Whether it's a small, independent shop or a major corporation with multiple locations, being a business owner is a lot of work. It's not just about making a product or offering a service anymore—you also have to be a marketing and technology whiz to help potential customers find you online.
If you want to build your online presence and increase your profits in the real world, a strong and well-maintained Google My Business (GMB) listing can accomplish exactly that. You may be thinking, "I really don't have the free time to spend clicking around online every day," but there's a simple solution to that problem: hire a Google My Business manager.
There are a lot of options online for Google My Business management services, but like anything else in life, they are not created equally. How can you find a GMB manager who will work efficiently and effectively for you to make a real difference in the success of your business? This guide will explain sixteen questions you should ask before sealing the deal so you can ensure that you've found a management solution that is the right fit for your company.
It may seem strange at first that we're claiming a simple business listing on a search engine can have such a strong, lasting impact on your business. A few years ago it may have been fair to consider GMB "just a listing," but it has evolved into a powerful tool. Your competitors are using it—and if you fail to leverage GMB for your benefit as well, they'll leave you in the dust.
Remember back when most businesses didn't have a website, and then it became a must-have to remain competitive in retail and services? Google My Business listings are growing in influence and becoming the "new website" that your business realistically can't do without.
You already know how important it is to create a great impression when a customer contacts you for the first time—but now, that all-important first impression is happening on Google My Business before you even have a chance to speak with the customer. Google My Business signals influence SEO rankings on Google Search and Google Maps. That means if you don't have a solid GMB presence for your business, that first impression won't happen at all because Google will skip your business and direct potential customers to your competitors instead.
At this point, you may be wondering why you would need a manager. It sounds simple enough—just fill in the correct information and let it do its thing. But "set it and forget it" is not a winning strategy for dealing with your GMB account. Anyone can sign up for Google My Business, free of charge, but you can't expect to get good results if it's not being actively, thoughtfully maintained.
GMB is constantly being updated with new features and tools that take time and expertise to navigate. Your business profile needs innovative strategies to leverage those features and tools in a way that makes sense for their particular industry and location. That's why GMB isn't just something you can take care of on your coffee break or ignore for months at a time.
With the help of an experienced, capable digital marketing professional, Google My Business becomes a highly affordable marketing tool that can help you reap huge rewards for all the hard work you're already doing to keep your business successful.
Not sure which Google My Business management company will be the best fit for your business? Once you've got a couple of options in hand, the best way to narrow down the list is to contact them by phone or email and ask the following questions about how they handle GMB profile management.
Any company that is proud of the service they provide will be pleased with the opportunity to answer in detail, so don't hesitate to ask! The answers will give you valuable insight into whether they'll be able to offer an effective management style that fits with the way you like to operate.
When you hire anyone for any reason, you want to know that they'll be capable. While it's certainly possible to learn a lot about Google My Business management service through research, it takes time and hands-on experience to develop a successful strategy that will increase conversion rate and learn how to adapt to the constantly shifting demands of Google and technology trends. A company that has been around for at least several years will also be more practiced at reporting, billing, communication, and other factors that aren't directly related to your GMB account but will make a big difference when it comes to your satisfaction with your GMB management experience.
Digital Shift initially worked with Google+, Google's social media platform that was launched in 2011 and is now defunct, and transitioned to working with GMB when it was launched in 2014. Since we've been offering GMB management services since the beginning, we've seen Google My Business change and grow dramatically over the years and have successfully grown our GMB strategy along with it.
General experience with Google My Business isn't enough to raise your profile above those of your competitors. You need an approach that is specifically tailored to your industry from someone who understands the needs and wants of your client base. While a Google My Business manager doesn't have to have the same level of expertise about your industry and business as you do in order to be successful, they need to have a good sense of how to speak to your clients and how to adapt their existing strategy to your market.
At Digital Shift, we've been providing search engine optimization (SEO) services since 2007, specializing in home services and service-area businesses. We work with well-known multinational brands and one-location, independent businesses alike, and have had great success with tailoring our strategy to meet the needs of a wide range of industries.
