Google My Business for improved ranking + online visibility in local searches
Google My Business is an often neglected and even overlooked service from Google, and one that we as a Cannabis Marketing Agency cannot stress enough – especially if you are a local dispensary, service provider or have a brick-and-mortar cannabis | CBD shop. It is a free Google service that can prove invaluable for location based CBD | Cannabis businesses – whether you’re a local brick-and-mortar dispensary, or industry area service provider. Not only does it unlock some powerful tools and insights, but it is available to you for free!
So, if you haven’t created or claimed your profile, or haven’t even thought about Google My Business for your CBD | Cannabis company, read on to find out how to do it and why you should.
#1. Figure Out What’s Already There
There’s a pretty good chance that there is already a Google My Business profile generated for you by Google. The reason for this is that Google is constantly looking for things like addresses, phone numbers and other business related information to show people when searching.
So, the first thing you want to do it type the name of your businesses into Google – not your website domain, just the name or your business. To narrow things down, you might also want to type in the city where you’re located.
You might find nothing, or you might find an entire profile, albeit some of it will probably outdated (scraped from their older services like Google Places, Google Local and Google+).
If there’s nothing listed, you’ll need to start from the beginning. Go to business.google.com to set up your Google My Business profile by following on from step 4.
#2. claim + Verify your business
Once you’ve found your Google My Business profile, you and it’s not been verified, you’re going to have to go through a couple of steps first. If your profile says, “Is this your business,” it means it has not been claimed.
From there, click on “Yes, this is my business” and Google will guide you through the process of verifying your business. This may entail them mailing you a postcard, or you might be luck and do so with an email or with a text. It depends on the state of your profile and how sure Google is about the information in that.
Once you’ve claimed and verified your Google My Business profile, you should be able to log into business.google.com and start editing and optimising your profile.
#3. Remove duplicates
It might happen that you find duplicate listings. What you need to do now is find the most outdated, incorrect or incomplete listing(s) and click on the “Suggest and Edit” tab. From here, mark that location as permanently closed.
Google won’t do this immediately but they’re usually pretty good at cleaning up inaccurate or outdated listing within a week or so. However, bear in mind that if your outdated listings were created by yourself or someone else, it might take longer since Google will reach out the email address they have on record for that listing. Only once they don’t get a response, will they close that listing, and this can take a couple of weeks.
#4. Optimise your Google My Business profile
So, now that you’ve either created or claimed, verified and cleaned up duplicates, the next step it go through your business profile.
The most important information is the name of your business, address, and phone number. Don’t try to be clever with this. Despite what you thing or may have heard, make the business name, the actual name of your business and as you want customers to see it and resist the urge to put keywords at the end of your business name or anything else that somebody, somewhere told you, you should do.
Same goes for your business information. Make sure you business address, phone number and business hours match those of your business and is also consistent with what is on your website. And although obvious, make sure all the information is accurate and up-to-date.
The next really important element is something they call “category” which is nothing more or less the type of business you have. If you haven’t deliberately created or claimed your Google My Business profile, Google will guess at what they think it is. They do this based on your business name, description, and based on things they find out there on the web. But despite Google thinking they are the fountain of all wisdom and information, don’t automatically accept their recommendation. Often times it’s just plain wrong.
Your primary “Category” should be the primary category that you want to rank for when somebody does a Google search. So, if you are, for example, a medical cannabis dispensary, then you don’t want your primary category to be something like “medical clinic” or “wellness centre”. Instead, choose the more specific category “Cannabis Store”. You can also choose secondary categories where you can add in whatever else you find relevant.
Google also lets you upload images, a feature that has many benefits for your CBD | Cannabis business. For one, many experts believe is a factor for ranking as Google actually tracks it in their insights. Also, photos of your shop front and inside, offices, team members, product and | or business related images is a great trust building tool – it shows you’re a real business with real people and real products. Aim for uploading at least 8 to 10 photos and make sure that they are representative of who you are, what you do and how you do it.
