When starting a business, the checklist of things-to-do seem to never end. But there are some steps that are so crucial they simply cannot be overlooked. While signing up for Google My Business is a quick and easy process, the dividends can pay off for small businesses. First and foremost, it helps boost visibility on platforms like Google Search and Google Maps.

First, what exactly is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free yet powerful tool provided by Google that allows businesses to create a free business profile. When potential customers search Google or Google Maps for a specific product or service, these profiles readily appear in the search engine or map location results. 
Additionally, the Google My Business profile displays essential information such as the business location, working hours, contact information, reviews, and more. This helps businesses connect with customers and grow their online presence.

Why does my business need it?

While Google My Business is free, be sure to leverage this tool effectively. Here’s a breakdown of how entrepreneurs can use Google My Business to spur growth:

  1. Engage with locals and potential customers online. Entrepreneurs can engage with locals by providing accurate business information, such as location, contact details, and operating hours. This information is crucial for customers looking for nearby services, so be sure to fill out your profile information thoroughly and accurately.
  2. Think of it as free marketing. It’s a cost-effective way to market your business online, especially for small-scale ventures with limited budgets. Entrepreneurs can showcase their products, services, and special offers without additional costs. This is also where SEO can come into play. Make sure your Google My Business profile is up to date with all the latest and relevant keywords related to your product or service. Inputting the right keywords will help your business rank better in search results.
  3. Shape your online reputation. Google My Business allows customers to leave reviews and ratings. Positive reviews can build trust and credibility, influencing potential customers’ decisions. When it comes to negative reviews, don’t fear. Instead, be prepared to answer each review in a constructive and customer service-centric way. Use this as a platform for connecting and conversing with your community.
  4. Become a data-driven entrepreneur. The platform provides insights into how customers are finding and interacting with the business listing. This data helps entrepreneurs understand their audience and make informed decisions on where to expand and where to cut back.
  5. Be mobile-friendly. The Google Maps feature is an incredible way to attract locals and tourists alike. With the increasing use of mobile devices, having a Google My Business listing makes it easy for customers to find and contact a business while on the go.
  6. Stay current. Entrepreneurs can update their Google My Business profile with announcements and events, keeping customers informed and engaged.
  7. Google My Business is just the start! Google My Business is a great way to establish yourself online, but it shouldn’t be the end-game.It’s important to strategically grow your company’s digital footprint with the right social media accounts, be it Instagram, Facebook and/or TikTok. More importantly, launch a dedicated small business website that shares more about your business, be it your founding story, in-depth product descriptions or a blog showcasing your brand’s unique value proposition. Google My Business is an introductory touchpoint for customers to find you, while your small business website is a way to continue the conversation, and hopefully a means to building a loyal following.

Great! How do I sign up for Google My Business?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up a verified profile on Google (note that these steps are accurate as of the publication of this article):

  1. Sign in to your Google Account, or create one. Remember it is always best to have a professional business email address that matches your domain name.
  2. Now you can create a profile simply by entering the name of your company If you get a message that someone else has already verified the business, request ownership of the Business Profile.
  3. Search for your business category and click Next. 
  4. Choose whether you have a location customers can visit.
    1. For businesses with a storefront staffed during business hours: Click Yes.
      1. You may be asked to enter your business address or position a marker on a map for the location of your businesses. When finished, click Next.
  5. For businesses that don’t have a storefront staffed during business hours: Click No.
  6. Enter the service area of your business. You can set your service area based on the cities, postal codes, or other areas that you serve. You can add up to 20 service areas. 
  7. Enter a phone number and website URL.
  8. Click Next.
  9. Click Finish.
  10. Last, select a verification option. Your business profile will only be visible on Google after you complete verification. Be sure to review and proofread all your information before you request verification to ensure your Google My Business information is accurate and up to date for all your potential customers to see.