We kick off this blog about marketing and sales tools and tricks you can do yourself with a listing your small business should not only be aware of but should curate. How many times have you searched for a particular business (yes you Googled it) and saw a listing on the right-hand side of your search for that business you wanted or a similar one nearby. This listing has the address, phone number, map link, pictures perhaps, reviews and their hours of operation. Google sets a special place for this and calls it Google My Business. If you haven’t’ created or claimed your business listing in Google My Business then you are missing out on a wealth of free promotion and a listing in Google searches.
Google is not unique in this opportunity. Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo, and yellow page sites such as Manta do this too and those sites show up in search results too…even on Google. There are two reasons though to use Google’s instead regardless of how you feel about the company itself. The first is that it’s FREE unlike some of the others. Plus you get a lot of value for your money, really, as it features a place for updates, ways to post products, and even a limited web site if you want it and more for the cost of, free. To be clear, Google would rather you advertise and will give you incentives to do so, which our lead connection service can help you with AND make use of the ad spend vouchers they give you so hang on to them.
The second reason to choose this service for your business is, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, it’s Google who leads all searches and search sites. Anyone looking for something will very likely start there first whether they know it or not. Google shares their listings with partner sites which will pretty much capture everyone over time. Plus, once we help you put out ads and listings on other similar tools then the word about yoru business will get around faster than you think.
One other thought is that if your business is not the type to need a full blown web site, such as a plumber, mortgage loan officer or Counselor, then this is a great way to spread the word about your business without having something which requires a lot of maintenance. It will have all of the proper information plus any generic photos you choose to publish or quick posts of points you want to make. You can also list services or products you sell and give people means to take action right there by calling you or learning more. Our lead connection can point to this or a similar “landing page” (small web site) so it all works nicely together.
Getting Started: If you haven’t already claimed your business on Google you will need to go to https://business.google.com (see screen shot) and click on the blue “Manage Now” link. On the next page you will need to look in the top right corner to ensure that Google will tie this listing to the e-mail address you want. It doesn’t have to be a Google address but this sure helps if it is since you will have to create a Google Account that you need to be able to check.
After that it’s time to claim your business listing (see above). You do this by typing your business name into the blank and choosing either (1) your business from the dropdown list or (2) choosing to add a listing at the top of that dropdown list. Google then asks a series of questions about your business location and the markets you serve. You can answer these now and/or edit them later. If your business already exists you may see some information filled in. Then Google will ask you which category of business you are. Think of key words that describe your industry but be prepared to back up a level or two. For example, “Foot specialist” may not be listed but “Podiatrist” is. You will then come to a page that deals with contact information.
Now it’s time to verify your contact information. This is important as these are the contact points for your business so the phone number should be for your business and not your personal line or even your business mobile phone unless that’s the only number you use for your business. If you have a web site enter it OR you should choose the bottom selection to “Get a Free Web Site…” to create a small one for you. Remember it doesn’t have to be much but with some set up work you get a space that’s easy to maintain right where people are looking. You don’t have to get a domain for it but it might not be a bad $10 investment to get something easy to type and you can point that domain to your Google site later.
Verifying Your Business: After some initial questions about your business to get things started, it’s time to verify your business. This is important, even if you don’t have a physical address you use for your business, and Google won’t publish your business without finishing this process. To do this you will likely ge the only choice to “mail a postcard”. This comes to an address you specify. NOTE: it must be a street address and not a PO or APO Box. It works best if the address you give is that of your business, but if not then you can change things around later.
The postcard arrives within a few days so be looking for it. The card has a PIN number on it and you will need to come back to your Google My Business account to put the PIN in and verify your business. Google in turn posts your location on searches and directories. The more active the business is at posting on Google My Business the more attention it will get. This means updating photos, products, services or news and offers. It’s a web site in all the ways that matter whether or not you use it as such.
Google My Business Setup: Even before you receive your postcard it’s time to do some setup for your business. You can go to your Google My Business home page now and put in some preliminary information. Once at your home page, like above, go to the “info” page to start. Here you fill in as much information about your business as you can. This includes your hours, business categories, descriptions, and contact information. If you have photos of your business, products or services you can add them.
FInally, you can fill your listing with a few different types of “posts” which serve different functions. You can put in any products and services you have including price and set an action for a button at the bottom. The same goes with “Updates” and even offfers. All of this makes for a good, basic, interactive web site that may be good enough for some businesses and an extra asset and publicity point for others.
So that’s what there is to it. Google My Business is a great way to kick off your online presence or enhance the one you have. It is an important part of our Online Presence service we set up for you if you wish or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself. Plus it launches you into further recognition when you are ready for online advertising with Google. If you want more information, call us at 713-588-5498, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you are in the Houston area schedule a visit with us.