The Hidden Power of Google My Business
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It’s the built-in online tool you may have never considered a business advantage: Google My Business. Before you write it off, consider these statistics:
- Among affluent investors (those with a minimum of $500k), 43% search online to find a financial advisor. Oechsli Institute Survey
- Everybody under 40 researches advisors online, while only about a third of investors 65 and older do; few of the oldest group venture beyond Google. BNY Mellon’s Pershing study
Having an optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing means boosting your chances of showing up in a Google search such as “financial advisors near me” or “financial advisors in Philadelphia,” and subsequently increasing your local search traffic. Still, most advisors are unaware of the power of Google My Business and don’t optimize their listings – those who follow these guidelines, however, will have a big leg up over their local competition.
1. Claim and update your listing
If you haven’t done anything to set up your GBM yet, claiming your listing is the very first step. If you have a location on Google Maps, you can claim your listing; simply go to the Google My Business page and start the verification process to verify your business with Google. Once you finish this important first step, you can optimize the rest of your listing.
To claim your GMB page, visit google.com/business and go through the verification process. Google will send you a postcard in the mail with a unique PIN number to your firm’s physical location. Working with many advisors, I realize that a large majority of practices are remote and use a PO or UPS box. PO and UPS boxes are strictly prohibited by Google. Instead, when claiming your account, use your personal home address. Don’t worry – this can be masked or hidden in your business listing once verified.
Updating Your Information
You want your company’s listing to be as comprehensive as possible. Not only will it be more informational for prospects, but this will help you reach prospects who are looking for the specific services you offer.
From your account’s homepage, you want to redirect to the “info” section and flesh out everything that you can. That page holds all the basic information about your business that’s vital for prospective clients. Pay special attention to:
- Categories. Categorize your business using primary and additional categories provided by Google, such as “financial planner,” “financial consultant,” or “investment service.” Make sure that these categories best describe your firm so as to be more accessible to prospects.
- Hours of operation. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s important to keep these accurate. Not doing so and unintentionally missing a prospect’s attempt to contact you could lose you a potential client. In addition, mark any holidays or days your office is closed.
- Contact information. These basic pieces of information go a long way: Include your accurate business name, address, phone number, email, website, and appointment link from your meeting scheduler.
- Services. This section is a chance for you to specify, in list format, exactly what you do for your clients. Think about the type of clients that you serve and the problems you solve for them.
- Business description. You don’t need to write a novel (after all, you only have 750 characters here), but give prospects an idea of what makes your firm unique. Use the language of your target audience and naturally incorporate keywords.
2. Add media
The more photos you have on your listing, the better your search performance will be. Visual content is your friend (which I broke down in this previous article) and can work wonders supplementing the limited writing space you have on your listing. In fact, businesses that use photos on their listing receive 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
You can use anything when it comes to photos, and again, the more the better. Just keep in mind that they should positively reflect on your business and communicate your uniqueness to prospects.
Pacific Wealth Management does a great job of leveraging its listing photos. It includes photos of its website banner (which directly addresses who they serve!), its logo, the firm’s office and technology, and the actual faces of its team. Your options aren’t limited to these; you can include pictures of your office’s interior, awards, working with clients, or even videos – anything that portrays the nature of your firm you can include.
Pro tip: Add at least three to six photos or videos to your GBM listing for optimal performance.
3. Get Google reviews
Here’s something lots of advisors don’t realize about Google reviews: They’re not testimonials, which are prohibited in the financial advising industry. This means as long as you don’t 1) respond to reviews, 2) ask for reviews in writing, or 3) republish the review, you will be compliant and can use Google Reviews to your advantage. It’s crucial to do so, too; in fact, according to Inc. 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, 68% of people form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.
Think of your Google Reviews as untouchable. They’re compliant because you aren’t the owner of your reviews: Google is and you (the advisor) can’t control them. As long as you are not responding to the reviews at all (either positively or negatively), then you are not in breach of section 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. That’s because when a client writes and publishes a Google review, they (the client) are the publisher. Google is the owner and administrator.
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3.5 billion Google searches are conducted every single day. It is, unquestionably, the biggest player in the search-engine industry – and if someone’s looking for a specific service they have little experience with, it’s the first place they turn.
Google My Business is a valuable tool to improve your local search traffic and get more eyes on your company’s information. To attract more of your firm’s target audience, make use of the (completely free) advantages offered by GBM.
Samantha Russell is the chief marketing and business development officer at Twenty Over Ten (a digital marketing and website development company for financial advisors). Samantha helps financial advisors create digital marketing strategies that produce explosive growth through website development, content marketing, SEO, social media and video.
The content in this article is the result of Twenty Over Ten’s interpretation and Twenty Over Ten is not a compliance expert. Information herein should not be considered legal advice and financial advisors should consult with the appropriate authorities as needed including the SEC.