Most of your dance customers search online before they shop. And your competitor’s customers are searching too. Here are three steps you can take so you’ll be the business they head for.
When you do a Google search, you’ve probably noticed the “3-pack” at the top of search results. These are the top three local businesses closest to a customer that match their search. And while you can work on your website’s keywords, content, site speed and backlinks to improve search results, it’s hard, can be expensive and will take time to see results. Plus, it still won’t get you to the top. That’s because the 3-pack results come directly from the Google Business Profile (until recently known as “Google My Business”). Want to win in 2022? Then win search by optimizing your Google Business Profile.
Why Is a Google Business Profile Relevant to Brick-and-Mortar Dance Businesses?
Because 83 percent of consumers use search before they shop. And since the start of the pandemic, they are more likely to be trying new brands and shopping at different stores. If you want to be the business they try, landing at the top of Google search results is key. When your dance store or studio is too far down in the results, you simply won’t get the clicks. And while consumers can still find you by clicking on “more places,” if you’re not in the 3-pack, most won’t.
If your business hasn’t claimed its Google business listing yet, that’s the place to start. Then, you’ll need to optimize the listing so your business shows up in the top three—becoming so compelling that people won’t hesitate to click on it. It’s not hard, and your competitors aren’t likely doing it.
The following three steps will seed your profile with the right information. When Google sees this content, it pulls it into search results. Your listing will stand out from the rest. And get more clicks. For example, here’s what you see when you search for pointe shoes in Ottawa:
Gather More Reviews
Having lots of reviews tells Google that your business is important and should be in the top three listings. It also creates social proof, showing the consumer that people trust you. This will make them more likely to shop with you. Having many reviews also increases the chance that Google will pull a quote from the review into the 3-pack results. And that’s powerful. You can see how it makes my store’s listing, above, stand out.
Thankfully, Google makes it easy to get reviews. On your Google Business Profile homepage, there’s a link to share with customers to bring them directly to the review page. I recommend that you run that link through a link shortener like Bitly so that it looks like this: bit.ly/ReviewMyStore, and not this: https://g.page/r/CRou6MW1aoi1EAg/review. I would also generate a QRcode, to bring customers directly to the review page.
Email the review link to customers, include it on cards you hand out at the store, or text it to them. (Just be careful if you do a mass emailing that you do it in small batches—a rush of new reviews will make Google think you’ve paid for them.)
Add Product Photos
Google will also pull information from the product section of your listing if it’s relevant to a search. So if a customer is searching “tap shoes,” search results will often show a picture of a tap shoe. But only if you have photos of tap shoes in your Google Business Profile. For example, here’s what comes up if you search for long torso swimwear in Ottawa:
Think about how compelling that would be for a customer. If they can click on a store that shows the product they want rather than a store with a random street-front image, which do you think they’ll pick?
Setting up photos is easy: Just go to the “product” section in your listing, create a category and post a photo. Google prefers original shots, so pull out your phone and get snapping. (Make sure the shot is well lit and that the background is clean.)
Pro tip: If you need to use a stock image (say a product shot), crop it and flip it, and Google will think it’s original.
Create a Weekly Post
Another way to make your listing stand out is to create a post on your profile. It’s so simple. Just post a photo with some short conversational text. Your posts can be about a product, an event or even new arrivals. Just remember that this isn’t social media. The reader doesn’t know you, so make sure you write accordingly.
Try to build a Google post into your weekly routine. Google will surface your post if it matches a search. For example, here’s how Brio Bodywear’s posts get quoted when searching for wireless bras in Ottawa.
The extra quote makes our store stand out. It tells the customer that they’ve found the right spot for a comfortable bra. And it brings us more business.
Pro tip: Movement catches the eye, and GIFs are a great way to add movement. Except that Google won’t let you post GIFs—unless you know this trick: Simply change the extension on the file name from “.gif” to “.jpg.” And you’ll have fooled Google. And your GIF will play.
Google will tell you how many views your post receives. The numbers can seem low, but remember, the people seeing the post have high buying intent. One view from that consumer is worth tens of views from someone looking for cat pictures while scrolling through social media.
And sometimes you get even more views on a Google post than on social. For example, Brio Bodywear’s back-to-dance post on Facebook got 297 views. And our post on our two stores’ Google listings received 897 and 814 views each! So that’s 1,721 potential new customers!
The Bottom Line
Give your Google listing a bit of love. Create a weekly post, show products, get reviews, make the most of your listing. It’s easy, free, and will get your store to the top of search, bring in new customers and help make 2022 your best year ever.
If you want to check that you’ve covered all your bases with your Google business listing, you can download my guide to driving traffic with local search.
Gilbert Russell is president of Brio Bodywear, which has two brick-and-mortar dancewear stores in Ottawa, Canada. Through his consulting firm, No Qualms Retail, he shares his experience and knowledge with other independent retailers.