How Google My Business Can Improve Your Online Presence
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When’s the last time you “Google-d” yourself?
It can be a fun way to see how the internet perceives you.
But when it comes to the health of your phone numbers and your company’s reputation, it can be the difference between a call answered, and a call ignored – or worse – marked as Spam.
This is the “search results problem” – consumers are turned off from working with you before you can even have a conversation.
Whether you are calling or texting, using DCIs, or leaving voicemails, your online presence (what shows up in the search results) plays a huge role in whether they decide to answer the call, or take action to address it.
One of the best competitive advantages you can give yourself is to show up in the search results of your phone number.
There are two main ways to do this:
- Create and Manage your Google My Business Profile
- Use Google Ads To Show Up In The Search Results
Here, we’ll cover the first way – creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile.
Using Google My Business Profile To Show Up In The Search Results Of Your Phone Number
The easiest way to show up in the search results of your phone number is to create a Google My Business account. It’s also completely free.
As long as you have one dedicated phone number, the search results of that number will look like this:
This immediately signals to any consumer or client that the phone number is associated with a legitimate business.
We’ll walk through exactly how to set up your Google My Business profile below.
How To Claim Your Business Profile On Google
- Sign in to the google account you have for your collection agency (not your personal one.) If you do not have a google account for your agency, create one now.
- Search your collection agency’s address in Google Maps. Then click on “Add a Missing Place” in the results. Provide the requested information. This will be your business profile.
- Now let’s check on your Google My Business. Go to Google Business Profile Gateway and click “Manage Now.” If directed to an existing Google My Business for your agency, proceed to step five.
- Provide the information that Google asks for including the following:
Business Name (enter it exactly as how it shows up when you search it in Google)
Address (enter it exactly as how it shows up when you search it in Google)
Website (enter the full URL (i.e. https://www.exampleurl.com.) If you do not have
one, select “Get a Free Website Based on Your Info” to create a free Google site)
Phone Number (enter the primary phone number that consumers use to call your
Category (select/enter “Debt Collection Agency”)
- Go to Google and search your agency’s name. Your existing or new business profile should appear on the right-hand side of the page. Find the “Own This Business?” option on the profile and click it.
- After you’ve clicked the “Own This Business?” option, click the “Manage Now” button on the screen that pops up. Then provide the information that Google asks for.
- If you didn’t create the original profile, Google will send you a verification code via mail, email, or text.
- Once you get the verification code, enter it into your Google My Business dashboard. You will now have full ownership over your business profile on Google!
How To Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
You’ve claimed and verified your agency’s Google My Business. Now it’s time to optimize and enhance your profile.
COVID-19 Update: Are you offering any payment rescheduling, delays or reductions for consumers due to COVID-19? If so, this would be the place to describe that. You can add a button that either allows users to call your agency or visit a payment portal on your agency’s website.
- Ensure your agency’s name on your website is identical to your company name in Google My Business. If the two are not, it’s easiest to change your agency’s name on your website to match the Google My Business listing.
- Ensure that you have selected an appropriate category for your agency.
- Ensure the address in your Google My Business is identical to the address listed on your website.
- For service areas, you can either leave the field blank or put “United States.” If you don’t provide services throughout, specify where you provide them here.
- Ensure your business hours in Google My Business match those listed on your website. If the two do not match, determine which hours are correct and then make changes.
- You also have the option to add “More Hours.” One of the options is to add “Online Service Hours.” Add these if consumers can make a payment, online chat, etc. online outside of your normal hours.
- List your special hours for each holiday. Make sure you update this every year!
- Enter the primary business phone number that clients & consumers should call. If you call consumers using many phone numbers, you can also add those here. This helps your Google My Business show when searching for those numbers on Google.
- A short name is like a handle on Twitter. Make this your agency’s name, but with no spaces between each word. This makes sharing a link to your business profile easier.
- Ensure that your website address is identical to what’s in the address bar on your homepage.
- If applicable, mark your agency as “black-owned”, “veteran-led”, or “women-led” under “Attributes.”
