More than 90% of online journeys start with a search engine, it comes as no surprise that search engines provide their own local business listings.

Google now has around 1.17 billion users worldwide, presenting a fantastic opportunity for small businesses who can now reach a huge number of people online who may be interested in their products or services. It’s no small wonder then that so many local businesses have already made use of a Google Business listing.

A listing on Google My Business is one of the best, free digital marketing resources right now and plays a critical role in helping you get more customers when they search for you. Google Business pages was created to help small businesses become more visible within Google search, maps and Google+.

What is a Google My Business Listing?

A Google My Business listing combines all your important information, providing a brief description of your business, opening hours, contact details, website link etc and displays it across Google search, maps and Google+. This makes interaction with your customers easier and allowing them to leave good reviews which is great for attracting new customers.

When a user begins a search for localized terms in Google, they will be presented with a few relevant local listings tailored to the search term used. From there, the user can call your business, visit your website, find out your opening hours and even check out reviews from your customers.

What are the Benefits of a Google My Business Listing?

Aside from the obvious benefit of it being free, setting up a Google My Business Page will open lots of new avenues for driving customers to your site. From the Google My Business dashboard you can:

  • Add or update your contact information, opening hours, website and more.
  • Keep engaged with your customers by responding to their reviews.
  • Allow potential customers to find your on Google Maps.
  • Allow your customers to see up and coming events.
  • Allow customers to find your shop, office or warehouse on Google Maps.

Your Google Business listing is also an extremely effective local SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The categories for a profile that Google provides allow businesses to enter all their key information and as a result, businesses have a much better chance of being ranked well in Google Search.

By entering the geographical information, your business will also appear on Google maps, meaning that your shop, office or warehouse will be visible and catalogues on maps which has huge potential for attracting new customers.

How to set up your Google My Business page

Fortunately, you can set up your Google Business Page in a few very simple steps.

  1. If you haven’t already, set up a Google account. This again is extremely simple and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
  2. Head over to Google My Business and select “Start Now” at which point, you’ll be asked to log in using the details of the Google account you set up earlier.
  3. A search menu will appear. All you need to do now is enter your business name and address. You may already be an established business and may already exist on Google, in which case, a suggested listing will appear for you – just click on the suggested result and add complete any missing details. Otherwise you will need to create a listing if you’re a newer business. All you will need to do is select Add your business and complete the necessary details. Remember, the more specific the information you provide, the more useful your listing will be.
  4. You will be asked to choose a Category for your business – this is important as it will determine how Google will categorize your business and what search results you will appear in. There are pre-existing categories to choose from so make sure you choose the best fit for you. You will also get the chance to add up to 4 more later on in the process.
  5. Once you’ve completed all the necessary information, you will need to wait for Google to verify that your business is where you say it is. Google will send you a verification PIN either by postcard, text, or automated phone call depending on which one you opt for. Text is very handy as it means you can straight on and complete the process.
  6. Once you’ve received your PIN, you can confirm your business and set up your Google+ page to help you manage your Business listing.

It’s as simple as that!

Common Problems

You might find that your business is not appearing in the search results. This can down to 1 of 2 reasons. The first being that you may have fallen foul of Googles guidelines for its business listings. Make sure you read through these before you start creating your listing to help ensure it is approved. The second reason may be that Google Business Listings are no longer a will kept secret and you’re likely to face fierce competition from similar companies in your area fighting for the higher results pages. There are however a few things you can do to improve your chances:

  • The more up-to-date and detailed your listing is, the likelihood is that you will rank higher, so things like adding photos to your listing, regularly updating any changes to your opening hours and replying to reviews are vital.
  • Make sure that you’re consistent with your company name, address and telephone number across all online media as well as local directories you may be listed in.

What are you waiting for?

It’s no surprise that the Google My Business Page is being used by thousands of small businesses already. Whether you’re looking for a local restaurant, the telephone number of a hair salon or the opening times for your local supermarket, this information can usually be found easily in a matter of seconds thanks to Google and smartphone technology. This is why it’s crucial to take full advantage of this as stay one step ahead of your competitors.

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