A business owner’s guide to Google My Business

No matter what size business you own, if you want to manage your online presence, then you need to register for Google My Business.

We’ve all heard of Google.  But have you heard of Google My Business?  No matter what size business you own, if you want to manage your online presence, then you need to register for Google My Business.  In this article we will go through what Google My Business is, how to register and what to do once you have registered.

What is Google My Business?

In Google’s own words:

Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.

Source: Google support forum

What can I do on Google My Business?

Why Google My Business is important for small businesses

Effectively, it allows you to update your business information on Google including your location, website address, opening hours, type of business and other information that is shown when someone searches for your business.  It also allows you to respond to customer reviews on Google, and to post photos and updates (similar to the way you may post photos or updates on Facebook) which gives you another way to interact with customers online.  The final benefit of using Google My Business is that it allows you to see information about your customers including how they searched for your business, what they did when they found you (such as how many people called you directly from the search results) and provides you with some information about who your customers are and where they came from.

How do I register for Google My Business?

You’ll find Google My Business at https://www.google.com/business/

The first step is to sign in using your Google account (which can use your Gmail account or any other email address including your business email address) or if you don’t have a Google account, then you can create one.

Once you have signed in, you need to enter the name of your business.  Depending on how long your business has been running and what sort of profile it has, you may find that your business appears in the dropdown list once you have entered its name.  If not, then you will need to create a new business.  You then need to enter the street address of your business.  If you sell products or services from a physical location like a shop or guesthouse, then you will want your address to appear on Google searches, but if you, say, work from home as a web designer, then you tick the box saying that you deliver services, and choose the areas in which you deliver services (these can be suburbs, cities or even countries).

You will also be asked to choose a business category from the dropdown list, and enter a website and phone number for your business, and then hit continue and you will reach the verification stage.

In order to ensure that the right people are setting up and managing business listings, Google requires you to validate your ownership of the business either through receiving a postcard in the mail (which can take up to 3 weeks), or you can choose one of the other verification options – exactly which options you have will depend on your business.

Once you are verified then your listing is live!

What do I do once I have registered?

Step 1: Update your Business Information

Once you have registered you need to update your business information (you don’t need to be verified to update your information, but your listing won’t appear on Google until you have completed the verification process).

The information that you can update includes:

  • Opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Website address
  • Services
  • Business description
  • Opening date

You can also upload photos including a profile picture and a cover image, as well as other photos such as the interior & exterior of your shop, examples of your products or services, photos of you and your team members, or any other photos that help to give potential customers more information about your business.

Step 2: Download the App for your phone

Google My Business has an app that is available for both iOS and Android phones.  Unlike the Facebook Business Pages app which is pretty terrible, the Google app is intuitive and user friendly, so if you are someone who likes to be able to keep in touch with your business on your phone, it’s well worth downloading.

Step 3: Customer Reviews

If you are a well-established business (especially a restaurant or guesthouse) you may find that you already have quite a few reviews.  It’s up to you to decide whether to respond to past reviews, or whether to just start responding to reviews going forward.

For more information about reviews see our article on why responding to reviews is a necessary evil for small businesses.

Step 4: Photos & Updates

Just like on Facebook, you can post updates (either text or text & photos/videos) on Google My Business.  These updates will show up at the bottom of the search window on Google and give you the opportunity to engage with your customers without requiring them to find you on Facebook, or to visit your website.  Ultimately it’s another item on your to do list, but you could make your life easier by just posting the same updates as you post on Facebook – regular updates keep Google happy, and it means you don’t have to double up on workload.  Having Google My Business as part of your overall social media strategy will help you to maintain a consistent effort.

Step 5: Analytics or Insights

Google My Business offers you some simple analytics (or insights) including:

  • how often people called your business from the search listing
  • the queries used to find your restaurant
  • how many people searched for your business
  • where people are based who ask for directions to your business
  • what key attributes your business is known for, such as, good for groups or kids, popular for dinner

Of these, we think the most interesting are the queries used to find your restaurant, and the key attributes as these can help inform your keyword strategy.  But that’s a whole other topic for another post!

Conclusion

You can have the most beautiful and easy to use website in the world, but unless people can find it, it is as useful as a chocolate teapot.  There is no question that the key to getting traffic to your website is Google, so that is reason enough to get onboard with Google My Business.  But the other benefits such as the ability to respond to reviews and to ensure that information such as opening hours and phone numbers are correct for your business means that Google My Business is an essential tool for any business, large or small.

Little Biz Designs can help you manage your online presence including Google My Business, Facebook, review sites and more.  We offer cost-effective monthly online marketing packages, starting at just R1,200 per month.