Google is more than just a search engine, it is a free business directory that allows you to manage how your business presents itself in Google Search and Google Maps. If you own a business, managing your Google business listing is an important component of your online presence, and since it's free, I suggest you take advantage of it.
Formerly known as Google Places for Business and Google+ Pages, Google My Business allows you to claim ownership of your local business listing, manage your business information and interact with your customers. One thing to note is if you previously used Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages to manage your business information, your account has been automatically upgraded to Google My Business.
Benefits to Claiming Your Google Business Listing
- Make sure your business information is listed accurately
- Gives your business improved exposure in Google Search and Maps
- Link your website to your Google My Business page
- Respond to customers Google reviews of your business
- Allows you to add your logo, photos and details about your business
- Engage with the local community with posts and business updates
- Add Google Analytics to track user traffic, page views and more
Let’s Claim Your Business Listing
Before you claim your local business listing, if you do not already, you will need to Create a Google Account. One thing I highly suggest you do first, is read the Google My Business Guidelines to make sure you business is listed correctly and that you follow their guidelines correctly.
The first step is to find your business listing, if you are an established business chances are your business will show up. Head over to the Google My Business sign up page to get started. After clicking Start Now, you will go to the set up page to enter your business name.
As you are typing your business name, you may see your business name pop up below, if your business does not appear as an option, enter the full details about your business. Make sure you enter an accurate street address, and a phone number which reaches your business directly. Before you click Continue, notice at the bottom the option I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location. Select this option if you do not serve customers from a physical storefront. This would be a business that operates from a home address and does not have a storefront that customers visit. An example of this may be a web designer like myself who meets clients at their business, our local co-working office space or my other satellite office…Starbucks.
On the next screen you will set your service area by zip code and set a mileage radius for your services. You can also check the option I also serve customers at my business address which means you primarily service your customers at their locations, but you also have a staffed physical location and you would like that address listed. An example of this may be a landscaping company who has an office staffed by an employee during business hours. Click Continue and then on the following page check the box to confirm you are authorized to manage this business and that you agree to Google’s terms and conditions.
SOME QUICK ADVICE
A big factor in search engine ranking is consistent business listings across all the major search engines and online directories. NAP’s (name, address, phone) should be listed the same on all your business listing and social media pages. Google and other search engines look at this information, known as citations, to make sure you have the same business information on all your listings.
If your business citations are consistent across the board Google will put trust in your business, which will benefit your local search presence. As an example, you would not want to list your business address as 123 Main St. on Facebook, and then 123 main street on your Google business page. There are tools that can manage all of your citations across the web from one master location. If this interest you or you have any questions about citation management just ask.
You will now need to verify your business location with Google. Rarely, the option to do an instant verification by the business phone number is an option. If you see this option and have access to the phone number listed you can verify your page now.
If the phone verification option is not shown you will need to request a postcard with a pin number to be mailed to your business address. Double check that the address listed is correct and click the Mail button. On the next screen you can enter your name as an additional address field if you like, and then click Send Postcard. Once you receive the postcard enter the pin number at your Google+ business dashboard to finalize your listing. The postcard usually comes within a week so make sure you keep an eye out for it in your mailbox.
Whether you did an instant phone verification or you are waiting for a postcard verification, you can now head over to your new Google business page and start completing your profile. One word of advice, do not change any of the business information you just submitted such as the business name, address, etc. until after you enter the verification pin number. If you change any of this information before you verify your page, Google may require you to request a new pin number. While you are waiting for your postcard, feel free to complete the other items such as your hours, company introduction, add your logo, a cover photo and some photos of your business.
A Couple Alternative Scenarios
What if my business is already claimed?
If your business is listed on Google and it has already been claimed by someone, you will have to go through the process of requesting admin rights or having ownership transferred to you. The steps suggested to gain ownership are mapped out on Google’s support page Someone else verified my business.
What if my business has multiple locations?
If your business has more than 10 locations you will want to take advantage of Google’s bulk verification option. By importing a spreadsheet of your locations information you will not have to enter each location individually. For Google’s instructions head over to Bulk location management.
That was pretty easy wasn't it?
You now own your business listing and can control how it appears to users on Google Search and Maps. Once your page is complete focus on staying connected with your audience, and make sure to respond to reviews left by Google users for your business. If you happen to receive a bad review, the ability now to respond to that user and make things right may change their mind and show the public you are a concerned owner. If you have any questions about claiming your business on Google, please feel free to ask in the comments below or contact us and we will be happy to help.