This is an important follow-up to the previous question. Once you've established that they have some level of competency and experience with your industry, you need to know how they'll adjust their marketing strategy to provide the best results for your particular business.
Every industry and business is different, but there are some steps a GMB manager can take to get a clear picture of what needs to be done. Digital Shift takes the time to thoroughly research your service area, competitors, and SEO keywords, so we can strategically apply the proven process we have fine-tuned over the years.
As the old saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating—meaning, results speak for themselves! If the company you're interviewing is proud of their past successes, they'll be able to provide you with clear evidence of their accomplishments so you can see their abilities for yourself before you make the decision to hire them.
You can check out Digital Shift's case studies online to learn more about what we've done for previous clients. Interested in hearing more, or want to know how we managed GMB for a client in your industry? No problem! Just give us a call at (888) 273-8850, and we'll be happy to give you more specific, detailed information.
This can be a tricky question, because there are so many factors that play in to the potential results of GMB management services. Those factors include the current state of your GMB listing, the size of your service area, and the level of competition, among other things.
SEO tends to be a long game. GMB management strategies at Digital Shift are often able to deliver significant results after only three to four months, but it can take longer (or sometimes less time) depending on your current GMB situation and the service area you're working in. For example, in the past we have been able to see results for a client in just a few weeks by fixing their incorrect GMB setup.
It's important to get concrete evidence that your GMB manager is actually improving metrics such as your local ranking, clicks to your website, and phone calls from potential customers. The built-in Google My Business Insights on your business dashboard are a good place to start, but they don't tell you everything and can be difficult to interpret if you're not practiced at digital marketing. Your manager should provide frequent, easy-to-understand reports that demonstrate clear growth with stats such as rankings, click, store visits, and phone calls to prove marketing success, and should take the time to walk you through the reports in such a way that you understand them and answer any questions you may have.
At Digital Shift, our number one marker of success is an increase in your revenue. After all, that's the end goal—clicks and engagement are good, but creating loyal, paying customers is better. We confirm that your increased revenue is related to our efforts by showing you statistics and graphs that demonstrate an increase in GMB calls, site traffic, and local rankings, among other information.
Many people don't think to ask this, but it's critically important. If a company is managing GMB accounts for your competitors in your industry and service area, they are actively working against your interests. It may feel like area doesn't matter so much—after all, the internet is global, right? That may be true, but search results are not global. The proximity to searcher factor means that your Google rankings are in direct competition with local businesses in your area, and a GMB manager can't work on competing listings without hurting their own clients.
Digital Shift will only ever work with one client in any given industry and service area at a time to avoid conflicts of interest. Once you sign on with us we will turn away any of your competitors who seek our services, so you can rest assured that we are using our proven strategies for your benefit only.
Since SEO in general and GMB management in particular have been a part of business practices, there have been companies that try to find loopholes and game the system to get an advantage. That's why Google has so many policies and best practice guidelines in place to avoid unfair, unethical practices. Honest business owners will, of course, want to play by the rules—and it's important to make sure that your Google My Business manager is using ethical practices as well. If they don't, your GMB listing could be penalized or even suspended altogether, which will set you back considerably.
At Digital Shift, we understand the importance of protecting your online reputation and digital assets, so we always use due diligence to follow not only Google's policies but also general ethical standards for digital marketing.
Because Google frequently updates GMB to add or tweak features, what worked really well a year ago isn't going to be as effective and efficient today—and you probably know all too well how rapidly things can change in business and technology. That's why it's a good idea to find out how your GMB manager prioritizes their own learning and research to stay on top of current trends and requirements.
We stay up to date at Digital Shift by participating in Google Search Central SEO office hours, following webmaster guidelines, and actively participating in the SEO and GMB communities online. We also conduct our own ongoing research into the best ways to hone our processes and procedures to ensure we're on the cutting edge of GMB strategy.
In the world of online marketing, nothing stays fresh for long. You need worthy, compelling content posted regularly on your profile to keep it dynamic and exciting, and that's not easy to accomplish. Frequent, quality posting is time-consuming and can be difficult—which is a big part of the reason why you're thinking of hiring a manager. Some GMB managers are more hands-on with Google My Business posts, so it pays to find someone who is prepared to post statuses frequently.
