In the world of search, if 2020 has taught us anything, its the importance of local search. The pandemic has drastically changed the need for SMBs to improve their online presence. Consumer habits changed, and everything turned online. That trend is not changing even if/when the pandemic passes. Local businesses will need to continue to be found by their customers and provide those services they’ve had all along. Local search optimization helps these businesses stand out. And so much of that local search is done through SEO, but other online optimizations. 

People who use “near me” search language, like ‘sink repair near me’ or ‘bicycle shop near me” are far more likely to visit a store or make a purchase that same day. Local searchers are high-intent. Meaning they’re ready to take action. So for any small business, being prepared for those local searches is crucial.

Part of being ready for local search includes participating in Google My Business (GMB) and other directories. Whether you like it or not, Google plays a major role on the internet. They control more than 80% of queries made online. They have Advertising, PPC, YouTube, Search, Directories, and a whole host of other things that can all work hand in hand to enhance your online presence. Google My Business, those profiles you see on the right bar of a search query? That profile can make or break it for a local business. It provides so much crucial information and really helps in the local search realm.

In this post, we’ll go through everything you’ve ever needed to know about Google My Business, how to set it up, and why it’s so important.

 

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is part of a giant digital directory of businesses. The results can come up differently depending on where you are located. For example a search for Boostability will be very different depending on if you’re searching in Utah in the United States, or in Berlin in Europe (our two offices). From Google Directly “It’s a free tool that allows you to promote your Business Profile and business website on Google Search and Maps.” You can connect with your customers, post updates, change your hours, and provide needed information right from the profile. And yes, it really is free.

The Google My Business profile includes things like website, NAP (name, address, phone number), business hours, customer reviews, photos, and more. All these things are crucial in the world of local search and helping your business stay visible. When you claim your business profile, you start to show up on Google Maps. You can start soliciting reviews (which is crucial in today’s online world). On your profile you can start sharing pictures of your business, your branding, and your logo. You can update your profile with posts like your latest blog or viral social media post. 

On the back end, Google provides insights for you as a business owner. It lets you see when people are searching for your business or services. Insights gives you information and suggestions around optimizing customer engagement and data to help you make informed decisions about your business.

It’s also important to note that you don’t actually need a physical location in order to claim your profile. Even if you are entirely online, you can still claim the benefits of having a profile and optimizing for local search even if customers can’t come visit you in person. 

 

How to Set Up Your Google My Business Profile

Step 1: Login

Visit Google.com/business. You’ll be brought to this screen. You’ll need to login with a Google account. And if you don’t have one, you’ll need to create one. You’ll then be prompted to look for your business if they already have some information for it, or enter in your own data. 

Google engage with customers on Google for free

Step 2: Provide Business Information

Enter in the information for your business based on the prompts. First you’ll need to provide the name of your business. I’m just using an example here. But if you operate as a different name than your DBA, be sure to enter your brand name. You’ll then be asked to enter the business category, if you have a physical location, a region where you service like Salt Lake City, and your contact phone number and website URL. Then you’ll finish and be asked to verify your listing. 

what's the name of your business

Step 3: Verify & Give Additional Details

You’ll be asked to provide a physical address where Google will send a postcard so that you can verify your business. There’s other ways to verify, though postcard is the most common. There’s by phone, email, instant verification, or bulk verification if you have a franchise. Instant is most likely if your business just moved locations. Or if you’re not quite ready for verification, you can provide the information later in the ca. However, your profile will not be made public until after its verified as a real business by Google. 

From here, Google will start to ask you more information. You can add additional specialty services beyond just the business category you gave earlier. You can also update your business hours and description of your business. Though you have a 750 character limit, we recommend you keep it short and sweet. People don’t take the time to read long explanations. They want to see if your business can fix their need quickly or they’ll likely move to another option. You also have the option to post photos so potential customers can see what your business looks like. This is a great place to show off your brand, your employees, and your location. 

add business hours

Step 4: Getting to know the dashboard

The list below is your bread and butter for Google My Business. It’s your home page, where you can post content, update your info like hours and phone numbers, insights, view and respond to reviews, message with customers, add photos, update your products and services, and even build a website if you need it. You can also add in additional users for your business partners and employees who you want to manage the listing.

Look around this dashboard and become familiar with it. Often Google incentivizes the use of GMB for your business and gives you credits for ads or other promotions. Definitely make sure to take advantage of those.

Google My Business

Step 5: Get out and Optimize

Now that it’s set up (pretty easy right?), you can start optimizing. This is definitely the fun part. You can start to add pictures and some of your posts. You can post about your top performing products so people know what you offer. You can also add in benefits like “Free Wifi”, “Social Distancing encouraged”, “ADA Compliant”. As soon as your business is verified, it will start showing up on Google Maps. You’ve instantly increased your local SEO level with just this one step. 

 

GMB Items of Note 

Reviews

Today’s word of mouth comes from reviews. People want to know that other people have had a good experience with a company or brand. Google My Business  is one of the most popular reviews platforms. As you show up in these local searches, people can immediately see your star rating then read how others feel about your business. You can’t turn reviews off. And it’s important to monitor and respond. If you have a high review, make sure to say thanks. If it’s bad, respond and see if you can rectify the problem. Reviews are a crucial part of maintaining your GMB profile. A series of bad reviews can do your business a lot of hurt. But good reviews can bring in more leads than just about anything else. So make sure to stay on top of those reviews. 

Photos

The GMB profile gives you a chance to upload photos of your business. You have a logo or profile image and a cover image for your profile. But don’t stop there. This is a chance to really show off your business, your employees, and what you do every day. People love to see behind the scenes photos. Or you can showcase some of your products. Be creative and show through the profile what your business is all about.

Download the App

Google My Business also has an app. This could be one of the easiest ways to keep track of your listing and update it. Your listing isn’t something you should just set up and forget about. Take the time to optimize it and show why you’re the best at what you do.

 

Why Business Listings Matter

Not just on Google, but every business directory listing matters. The more your business gets listed, the more likely it is that potential customers will find your business. There’s places like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Manta, CitySearch and more. Listing your business through GMB and other places boosts your local search rankings. Most directories have reviews, so it’s a chance to manage and secure your reputation. And essentially business listings can bring you more traffic and more leads from people looking for businesses like yours.

Need help setting up your GMB profile or optimizing your website? We can help! Contact us at Boostability to learn more.

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Kristine is the Director of Content with Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. Kristine has a Masters Degree in Leadership and Communications from Gonzaga University and graduated from BYU with her undergrad in Broadcast Journalism. She's worked in television news, public relations, communications strategy, and marketing for over 10 years. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.