Google My Business - A Handy Guide
Let’s do some visualisation; ok so, even if your business has no physical location – imagine it is located along a bustling Main St, prime real estate, with a lot of footfall, and ample opportunity for people to find you – would you black out the windows, keep the door closed and hope that they’ll find you, and find out more about you, by chance? Or - would you have a vibrant window display, lighting, an OPEN sign, clear branding, opening times and a little about who you are in clear, plain view? I think we’d all opt for the latter! One of the digital equivalents to this, is ‘Google My Business’ have you got yours published – if so, is it updated? If not, let’s get it sorted – I’ll show you how.
What is Google My Business?
Also known as GMB, Google My Business launched in 2014 and has quickly become one of the largest business directories online with its integration in Google Search and Google Maps. Any business type can create a GMB profile to manage their business information and optimize their local SEO (search engine optimisation) Businesses that have a storefront can update their store hours, address, and contact information to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information for potential customers that search in Google. - Via Navigator Multimedia
Why does it matter?
Potential customers turn to Google Search at different points in their buying cycle, whether they are looking for more broad information like “things to do in Donegal” to more specific requests like your actual business name. Your local business is indexed and interpreted by Google based on the information Google has. If Google has accurate, up to date information on your business it will be able to do a better job matching your business with relevant search queries. (also, it’s free!)
It’s best to have one Google Account to use for all of your business-related Google products. You can create one for free, here: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp
Once the account is created, you will have a Gmail account, and if your business has Google Analytics, Google AdWords, or other Google products you can use the same account to stay organized, and link them together if needed. (best for staying organised!)
Now that we have a Google Account, we can check to see if a GMB page already exists for your business. Sometimes GMB pages are automatically created if Google can see other social media profiles or your business information on trusted websites. Google pulls the information on your behalf, but if you create a profile or prove ownership – you regain control of the information which is best as you'll know your own business and it's connected info better than anyone.
If you notice information already on Google, By clicking on “Own this business?”, you will be able to claim the page, verify it by phone or postcard, and begin updating and making changes to the page.
Optimize Your Location Page
Now that you have a verified page (or pending via sent postcard) you can begin filling out the profile with useful information to improve the quality of this page. Start with the “info” tab and check to make sure all your business information is correct. Under the “photos” tab you can upload your own business logo, profile and cover photo. These images are important as they’re the first thing users will be drawn to (a branding opportunity!) but, they can also be used in your GMB profile. People can also review (more reviews to monitor!) and are prompted to do so, when their Google Maps function is operational, no matter what the nature of your biz, if you’ve linked it to a location – you could be reviewed so keep a little eye out.
Give it a go and best of luck with it, it's a great way to showcase and signpost your biz! I am sharing this information because anyone can do this, it’s free – but all it takes is a little time, I wouldn’t feel right doing it for you (unless you really needed me to!) because I feel we should all be empowered to do some of these tasks ourselves – if you are looking to take your business further in the rankings through a Google Adwords campaign, targeted PR or advanced social media marketing for example, then that’s a different story, you may or may not need to outsource or arrange consultation for those! Have the confidence to do certain elements yourself, as, it’ll give you better insight into your online presence and the satisfaction of knowing that you yourself have influenced people and their ability to find your business online – which is pretty cool!