That’s right—the Yellow Pages—get over it!
Well, some businesses already have; but fascinatingly enough, for many others, the mindset around their local online listings has not changed since the days of the Yellow Pages.
Why? Because the Yellow Pages dominated for decades
It makes sense, because a long, long time ago, way back in 1998, Google was just coming online. At that time, there were only a handful of search engines, and each was grappling with this new concept: The Internet.
For decades before that, and well into the 2000s, the only TRULY RELIABLE place to find ALL local business listings was the Yellow Pages. The search engines were still evolving, and not everybody had a website or was online.
Many weren’t even sure if the search engines could ever reliably catalog EVERYBODY’S business—the concept was too big—so local businesses continued to list with the Yellow Pages.
Then Google figured it out
The genius engineers at Google weren’t deterred by the seemingly impossible task of cataloging all available services. By 2014, they rolled out Google My Business. But initially, even Google clung to the Yellow Pages’ layout to show:
- Business name
- Phone number
- Hours open
- A short description
- A link to your website—if you had one
Eventually, Google did start taking over local listings, and the tipping point came around 2014-2015 when businesses could see that online was now THE place to be listed. Still, it was a slow process—it didn’t happen overnight.
Now Google has rocketed us into the future
It has been but five short years since Google My Business (GMB) came into being, and it’s taken us light years away from where the Yellow Pages ever was.
But yet, but yet…
If you look at a typical GMB listing today, most businesses still list the basics: business name, phone, hours, and description, like some captured prisoner of war citing: name, rank, serial number.
It’s time to BREAK the mindset!
Google My Business has grown so much in the past few years, and it’s become extremely interactive. In fact, when set up and used correctly, it’s almost like having a full-time secretary.
In other words, it’s changing so fast that many aren’t keeping up and are missing out.
So let’s play some catch-up.
As of today, here’s some of what a Google My Business Listing can have:
- Customer reviews
- Service Area Maps
- Menus listing events or weekly specials
- New product announcements and profile photos
- Direct booking for customers
- Direct messaging options for customers
- FAQ (frequently asked questions)
- Insights Report
Wow! Could any executive at the Yellow Pages ever dream of giving each local listing that much information per business? No way.
Let’s take a brief look at each benefit
Undoubtedly, customer reviews is one of the most powerful elements to a Google My Business listing, because it can make or break your business. Allowing customers to tell others about their experience when dealing with a business is a good way to keep everyone honest.
Of course, you can get spammy reviews, or people who want to try and lower your “star” score, but overall, reviews have been a game-changer. If you’re a smart business owner, you should be replying to ALL reviews, good and bad.
Why? Because it gives a clear insight into how much you care about your customers’ experience and your dedication to making them happy, or correcting a mistake.
Also, it’s what Google wants you to do… so be like Nike and “Just Do It”!
This is huge.
This a great feature that allows businesses and customers to stay in regular contact. Whether it’s your local gym, hair salon, or BBQ joint, you can now “follow” them to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming event, announcement, or special deal.
Businesses can share updates about new products or offer local one-day deals to drive more customers into their stores. Plus, businesses are notified every time they get a new “follower.”
Service Area Maps
What crushes the old Yellow Pages' appeal is that businesses can show the areas they service. They no longer have to pay for advertising in every “book” for a certain area.
So if you live in Tucson, Arizona, which is 115 miles away from downtown Phoenix, but you service Phoenix as well as Tucson—no problem. You can show that information in your GMB listing. It’s free and a powerful way to expand your business’s reach.
Here you can give finer details that folks may need to know about, such as:
- Wheelchair accessible
- Free Wi-Fi
- Walk-ins welcome
- Accepts credit cards
- Gluten-free options
Share information that makes you different from everyone else.
There are typically two kinds:
1. Restaurant options
2. Services available
This is just good marketing: Make it easy for customers to use your services and products. If you can, fill this section out because prospective customers appreciate seeing in advance what you’re offering.
The next three lists are pretty self-explanatory:
- Events or weekly specials
- New products and profile photos
If you have followers, or are trying to gain followers, make sure you keep these sections up-to-date on a weekly basis, or even more frequently.
Customers can book services directly with you
Not all business categories or regions have this option, and you’ll need third-party software like “Booksy,” but the costs are minimal. It can be as inexpensive as $12 a month depending on the provider and number of bookings you receive.
It takes about a week to set up, and then you can receive bookings. Plus, customers can use other Google products like Calendar, and automatic reminders, so they don’t miss the appointment.
In addition, you can use the booking tab to view the booking history and see what has come through.
Text message directly with customers
Did you know that almost 90% of consumers want to communicate with businesses via text? Simply turn this on under messaging, enter your text number, add a response or greeting, and confirm. Done!
The “messaging” button shows up in both Google Search and Google Maps, and allows mobile searchers to text you directly from the listing itself.
List questions and answers (FAQ)
This sounds so easy, but rarely is anyone filling this out. What better way to engage your customers than by giving them answers to their most commonly asked questions?
Or, post questions asking what customers want and let them tell you. Then provide what they asked for, and they’ll love you for listening to them.
The Insights Report
Last but NOT least, this gives you a bounty of information!
Insights tell you how people used Search and Maps to find your listing, and what they did after they found it.
Here's just a sample of the data you can find:
- Search queries
- Actions taken
- Phone calls made
- Photos viewed
Are you starting to see why the Yellow Pages has become a dinosaur within our lifetime?
We’ve only scratched the surface!
There is even more we didn’t have time to cover:
- Receiving notifications
- Real-time notifications
- The Google App
Google is morphing faster than any of us could have ever imagined!
So stay tuned
How? By keeping your Google My Business listing fresh and updating it on a weekly basis. It’s not unusual to log into your GMB account and find new options that weren’t there the week before.
Then test out what is new and see what improves or what doesn’t.
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