For small local businesses, simply being found by your customers can be a bit of a challenge. It is also what determines how successful your business becomes. How, then, do you ensure that your customers are able to locate you?
For many local businesses, Google My Business (GMB) is a vital part of being accessible to their audience. In fact, it was reported by Marwick Marketing in their most recent Local Search Ranking Factors report that the biggest local ranking factor is a business’s GMB page.
Your GMB page now also serves as a website, with visuals and rich content. This means that your customers can leave ratings and reviews, or simply learn more about your business, all without ever having to leave Google’s search results. For all it can do, however, GMB does have some weaknesses.
The two most common types of businesses are storefront and service area businesses. Storefront businesses are those that have a permanent physical location that the customer visits in search of goods and services. A service business is one where the business goes to the customer. There is another kind of business, however, and it is one that GMB has some difficulty with: pop-up shops.
Pop-up shops are temporary locations set up for a brief period of days or weeks, usually to coincide with a specific event or for some other short-lived purpose. They are useful for allowing a business to sell products or services without having to commit to a permanent store. They are cheaper to operate and allow the business to customize them for a particular need. Unfortunately, being temporary makes it difficult for Google to help customers find them.
What proves challenging to Google?
For one thing, there is the matter of claiming the listing. In most cases, Google will send a postcard with a pin number on it to the business. This is used to verify that they actually do exist at that location. Pop-up stores are not at a given location for a long time, however. Sometimes they are gone before the postcard can even arrive.
Another issue, also related to the verification, is regarding how the business manages a listing. When your temporary location closes because you move to a new one, what happens? Does the first address get listed as permanently closed? That wouldn’t be advisable, as it gives the impression that the business itself may be going out of business.
As a result of these difficulties, GMB is not terribly effective for this type of business, which must now rely on other methods of reaching customers such as word-of-mouth or social media. Unfortunately, this also means that apps which draw data from GMB, such as Google Maps and Waze, will be unable to accurately guide customers to these locations.
Pop-up stores, therefore, have to balance the benefit of cheaper-to-run locations against the drawback of not working well with GMB. Some of the very things that make a pop-up store advantageous are the same things that prove a hindrance to Google My Business.
So, is there another way that Google could verify a business? There are good and logical reasons for Google to require verification, such as ensuring that a business is contactable, reviewable, and verified. This is important for both Google and customers. The good news is that Google is actively looking for solutions.
Google’s focus remains the user and offering them the best experience possible. By being flexible, they are not only accommodating businesses, but ensuring that they continue to meet the needs of their users. After all, adapting is always preferable to losing customers.