Most businesses don’t succeed by leaning on the strategy “if you build it, they will come.” You shouldn’t either. We’re here to offer an alternative option to jumpstart your professional success: Learning how to claim a business on Google.
Let’s face it—being found online is a must-have for businesses operating in today’s digital world and search engines like Google are crucial to that effort. In fact, 93% of online experiences begin with the search engine. If somebody is searching online for a product or service you offer and your business does not show up in those search results, it’s unlikely they will choose you or become a customer. To them, it may appear that your business does not even exist at all.
One of the easiest ways to get the word out about your small business or new brick and mortar location is to leverage Google My Business. If you’re unfamiliar with Google My Business or have yet to complete your profile, you’re not alone. 56% of local businesses have not claimed their Google My Business listing—but have no fear, we are here to help.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free online business listing offered by Google, and we think all small business owners should take advantage of it. The more complete your business listing is, the higher you will rank in relevant Google search results—which has a direct impact on whether potential customers will choose your business over your competitors’ business. A Google My Business listing gives your business credibility and legitimacy online, both key to building a solid customer base.
You may think this type of online listing is only valuable for retail businesses or businesses with storefronts or physical locations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Leveraging Google My Business is a simple, free marketing tactic that any business owner can use to enhance their business’s online presence, brand awareness and recognition. You don’t have to have a marketing team or a robust digital marketing campaign to get in front of your potential customers in the exact moment they are searching for your services online. This is relevant for businesses of all shapes and sizes—even if you don’t have a physical storefront for customers to visit.
Why does it matter?
A Google My Business listing has a direct impact on where your business will appear both in Google Maps and Google’s search results. A business that has complete and accurate information in their Google My Business listing typically receives more clicks, is more likely to attract visits to its physical location or storefront and is even more likely to make a sale when compared to a business that has not. Again, the optimization and completeness of your listing will impact how successful it is in helping you achieve your business goals. Before we get into setting up your listing, let’s dive deeper into some of the ways leveraging Google My Business can directly impact your organization:
- Google Maps: If you want to show up higher than your competitors in searches related to your offerings, you’ll need to make sure you fully optimize each field of your Google Maps listing. This can only be done when you claim your Google My Business listing. Google Maps is becoming yet another way people search for products and services local to them, so it’s crucial for your business to be a part of that consideration set.
- Location, location, location: Chances are you want to show up for relevant customer searches in your local area—even if that isn’t specified directly in the search term. Think “flower shop” vs. “flower shop Washington.” Google determines the IP address of the searcher to deliver the most relevant, location-based results to that specific user. If you have a Google My Business listing fully completed and optimized for the flower shop you operate in Washington, you’ll show up for searches for “flower show Washington” and searches for “flower shop.” If not, you’d be missing out on 50% of those searches that do not include a location qualifier.
- First page is best: 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engine search results. That means if you’re not there, you’re likely missing out on a lot of potential business. A Google My Business profile is critical to showing up on the first page of the search results for relevant inquires.
- Knowledge Panel: If you’ve filled out your Google My Business profile, Google will display a Knowledge Panel for users who are searching for your business on the right-hand side of the search results page. Think of the Knowledge Panel as a pseudo-homepage for your business, with your hours of operation, photos, reviews, contact information and more outlined very clearly. If you have not claimed your business on Google, this will not be an option for you. The Knowledge Panel for Live Oak Bank is shown below:
- Make it easy: Like most of us, your customers are used to instant gratification and want to easily find what they are looking for online. If they can do it directly from the search results page without actually clicking to visit a website, that’s even better! When you complete your Google My Business profile, you make it easier for potential customers to find your business, learn more about what you offer and contact you immediately. Having an incomplete profile means they may have to scroll to find your listing and then click into your website to access the information they’re looking for.
- Accuracy is key: Customers searching online typically trust the results that are put in front of them. It would be bad for business to break that trust. By taking ownership of your Google My Business listing and keeping it updated on a regular basis, you can ensure that Google is displaying accurate information to customers and not misleading them. You wouldn’t want Google to show that your business is open on Labor Day if it isn’t and risk customers showing up to a locked door, right? That wouldn’t be good for building customer trust and loyalty.
- View insights: As an owner or manager of your Google My Business listing, you’ll have access to insights about how often your profile has been viewed to help you gauge how popular your business is with current and potential customers. You can monitor and leverage these insights to make future decisions about how to market and promote your business.
How do I claim a business on Google?
Congrats! You’ve decided to claim your business on Google and provide a fully-optimized, robust set of information to your customers and potential customers online. Great move. Here’s how you start the process from your computer or phone:
1.) Visit https://www.google.com/business/ to begin the process of filling out your profile. Keep in mind that you will need an active Google account to complete this process. If you do not already have a Google account, you can create one using your business email address. It’s important to use your business email address—or an email address you regularly check—because Google My Business will send you periodic notifications and updates about your listing via email.
2.) Next, enter your business’s address to locate it on a map. You can then select whether you’d like your business to appear on Google Maps. If you are a retail location, have a storefront or conduct business where customers will regularly be visiting your location, this is a must. Failure to complete this step means your business will not show up in Google Maps.
3.) Fill in all relevant business information. We cannot stress this enough—fill in everything. The more complete your profile, the more helpful it will be to searchers and the higher Google will rank it in the search results. Make sure you’re accurately completing every section to the best of your ability, including:
- Business name
- Physical location or office address
- Business phone number
- Business category
- Attributes (will vary depending on the category you select)
- Website URL
- Business description
- Hours of operation
- Booking information for appointments (if applicable)
- Menu (if applicable)
- Reviews (You will not fill this section out, but reviews about your business will appear in this section of your profile as they are left, so encourage your happy customers to leave them!)
- Photos (Photos added of your business in the future by others will also appear in this section of your profile alongside the photos you upload yourself.)
4.) Verify your account. Your Google My Business profile will not be active or appear in search results until it is verified. You will need to verify your account by entering a PIN number that Google provides to you directly into the Google My Business online interface. You can get this PIN several different ways:
- Google can call your business phone number to provide the PIN number. They will send you an automated recording, so make sure you have a pen and paper handy to record the PIN number during the call so you can enter it into your profile afterwards.
- Google can text you the PIN number to your mobile device.
- Google can send you a physical postcard in the mail containing your PIN number. This method takes the longest because it relies on standard mail. Most postcards arrive within 14 days of the request being submitted.
5.) Keep it updated! The only thing worse than not showing up online is showing up online with inaccurate or misleading information. Google will periodically suggest edits to your profile in an attempt to make things clearer for searchers, but you should always keep an eye on your own profile and update it if you make any major business changes. Are you closed for a major holiday? Has your phone number changed? Did your business move to a new location? If the answer to any of these is “yes,” update your profile. Remember that the Google My Business listing is often a potential customer’s first touchpoint with your business, so you want to make sure your information is up-to-date and accurate at all times.
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