Getting The Most Out Of Google My Business

Operated by Google, Google My Business is a way for business owners to take control over exactly what their users and potential customers see in the search results listings. With a dedicated account that is solely used to influence Google search information, users can manipulate this data and supply information that their customers might need – including open hours, a contact number and photos of services or products.

Of course, another important feature of this is your location. By setting your location, you’re enabling potential customers in your area to search for what they need – and what you can provide – and be directed straight to your door.

So, how do you optimise this information to ensure that it is actually seen by the right users?

Get your foot off the starting block

The first step is, of course, to create your Google My Business listing, and fill in as much information as you possibly can. If your business doesn’t have a physical location or base, that doesn’t mean a Google Business account isn’t important – you can simply skip over the location and instead opt for a Service Area which allows users to see where you operate your services.

Pick the right Category

Picking the right category is how Google will narrow down searches towards or away from you. The categories already exist, so it is simply a case of selecting the one that most applies to you and your business – but don’t just pick the first one you see that seems relatively appropriate. The list of categories is large and quite specific, so make sure you pick the very best one for your business.

The importance of imagery

The world is shifting towards image-heavy social media platforms and videos, so ensuring you have some great visual content for potential customers is a sure-fire way to attract their attention. Using high-quality and professional photos where possible, your profile should show off your products or service results to any potential client who seek more information. After all, first impressions are still the most important.

Double check your information

If your business has a Google profile, an Instagram account and a Facebook page, it is imperative that you make sure the information aligns across them all. Consistency is key, not just for your customers who may be looking for vital information, but also for Google – who will penalise you for inconsistent detail; resulting in a negative impact on your SEO.

Encourage Reviews

Online reviews are a minefield, and often companies and businesses can shy away from reviews simply because they feel people will only review if they had a negative experience. This is not, and should not be the case, as good reviews can actually seal the deal for one business over another in many cases. If a friend recommends a great restaurant, what are the chances you’ll visit that one over something you know nothing about? Exactly.

Think about your area – and area code

If Google doesn’t think you’re a local business, they won’t recommend you to individuals searching in your local area. Using a local area code is one easy way to prove to Google that your location is correct, and will make Google more likely to recommend and suggest your business to users in the area searching for your products and services.

Make sure you know what Google does and doesn’t like, and stick to it

Google publishes guidelines for Business listings, so take the time to read it and familiarise yourself with what NOT to do. For example, adding keywords may be a good thing and you may think you need them everywhere, but inserting them randomly into your business name can work against you. If it looks like you’re trying too hard, Google will suspect you’re not legitimate and you will be penalised. Another example is having a number of different listings all point towards the same business. You may think multiple listings means multiple chances of appearance, but all it means is that Google will punish you.

Don’t take your eye off the SEO-ball

SEO is still super important and ensuring your entire website works in line with your SEO strategy will go a long way towards giving both your website and your business listing the legitimacy that Google looks for. Make sure your keywords are relevant and present, and look to create content that focuses on your local area – as well as any wider offers.

Cybersecurity for small business websites

All too often the media shares stories of large organisations and companies that have been hacked through their website; stealing customer data and private information that can be extremely damaging both in the short term and the long run. The unfortunate truth however is that it’s not just these large-scale companies that are being targeted. Small businesses are just as likely to be targeted – we’re just far less likely to hear about it.

Recovering from a security breach is expensive and can be catastrophic for a small business without the necessary cybersecurity measures in place. Read on for some of the most basic ways you can protect your site and your business from harm.

Keep your domain information private

If a hacker has access to your name, your email address or even your mailing address, they can use this information to hack into your website or worse. The more personal information they can collect about you, the easier their job is, and you could find yourself facing a case of stalking or identity theft. Employ domain privacy to shield all your personal details from hackers and identity thieves.

Invest in an SSL certificate

Many internet users now will not trust any website without an SSL certificate in the browser bar, and we know Google relies heavily on SSL certification for a good ranking. However, this isn’t just a good investment for business – it also protects your site from hackers by encrypting all the data stored on it. All of our hosting packages come with free SSL certificates as standard!

Automatic backups

One of the most damaging ways a hacker can destroy your business is to crash your entire website or cause such problems that customers can no longer access your site.

With an automatic backup, you can work safe in the knowledge that should anything happen, you know you have everything you need to get the site up and running again quickly and easily. Ensuring that the automatic backup updates itself on a daily basis is key to being able to restore as recent a version as possible should it become necessary.

Malware scans and removals

It sounds like something out of Doctor Who, but cybercriminals are now a very real threat to small businesses that work online. With access to coding that can steal data and allow access to your site at the click of a few buttons, cybercriminals can attack a site before you even realise it’s happening. That’s why automatic malware scans are so vital.

These malware scans perform regular automated scans on your entire site; identifying and removing any potential threats to your security. By investing in one of these, you can be sure that any vulnerable areas will be identified and fixed before a hacker can exploit them.

Domain renewals

Another thing worth investing in simply because it can be done automatically, is domain renewal. After an allotted period of time, your domain will come up for renewal and if you don’t act quickly you can lose control of your business domain name. Not only is this bad for business, but it also leaves you expired domain open for exploitation and unregistered access, whereby any cybercriminal could find out yours and your customers personal data and email addresses.

This can be prevented with automatic domain renewal – an easy way to register your domain name so that when the time comes for renewal, your site will do so automatically. This can generally be managed through the billing information on your domain registration account.

Automatic updates

Staying up to date is one of the best ways to ensure fool proof security, not least because it ensures your cybersecurity is working to its newest and most effective version. Many updates that become available have been created to patch up the flaws left open in an old version, and so neglecting to update with them can mean that your site is still open to those flaws. And once a hacker gets in, it’s too late.

By setting up your WordPress and plugins to update automatically, you will be protected with the latest versions without even having to think about it.

Check your passwords

Creating a password is often a toss up between choosing something easy to remember, and choosing something that no one will ever guess – but that you might well forget. Trust us, the latter is much safer.

It’s important that not only you but anyone with access to your site uses a secure and unique password, as hackers can find a different way into the site even if your own password is super secure.

Login Forms

If your site includes a feature where customers can log in to their own accounts, you’re at risk of letting in a bot. These cyber bots are designed by hackers to try multitudes of potential login credentials until they strike gold with one that works; allowing them into your site where they can release malware to damage the business from the inside.

By adding protection layers to your login forms, this should be avoidable. Things like the reCAPTCHA tools we see all the time – where the login asks you to identify all the images with one thing in common – are good examples, as automated bots are unable to identify these. It’s also worth enabling a tool that gives customers a set amount of login attempts before they become locked out, as this annihilates the potential for trying multiple logins until one works.

These ideas are just some of the basis in cybersecurity, but they will ensure increased safety for both your business and your customers. And we think that’s an investment worth entertaining.