You have probably come across many tools that help you promote your business and advertise online. A lot of these tools require time, effort and knowledge to use it. Moreover, many of them charge you a fee either right away or after a trial period.
In this article I will show you a tool that helps you advertise your business online for free. It is called Google My Business. The best part about it is that it is super easy to set up and absolutely free. If you already use it, make sure it’s updated. If you’ve never heard of it, I will guide you through steps to help you get started.
What is Google My Business?
To help you understand what kind of a tool it is, let me ask you this: how often do you go on Google and try to find restaurants, doctor offices, yoga classes, gyms, banks, sushi delivery or anything else in the area you live in? If you are like me, I bet that happens quite often.
So when you search all these places on Google and the results for a place you’re looking for come out in a pretty frame and a mark on the map, it means that the business is registered with Google My Business. Here is what it may look like:
Option 1: when someone already knows your business and types in your business name, the information about your company will be shown like this:
As you can see, the customers will see your location, full address, your contact phone number, working hours, your website if you have one, as well as reviews about your business. How cool is that?
Option 2: if the customers do not know you and are only looking for places like yours, the results will come up like this:
and like this, if they click on the map:
What if I run my business online and don’t need a physical business address?
Well, you will get several opinions here and many people will say that registering your business with Google My Business may not be relevant to you. My personal recommendation is this: try and take a look at your business through your customers’ eyes. If they are having difficulty with your product or service, would it help them to have your working hours available as well as the phone number right as they look you up on Google? If the answer is “yes”, then you need to be on Google My Business. Although the physical address may not be relevant to your customers, they may appreciate having your contact phone number available, as well as your working hours, reviews and links to your website.
How many people do you think may potentially be finding this service useful? Well, here are the statistics from Google that shows average monthly searches for local places in Dallas, TX alone:
As you can see, in Dallas alone with its population of 1.3 million people at least 10 000 searches are done per month for “restaurants near me” and “gas stations near me”, and at least 1 000 searches per month for “gyms near me” and “stores near me”.
How about smaller towns?
Here is an example for average monthly searches in Charlottesville, VA which has a population just a little over 48 000 people:
So if you’re a local business with a physical location, registering your business with Google My Business can be a simple way to get more customers.
Here are the steps to help you get started:
STEP 1. GO TO GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Go to Google My Business page and click “Sign In” on the top right of the page.
STEP 2. CREATE YOUR GOOGLE ACCOUNT (OR SIGN IN IF YOU HAVE ONE)
If you already have a Gmail account, sign in and proceed to step 3. If you don’t have a Gmail account, click “Create account” and then click “Next”.
Enter your name, last name, choose the username you want to use as well as the password for this new account. After that add birth date, gender, your mobile phone number and current email address that you use more frequently. Choose your location and click on “Next step”.
Agree to Privacy and Terms by clicking on the button below:
Then click on “Continue to Google My Business”.
STEP 3. ADD YOUR BUSINESS NAME AND ADDRESS.
Fill out your business name, your business address, your business category. Also, choose whether you provide delivery or not. Once you put in your address, you’ll see that it will get marked on the map as well. Click “Continue”.
If you do delivery, then click “yes” and add area within which you deliver your goods or services or show within how many miles of your business you can operate. Click “I also serve customers at my business address” if you have a physical location such as a store or a cafe where you serve customers. If you do not have a physical place and you provide delivery only, leave that box unchecked. Click “Continue”.
The system will automatically search for similar businesses near you and will ask if any of them is yours. If they aren’t, click “None of these match. Keep the information I entered”.
STEP 4. CONFIRM THE INFORMATION YOU ENTERED AND REQUEST A CODE
Double check the name and the address you entered, then check the box to confirm that you accept Terms and Services. Click “Continue”.
It will take you to the next page where you need to click the blue button “Mail”.
Now put in your name and click “Send postcard”.
Within 1-2 weeks Google will send a postcard with a code that you will need in order to confirm your business. Until then your business will appear as unverified. As Google says, do not delay — the code is only good for 30 days.
You may wait for the code for 1 or 2 weeks and complete the company profile later or you may skip STEP 5 for now and proceed to STEP 6 to complete your company profile.
STEP 5. VERIFY YOUR BUSINESS WITH A CODE.
Once you receive your postcard from Google with the verification code, proceed to google.com/verifymybusiness and enter the code that you have on your postcard. Click “Submit”.
STEP 6. COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE ON GOOGLE MY BUSINESS.
When you open your profile on Google my Business, go to the “INFO” section as shown on the print screen below.
It will take you to a page where you can add the information about your company that will be visible on Google. You can edit your company name, phone number, add working hours, website link as well as some photos. To edit the information, click on the “edit” buttons as shown on the print screen below:
To add your working hours, click on the “Edit” button as shown above and put in your working hours. When done, clock “Apply”.
In order to add photos, go to the “PHOTOS” tab as shown below:
Then click on the camera on the top right of the page in order to add photos. Also, pay attention to the bar on the top. It allows you to segment your photos very well. If you want to add photos of the exterior, just click on “Exterior” and then on the camera button again in order to add photos of the exterior.
If you skipped STEP 5 in the process, please remember to verify your business once you receive the code from Google. Your updates will show up on Google only after you provide the verification code.