The business end of things
Google’s free business entry - take control of yours now
WE all want our marketing to be easier and our websites to perform better, and we’d all like a stream of new customers beating a path to our door via Google, Bing, or the other search engines out there.
But, the ‘black art’ of search engine optimisation (SEO) is something few of us can hope to understand. So, where do you start without spending a small fortune on SEO?
The good news is that there are things that you can do for yourself. And the really good news is that some are free!
One of the best free options is Google My Business.
You might not have known what it’s called, but I’m sure you will have seen Google My Business when you have searched for a business and the search results appeared.
So, what is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free, easy-to-use internet-based service for business owners and operated by Google. It’s been around since 2014 and is a way of giving business owners more control of what shows in the search results when someone searches your business name.
It includes search and maps and by taking control of your business information, you can help customers find you and tell the story of your business.
The Google My Business box usually appears as a large square image located to the top right-hand side of the desktop or laptop screen when you search for your business name in Google. It’s linked to your location and provides the reader with lots of information about your business.
As it’s a free service that drives traffic to your website, you should make it a priority to take control of it and develop it. If you haven’t already done so, then it’s time to take full advantage of its benefits. Google My Business enables you to:
Manage the information that Google users see when they search for your business
Present the services or products you offer
Provide information about your address, opening hours and location map
Add a gallery of photographs or video
Upload promotional posts for your business
Read and respond to reviews from your customers
And lots more!
Why is it important?
According to Google, businesses that include photographs on their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.
Other important benefits include insights into how customers searched for your business, and where those customers are coming from.
Reports also tell you how many people called your business directly from the phone number displayed on local search and maps results.
And every month you receive an email from Google summarising this interaction with your Google My Business presence.
How do I take control of Google My Business?
If you haven’t already taken control of your Google My Business box then it’s quite easy; you simply follow a few basic steps.
First, you must have a Google account. If you have one, then you can use your personal log-in details. If you haven’t, then you can easily create one.
Then, go to google.com/business and click on ‘Start now’ in the top right-hand corner.
Enter your business name.
As you proceed, you will be asked to agree to Google’s terms and conditions.
You’re then invited to complete various fields relating to the specifics of your business. This information includes your location, the geographical area you work in and your preferred interaction with customers.
Once you’ve selected your business category, added your main contact phone number and website address, you’re ready to verify the entry as yours.
Verification, which proves you’re the rightful listing owner, is done in several ways. These include a postcard option, by phone, or occasionally, email. All the information you need in relation to the possible options is clearly laid out in your dashboard.
Google then sends your unique verification number by whichever option you have selected. You then input this number into your Google My Business account and your listing becomes live.
The next steps
Once your listing is live, there are many ways to optimise it.
You should now add as much information about your business as you can and publicity options include images, videos, business reviews, etc. This is laid out in an easy to follow manner in your Google My Business personal dashboard.
Your listing can then be updated as often as you wish and should soon start working for you.
Google is always improving and developing its free services for businesses and the way you manage your listing could have changed slightly since the time of writing. However, there are help links along the way and you can click on short explanations stating what each element represents.
The important thing is that you take control of your Google My Business listing so it can help improve your visibility in Google and start directing traffic to your website.
As ever, if you need help with this (we can set it up for you if you prefer), or any marketing, contractual or commercial matters, whatever your problem, then just drop me an e-mail. And why not google ‘StreetwiseSubbie’ and look at our Google My Business listing?
Barry is MD and co-founder of StreetwiseSubbie.com which provides business solutions for specialist contractors throughout the UK