It’s the twenty-first century, so asking if you have ever searched for a service online is rhetorical. Of course, you have. And, whether you know it or not, you will have often interacted with something called Google My Business (or ‘GMB’, for short).
It’s a clever tool that serves up the right solution for your business at the right time.
That’s great if you’re a customer looking for a service, but what if you’re the service provider in question?
For instance, what if you’re an IT specialist who wants to make the most of Google by directing potential customers to your own website? Well, if your GMB listing is fully optimised, then that is easy to achieve.
So, let’s start from the beginning.
What is Google My Business?
Google understands that if you type in “IT Specialist in my area”, you’re looking for a specific service. Let’s be honest, it isn’t like you are browsing the internet for fun, is it?
Therefore, GMB exists.
It identifies serious searches and enquiries and pushes real businesses up to the top of the search results.
GMB lets you control how and where it appears both in local searches and Google Maps listings. It enables you to add contact information, photos, your business hours, and even interact directly with potential customers.
Do I really need to worry about GMB?
Well, I mean, you could ignore it if you wanted to. However, the fact remains that 81% of people start their search for a service or product online. When you have a need for a product, quite often, your phone is close to hand. You want something, you Google it. Right?
If you’ve spent some money having a website created, that isn’t enough to bring customers into your shop. Google is the main tool that will ensure your website is found by the people that are in the market. But it won’t ‘find’ your website without any effort on your part.
It needs something to draw from, and that’s why an up to date GMB listing is vital.
How to create a Google My Business listing
Assuming you’ve not done this yet, let’s look at the simple steps required to create a Google My Business.
1. Start with Google Maps
Your business may already be on Google Maps. Maybe not because you did it in a past life, your customers could have created it for you.
So, head over to Google to see if it exists. If it does, it’ll pop up on the map on the right-hand side.
If your business is there, you can select it and move on, or click the ‘Suggest an edit’ option to update the information.
2. Set your business name
So, let’s set up your business name on GMB.
This is the easy bit. If you have a business, enter it here.
3. Choose your category
Google needs to know how to categorise you within its listings, therefore make sure you pick the relevant category.
You should find your industry and business type easily, but if you provide a more nuanced service, then keep coming back to search for it.
Google adds to this list regularly.
4. Add the location
Don’t skip this step. If you do, you simply won’t appear within search results when people search in your area.
And surely, you want to be reaching the local area?
Select the option for having a physical address and enter your details even if this is just your head office or a registered business address. At this stage, GMB may show you a list of business and companies. If you spot yours there, click it and move on.
During this process, Google will also give you the chance to precisely drop a pin on a map of your exact location – do it.
5. Where is your service area?
If you want to serve customers outside your area, then this a critically important step.
Google will ask if you serve people outside of the area you’ve entered in your business location. Choose “yes” and then add all applicable areas beyond your immediate locale and let everyone know exactly how far you will travel or provide your service.
6. Add your contact details
Add as many up-to-date contact details as possible. Obviously, your email address, website and phone number should be there!
Lastly, you can set up email notifications so that you’re prompted whenever something important happens to your listing, such as a customer leaving a review.
It won’t surprise you learn that we highly recommend turning this option on.
Don’t forget to verify your business listing
This is a step far too many people ignore either because they simply forget about it or because they’re not aware of how important it is.
All GMB listings need to be verified if they’re to display correctly (or at all) on Google.
The best way to do this is by postcard. Google will prompt you to do this right at the end of the account set up process, and it simply involves them mailing you a postcard.
In this guide, we’ve talked you through the basics of setting up a GMB listing, but that isn’t where it ends.
Just like all of your other marketing tasks, this requires management. Luckily, some social media management tools (like Social Pilot) can have this added so that just like any other social media site, you can post new updates.
But still, you will need to visit the site regularly to make sure it is optimised.
Good luck getting it all setup, and bookmark this article if you need reminding on any of the steps.