How small business marketers can use Google My Business (infographic)

Did you ever use Google+? Even in the digital marketing world, it’s difficult to find anybody who did! This April, Google finally conceded defeat in their attempt at a social network and closed down the consumer and business side of Plus, although they’ve kept Google+ Enterprise running for G-Suite users that use it for their internal corporate social networks.

Google Search, on the other hand, is ubiquitous: for every strike back against data farming and SEO monopolizing by smaller search alternatives such as DuckDuckGo, Google takes two steps forward by utilizing voice search or innovating in some other way.

Indeed, while social media marketing grows at an astonishing rate, regular search engine use is still highly relevant for businesses: 80% of customers use search engines to get local information. And 85% value online reviews as much as word of mouth.

But while Google+ is no big loss for many marketers, that doesn’t mean that they should sit still and ignore this ripple in the digital marketing world. Because, partly due to the closure of Google+, the search giant has bolstered its efforts with another tool: Google My Business. It’s a search-oriented feature that enables business marketing professionals to take control over how their company shows up in search results.

Google My Business is what happens when somebody searches your business in Google and your professional profile shows up instead of a bunch of random (and not always complimentary) pages that mention you – including your competitors.

In other words, claiming your Google My Business profile will empower you to take control of your web presence with a bolder, more enticing and usable display when consumers search for your business or for products like yours in your area. Let’s look at how to get started.

Setting up a Google My Business profile

Thankfully, it’s quite straightforward to claim and build on your Google My Business profile.

Log in to Google with your company marketing credentials and navigate to You’re immediately confronted with a great example of how tasty a GMB profile can make your company look online! Click the big Start Now button and you’ll be asked to enter the name of your business. It’s predictive, so you might see your business name come up as you type: if so, click it – you’ll be able to adjust the details that already exist for it. If not, finish typing your business name and proceed.

The second step is your location. For many businesses this is super-important, but if you run your business from a private (home) address you might want to skip it. In general, it’s best to include some kind of location as Google will consider your information to be more useful to searchers if you do. You’ll be given the option to clarify whether or not you operate beyond your locality, and also to specify where and how you are willing to deliver.

Next, you get to choose a category for your business. You’ll need to pick from Google’s suggestions, so start typing and see what pops up in auto-complete. Then you can add some contact details, including your website.

If – Shock! Horror! – you don’t already have a website, you can get a free one using your Google My Business details. You can upgrade it by paying for extra features, too. It might not be the cheapest or most powerful way to get a website for your business, but it’s certainly one of the simplest if you’re new to the world of website-building!

What if somebody already claimed my business?

If your business is already listed, it may have been claimed by somebody else. This could be a fan of your business trying to be helpful, a mistake by a business owner with a similar name, or even a competitor trying to control the industry. Or maybe somebody else that works for your business already took the initiative to claim it! Click Request Access and fill in the form to contact whoever has optioned your company identity, and they will be contacted and asked to transfer ownership to you.

You might simply be handed custody of the business. Or you might be denied, in which case you can appeal – and you’ll be given the chance to verify your authority to claim the business details by receiving a code through email, a phone call, or the regular mail.

If you’re neither accepted not rejected, then after seven days you should get a dashboard notification allowing you to claim or verify your business using the method listed above.

How to make your business look good on Google My Business

Next comes the fun part: adding details and frills to your GMB profile. In general, it’s not much harder than setting up a personal social media profile on Facebook or Twitter. Add details such as opening hours, your opening date, and other key information. But take a bit more time over your description, which should be snappy, accurate, and SEO-optimized, so that searchers can immediately read what you’re all about when you show up in their results.

Photos make a big difference. Try to capture the flavor of your business in the cover photo, and include other images of your store, office, staff (with permission), and/or products so that potential visitors feel comfortable and familiar with your business. Outside shots also help lost customers to identify your storefront from the street.

Maintaining your Google My Business profile

Just like your business and your customers, your GMB profile is not static. You can make your business seem open, lively, and successful by maintaining it like a social network profile (but with a professional approach!).

Your business details can be changed by other people so it’s important to keep an eye on them. Reviews and questions will also pop up over time, and it’s important to respond calmly, constructively, and professionally to them whether they’re positive or negative. And like social networks, you can also add status updates, which are great for catching attention when you have a sale, event, or new product to promote.

Still not got your Google My Business profile set up? Work through this step-by-step guide to have it up and running by the end of the day!

A Small Business Guide to Google My Business - infographic

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