If your business isn’t listed on Google, it may as well not exist at all.
With more than 63,000 searches per second, 3.8 million per day, 228 million per hour, and 5.6 billion per day, it’s no wonder that Google currently holds approximately 90 percent of the worldwide search engine market share.
As far as online search is concerned, Google is king, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. That means that, for any local business, being found on Google is an absolute must for success online and off.
These days, more and more people are finding local businesses online, and that’s true whether they’re looking for a barber shop, a jewelry store, or even a locksmith. And when someone searches for services or products you provide online, you want to ensure that your business shows up on top of the SERP (search engine results pages). Otherwise, what’s the point?
Signing up for Google My Business or claiming your Google My Business listing is the first step toward ensuring that people can and will find your business online.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Claiming Your Google My Business Listing
Step #1. Sign in.
You’ll need to either sign in to your existing Google account or sign up for one if you don’t already have one. If you’re creating a new account, be sure to choose a professional-sounding email address, preferably, one that includes your business name. The best option is to create an email address that ends in your domain name — for example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step #2. Search for your listing.
Chances are, your business already has a Google My Business listing that just needs to be claimed and optimized. To find out if your business already has a listing, simply search for your business name and city online.
Step #3. Manage the listing.
Step #4. Verify.
Google doesn’t allow just anyone to claim a business listing, and you’ll have to verify yours before you can manage it effectively. Google will require that you enter a PIN to verify that you’re the actual owner of the business. This can be done in a few ways, but the easiest is to call your business phone number with an automated recording. You can also have them send the PIN via text message or postcard, which is, of course, the slowest method, and if your postcard gets lost in the mail, you can always have them send you another one.
Get the most out of Google My Business by optimizing your listing.
Having a verified Google listing is the first step toward a strong online reputation and more visibility for your business, but you’re not done yet. Next, you’ll want to optimize your listing in order to get the most out of it.
Tips to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing Like a Pro
- Choose the right category – You’ll have to select a category for your business, which Google will use to determine what searches your listing will show up for. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t allow businesses to create their own categories, and you’ll have to choose from their list. Niche businesses should choose a general category that bests describes their goods or services, but all other businesses will want to select the most specific category that fits what they offer. For instance, a bagel shop will find a lot more success categorizing themselves as a bagel shop rather than a restaurant.
- Set up a listing for each location – If your business has multiple locations, it’s important to set up a different listing for each one. This way, your customers will always find the closest, best location for their needs.
- Use high-quality images – A Google listing isn’t complete without images, and it’s important to choose the right ones. According to Google, listings that featured photos and virtual tours generate twice the interest that other listings do. Make sure that you choose high-quality, high-resolution images that show your products or storefront in the best possible light.
- Make sure your information is accurate and consistent – Consumers can learn a lot about your business through your Google listing, and it’s important to ensure that the information they find there is accurate as well as consistent across all listings. It could actually affect your business’ Google rankings if you don’t. A part of Google’s algorithm looks at the consistency of business’ listings across different websites when verifying its legitimacy.
- Avoid getting your listing suspended – There are a number of offenses a small business could make that could end up with a suspended Google My Business listing, including having multiple listings for the same location, awkwardly and obviously over-stuffing keywords into the business name field, making false or misleading claims, utilizing explicit or offensive content, using a URL that redirects to the business’ website rather than the direct URL, and using an address that isn’t the actual storefront or office where you meet customers.
- Generate reviews! – When consumers are searching for businesses online, they need a way to differentiate the listings they find. The number one way they do that is by looking at a business’ reviews, which means that if you don’t have any — or if your average star rating is poor — chances are high that your listing won’t get clicked on. That means that you need to start letting your clients know where they can leave you reviews and to even start asking directly for reviews. Be sure to check out our previous blog to learn the dos and don’ts of asking for reviews.
Claim your Top Rated Local® listing!
Your Google My Business listing isn’t the only listing you should claim; in fact, you should claim and optimize all of your business’ listings, including your listing on Top Rated Local. Claiming your Top Rated Local listing comes with many perks you won’t find anywhere else, including real-time notifications when you get reviews, monthly updates on your overall online reputation and so much more. It’s also free, so you have nothing to lose!