What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool provided by Google that allows you to manage your business listing on Google Search and Google Maps. You can list your business name, location, phone number and hours. You can also post photos, share updates, and respond to customer reviews.
When you create a Google My Business account for your business, people can find out more information about you without turning into Sherlock Holmes.
Think about it this way. When you’re interested in finding a car repair shop near you, what do you do? You google it, of course. You’ll get multiple results with addresses, phone numbers and hours. But that’s not enough. You also want to get a grasp of the service quality, so you click on reviews or photos to get a sense of the customer experience at your shop. After a few minutes of looking through the top-ranking or highest-reviewed companies, you’ll likely decide on a couple shops to call.
In short, a Google My Business account allows you to sell to your customers before they even walk through your door. Not only is it an opportunity to let people know you exist, it’s you’re your most important opportunity to position your business as a premium store or service.
Who should use Google My Business?
Google My Business is an essential tool for B2C (business-to-consumer) companies that need to establish trust with the consumer market. It can also be valuable to B2B (business-to-business) companies. Even if your customers are businesses, there’s a good chance your customers will still use Google to find trustworthy vendors.
How to set up a “Google My Business” account: step-by-step guide
This guide will walk you through every step to set up a Google My Business account for your business.
First, go to google.com/business and click on the “Sign In” button in the top-right corner. You’ll see this:
Click on the “Create account” button to set up a new Google account. However, if you already have an account, as I had, you’ll see this:
Go through the verification process, and you’ll be able to access your account.
Once you create your Google account or verify your existing account, you can start managing your Google My Business account. It shouldn’t take long. Click on “Manage now” and follow the guided steps.
The first step is to find your business in the event that a Google My Business listing already exists for your business. If you don’t see your business listed, then you have the option to create a new business listing. To do this, click the button “Add your business to Google.”
Once you click on the “Add” button, you’ll be asked to choose a name for your business. At this stage, you are required to agree to Google’s Terms of Service.
After you choose your business name, click “Next.” Google will then require you to select a category for your business from a drop-down menu.
Next, Google will ask you whether you want to add a location. Even if your business is largely virtual or operated from home, we recommend including a location. This will help your business to appear in Google Maps search results more frequently than if you don’t list a location.
The next step requires you to provide your business address.
Even if you add your address manually, Google will present you with a map and require you to drag a marker to your precise location.
Next, Google will ask whether you serve customers outside the location you provided.
In most cases, you should answer “yes.” For example, if you’re a pizza restaurant that offers home delivery, then you’ll want to answer “yes.” If you offer a professional service like accounting or legal representation, you’ll also want to answer “yes.” If you truly don’t serve customers outside of your business location, then you can answer “no,” and move on.
Once you complete your location details, you’ll be asked to provide your contact information. First, Google will ask for your phone number and website URL.
You also can share a website address if you have one. If not, Google can create one based on the information you provide.
Don’t worry, you’re almost finished! After providing your contact information, let Google know whether you want to receive updates in the future.
To stay competitive in your market, we recommend selecting “yes.” Google provides helpful guidance based on your business characteristics. They also publish new features each year and will provide helpful instructions on how to get the most out of these new features.
If, after you receive the first several updates from Google, you decide that you don’t have time to act on their guidance, you can either delegate the work to a marketing manager or look for the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of Google’s emails.
Now all you have to do is click the “Finish” button. And there you have it! Your business is now officially on Google.
For a guided tutorial on how to set up your Google My Business account, I recommend Wes McDowell’s step-by-step pro-tips video. In the video, Wes shows you the same process that I just shared.
Customize your Google My Business account
You’re now ready to customize your business listing so that you can get in touch with the right customers.
The first step to customizing your business listing is to add a service. When you added your business, you had to choose a business category. That category dictates the default services Google will suggest. However, you can add other services as well by clicking the “Add custom service” link.
After adding a service and clicking the “Save” button, Google will ask you to provide a short description of each service. Be sure to keep each description under the 750-character limit.
Keep in mind that you can always change your business description in the future.
Next, Google will prompt you to add photos of your business.
Your pictures can show your office location, your team, your products, or whatever else represents your business. Just be sure to avoid using stock photos. Real photos, however imperfect, will help visitors get a sense of “who” you are, which in turn helps them trust that your business is legitimate and trustworthy.
After adding your photos, Google will take you to your Google My Business management area.
As you can see, everything is well organized so that you can manage every aspect of your business presentation from one place. Copy the URL of your dashboard to a note for your staff, and bookmark it in your web browser so that you can easily access it again the future. You shold plan to return to the dashboard for one hour at least once a month to view analytics, post updates, add new photos, and respond to reviews.
Save yourself some trouble and review Google’s Guidelines
We’ve talked to enough companies who have run afoul of Google policies that it’s worth advising our clients: Please take 10 minutes and read Google’s guidelines for representing your business on Google. Some of Google’s guidelines are nuanced. Reviewing them right now is an easy preventive measure that can potentially save you from a real pain in your future.
In addition to Google’s guidelines, Google has separate documents that cover prohibited and restricted content and Google’s terms of service. Spoiler alert: you can’t post terrorist content and you have to be 18 or older to create a business listing. If you’re inclined to trust your common sense and ethics, you can skip these additional documents.
Finally, Google has a list of all policies related to Google My Business to answer any other questions you might have.
Getting a "Google My Business" Listing Reinstated
If Google suspends your account, you will need to submit a request to have your listing reinstated. It’s a good idea to learn more about the policies Google claims you violated so that you can fix the issues and ensure better compliance in the future.
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B company, setting up a Google My Business account is the most effective way to ensure local customers can find your business on Google. Adding your listing takes less than an hour and is easy to do by following along with our guide.
Make sure to familiarize yourself with the Google My Business management area so that you can customize your listing and make updates. By adding new photos, publishing updates, and responding to reviews, you’ll encourage Google to show your listing to more people and you’ll build a trusting relationship with those who do review your listing. For best results, we recommend setting a 1-hour appointment on your calendar and making a round of updates once a month.
If you ever need help or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for any of your marketing needs.