Marketing your small business can be a struggle. There are so many options for getting your message out there – but your resources are always limited and sometimes nonexistent. Even free marketing solutions require you to commit time and energy. Fortunately the Google My Business program is a marketing tool which is free, easy, and effective.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business profiles are a simple and easy way to promote your small business. Every business has its own profile consisting of a map location on Google Maps, reviews and photos of the business, a website (whether the business’ site or a free basic site provided by Google), contact information and business hours, and much more.
Why Use Google My Business?
Google My Business is an instant starter pack for getting the word out about what you do and where you do it. It’s also how you get your business on Google Maps. Most of us use Google Maps to look for restaurants, gas stations, or some other local business. What many business owners don’t realize is that any enterprise can create and claim a Google My Business listing on Google Maps, whether the business operates locally or is entirely virtual. You can get a free listing right now, and it won’t cost you a nickel or take more than a few minutes of your time. All you need is a Google My Business account.
How to Get Your Business on Google
- First, create a Google account for your business at https://www.google.com/business/
- Now, search for your business on Google Maps. You can either type your business name into a regular Google search and then click on the Maps tab, or you can go to Google.com/maps and search for your business there.
- If you haven’t yet added your business to Google’s listings, or if the busy Google gnomes haven’t added it themselves from some third-party information source, your business won’t appear on the map because Google doesn’t yet know you exist.
- If that’s the case, you’ll be given an option to create an entry from scratch for the business location in Google Maps. The link to click on will be titled “Add a place”, and it will appear in the left panel on the Maps results page.
- Google will ask for your physical location. If your business is purely virtual, create a listing based on where you work—the location of your home, perhaps. If your business has a storefront or office, use that address. When you create an entry, a business listing creation dialog will pop up like so:
- Simply fill in the information and click Submit.
- Google will then add your location to their listings, usually instantly. Although the addition is instant, your listing won’t appear on the map right away – it has to make its way onto the Google search servers first, which can take up to 24 hours. However, you’ll immediately get an email from Google informing you that the new listing is active, and giving you a link to click on to visit it. Click that link, and your business listing should pop right up.
How to Claim Your Business on Google
If your business appears in a Google Maps search, this means it is already listed. To gain control over your listing, however, you need to claim it. Here’s how to do that:
- Click the name of your business on the map, or click the link provided in the email from Google, and a side panel on the map should appear that looks something like this:
- (Note that Google changes the appearance and layout of their pages pretty regularly, so you may have to hunt around a bit, but “Claim this business” is the magic phrase you’re looking for.)
- Clicking on “Claim this business” will open a series of pages walking you through the steps of identifying and claiming the business as your own. You’ll have the chance to correct the name, address, and contact information for the listing, enter a URL for your company website, tell Google what kind of business it is, and confirm your ownership.
- If you are the one who created the listing, then confirming your ownership is as simple as clicking “Claim this business” – assuming you’re still logged in to your Google account, Google will recognize you as the creator and immediately validate you, giving you complete control over the business listing. Congratulations!
- If the listing was created by someone else, or (more likely) was added to Google’s database from a third-party tool like a business directory or a phone book, then you will have to prove to Google that you are the owner of the business. Fortunately, this is a very simple process. Depending on the information that Google already has on file concerning the business, you will be able to choose from at least one method of confirming that this is your business – but relax, none of the methods are onerous.
How to Get Verified by Google
If you need to confirm that you are the owner of your business, Google will send you a PIN verification code, which you can then enter online. The PIN code can be sent out via:
- Postcard to the physical address of the business
- Phone call or text to the phone number associated with the business
- Email to the email address listed for the business
- Instant verification process if the business listing has already been validated in Google Search Console.
Regardless of which option you choose, once you have the PIN you can verify your ownership and manage your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business on Mobile
Are you more of a mobile warrior than a desktop dynamo? Not to worry, Google still has you covered. The “Google My Business” app (available for Android and iPhone via the Google store) will let you create new business listings, verify your existing listing, and manage your My Business account all from your smartphone or tablet. Get Started! What are you waiting for? Your business isn’t going to list itself. It’s time to get started and get your business the attention it deserves!