Google My Business: What It Is, Why You Need It, and How to Get Started

The best way to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google

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google my business- what it is, why you need it and how to get started by ybkbs small business magazine
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By Jess Dixon

Most people understand the power of Google. The name has become synonymous with search engines worldwide (not surprising, considering the company claims 86.02% of the search engine market share,) and “to Google” is now widely recognised as a verb.

If you’ve had your website or blog for a while, you’ve probably been working on your SEO to bring more traffic to your site. You might even have experimented with pay-per-click Google advertising. But if you own a small business and haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet, you’re missing out on potential web traffic, footfall, and revenue.

What is Google My Business?

Any business owner can claim a free Business Profile on Google. Google My Business is a free tool to help you promote your Business Profile (and therefore your business website) in search results and Google Maps. It also allows you to keep your business details – such as opening times and contact information – up to date, share product pictures and special offers, and respond to customer reviews.

You can use Google My Business on your desktop or through the app (also free, and available on Android or iOS.)

Why should I use Google My Business?

According to Hubspot, 46% of Google searches have a local intention. In other words, nearly half of all the searches are from people looking for something in their local area. This means that making sure your business high in the search results for relevant local searches should be a top priority.

This local angle is particularly true if you have a physical store-front, but don’t discount it if your business (like mine) is remote and run entirely online. People still like to shop close to home and work with local businesses when possible.

Google My Business gives you control over how your business appears in search results. It allows you to ensure your information is accurate and up to date. It also helps you to look professional! More and more people base their trust in a business on its digital presence. According to Grasshopper, businesses that are verified via Google My Business are twice as likely to be considered reputable.

Google My Business also allows you to interact directly with customers through responding to reviews, both positive and negative. Since over 90% of people read reviews before making a purchase, the power of a strong review profile cannot be underestimated. Responding shows that you are engaged with your customer base and care what they have to say. A professional response to a negative review can neutralise the damage a bad review can do, and even just saying thank you for a five-start review humanises your brand and makes you look more trustworthy.

Having an active Google My Business presence is one of the best ways to get a spot in the coveted “3 pack” – the boxed top 3 business results relevant to the searcher’s location.

Finally, updating your Google My Business information allows you to show up on Maps. This is pretty much vital for any business with a physical store or location. People need to be able to find you, and Google Maps held a 70% share of the online mapping market as of last year. If you’re not easy to find, they won’t try for very long – they’ll move on and go to one of your competitors instead.

How to Get Started

Now I’ve hopefully convinced you, let’s have a look at how to get started with Google My Business.

First thing’s first – you need to get your account get up. Start here and click the “Manage Now” button to get set up.

Screenshot from the setup process of Google My Business

Follow the steps to set up your profile. This includes choosing a business category (the options aren’t perfect, choose the closet match,) entering your contact info, and selecting where in the world you can serve clients. If you have a physical business address, you’ll enter that, too:

You’ll need to verify your business by entering a postal address and receiving a pin in the post. Don’t worry – this address won’t be made public.

Once that’s done, you’ll get through to your Dashboard which looks like this:

Google My Business dashboard

Your Dashboard is where you can update your information, share posts and updates, respond to reviews, and set up paid ads (right now, setting up your Google My Business profile gives you £80 in free ad credit!) You’ll need to wait for your pin to arrive and use it to verify your business before you can use all the features – this usually takes around 4 working days.

The First Three Things to Do Once You’re Verified

So your account has been verified? Great! Do these three things before you do anything else:

  1. Put out a call to some of your most recent happy customers, asking them to leave you a review. Respond to those reviews, thanking them for their kind words. (Whatever you do, don’t post fake reviews or pay for reviews – this is one of the quickest ways to get your site delisted from search results if you get caught.)
  2. Turn on messaging. This allows customers to contact you directly through your Google listing if they have any questions or are interested in hiring you. Making it as easy as possible for customers to reach you is critical to securing conversions.
  3. Download the Google My Business app and connect it to your profile. This will send you immediate notifications when you get a new review or a customer message, meaning you can respond in a timely fashion.

What are you waiting for? Go and get started and don’t forget to tell us how you got on!

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