We recently posted an article giving tips and advice on how you can improve your website presence for free through various social networks and business communities. Today, we’re going to look a little more in-depth at Google My Business, a free service Google offer to help you promote your business online and be found in search results.
Creating your Google My Business profile is a critical part of local search. Get it right the first time by using our in-depth guide showing how to set up your GMB profile.
To begin, you will need to set up your basic profile. There are lots of extra things that can be added afterwards, and we will look at these later.
Google My Business is very important for local SEO searches, you know when you type ‘builders near me’ or ‘restaurants close by’. Therefore, it’s crucial that your listing data is accurate and up-to-date. The majority of people lose trust in a business if they see inconsistent or incorrect contact details online, so you MUST ensure your details are correct. It’s likely that you yourself have experienced this – you search online for a business, for example, a restaurant, and find their telephone number is incorrect, or their ‘special offer’ is the Christmas menu and its April. It naturally puts people off.
So, here’s how to get your company on Google:
1. Set up a new Google account, or create one if you don’t have one.
Create a new account with Google or sign in with your existing account
2. Visit the website google.com/business
Click the ‘Manage Now’ button to begin.
3. Enter the name of your business
Google is smart and can detect whether your name is the same as another within your region. As you type you will see autocomplete suggest those businesses for you. This allows you to see whether your business already has a listing, thus helping to prevent duplicate profiles. You can also create a new Google My Business profile for an existing business if you’ve opened a new office or store at a different location, for example.
4. Choose your business category
This helps customers to find you when they’re looking for a business like yours.
This is a very important field as it not only strongly influence the kinds of search terms you appear in Google for but also appear within your Google My Business profile. It’s also something you should look at when you update your Google business listing.
While you are able to adjust this later, we’d recommend researching competitors and looking through a full list to find the most accurate category for your business.
N.B. Some of the features in Google My Business are category-specific. For example, hotel listings will show class ratings and list any amenities offered. Food and drink businesses are also able to add URLs to their listing for online orders, reservations, and a menu. Services and health and beauty businesses may be able to add a booking button to their listing.
5 Enter the location of your business
You should only choose yes if you serve customers on a face to face basis at this location.
After clicking the ‘Next’ button, you will be asked where you serve customers outside of this location If you’re a Service Area Business that delivers goods and services to your customers.
- If you offer deliveries of your product or services, you should click ‘Yes, I also serve them outside my location’
All businesses that deliver goods and services directly to their customers will have the option to specify a Service Area in the next step.
6. Add your contact phone number and website URL
Though not compulsory to do so, we strongly suggest you fill in this information. Providing a website address is a MUST, it goes without saying. Adding your phone number in will allow people searching for you to contact you easily and can be used further down the line for features like call tracking.
If any of these details ever need to change, make sure you update the information for ALL of your business listings, where applicable.
If you don’t already have a website, Google offers a free ‘Google website’ option, though it goes without saying that this will be very basic and will not be portraying your business online in the best way possible. The website would be based on the information you enter into your business listing.
7. Complete the verification process
You have to verify your business address. To do this, Google will send a postcard out to your business with a special code on that you will need to enter into your business profile in order to provide verification. The postcard can take up to 4 days to arrive. This is a vast improvement on the time it used to take (2-3 weeks).
Google obviously needs to be able to prove that your business is where you say it is, and for entirely new profiles, you have three options:
- Postcard verification. This is the most common verification process and is available to all businesses as we have discussed above.
- Phone verification. Some businesses have the option to verify their listing over the phone. If you see a ‘verify by phone’ option at the start of the verification process, then you are eligible to verify this way. If you can use this, you will receive an automated telephone call, giving a code that you will need to enter in your GMB profile.
- Email verification. Again, this method of verification is only available to some businesses. If you see the option ‘Verify by email’ then you can use this method. It’s a simple process, whereby a verification code is sent to the inbox of the Google Account associated with this listing. Ensure you have access to that email account before choosing this option.
There are two other options available, to businesses that meet certain criteria. Instant verification, is only available if you’ve already verified your business’ website with Google Search Console, and bulk verification, for businesses with ten or more locations. You can read more about both of these options here.