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A free online listing with your news and updates, public Q&As, and customer ratings – plus visibility to 246 million U.S. internet users. It sounds too good to be true, but you get all of that, and more, when you use Google My Business (GMB). It’s a marketing tool you can’t afford not to use.

Even if you’re not sure what GMB is, you’ve probably already seen or used it. Whenever you search for a business on Google, the results will include a map and a box of related content. For example, if you search “assisted living,” you’ll get a map and a list of what’s near you. Each of those is a GMB listing. Each includes:

  • Contact information, hours, map, directions
  • A link to the website and a phone number for the location
  • Questions from readers and the company’s answers
  • Company news/updates
  • Links to the business’s social media pages
  • Photos posted by the business or visitors
  • Customer reviews

If you haven’t claimed your GMB listing and made it user-friendly, consider this:

  • You won’t have control over what Google and its users are saying about you.
  • 84% of all Google searches are “discovery” – the “assisted living near me” type – as opposed to direct searches, where they already know the business name. You want to claim your GMB listing to ensure that the information Google gives searchers is correct (and remains correct).
  • 68% of people contact a business directly from search results.
  • Google is “renowned for continually updating its search engine results and features to give users the best experience,” as the RapidAPI blog notes. Search results will favor businesses with active and up-to-date GMB profiles.

In short, GMB provides a free marketing funnel for your business, and it’s an important way to manage your brand and reputation. Here are a few great examples of businesses making the most of it:

  • Sharing blog posts, photos, and actionable content. Besides linking to content such as blog posts, PDFs and videos, you can post items promoting virtual tours, webinars and more with buttons labeled “sign up now,” “call now,” and others. Check out Windward Life Care.
  • Customer and colleague reviews. We’re all used to seeing customer reviews, but other people who know about your business – such as referring colleagues – can also post comments and ratings. More than 80% of consumers trust and rely on online reviews. Check out LifeCare Advocates.
  • Other business information. What other info might help convert a Google search? Kenwood Health & Rehabilitation provides information on the insurance they accept. The user clicks on the “Check insurance info” link, and a pop-up box opens without leaving the main listing.

Bottom line: GMB is critical to your visibility to both desktop and mobile users. Consider it a non-negotiable part of your digital marketing strategy.