Why should I get my business online and keep my information up to date?
What is Google My Business?
How do I get started with Google My Business?
Imagine you’re running errands in town and have a sudden ice cream craving. You pull out your mobile phone and search for nearby ice cream parlors.
Nothing appears in your search results. So, you walk around until you see an ice cream parlor with an “Open” sign – but the place is actually closed. Frustrated, you give up and leave.
Now imagine you own that ice cream shop. You just lost a potential customer. That’s why it’s smart for businesses to be online and post the right information, especially considering how many potential customers are relying on search engines to find local businesses.
In a Google survey, 80% of people said they use a search engine to find local business information.
50% of customers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a business within a day.
And people are also 38% more likely to visit a business if the information online is up-to-date and correct.
With stats like that, it’s clear that having your business online with up-to-date information is important. That’s where Google My Business comes in.
Google My Business is a no-charge service that lets you claim a business listing on Google. It’s designed for brick-and-mortar stores (versus e-commerce companies) and other businesses that meet with local customers in person.
With a Google My Business listing, important information about your business will appear to searchers in both Google Search and in Google Maps.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say someone searches for Lucia’s Ice Cream Shop, which has a Google My Business listing.
The person will get a search result showing the shop’s location and address on Google Maps. They can see how far Lucia’s shop is from them, and also get directions.
The person will also see the phone number of Lucia’s Ice Cream Shop. And, since they’re using their phone to do the search, they can easily call the shop just by clicking on the number.
The searcher will also get critical information like Lucia’s hours of operation, including any special holiday hours, and her website URL.
Lucia’s Google My Business listing can also feature photos and reviews, which encourages searchers to become customers.
Photos help people visualize a business and get comfortable with it. They can see what the inside of the shop looks like, for example, and can recognize the storefront when they arrive at its location.
Plus, listings with photos get 42% more map direction requests and 35% more clickthroughs to the business website than listings without photos. So, it’s a smart idea for Isabella to tell her business to “say cheese.”
The reviews on Lucia’s listing can also be a great business move. 88% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as they trust a friend’s recommendations.
Google My Business also lets Lucia respond to all the people writing reviews, so she can keep engaging with her customers even after they’ve left her shop.
What if a person searches “places to get ice cream” instead of “Lucia’s Ice Cream Shop”? Well, that’s okay. If a local searcher looks for a topic related to a Google My Business listing, that business and its info could still appear in the search results.
Now let’s talk about the steps you’d take to set up a Google My Business listing. First, you’d visit google.com/business and click “Start Now.”
A form will appear. Enter your legal business name (no nicknames or slogans). If your business has multiple locations, don’t add extra info like cross streets. Also, don’t use ALL CAPS unless that’s part of your official business name.
After you add other basic information (like your address and main business number), you’ll need to select a business category. To do this, first think of how you’d describe your business, like “Ice Cream Parlor” or “Dentist.”
Then, start typing in your description and see if it matches an existing category. It’s not a big deal if you can’t find the perfect category. If you can’t find one, use a generic category like “Store” or “Restaurant.”
If you’re a service-based company without a storefront (like a plumber who serves a certain neighborhood), you can click “I deliver goods and services to customers at their location” to have your service area appear on the map instead of your actual physical location.
Okay, you’ve set up Google My Business. Before you celebrate, remember to verify your listing.
Usually, this involves requesting that Google My Business send a postcard to your business address. Once you get the card, enter its verification code into your Google My Business account to complete verification.
This verification process is hugely important because it improves the chances of your business listing appearing in Google search results. Also, any changes you make to your listing will only go live after it’s been verified.
Once the verification process is complete, you can respond to customer reviews and see “Insights” reports that show you how people find your info on Google.
Google My Business is completely free and is a great way to boost your digital presence immediately.