Running a local business has never been easy.
You have enough on your mind with day-to-day operations and small emergencies, so maintaining your online presence probably seems like a daunting challenge.
Google has taken steps toward making the process much more streamlined, though. With the suite of features collectively known as Google My Business, you can dramatically improve your odds of being found through organic search, boosting site traffic, and attracting customers with the intent to convert. Let’s look at how to get started on Google My Business.
Getting Started Is Free
To begin the process of claiming your Google My Business listing, all you need is a free Google account. If you use a Gmail address, good news – you’re already on your way. Head to google.com/business and click the “Manage Now” button. Start typing in the name of your business to see if it autocompletes. If it does so, then it’s ready to be claimed. If not, you’ll simply be creating a new listing.
You’ll then be asked for more details, such as your most recent, updated website, your phone number, and the category/industry your business falls into. Make sure these are all as accurate as possible, as any discrepancies can prompt the need to make changes down the line, which will then need to be re-verified. Ordinarily, this might not be a problem, but it’s important to note that in most cases, Google’s business verification policy contains an offline element that can be time-consuming.
When you finish the process of creating a listing or claiming an existing listing, Google’s verification code will most likely come to you in the form of a postcard, sent by Google to the address that you’ve listed for your business. Once the postcard arrives, you can log back into Google My Business and use the five-digit code on the card to confirm any changes to your listing. These postcards usually arrive within 14 days of being requested.
For a select few businesses, other verification options exist. When finishing your claim, you may see options to verify by phone or email. Additionally, if you’ve already verified your business website on Google Search Console, you may see an option to instantly verify your My Business claim.
What GMB Can Do For You
The Google My Business suite is packed with features that let you provide important details and customer engagement, even before a potential customer clicks through to your site. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Detail: Apart from the location of your business, you can also let customers know your hours of operation. This information is automatically integrated with Google Maps, meaning that local users will have an accurate idea of when and where to visit.
- Search Visibility: When you search for a local product or service, you’ll often see a high-visibility panel at the top of the results page displaying a map and three relevant businesses. This panel is known as the “three-pack,” and it is populated with Google My Business information. Claiming your GMB listing and filling out detailed, relevant information can get your business into the three-pack, where it will be seen by many more users.
- Photos: Need to show customers the interior of your restaurant, hair salon, or other local business? Adding images to your GMB listing will show users that your business is more than just an address. Show off the unique intricacies of your business and set yourself apart from the competition.
- Reputation Management: There’s a dedicated section in the Google My Business suite for reviews, as well. Thank customers for their positive feedback, or respond directly to customers leaving bad reviews and offer to set things right.
- Analytic Information: Google My Business also features an Insights section that lets business owners track visibility, engagement, and audience details. You’ll be able to see how your site is performing across demographics like age, gender, geographical area, and more.
In conclusion, local search traffic is driven by users with a high level of intent to convert.
In order to meet them halfway, you’ll need a fully realized business listing. Google My Business is a free and easy tool that increases search visibility and presents a more complete version of your business profile to interested searchers. If you haven’t claimed your GMB listing yet, you’re missing out on a lot.