Many of the questions I get on a daily basis revolve around the infamous "Google My Business" platform. Everyone wants to know how to show up on the "little map thing" in Google Search, but no one really knows what it is or how to get there. Let me break it down for you.
Google My Business is essentially a free directory listing where Google allows you to post information about your business, pictures and social media updates, as well as receive reviews from other Google users. The benefits of this platform are tremendous and those include:
- In-depth insights into how many people viewed, clicked on, or called your business from this listing.
- Easy "click-to-call" capabilities for smart phones. Meaning if someone Googles you on their phone a button will appear where they can call you in one click.
- Integration with Google maps to easily show where you are located on a map when searching from a desktop, and one click access to directions when searching on a phone or tablet.
Businesses with a Google My Business account also get several benefits in search. These range from showing up, essentially immediately, on the first page in search (on the right hand side map search section), as well as the added SEO benefits of linking your website directly with a Google property.
Now here comes the confusing part. There are 2 ways you can sign up - as a "Brand" page or as a "Location". A lot of businesses lean towards the "Brand" option as they may service multiple locations or may not be location specific. Here's the problem with just doing a "Brand" page. You don't get all the added benefits that I listed above. You are only going to show up in that Google Search Map section if you sign up as a location and verify it.
So here's how you do it. Head on over to www.google.com/business and either sign in (if you have a gmail account already) or click "Sign Up" if you don't. From there you're going to click "Add a Single Location". From here you can follow the steps to either claim your business (if it's already listed) or add it from scratch. Keep following the steps to fill out all your information. Here's where you have to be patient. Google will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification code. Until you enter that verification code you won't be a "verified" account and can't reap the benefits of having a Google My Business profile.
Once it's verified, it's important to keep you profile up-to-date with the correct information. Check in about once per month and make any changes to your contact info, hours or description as needed. Google My Business is also integrated with the Google+ social media platform. They haven't officially announced that if you post to Google+ they're going to rank you higher in search. However, think about it this way - chances are Google is going to favor its own social media platform. It can't do anything but help you to post on it and show Google you're utilizing it. The other benefit is that it gives you another opportunity to create keyword rich posts and content as well as places to link back to your website. At the end of the day, spending just a few minutes a week keeping things updated, fresh and new is well worth it in the long run.