panel, but you have 1,500 characters available for your post.
- You can have up to 10 posts at once, but only the most recent two will be shown, and the following will be available in a carousel format. At the end of the 10 posts is a link to view the older posts.
- Be careful of the words you use. Certain phases, like “weather stripping” or “unclogging toilet” will get your post denied because of the words “stripping” and “toilet.”
- Avoid using the COVID update post, as it’s text only and will hide your other active posts.
- Event post about a special sale
- Seminar with link to registration
- Holiday message, latest blog post
- Feature a new product
- Make a reservation
- Sign up for a newsletter
- Learn more about the latest offers
Pro Tip: Google Posts are an underrated yet valuable feature for your GMB listing. Integrate them into your content calendar and implement these tactics to optimize your posts.
iii. Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section of your knowledge panel allows anyone to ask specific questions about your business. It’s a great opportunity for owners to interact directly with customers and provide valuable information to potential customers. Be sure to answer questions promptly and concisely.
Pro Tip: Treat the Q&A section as an FAQ section by asking and answering your own questions. Post common questions people ask, and answer them from your business account. Be sure to upvote any important or relevant questions, as upvoted questions will become more visible.
Unfortunately you can’t see ‘Ask a question’ thru the Google My Business app and notifications are unreliable at this point as mentioned in this thread so definitely check this section periodically in your knowledge panel.
iv. Know this place?
Your Google listing has a link encouraging people to answer questions about your location. This helps Google learn more about your business and provide relevant information about your offerings.
This feature allows customers who find your business listing on Google to message you directly thru SMS. Add your phone number and turn messaging on to start this feature.
Google also integrates messaging thru the GMB app. This lets you view your messages thru the app and receive a notification once a message is received.
Reviews are one of the greatest influencers of your business’s reputation and visibility. Online reviews appear next to your listing in Google Maps, and are featured toward the bottom of your knowledge panel in search results. They can also be accessed by clicking on the review count directly beneath your business name.
Reviews also have a solid impact on search result rankings. It’s important to respond to positive and negative reviews to showcase engagement and let your customers know you’re actively responding to their concerns.
5. Insights – Analyze your progress
Google Insights is a snapshot of several important statistics on visitor engagement with your listing.
Key metrics include:
- How customers find your business (direct, discovery, and branded searches). Discovery searches are people searching generic categories (e.g. “residential plumbing services,” “tax audit,” “auto glass repair near me”). These impressions are most likely connected to your SEO efforts.
- Where on Google your customers are finding or viewing your listing (Google search vs. Google Maps). Views are similar to impressions. They aren’t clicks and aren’t unique. To better understand these numbers you can toggle on and off each box to see the graphs separately.
Pro Tip: High traffic from Google Maps could mean customers are looking for your business on their mobile device. Consider having a Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) strategy if you have a high number of map impressions.
“Mobile voice-related searches are 3x more likely to be local-based than text-related searches” – Marketing Profs
- The actions your customers take on your listing (e.g. visiting your site, clicking on directions, calling you).
Pro Tip: Your prospects can contact you directly via phone or messaging from your GMB listing. They might not visit your website, so tracking these metrics is essential for understanding your overall marketing ROI.
- Areas that your customers are living (based on direction queries). The requests are divided by zip code, city, and state. This information can be helpful in determining where to target your ads.
- Total phone calls and the time when customers call. The graph below identifies when customers view your listing the most. It’s a great opportunity to target customers with ads or Google Posts.
- The number of times your photos have been viewed (impressions) compared to other businesses.
The data does not go past 90 days and some insights are limited to just one month, but Google has a Google My Business API available for developers to obtain 18 months worth of data.
Download the Google My Business app for an easy way to monitor your listing’s progress. It’s a quick and easy way to update your contact information, upload images and videos, create Google Posts, and review your insights. And frequently check your dashboard for notifications.
The more interaction and engagement you GMB listing has, the better your chances of ranking higher in local search and organic rankings.
Contact WSI Connect today to get the most out of Google My Business and local Search Engine Optimization. We’re here to help you create and implement a successful digital marketing strategy.
This is part two of a three-part series that covers tips for increasing enrollment at your Montessori school.
Part 2 reviews Facebook promotions and retargeting strategies. Click here to read Part 1: The Essentials, which covers your website, Google Search, and reputation management.
Part 2: Increase Exposure
Facebook Promotions – Schedule a Tour
One of the first things parents researching preschools and daycares want to know is if they can schedule a tour, preferably to observe a class in action. For example, many Montessori schools offer an observation window for prospective and current parents to observe the Montessori environment. Whether your school has specific dates for tours or grants year-round tours, you’ll want to promote it on Facebook.
If you’re wondering whether Facebook is still an appropriate platform, consider these recent statistics in a 2018 social media report by the Pew Research Center*
- Facebook continues to remain the primary social media platform
- 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook
- 78% of Facebook users are between 30 and 49 years of age
- Approximately 74% of Facebook users login daily
*Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank and subsidiary of Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew Charitable Trusts holds silver level status with GuideStar, indicating a commitment to transparency. These statistics reflect what WSI Connect sees across our Montessori promotions (see below).
When creating FB promotions we utilize the following layout:
Facebook Promotions – Open House
Similar to school tour promotions, open house promotions are targeted toward the parents of new potential students. However, your school’s capacity may differ for each type of promotion. The staffing and resources necessary to host a successful open house might be more intensive than the resources for scheduled tours.
The largest benefit of an open house is giving parents an opportunity to meet everyone at the school, from the director and teachers to current parents and students.
An open house provides your school a unique opportunity to make a lasting impression and showcase your curriculum. It allows parents to form early bonds with the staff, and if they can bring their child along, they’ll see how their child fits into the Montessori environment.
