No matter what kind of business you run, there are certain things that you need to make sure to do. You can’t run a business without customers, and customers need to be able to contact you. Once upon a time, this meant getting listed in the relevant section of the phonebook. Today, you might assume this means having a website. But actually, even more important than having a website is having a Google My Business listing (seriously).
What is Google My Business?
Think of Google My Business (GMB) as the bridge between Google Search and Maps. GMB listings are the cards that display to the right of your screen when you search for a business on Google. These cards have all of the information a searcher could want about your business in one easy-to-view location, including contact information, hours of operation, photos, directions, and more.
GMB listings are free for all businesses and can be run through any Google account. We’ll get to how you can set up a GMB account later, but first, let’s talk about why you even need one.
Why is Google My Business important?
In a lot of cases, the GMB listing will be a person’s first impression of your business. Think about it: when you’re looking for an answer to just about any question, you go to Google. GMB listings help direct people to your website, contact information, and more.
In many ways, GMB is the new phonebook. When you’re looking for a category of businesses near you, you don’t out a physical book and flip to the “Designers” section…you Google “designers near me.” And beyond getting you in front of the right people, your GMB listing is important for a whole host of reasons:
Having a GMB listing is one of the fastest ways to prove your business exists because it puts you in both search results and on Google Maps. I would actually argue it’s better for proving legitimacy than a website. Today, almost anyone can set up a website that looks halfway decent for free or very little up front. GMB listings are also free, but they require authentication.
Gets You on the (Google) Map
The vast majority of our ability to literally navigate the world, centers on Google Maps. Almost every other app that involves GPS and mapping of any kind is built off of Google’s mapping technology, since it’s the most comprehensive. And this ties back to proving legitimacy – by getting your business on what’s essentially the universal map, you help people in the area find you much faster.
Boosts Your SEO
What if you don’t just cater to people in the area? Yeah, GMB is still important. If you want to show up for relevant searches, GMB is essential because it helps with your overall SEO. When you connect your website and social accounts to your GMB profile, you signal to Google that all of those pages, with all of their various information, all come together to form one entity. This gives Google way more info to better classify your business and serve it up for the right searches.
Aggregates Your Info in One Place
Finally, GMB acts as a kind of one-stop-shop for everything related to your business. You can connect your website, social profiles, Yelp reviews, menu listing and delivery services (for restaurants), add photos and videos, your operating hours, and more. Your GMB listing lets customers find everything they want to know in one quick and easy location.
How do I set up a Google My Business listing?
So now that you’re convinced, how can you get started? Well, GMB listings are free, so you just need to set aside a little time. Setting up a listing is a fairly quick process (with a few minor caveats).
There are two ways to get started – creating a listing and claiming a listing.
Creating a Listing
This means there’s no entry on Google for your business. If you search for your company and location and nothing comes up, you’ll need to create a listing. You can start by going here and clicking “Manage Now” then following the steps on screen.
Claiming a Listing
This means that there’s already an entry that Google automatically generated for your business. This can happen if users have been searching for your organization enough and Google recognizes that something exists on the map at that point. You can either go through the same process as creating a listing and upon entering your organization name and location, select the existing listing to claim it. Your other option is to search for your business and click “Claim this business.”
You can find Google’s full instructions for adding or claiming a listing here.
Authenticating Your Business
This can be the one “tricky” part of this process, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Google has several ways to authenticate your listing, including by phone or email. The main line listed on your GMB profile is the one that will get the call, so keep that in mind if you use an answering service. All listings can be verified by mail, which takes a little longer but is generally the easiest option. Mail verification means you get a postcard with a verification code on it. You enter the code on your new GMB profile and you’re done! You can find out more about verification here.
Once you’ve been verified, build out your listing by adding photos, hours of operation, social profiles, a description of your company, and more! Take some time to fully fill out your profile using as many of the different features Google offers as possible.
And there you have it! Google My Business is one of the most useful (and again, FREE!) tools you can use to promote your business. It’s the kind of resource you can’t afford not to use.