You rush to a store before it closes, only to find that its opening hours on Google are out-of-date. Or you try to call a restaurant to place an order, but they have the wrong number listed on their Google business listing. Yup, it’s 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In fact, outdated information is the number one pet peeve consumers cite when asked about small business websites.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 and Google Maps as well?
Why should I claim my business on Google?
Many people don’t realize that updating your website isn’t enough—you have to claim and update your Google listing as well. By some estimates, only a small percentage of businesses have done this!
If you haven’t added your business to Google yet, or if you can’t remember the last time you looked at your Google profile, now’s the time to do it. Here’s why:
- It’s the best way to make sure your business shows up on Google Maps and Google. And it’s free!
- If you don’t check your profile regularly, other people can make changes and edits on your behalf, even if they’re not accurate.
- When you sign up for Google My Business, you get one streamlined business profile for all of Google’s platforms and access to some handy (and again, free) tools to optimize it.
- It makes it easy to create a website—for example, Jimdo Dolphin can pull your information right from Google My Business to set up a personalized website in just a few minutes.
- Having all of your information complete and up-to-date on Google helps your SEO.
- Most importantly, it makes life easier for your customers!
So adding your business to Google is 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 Google map, photos, reviews, contact information, and opening hours. How do you get that for your own business?
Google’s business listings have evolved over time, and fortunately, they’ve now integrated many of their services, including Google Maps, 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.
If you don’t claim your listing and update your information, Google will pull information from elsewhere to try to fill in the gaps, which means there might be outdated info, or even worse, someone else might claim your profile for you.
How to claim a business on Google
Go to Google My Business and click “Start Now” 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).
- 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.
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.
- 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. If you have trouble finding time, you can do it on-the-go with the Google My Business app.
You can learn more in Google’s guidelines for representing your business online.
More search engine optimization tips for your small business
Taking control of your Google business 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.