Understanding Google My Business features
The one thing that I want to mention here is that, although this is a relatively new service from Google, they are really investing in Google My Business, continuously adding some interesting and new features. This (to me anyway) is an indication that Google My Business is either already, or is going to become a key component for Google when it comes to things like analytics, metrics, SERPs and website authority. For this reason, I think that it is not only worth while, but actually necessary to set it up your Google My Business profile, get a good grip on it, and understand its tools and features.
Now that you’ve got everything set up, you can start using some of its pretty powerful features to help your CBD | Cannabis business rank and perform.
If you’re a CBD | Cannabis business that books appointments, this is a very handy feature Google My Business has rolled out. It is now possible for people to book an appointment directly through your listing, as long as you’ve integrated the service with your current booking system.
Google My Business has also rolled out a messaging feature where you can receive texts if you connect the service to your mobile phone or other device that can receive and respond to text messages. Again, if you’ve got the kind of CBD | Cannabis business that interact with your customers frequently, this could be a great way to stay in touch without having to send an email or even picking up the phone. You can even use it for, or integrate it into your customer services since your customers can text right from their browser window and get an almost immediate response.
Every CBD | Cannabis business owner knows how important reviews are. But replying to reviews is in many ways even more important. And now Google My Business not only allows you to see your reviews, but also respond to them directly.
When it comes to bad reviews, responding to them gives you an opportunity to tell your side of the story, and maybe state the facts as only you can. This will probably also assuage any doubts that potential customers may have when coming across a negative review.
But, responding to each review, whether it’s a one-star or five-star review, has many benefits. The main reason is that when you engage, it instill a sense of community and trust with your both current and future customers or clients. Also, the person that left the review gets notified, leaving them feeling noticed, validated and | or appreciated. Moreover, replying to reviews also shows the personal side of your business.
Another tool is called Insights and this will give you a little bit of information on how many times your profile is showing up in search or in maps, and what people are doing with the information. For instance, insights will tell you whether they are clicking on your listing, asking for driving directions, and | or calling you – all the things people do when they are trying to reach out to, and interact with a business.
Quick side note, Google My Business insights is not the same as Google analytics in that it doesn’t allow you to analyse different time periods and compare them to each other. But you can take that information, pop it into a spreadsheet and analyse and compare it that way. Despite this, it is still very useful to look at.
As with images, some experts think that there is some indications that the “Posts” feature is actually helping people rank. In Google My Business, posts aren’t necessarily blog posts, but can be everything from a notice about an upcoming event, product launch, discounts or specials, or even a local workshop you’re hosting.
The cool thing is that people are finding that they are getting traffic from these posts – probably because you can also add a link to your web shop, product | services landing page, workshop sign up or anything else that’s relevant to the post. So, incorporating Google My Business posts into your content marketing strategy and spending a little bit of time to go in to add in posts on a routine basis is well worth it.
The final feature is Google Websites. This is not something that is great for everyone, but for CBD | Cannabis businesses that don’t have a website yet, or have been living on their Facebook Page, you can use this feature to build a Google website. Essentially, it’s nothing more than a very simple landing page but they’ve got a couple of tools that makes it easy to use, and give you a dedicated online space.
Google My Business is a key ranking factor for local businesses and it’s probably going to continue being a primary building block that will help your ranking. If you don’t claim your listing, optimise it and keep it updated, you can’t show up in the maps listing when somebody searches for terms such as “cannabis dispensary near me” or “medical cannabis card Miami”. And then, the more reviews you get and the more posts you add the more preferentially your are going to show up and the higher you’ll rank in local searches.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lieze Boshoff (B.Psych, M.Sc (HCN)) is the founder of LBC3 Marketing + LBC3 Academy a leading Cannabis Marketing agency + training academy for the CBD | Cannabis Industry. Additional work experience includes working as an account manager and then a corporate training and development manager in London, and a university lecturer + researcher in Germany and The Netherlands.
Her areas of expertise encompass all aspects of Cannabis Marketing, including Content Creation, Copywriting, Email Marketing, and Lead Generation. As a specialist in her field, she helps small to medium sized CBD | Cannabis businesses with her work as Cannabis Marketing professional, educator and mentor.