Facebook – Remarketing
Facebook Pixel is an easy-to-install remarketing tool that measures engagement with your Facebook ads and helps you develop better ads. If your website is powered by WordPress, you can upload Pixel following these instructions. Facebook also does a great job of going through the installation steps here.
Once Facebook Pixel is installed and set up, create “events” so that Facebook can track specific actions taken on your website. For example, turn on the event “Complete Registration” to track when a visitor from your “Schedule a Tour” ad clicks through to your landing page and fills out the scheduling form.
Recommendation: Use Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) Codes with or without Facebook Pixel
UTM codes track the origins of your website traffic, allowing you to evaluate the performance of marketing campaigns. We highly recommend you UTM codes, especially if you’re hesitant or not ready to install Facebook Pixel. They’ll tell you your website traffic’s source (i.e. Facebook), medium (i.e. paid ad), and whether your traffic is coming through a specific campaign (i.e. open house).
Facebook still reigns but don’t ignore the power of Instagram and videos
While Facebook and UTM codes are powerful promotional tools for our Montessori clients, it should be noted that Instagram and video ads are also powerful. Within the Facebook Ads Manager platform, you can select Instagram for ad placement or exclude it entirely. For example, you might choose to exclude Instagram ads if you don’t have an Instagram business profile. To exclude Instagram as a placement, select “edit placements” and uncheck Instagram.
Every month, 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts. Every day, 200 million users visit at least one business profile.
In June 2018, Instagram announced it achieved 1 billion monthly active users. Now it has over 25 million business profiles and one-third of the most-viewed stories are from businesses. Notably, 90% of users follow a business account, with the average engagement rate for posts by businesses being 0.96%.
If parents at your Montessori school use Instagram, you might want to consider creating a business profile and crafting stories that promote the benefits of a Montessori education. After all, in a Facebook study, 81% of Instagram users say they use Instagram to research products.
While the methods outlined above have increased success for our clients, your adoption should be directed by your school’s ability to accept new students.
Once you’ve mastered your Facebook promotions and retargeting strategies, take a look at Part 3: Market to Your Audience. In that part, we will dive into how email marketing, content marketing, and video marketing can increase enrollment at your Montessori school.
We are firm believers in the Montessori method, and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to contact us at any time.
Recap: The buyer’s journey is the research process an individual takes to transition from a prospect to a customer.
Your customers go through the same thought process before making a purchase. The process is called the buyer’s journey.
The Buyer’s Journey
- Awareness: The customer realizes they have a problem
- Consideration: The customer researches solutions to their problem
- Decision: The customer investigates services or products related to their chosen solution(s)
Customers seek different information at each stage. You can predict which types of content are most helpful by understanding the questions customers ask at each stage. The more helpful your content, the more likely customers will buy from you.
Consideration Stage content educates potential customers about solutions to their problem.
After customers identify their problem, they research potential solutions. Their primary question in this stage is, “How do I solve my problem?”
Somebody who has identified their problem as “poor home office layout” would look into different approaches to improving their home office. They might research the cost of a partial remodeling. Or they might look into the cost of installing a skylight or larger window for more natural light. Another person whose problem is a broad “sinks aren’t draining quick enough” might check out pipe cleaners, drain snakes, and plumbing services.
Show customers that your services are a viable solution.
At this stage, customers will start considering the solutions offered by specific companies. They’re not settled on a solution yet, so you need to prove your services or products are an excellent choice.
Your goal is to create content that clearly shows how you will address their needs. Your content should also demonstrate your ability to help and how you differentiate from other providers. Similar to in the awareness stage, your content needs to prove you’re an authority on solving your customers’ problems.
Consideration stage content focuses on your products and services.
All content, in any stage of the buyer’s journey, must establish your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This is especially important when customers start narrowing in on who to purchase from or work with.
In-depth guides on your offerings are great for complex products and services. Customers can get overwhelmed with their own research, so you’re making it easier for them to decide. It’s key to have an expert write your guides and establish trust.
Interacting with potential customers in real-time is particularly useful if you’re selling a service or high-cost product. Customers want to trust in their purchase before they’ve made it. Trust is built through free consultations, demos, trial runs, or talking with a product/service expert.
You can direct customers toward live interactions through Call To Actions on your website, blog posts, and newsletters.
Customers have different preferences for learning about products. Some might prefer the personal touch of live interactions, while others might prefer to learn from the comfort of home or wherever they choose. If you host a live event, such as a demo, you can broadcast it online in a webcast. This is also beneficial for customers who can’t physically attend the demo.
Some customers prefer to learn about products through podcasts, or audio files of people speaking. Customers might listen to podcasts as they drive, clean, cook, and do other tasks. Podcasts are a valuable resource to reach people too busy to sit down and read.
Whitepapers are commonly used for B2B customers in the awareness stage, but they’re also great for the consideration stage. However, instead of focusing on an industry topic, comparison whitepapers compare products and services.
For example, a comparison whitepaper for water heaters might go over the performance of storage heaters and tankless heaters. The heaters might be from different companies. Or they might be from the same company if the company offers a variety of heaters.
After customers decide on a solution, they make a purchase.
The buyer’s journey ends with a purchase, but you need to deliver. Your customer should be assured they made the right choice. Their problem should not only be solved, but they should be pleased enough to refer you to others, make future purchases, or continue working with you. This will be covered in the next blog, which discusses content for the final stage in the buyer’s journey: Decision.
Contact WSI Connect for a free consultation, and we’ll help you create engaging content tailored for the consideration stage. We’ll also develop a complete content strategy across multiple marketing channels, so you can free up time to focus on the rest of your business.