Have you ever rushed to get to a store before it closed, only to find that their opening hours on Google were out-of-date? Or called a restaurant to place an order, then realized that Google has the wrong phone number listed This, to say the least, is annoying.

In fact, outdated information is the number one pet peeve consumers cite when asked about small business websites. Which begs the question, do you have all of your business’s information correct, not just on your own website, but on Google’s business listings?

Many people don’t realize that keeping your website up-to-date isn’t enough—you have to claim and update your Google listing as well. By some estimates only about 15% of businesses have done this!

If you haven’t claimed your listing yet, or if you can’t remember the last time you looked at your Google profile, keep reading. Because if you keep you Google account in order, you can take advantage of a streamlined listing across all of Google’s platforms, an easy dashboard, and some added SEO juice from having all of your information complete and up-to-date. Plus, it’s all free! So it’s a win-win-win. All you need to do is get started.


Getting started with “Google My Business”

You’ve probably noticed that when you Google some businesses, a detailed box will pop up on the search results page showing a map, photos, reviews, contact information, and opening hours. How do you get that for your own business?

An example of a Google Business Listing showing up in search results.

With Google My Business, you can have the essential information about your business pop up right on the search results page, including a map, photos, and your opening hours.

Google’s business listings have evolved over time, and fortunately, they’ve now integrated many of their services into one interface, called Google My Business. This change makes it really easy to register your business and set up your listing, and means that if you simply update your profile, the information will automatically update across all of Google’s properties.

Go to Google My Business and click “Get on Google.” There you’ll be asked to search for your business and claim it. If your business isn’t listed, you’ll have the opportunity to add it.

If you don’t have a brick-and-mortar business that serves customers at your location, you can still register as a brand, organization, or artist.

Once you are verified and finish Google’s instructions, you will:

  • Have your full, up-to-date Google profile visible when customers search for you online.
  • Show up on Google Maps (once you show up here, you can also embed a Google Map directly on your website with the Google Maps element).
  • Be able to update your information at any time, like when your opening hours change (don’t forget to do this!)
  • Fill out your Google+ Profile with photos and reviews.

Note: If you tried to set up an account and your business isn’t listed, it may be that Google hasn’t indexed your website yet. You can check this directly in your Jimdo settings. In your Site Admin, go to Settings > SEO > Google Indexing. If you’ve just started your website, it may take a few weeks before you’re indexed.


Tips to optimize your Google My Business listing

Obviously claiming your profile and putting up your basic information is the most important thing. Beyond that, there’s a lot you can do to make this free service work even better for your business, and your SEO:

  • Fill out as many fields as you can and provide as much information as you can (including photos) so that your entire profile looks complete and legit.
  • When you fill out your business details, make sure this information exactly matches whatever is on your website. The idea is to bring consistency and clarity to your online presence, so you don’t want to have contradictory information out there.
  • Write a full description of your business, almost as a mini “About Page.” Be concise, but complete. You can talk briefly about your story and the services you provide, being sure to naturally use some of the keywords that best describe you.
  • Choose your categories wisely—and honestly. Google recommends using “as few categories as possible” to accurately describe what you do. Don’t try to fit yourself into categories that are a stretch. It won’t really help you in the long run.
  • Even if you’re not a big fan of Google+ as a social media platform, it doesn’t cost anything to set up a profile, and it only takes a few minutes to incorporate Google+ postings into your day-to-day social media efforts and into your Jimdo website directly. Plus, you’ll get to take advantage of the SEO bump that a full Google+ profile can bring.
  • Respond quickly to reviews. Even the negative ones.
  • Always always always keep your information up-to-date as seasonal hours change or as your products and services shift.

You can learn more in Google’s guidelines for representing your business online.

Note: Even though Google is the top dog of search engines, don’t forget to register your business with other search engines and sites like Bing and Yelp (Yahoo charges a monthly fee for this). You can start with Moz Local to see the status of your listings across the web.


Keep going with your search engine optimization

Taking control of your Google profile is an awesome first step. Once you’ve gone through this process, you can continue to learn more about optimizing your website for search engines. There is an entire discipline of SEO, but with just a few minutes and a few basics you can rapidly increase your standing with search engines. It’s well worth the effort.

Any other Google tips and tricks you would share here? Let us know in the comments.