So you’ve decided to start your own business. Great. You’re also aware that the thing called ‘the internet’ is going to play a pretty big role in your success or failure – and Google will play a large slice of that role.
— This is part of my Google SEO Guide series —
How do you harness the power of Google to help your business and maximise your chances of being found? Preferably ahead of all the other businesses like yours in and around Cambridge. What’s the right way to set-up a Google My Business listing?
Google My Business is the way to tell Google all about your business: who you are, where you are and what you do – so that it can help customers that are looking for that thing you do, in your location or area find you.
- Further reading: How to list your business on Bing Places
It’s easy to think of Google as ‘the man’ or this faceless machine bent on destroying your business and favouring ‘the big guys’. They’re not. They’re just run a search engine (OK the search engine – certainly for most markets) – and they want to help people find what they want, quickly and easily. If they stop doing what people want and expect they’ll stop using their service – same as for the rest of us.
So setting up your business on Google My Business (or GMB) is important. It’s also important to do it early, as it can take a while (a few days at least) to get yourself set-up and appearing in all the Google searches you want to.
How long does it take for your Google My Business listing to appear?
It takes 3-4 days (plus however long it takes for you to set it up) for a new Google My Business listing to appear.
- First you have to sign-up to Google My Business
- You’ll need to complete all your details (sounds obvious but you need a confirmed address)
- Then you need to apply for verification (Google suggests this takes 3-4 days)
- You’ll receive a card in the post with your verification number
- Verify your Google My Business listing with that number
- You’re up and running!
Step 0: Check you’re not already on there
Before you start with any of the below, check you’re not already on there. Go to Google Maps and search for your business; scroll around the map where you’re located and check there isn’t a pin on your office; go to Google+ and search on there too.
Far too many times I’ve seen (and still see) businesses with multiple Google My Business listings. This is SEO suicide and a recipe for search engine confusion. In most circumstances if Google cannot work out which page, website or item to show it won’t think “Oh well, I’ll show both.” far more likely it will go: “Not sure. I’ll show neither.” and you don’t want that.
Also, work out who is doing this. I’ve also seen dozens of examples of businesses with a GMB listing set-up – but then their details change (or they spot a mistake) and have no idea how to log-in and change the details, because it was set-up by a former employee or agency/contractor and they’ve lost/never had the log-in details.
You can claim back a GMB listing – but it takes a long time, a lot longer than doing it properly in the first place. Either do this yourself, or better yet use a centrally accessible account that colleagues you trust have access to – so if someone leaves (change the password!) you can still access it.
OK. Now we have that clear, let’s crack on.
Step 1: Get on Google My Business
First you need to head over to Google My Business. You’ll see a page that looks something like this:
Go ahead, I set that link up there to open in a new window so you can have that open and this page at the same time. Hit that big, green “START NOW” button and you’ll see something like this:
A key thing to note here is that you’ll need to log-in with a Google account (not the same a having Gmail) or set one up. So if you already have a Google account (for Google Analytics, YouTube or something else) that you want to associate with your business, you’ll need those log-in details too.
Hopefully this part should be pretty straightforward. You enter your company name, address and contact details here. Google will try to help so, as you enter your company name, it will try and match it to listings in its records.
If there are listings here for your firm this should ring alarm bells. Before you go any further go back to Step 0 and have a thorough check if there are already listings set-up for your business.
The key thing here is be consistent. If your address is:
you need that to appear in the same way, in the same order, in the same format every time. If you have your Google My Business (GMB) listing showing as “The Optimisey House” or even “Optimisey Rd.” that’s not the same and you risk confusing the search engines (and worse, your customers). If sometimes you show the village or suburb you live in (in this case, ‘Optimseyville’) and other times you just say ‘Cambridge’ – that’s also not the same. We’re talking consistent and identical.
If it helps, stick it on a post-it or piece of paper (or Slack or Trello or wherever everyone can see it) and ensure everyone always shows your postal address in the same way. On Yell.com, directory sites, everywhere.
Step 2: Pick your business category
Again, this may seem obvious if you’re a baker (as shown here) or a plumber etc. But there are lots of categories to choose from. Are you a “Marketing Agency” or a “Marketing Consultant”? A “Flooring Contractor” or a “Flooring Refinishing Service” or even “Floor Sanding and Polishing Service”?
If you’re all of these or fit multiple categories that’s OK – but what you pick here will be set as your ‘Primary Category’. You can change it later but choose carefully.
Customers and potential customers will see this on your listing so if they’re looking for a specialist Floor Sanding firm, they’re more likely to pick a company they see as specialising in that. Think about where the bulk of your business comes from (or where you’d like it to) and focus on that.
You can add secondary categories later (so could add in the other Flooring categories) but that primary category choice is important.
Careful not to skip the last part on this page: “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location.” with the options Yes or No.
If you don’t want your address listed on Google Maps you need to check “Yes”.
If you’re a plumber or the sort of business that goes to your customers you want to check “Yes” here too. In short, unless you want people coming to visit the location you’re listing (e.g. you’re a retailer or sell goods at your bricks and mortar location) you’re a “Yes”.
By picking “No” you will later be presented with the option to choose your ‘service area’ – the range and radius of places that you’re willing to visit, sell to or work for.
Step 3: Pick your location
If you’re familiar with Google Maps this part will be fairly simple. Again, Google tries to help, it’ll drop a pin in the map based on the address you provided. If it’s not quite right you can drag and drop the pin to the right place (as shown above).
If, like Optimisey, you check “No” to the question about delivering goods this is where you can set your delivery/service radius. You can either pick cities or regions (e.g. Cambridge or Cambridgeshire) or you can choose a distance from your base location (e.g. 50 miles from my office).
You can also check a box to add (and show) your business location too if you sell goods at your store and deliver.
Step 4: Double-check and verify details
Once you’ve done all that you’ll get a final ‘are you sure?’ screen, showing all the details you’re about to submit. You’ll also have to check a box to confirm that “I am authorised to manage this business and I agree to the Terms of Service”.
The address listed here is really important because the next step is Google will send a postcard to this address for you to verify your ownership of this business. The postcard has a verification code that’ll you’ll need to enter on GMB so if you’ve listed an address you don’t have access to (or perhaps don’t own yet) you won’t be able to verify your business and it won’t appear on Google.
There’s no clever workaround here either. If you list your home address to get the postcard and then go back to GMB to change the postal address to your new office – you’ll need to wait for a new postcard and verification code before this listing change will take effect.
Cambridge SEO MeetUp
Keen to learn more? If you’re based in and around Cambridge and want to learn more about SEO and how to get your business to the top of Google (and Bing!) come long to one of our free Optimisey Meet Ups:
How was it for you?
Got this sorted and hungry for more? Check out my free guide on how to list your business on Bing Places for your next addition to your ‘SEO to do list’.
Did you use this guide? What are your experiences of using Google My Business? I’d love to hear what you think of this guide or hear any questions. Feel free to reach out to me directly with questions or leave a comment here.