Google is the gatekeeper of the internet. Whenever we need to answer a question or find a solution, we turn to Google. In New Zealand Google boasts a search engine market share of over 94%. Bing is second, with 3.5%, but by far the most common search term typed into Bing is – you guessed it – ‘Google’.
This all means one thing for your business: you need to have a presence within the Google ecosystem in order to survive and ideally thrive. While you should certainly be investing in search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure your website ranks high for the most relevant search terms, there’s another, somewhat simpler way to ensure your name is put up in lights whenever a potential customer is searching for what you offer.
A Google Business Profile.
What is Google Business Profile (Google My Business)?
Google Business Profile, previously called Google My Business, is a business directory run by Google, in which a business can offer up information on themselves – description, location, photos, opening hours, reviews and more – via a number of Google services, including Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Search.
Any organisation that has direct contact with its customers can create a Google Business Profile. This includes businesses with a physical storefront, such as restaurants and retail stores, and businesses that work from a home base but travel to their customers, like consultants and tradespeople. Online only businesses cannot apply for a Google Business Profile.
Why set up a Google Business Profile?
Why is a Google Business Profile so important to a modern business? Just a few of the endless benefits include:
Show up across Google services
Google is the ultimate referral system. If you set up your Google Business Profile correctly, you’ll get in front of people at the exact moment that they’re looking for whatever it is your company offers. You can show up as part of the rich results in Google search, as a location on Google Maps, and have products and services offered through Google Shopping.
Share accurate business info
With a Google Business Profile you can easily and instantly keep your business information up to date. Share opening hours, temporary closures, contact information, services offered, health and safety rules and more. You’ll enjoy strong local SEO with the help of a Google Business Profile and keeping your information up to date can help you to rank above your competitors.
Build up social proof
People don’t trust brands to talk about themselves, but they do trust other people. This simple fact is what makes reviews and ratings so powerful. By allowing your customers to easily and instantly share their experiences, a Google Business Profile makes it simple to build up this ‘social proof’. If you make a habit of asking happy customers to post a review, you’ll be shocked at the business this can help to bring in!
Do all the above for free
The best thing about creating a Google Business Profile? You don’t have to pay a cent to enjoy all the benefits described above! It’s in Google’s best interests to offer free listings, as it builds the company’s directory. What you do with this free tool is up to you!
How to set up my business on Google in 6 steps
Now we’ve taken care of the what and why, it’s time to look at how to set up a Google My Business account or Google Business Profile. Happily the process can be completed in six simple steps.
1. Create a Google Account
Before creating a Google Business Profile, you’ll first need a Google Account. If you have a Gmail address you already have such an account. If you don’t, setting one up is a simple matter of visiting accounts.google.com, clicking on ‘Create an account’ and following the prompts.
2. Search for your business listing
Now that you’re the proud owner of a Google Account, head to the Google Business gateway and click ‘Manage now’.
At this point you’ll need to do one of two things:
Claim your listing: Your business may already be listed within the Google directory. Businesses are often listed automatically, ready to be claimed by their rightful owners. Type your business name into the ‘Find and manage your business’ field and see if a listing comes up. If it does, you’ll need to click ‘Request Access’ to claim it. Follow the prompts, and you’ll soon be the proud owner of the listing.
Create your listing: If you can’t find a pre-prepared listing for your business, you’ll need to create one. From here the steps are much the same whether you’re adding a new listing or editing an existing one, so we can now move on to step three.
3. Add/edit your business information
At this point you’ll be asked to add or edit the information listed in your Google Business Profile, including:
Business name: Make sure your business name is exactly as it appears in the real world – don’t be tempted to stuff it with keywords, as this will cause issues with your listing.
Business categories: Choose the most applicable primary and secondary business categories from the available options.
Physical address: Add your physical address, drop a pin on the location, and advise Google on whether customers can visit. Businesses who travel to their customers can add service areas.
Contact info: List your phone number and website (other contact information like your email address can be added later.)
4. Verify your business
Once you’ve loaded in all the relevant information, you’ll need to verify your listing. This process begins by asking for your mailing address. This is the physical address of your business – post office boxes aren’t permitted.
Once you’ve entered the address click ‘Next’. At this point you’ll be sent a verification code. Businesses with a storefront will be sent a physical postcard by mail, while service area businesses will be sent an email. Once you’ve received your five-digit code, enter it in and click ‘Verify’.
Once verified, you have complete control over your Google Business Profile!
5. Add the important details
At this point you can fill out your profile with all the relevant information: a description of your business, opening hours, your logo, photos, messaging preferences and more.
6. Enhance and optimise your profile
Your Google Business Profile shouldn’t be static. You need to treat it as a living, breathing thing – a marketing tool that reflects the ever-changing and evolving nature of your business. As such you should always be looking to enhance and optimise your listing, by:
Regularly adding new photos and encouraging customers to post their own.
Encouraging customers to leave reviews, and replying to every single one, good or bad.
Using the Q&A feature to answer common questions and connect with your audience.
Listing products, services and menus and posting promotions and special offers.
It turns out that the questions of ‘how to put my business on Google Maps’ and ‘how to set up a Google My Business account’ aren’t too complex to answer. And not only is setting up a Google Business Profile relatively simple, it’s also 100% free, and one of the most effective marketing moves you can make!
But to make the most of the opportunity that your Google Business Profile represents, it’s always wise to lean on the experts. And that’s where the Traction team comes in.
At Traction we bring the knowledge, skills and expertise you need to capitalise on the endless potential of not just your Google Business Profile, but the entire Google ecosystem. If you’re ready to put your business’s name up in Google’s bright lights, we’re ready to help. Get in touch today!
An independent director and business owner who enjoys adding value to NZ boards and executive teams. She brings more than 20 years experience in export strategy and digital marketing from FTSE100 companies to tech start-ups. Collaborative, principled and intuitive in nature, Jordana embraces evidence-based decision making and will ask the questions that highlight all possible perspectives.