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Published May 23, 2019
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Nicholas Giraldo, market researcher, Wyoming SBDC Network
Just in time for the summer tourism season, Google has recently announced improvements to its own personalized travel planning service called "Trips," which allows users to plan and book their vacations directly through the Google search results page or via the Trips app.
The best way for Wyoming tourism-related businesses to take advantage of this new service is by claiming their online business listings and adding important business details that users want to know when searching for things to do on their Wyoming vacations.
When claiming your online listing, start with your Google My Business profile, which can be done via www.google.com/business. Google is not the only local business listing source, but a good place to start, as the Trips app uses Google My Business profile information when finding local hotels, attractions and things to do for users.
Other sites on which businesses can claim their listings include Yelp, TripAdvisor and Facebook. The important thing to remember is that the main value from these sites is reviews of your business. Customer reviews are an important factor search engines use when delivering search results. So, a greater quantity and quality of reviews mean improvements to your overall online visibility.
When claiming your Google My Business listing, be sure to complete all of the fields with correct, consistent and up-to-date business information. Not only should this information be complete in your Google My Business listing, but it also should be correct and consistent on your website and other online profiles.
Most of the fields -- such as business name, category, address, hours of operation, phone number and website address -- are self-explanatory. The goal for these sections is completeness and consistency, making sure all of the fields have accurate and up-to-date business information that corresponds with your website and other online business profiles.
There are some areas that require a bit more attention, as they may not apply to certain businesses. For instance, Google only directly verifies businesses with physical addresses. Businesses with P.O. boxes will need to take some extra steps. The Wyoming SBDC Network, through an agreement with Google, can assist businesses without a storefront address through the verification process.
Another area that requires attention to detail is the photo section. Google recommends businesses include multiple photos such as a logo, a cover photo and business-specific photos that spotlight aspects of your business that customers consider when making purchasing decisions. Google provides different photo categories, including exterior, interior, products and team photos, and suggests you post a minimum of three images per category.
Once you've claimed your listing, the next goal should be collecting high-quality customer reviews. One thing businesses can do to solicit reviews is to collect emails from customers. Include a subject line asking them about their experience with your business; acknowledge and thank the customers for their business in the body of the emails; and close with a gentle reminder on how reviews are helpful for the business and helpful for them as well, as it gives them a chance to share their opinions.
Another way businesses can collect customer reviews is through printed handouts with instructions outlining how customers can go online and leave a Google review.
Filling out a Google My Business listing with complete and consistent information will help tourism-related businesses in Wyoming get noticed in Google's Trips app and connect with more travelers this summer season. If you would like some help with any part of this process, your local Wyoming SBDC Network adviser is ready to offer no-cost, confidential assistance to any small business in the state. To get started, visit www.wyomingsbdc.org.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.