- In the next field, you will want to write a description for your agency. If you’ve never taken the time to write a description for your agency, here’s a template you can use: “[Agency Name] is a [Adjective Describing Your Agency] debt collection agency that [What Your Agency Does]. [More on What Your Agency Does] to [Your Agency’s Purpose/Mission/Vision]
13. Enter the month and year that your debt collection agency first opened. If you’ve been operating for a while, this will establish credibility!
14. In the info section, you also have the option to click “Share Your Business Profile.” This is a short link to your Google My Business that you can share in your emails & texts with consumers. Do this if you do not currently have a website.
Products & Services Section
You can list the services you offer for clients & consumers by clicking on “Products.” This gives them greater visibility when searching your agency’s name or phone number in Google.
Google My Business also has a “Services” field where you can list your agency’s services. If none of the services shown apply, feel free to add your own. Be sure not to repeat the exact services that you included in the “Products” field. If anything, add the overarching
category of services that you offer.
Time for photos! They might seem trivial, but these will also help establish credibility. You will first want to upload a cover photo, which can either be a picture of your team or office.
You will also want to add your debt collection agency’s logo. You can also add a video of a team member describing the values, vision & mission at your agency.
Add photos of the interior and exterior of your office (helps consumers recognize that you are an established business), team bonding photos (great for attracting talent), and photos of your team in/helping the community.
For debt collectors, reviews can be the scariest part of establishing a Google My Business profile. You might feel that you are opening yourself up to a wave of negative reviews that will destroy your reputation.
Instead, see it as a way to take ownership of your reputation. Here’s how.
You’re going to want to reply to all reviews that you haven’t replied to. Doing this will once again establish trust and transparency with consumers. Below are two general templates that you can use to respond to the good and bad reviews that you receive.
Bad Review Response Template (Use for 1-3 Star Ratings):
Thank you for sharing your feedback [user’s name]. We apologize for the negative experience you’ve had. We do understand your concern about [acknowledge user’s concern]. Our goal is to always [tie back into your agency’s mission/vision/purpose].
Good Review Response Template (Use for 4-5 Star Ratings):
Thanks for sharing, [user’s name]! Our team loves hearing your positive feedback. Our goal is to always [tie back into your agency’s mission/vision/purpose.] We are so happy to hear that we achieved that!
Note: If you have no reviews, encourage your collectors to share the Google My Business link. They should share it with consumers they’ve had positive experiences with. The more good reviews you have, the less of an impact the bad ones will have on your agency!
Consumers will be able to message you right from your Google My Business listing. You will be notified via email when a consumer messages you. You may also opt to have this featured turned off.
If your agency does not have a website, you can make a website through Google My Business! You can select a theme for it and provide more information about your agency. Then, all you have to do is click “Publish!” Now add that URL in the website field of the info section in Google My Business so consumers can access it.
Add the emails of any individuals you’d like to be able to access your Google My Business. Provide access to anyone who will be responding to reviews or messages.
Bonus Tip: Add Frequently Asked Questions
Search your agency’s name and click on the “Ask a Question” button under the Questions
& Answers tab. Here, you will be able to publish frequently asked questions. You can then
reply to those questions in the same window with thorough answers. Publish FAQs that
elicit a response from consumers who’ve received a call from you.
Example Questions & Answers:
Q: Why is [your agency’s name] calling me?
A: If you receive a phone call from [list all applicable phone #’s], it is because we have been
contacted to recover an outstanding debt. Please call us back and we’ll provide more information
on the debt amount, the name of the creditor, and your right to validate the debt.
Q: How can I pay [your agency’s name]?
A: You can give us a call at [your agency’s phone #] or visit [link to your agency’s online payment
These are a few examples, but you can add as many as you’d like!
Now that we’ve covered a free and effective way to show up in the search results of your phone number, we’ll cover a paid way to ensure your phone number is at the very top of the search results.
Make The Best Possible Impression Proactively, Not Reactively
The best time to make a good impression on a consumer is before you even talk to them.
Creating a free Google My Business profile is a great place to start building and optimizing your reputation so your first conversation with a consumer has a foundation of trust.
This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; and may not be used as legal advice. Instead, all information is for general informational purposes only.