Google can be a blessing or a curse for small businesses. The great news is that you can easily make it a blessing if you use the existing, easy-to-use tools that Google and other sites give you! Google’s “job” is to provide its users with the best answers to their questions as fast as possible. To do this, Google has created a variety of tools to help small businesses show up when users search for their particular type of business.
As an example, I could search for a “Chicago Dentist.” Here’s what I would find:
The first thing I see are “promoted ads” from Google. These were setup via Google’s product, “Google AdWords”.
If you scrolled a bit more, you’d see a see a map, allowing a user to zoom in on the area around them (if your business caters to local customers like the dentist I used in the example, showing up on this map will be very beneficial to your business.)
If I click on the map, I will see a list of all the top reviewed Chicago Dentists on the given area shown on the map. If I found one that interested me, I’d click on the listing and would be shown more relevant information about that dentist.
Once your business gets on a local business list, you can start gaining reviews and replying to such reviews. Want to get started? Here is what you must do:
Adding a new Google Business listing
- The first step to start creating your Google presence is to Google “google listing.” Find the link that says “Get your free Business listing on Google.” Click that link. It should take you here: https://www.google.com/business/
- The landing page of the Google listing page looks like this. Click on the large green “Start Now” button.
- If you already have a Google Account, you will have to be logged in to allow yourself to claim or register a business on a map.
- If you do not yet have a Google account (like Gmail), you will have to register for a new personal Google Account. Click on the “Create Account” link, prompting you to sign in to your account. You will then be taken to an easy to follow form that asks for basic information. This will create a Google Account, also allowing you to receive email. If you have to register the personal account at this time, you might have to come back to step 1 to get back into the business registration window.
- Once you are logged in, clicking “start now” on the Business Registration window will take you an empty map page, which prompts you to enter your business’s name, address, phone number, and category.
- Once you fill out the initial business information and click “Continue,” the next screen will prompt you to “verify” your new account – by receiving a physical postcard in the mail. You’d have to follow the given steps to request a verification, confirming the address to send a postcard to.
- The postcard should arrive within 1-2 weeks from time of request. It will contain a verification code and a website link. Once you receive it, you’ll have to type in the website address on the postcard and enter the verification code into Google’s console. This helps Google make sure that impersonators cannot claim a business that does not belong to them.
What if your business listing already exists on Google?
If your business has been around for some time, it might already have a listing. You can check by entering the name and city into the “Business Name” search form, and if it exists, it’ll display. If it does, then click continue. If not, then enter in all the correct details for your business.
Following the above steps to list your business on Google Maps will also create a “Google+” account for your company. Just think of a Google+ account as a “master” account that allows you to access all the functionality that Google gives to their users. This includes a Google+ social media page, email, a calendar, and the ability to edit your Google Place information, plus many other things. Google Place is the part of Google’s system where you can enter your business information like business hours, photos, description of your services and more.
After you receive your letter in the mail and verify your business, you’ll be able to view and edit your business listing and to respond to user reviews. You’ll be notified via email if a user writes a review, so you can respond. Be sure to respond whether it’s a positive or negative review!!!
Just doing this will allow you to start getting more interest from people looking for your type of business in your area. There are many other things you can do to promote your business online, the next two potential paths a business owner could do take are:
- Create a website. There are many options, but if you are looking to keep costs low, you should be able to create everything you need through services like: Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy, or SquareSpace.
- Setup Google Adwords. If you have a website, AdWords will allow you to pay for website visitors that are searching for words that you setup as related to your business.
- Setup Bing Places. To read about this, check out another article I wrote on setting up your business with Bing Places.
Creating a Google presence is vital for most small businesses and only takes a small amount of time to setup. You’ll get more business and will be able to see what people are saying about your business, something every business owner would love to know!
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