Digital Shift posts daily to ensure that you always have fresh content on your GMB listing that is specifically tailored to your unique business, not generic posts copied from other businesses. We also add monthly photo updates because photos are such a powerful tool to draw in customers, especially in service-based industries.
It's extremely important to reply to Google My Business reviews, both positive and negative—and the responses to reviews need to be tailored not only to what each individual has said, but also fit into your specific brand strategy. You also need someone fielding incoming questions about your GMB business profile. Potential clients pay attention to business owner engagement and it can really affect consumer perceptions, which is why it pays to find ways to increase your Google My Business reviews.
Digital Shift responds to 4 and 5-star comments to thank them for their positive reviews. This actually encourages more people to invest their time in leaving you 5-star ratings. If you happen to get a negative review, we'll follow up with the client to ensure that it's a real review from a real person, and then consult with you on the best way to respond to their complaint in a way that will address issues and turn their bad customer experience into a positive outcome for both of you. We can also work with your team to coach them on best practices and offer suggestions for netting more positive reviews.
Sometimes business owners sign on with a GMB manager, only to find that they're doing a lot more work in-house than they expected. You probably already have an idea of what kind of services they will provide, but this question can be revealing. By finding out in advance what your GMB manager expects you to do, you can avoid an unpleasant surprise after you've sealed the deal.
When you sign up with Digital Shift, we complete a thorough onboarding process and after that, it's pretty hands-off on your part. We'll get in touch with you regularly to confirm new promotions and content, and consult with you on the best way to address reviews with less than four stars. As our relationship grows, you'll see for yourself that we can be trusted to handle your GMB account and keep everything running optimally.
There's no right or wrong answer to this question—it ultimately depends on your needs. If you don't have the time for regular updates and meetings, you need to know that your manager is able to proceed effectively without extensive input on your part. On the other hand, you may want to take a more collaborative approach to working with your GMB manager. Either way, the company you choose should be prepared to meet your desired level of participation.
When you start the onboarding process with Digital Shift, we like to touch base with you at least once per week to ensure we're on the right track. That can mean a 30-minute call or video chat, or an exchange of emails. After onboarding, our goal is to meet with you monthly. However, we are adaptive to your needs and will endeavor to meet with you as often as you need to feel confident in the services we are providing.
This is a simple yet critical question. Nobody wants to sign a contract for services over a long period of time, only to discover a few months in that the services are ineffective or the company is a bad fit. Because SEO strategies can take several months to become effective, many companies do insist on an extended contract period and it's important to know about that before you get any further.
Digital Shift's service is on a month-by-month basis, so you can cancel any time. We offer this type of payment schedule for your convenience, but also because we're confident that we can deliver results that will impress you and increase your revenue. If you want to change your plan, no problem—we just need 30 days of advance notice to get it switched over.
There's not really any right or wrong answer to this question—unless the company you're managing says "Absolutely nothing! We'll take it from here!" That's the wrong answer because it's probably not true and they're just saying it to make themselves sound good, but also because it could indicate that they're planning on using sloppy techniques that are not tailored to your business.
During the onboarding process, Digital Shift will require the following:
This is obviously a pretty open-ended question, so there could be a lot of variation in the replies you receive. However, you should beware of companies who claim to be cheaper than all the others, or don't really know what their strengths are over their competitors.
Digital Shift maintains superiority over the competition by using our extensive experience to constantly adjust and fine-tune innovative processes we have built over the years. Our strategies have proven effective for thousands of clients since 2007 because we do our homework and never stop learning more to help your business grow. If you want to know more about why so many business owners are leaving our competitors and switching to Digital Shift, book a free call with one of our GMB specialists to find out more.
Ready to get started on building your online brand, growing your reputation, and increasing your business? So are we! Call us right now to speak with a digital marketing expert about Google My Business management—or sign up for a free, no-pressure, no-obligation strategy session to find out how we can take your business to the next level!