Today’s digital landscape is reshaping how consumers discover, interact with, and connect to businesses online.
According to Google, 78% of consumers conduct local searches on their smartphones as a primary means of finding information about a business or service provider.
It’s not surprising that Google has over 200 million searches per day from users looking for local businesses (e.g., restaurants, spas, hotels). Whether you want to open a retail store or manage your business from home, getting your profile listed on Google for FREE can help customers find you. Adding your business to Google takes only minutes and allows you to control what information is accessible to the public.
Here I will cover everything you need to know about how to set up Google Business for your small business so that you are prepared for when someone searches for a business like yours online.
What is Google Business?
Google Business is a FREE online platform that connects small businesses with customers searching for products and services online. It is a premium and featured placement within Google Search, Google Maps that helps you get found, drive traffic, and increase sales. It’s a great way to showcase your business and connect with potential customers.
Register your business with Google
First, you’ll need to register your business with Google. If you don’t have a Google Business account yet, you can set one up in minutes by visiting the Google Business website and clicking “Manage Now.” You will need to login with a Gmail account (set one up for free if you don't have one.) Don't worry - this email address does not show up on your Business profile unless you choose to.
Then select "Add business" and you will be taken to this screen. Either search and claim your business or add your business.
You’ll be asked for a business name and category. Start typing and a dropdown list of category options will appear.
You will be asked if you want to add a business location. If you have a physical location that customers can visit, select Yes. Then add your business address. You may also be asked to position a marker for the location on a map.
If your business does not have a location customers can visit but offers in-person services or deliveries, you can list your service areas.
If you didn’t enter a physical address, Google will ask you to specify which region you’re based in. Choose from the drop-down menu.
The next step is to enter your business phone number and website address so customers can reach you.
Then there isn't much more you can do now until you get verified. This is an absolutely critical step. You cannot respond to customer reviews, edit your profile or work on your listing until it is verified.
Now add your services or skip this section if your business does not offer any.
Add your opening hours or hours of service.
You have the option of adding a chat function. If you turn on chat, customers can use the "Chat" button on your Business Profile and message you at any time.
You get notifications for the messages that show up in your Business Profile.
You can customize the automated welcome message that customers get when they message you.
You can share photos with your customers in the chat.
Do not turn this functionality on if you cannot commit to responding to all messages promptly. This is because Google states that "You must reply to your messages within 24 hours. It can promote trust and encourage engagement. If you don’t respond within the time frame, we deactivate chat for your business."
Spend the time to describe what makes your business great, what differentiates you from your competitors and how your products or services can fix a customer's pain points. Use keywords in the content for SEO, which makes it easier for you rank to higher in Google Search and for customers to find you.
Add photos - lots of them.
Google and your potential customers love to see your products and services in action. Most importantly add a cover photo. Your cover photo should showcase the personality of your business. It is your preferred photo to be shown on your listing in Search and Maps. Remember to add your logo and ensure your logo and cover image are consistent with your other digital channels.
Choose to advertise at this stage or skip it for now until you have learned more about advertising on Google.
Once you are verified....
IMPORTANT: Ensure all information in your Business Profile is complete
Because according to Google when you complete your profile:
Customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business reputable if they find a complete Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.
Customers are 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete Business Profile.
Keep your customers updated by sharing what's new or special offers or promotions you are running. Aim to inform, educate or entertain. Answer common questions, share announcements and news to your customers by posting updates to your Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.
Adding a video to your Google Business listing can help you stand out from other businesses in your industry and make a strong first impression. Google suggests using a video that is between 30 and 90 seconds long and answers three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Why do people need you? Better yet demonstrate your product or service.
Find creative ways to inform customers about your business and let them know you’re ready to serve. For example, you can share your core value or mission statement, describe the work you do, and let people know how you can help. If you have employees, encourage them to record their own videos about what it’s like to work for your company.
It doesn't have to be an expensive, elaborate production as long as it is genuine and authentic.
Google Business is all about engaging customers and building trust. As such, you’ll want to make your page as engaging as possible.
You can start by engaging with your customers by asking for and responding to reviews left on your business listing or answering questions from potential customers in the comments section of your business listing.
Learn more about getting and responding to reviews here.
Improve your appearance in Google Search
The first way to drive traffic to your website and ensure that people can find you on Google is to improve your appearance in Google search results.
Add more relevant keywords to your page - Make sure to include your main keywords in your page title, business description, and business name.
Add photos and videos - Include images and videos to help draw people in.
Update your information regularly - Make sure your information stays up to date so that you don’t drop in the rankings.
Optimise your website for mobile - Make sure your site is easily readable on a mobile device - that is what over 70% of your customers are using when coming from Google Business or Maps.
Boost your business
If you’ve tried everything and your business still isn’t showing up in the search results, you may want to consider investing in Google Ads. You will need specialist assistance with this with someone who has a Google Ads account - contact me if you would like to explore this option further.
The digital landscape is constantly changing, and businesses must adapt to stay competitive. One of the best ways to do this is by investing in your online presence and setting up a Google Business profile.
Now that you know what Google Business is and how to set it up, it’s time to get started. Let me know how I can help.