Almost everyone is using search engines like Google multiple times throughout the day. Yet you’d probably be surprised to learn how many businesses don’t add to or claim their Business Profiles on Google. Further, for those business owners who are taking advantage of Google My Business, many aren’t using appropriate keywords to reach their ideal clients or customers.
Why is it important for people to find your business on Google?
It’s simple: Those customers or clients who need your products and services must be able to find you. As you know, there are countless competitors out there, so it’s up to you to help them locate your business--and then distinguish your services from all the others. You can fulfill these goals through top-notch search engine optimization (SEO).
Google remains the most popular search engine by far: together with its subsidiary, YouTube, it receives more than 90% of all internet searches. Approximately 3.5 billion Google searches are taking place every day. With Google My Business, you’ll be able to use local SEO to drive new customers and clients to your business, link directly to your website, provide a map to your location, and enable them to call you directly from your Google listing.
Research has shown that approximately 50% of potential new customers visit businesses the same day they conducted local searches, e.g., “hairdresser near me.” Further, if your contact information isn’t current or inconsistent between Google and other search engines, eight in 10 consumers lose trust in your business. Therefore, once you’ve claimed your Google My Business profile, keep your listed contact information current and consistent across all your search engine listings, business website, and social media channels.
What are the negatives if you don’t have a Google My Business account?
If you don’t claim your Google My Business account, you have zero control over the information that appears in your Business Profile. This means that if consumers locate your Business Profile on Google but you haven’t established a Google My Business account, your profile may contain inaccuracies. Also, note the following:
- Your Business Profile may have a subheading that says “Add Missing Information,” such as “Add business hours” and “Add a website.” It may also say, “Be the first to ask a question” or “Be the first to leave a review.” These are all big red flags that may give potential customers the impression that you’re not taking care of your business. Most will immediately move on and go directly to your competitors.
- Your profile may simply list a generic industry for your business, rather than a specific business description that you’ve crafted, along with providing your town or city and state (key for local business searches).
- You won’t have the opportunity to respond to any Google reviews you may receive on your Business Profile. This can be disastrous, particularly with negative reviews, since you won’t be able to manage your online reputation. Further, reviews influence buying choices and are a key Google ranking factor, so being able to manage your reviews on Google is an absolute must.
- Google determines the position of Business Profiles in search results based on quality. Therefore, if you don’t have a Google My Business account, you’ll lose out on the ability to use SEO to reach potential customers with relevant keyword searches that can help you rank above your competitors on a search engine results page (SERP).
How do you create a Google My Business listing to get on Google Maps?
The good news is that you can easily create a free Google Business Profile that will help consumers locate you on both Google Search and Google Maps. You’ll have the ability to personalize your profile with the following:
- your business’ contact information
- link to your website
- description of your services or products
- photos of the outside and inside of your business
- photos that highlight your offerings
- frequent customer questions and answers
- a “Reviews from the web” section where customers can review your products or services--and importantly, where you can respond to both positive and negative reviews in a manner that may ultimately serve to enhance your online reputation
- special offers
To create your Google My Business listing, you’ll first need to have a free Google account that gives you access to Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and more Google applications. If you’re currently using Gmail, you already have the necessary free Google account. Many business owners have two free Google accounts, one for personal use and the second for business purposes.
Your Business Profile is the free listing that appears when you conduct a Google Search or a search of Google Maps. A Google My Business account is the free account that you’ll need to create to claim your Business Profile, where you’ll receive access to a dashboard to manage, customize, and enhance your Business Profile.
What are the specific steps to create a Google My Business account?
First, ensure that you have a Google Account for your business. If you don’t, simply go to accounts.google.com/, click on “Create an account,” and select “To manage my business.” Then complete the required information.
As discussed above, Google Business Profiles can exist on their own without Google My Business accounts. You’ll want to search to determine whether there is already a Google Business Profile for your business. The chances are that your Business Profile already exists since it simply serves as a location on Google Maps that any individual or computer can add.
Accordingly, go to Google Maps, and search for your business name. If you locate your business name with an address on Google Maps, your Business Profile already exists.
If your business doesn’t come up in your search, you’ll see “Google Maps can’t find [Your Business Name]. Should this place be on Google Maps?” You’ll have the option to click on “Add a missing place” and will then be prompted to fill in a dialog box called “Add a Place” with the following information:
- Business name
- Business category
However, do not do so here since you still need to set up your Google My Business account. Follow these steps to set up your Google My Business account:
- Log into your standard Business Google Account (not your personal Google account).
- Go to google.com/business, and select “Manage now.”
- Enter the information that Google requests, including business name, address, phone number, website, and category. You’ll have the option to claim your business in the same dialog box.
Once you claim your Business Profile and connect it with your Google My Business account, your dashboard will make additional fields accessible so that you can begin to customize your Business Profile.
Connecting your Google My Business account with your Google Business Profile
Last, you’ll need to verify your business with Google to connect your Google My Business and Business Profile accounts:
- Search for your Business Profile on Google Search, and your Business Profile should appear on the right side.
- Click on the “Own this business” option, which will take you to a screen headed with “Manage this business so you can reply to reviews, update info, and more.”
- Click on “Manage now” and go through the prompts to claim your Business Profile. As you’re doing so, ensure that you’re logged in with your standard Google Business account.
- If you created the Google Business Profile, you might be able to validate your business immediately. However, if you didn’t create the Business Profile, Google will send you a 5-digit verification code through snail mail, text, or email that you’ll need to enter into your Google Business dashboard.
Once you enter your verification code, you’ll obtain full ownership of your Google Business Profile and can take the necessary steps to achieve the following:
- update contact information
- provide details of your business that distinguish you from your competitors
- manage customer or client reviews
- respond to reviews
- take proactive steps on your website and social media platforms to encourage your customers to leave reviews
- choose robust keywords for SEO that will drive local traffic to your site
Importantly, remember to visit and update your Google Business Profile often to keep it current and relevant and ensure that it stands out from the rest.
Google Analytics and Core Web Vitals
Now that you’ve listed your business on Google My Business and own your Google Business Profile, you can also use several additional Google applications. For example, Google Analytics provides the necessary tools to track, extract, and evaluate informational data, including which keywords are most successfully driving your site traffic, where visitors accessed your site, how long they stayed and more.
In May of this year, Google also introduced its “Core Web Vitals” report, with the goal of fixing poor user experiences on your website. The report shows how your website’s pages perform based on real-world-experience metrics, such as how quickly a page loads, stabilizes and becomes interactive. Essentially, such reporting will help you assess the user’s (and potential future customer’s) experience when visiting your site to learn about your products and services, enabling you to take additional measures to improve your ranking in Google searches.
Contact Google My Business Help to obtain further information about Google My Business and additional steps you can take to enhance your Google Business Profile and increase your local business traffic.
Share with me your Google Business Profile. Using #GoogleBusiness on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
About the Author, James Webster
James Webster, founder and Executive Chairman of ROK Financial has almost two decades of experience within the financial services industry. His passion for helping small business owners and his innovative way of thinking, has allowed him to run multiple successful businesses including National Business Capital & Services. Under the National name, the team was able to help secure over $1 Billion in financing for small businesses nationwide.