If your business relies on customers visiting a physical location, it’s essential to make it as easy as possible to find you offline, online which means adding yourself to ‘the map’ by utilising Google My Business locations.
What Is Google My Business?
‘Google Local’ was launched in 2004 – think of this as an online version of business listing directories such as the Yellow Pages. Here you could add your business name, address, and phone number with maps, directions, and website links. The following year, Google Maps was released as a more visually-appealing and interactive feature.
Since then, Google has launched various other platforms off the back of Google Local, including ‘Google Places for Business’ and ‘Google+ Local’ until finally in 2014, ‘Google My Business’ was introducing, allowing users to input significant business information.
Google themselves describe Google My Business as ‘a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google’. They go on to state ‘if you verify and edit your business information, you can both help customers find your business and tell them your story’.
How To Claim Locations On Google My Business
To start, you’ll need to ‘claim’ your location on Google. Do this by signing in to your Google Business account and entering your business name into the search bar at the top. Here you will see whether your business is already listed.
Next, there will be an option to ‘claim’ your business. To do this, press the claim button and edit the details about the business where needed. Details include your business name, exact location and website. You can also add your business opening hours and any relevant photography.
Statistics show that business profiles with additional photographs receive up to 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps and up to 35% more clicks to their website than those without imagery. Exterior shots will help customers recognise your business once they arrive, making it easier for them to find you.
Additional details, such as service category and payment methods, will also make it easier for new customers to know what to expect before arrival.
There are three main ways to verify your Google My Business account:
Google will send a postcard to the address you would like to verify the location of. The postcard tends to arrive in around 14 days with a location verification code.
You will need to qualify for this option, and Google makes this decision. Click ‘Verify Now’ and then ‘Verify by Phone’ to check. You will then receive an automated call where you will be given a code to submit.
The third way is via an email, although this is less common and once again, eligibility is determined by Google.
You may also find that your business listing has been pre-verified by Google. However, this tends to be for key city locations that Google has already created entries on behalf of. Pre-verification will mean that you don’t need to complete any of the above, and your verification request will be approved straight away.
If you need to bulk verify several business locations, then this is possible by uploading a spreadsheet.
You may find that you need to ask for control over a listing, perhaps if you’ve bought the business from someone else. To do this, you can go into a dispute which will ultimately end in the transfer of a listing or the request will be denied.
Why Use Google My Business?
You may already have your hands full with a website and Social Media accounts, so why should you invest in more time online with Google My Business?
By sharing helpful and accurate information on your Google My Business account, customers will be able to find everything they need to know about you and your business. With this information being super accessible, you will, therefore, increase the chances of customers visiting or contacting you. With a simple Google search, customers will be able to identify where you are, what you offer and when you’re open. Businesses featured on Google are much more trustworthy than those where it’s difficult to find their information.
Interact With Customers
Speaking of customer friendly, a Google My Business listing will also provide you with a space to read and respond to any customer reviews. You will also be able to review insights on how your customers have searched for your business. Insights show where customers are coming from and how many have contacted you as a direct result of your account.
A Google My Business account is entirely free and therefore, a great tool to utilise as part of your digital marketing mix. Increasing your visibility will also increase your chances of leads.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
A free account also means free SEO which is especially essential on Google as they account for over 73% of Search Engine market share on desktop. Accurate information on your Google My Business account is vital as a listing with the wrong or inaccurate details will harm your SEO.
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