Yep, that's right, it's completely FREE. There are no paid upgrades or premium listings, you just need to create an account, fill in your business details and verify you're the business owner and you're ready to go. Verification is accomplished by having a postcard sent to the business address with a verification code which you can then input and verify your listing, this process normally takes around 2 weeks, and if you make any changes to the address you will need to reverify.
Increase Your Visibility
Considering the cost, GMB is probably the best of all the listings and directories, in the UK we have companies such as Yell and Google Map Pack ListingThomson Local, who claim to produce miraculous results in bringing in leads and sales for a 'small' fee. With GMB though, you can easily show as the first business for your area in the local map pack with a well-optimised profile, including images, opening hours etc. this, in turn, means that more customers will see your company online and should then increase your website traffic, calls and walk-ins depending on the type of business you have. What Yell and Thomson Local won't do is give you that level of visibility for free.
Make It Easy For Customers to Get in Touch
Depending on your type of business you will value certain business interactions differently. I prefer to receive phone calls, while other businesses will prefer people to physically visit their store. What GMB does is make sure that your contact details are clearly visible to anyone who sees your business either as part of the map pack or the knowledge graph (more about these later). As part of the map pack, you get your company name, phone number, reviews, locality and a map marker showing your location, plus the options to visit your website or get directions to your business.
It's Constantly Evolving and Growing
I'm not entirely sure how recent the new features are but I've only just started seeing them on the profiles I manage in the UK. The most interesting new feature which is available on some profiles is the ability now to create blog posts, including a featured image, up to 300 words and a button to link to your site, offer or anything you fancy. These can be also used for creating specific offers or events. Another recent feature has been the ability to add a description for your business, plus you are also able to add your services to your profile (I'm not too sure where the services actually show up though).
An Online Gallery for Everyone
Your GMB listing can act as your online image portfolio, allowing you to add a seemingly unlimited amount of photos to your profile, including adding your company logo and cover images, you can also tag each photo by location, such as interior, exterior, at work, team, and identity, and even add videos to your profile. One key feature that many businesses will find useful is the fact that customers can also add photos of your business as well, which is especially useful for many tourism and events based businesses. This gives you the chance to really showcase your business online with product images, interior images or even images of your team hard at work.
One thing that a lot of potential customers will now look to for confidence in a brand are reviews, and Google My Business does an excellent job of giving customers a platform to leave a review about an experience working with a company or a product or service for a company. Business owners can also easily respond to reviews which helps to build a rapport with your customers, especially if you value repeat custom.
Insights and Knowledge Graph
What Google does really well here is it provides you with valuable insights such as how many people have viewed your business, where they viewed it and what actions they took. It's obviously not as comprehensive as something like Google Analytics but it's interesting to know the details of who's viewing your business profile. The knowledge graph panel also seems to be constantly evolving and it is shown usually when you type in the name of a verified business, it uses Schema markup for a lot of its data and can also show your reviews, social media profiles, a platform for customers to ask questions about your company and also shows your business description from your profile.
I've barely scratched the surface here of what GMB is capable of for business owners, if you need any advice on managing or updating your GMB listing, or if you're looking for a professional to manage this for you then feel free to get in touch with Wolfberry Media.