What's the deal with Google my Business?
You’ve probably heard a bit about Google my Business through the grapevine – but do you know where it came from, what it does, and how it can be used to boost your company’s online presence?
Read on for some essential background info, along with handy pointers to help you make the most of one of Google’s best-loved products.
A brief history of Google my Business
Google my Business (sometimes shortened to GmB) has grown to become one of the biggest gamechangers for companies in recent years – but it took a while for it to evolve into its current form.
Google my Business started life way back in 2004 as Google Local, which was a pretty basic version of your average online business directory. One year later, Google launched Maps, an interactive tool with lots of cool features. Business owners could change and update their listings via Google Local Business Center to make sure all their information was present and correct in Maps.
After flitting backwards and forwards between different names and functions – including Google Place Pages and Hotpot (nope, me neither!) – Google eventually introduced Google+, a platform that was intended to compete with the likes of Facebook by providing users with a means of connecting and interacting with their fans.
However, it didn’t really take off as Google hoped. Eventually, Google+ was axed, and Google my Business was set up in 2014 to enable business owners to manage their business listing from a single place.
Marketing managers worldwide breathed a sigh of relief. FINALLY, they had been given a platform that did everything they wanted it to do, in a relatively simple format!
I say ‘relatively’, because when you log into today’s version of Google my Business for the first time, its can seem a bit overwhelming. But these days, you can’t afford not to advertise with Google – so it’s time to knuckle down and get to grips with the basics!
How to set up a Google my Business listing
To set up a listing with Google my Business, simply need to log in to your Gmail account, click through to the My Business app, and enter all your details, step by step.
Google will need to verify that your business actually exists. It will do this by either:
- Sending a verification postcard to your business address. The postcard should arrive within 5 days. You’ll need to use the unique code on the postcard to complete the verification process online.
- Verify your listing over the phone. This option isn’t available to all businesses – but if you’re eligible, all you’ll need to do is get Google to send a verification code straight to your mobile, then enter this code into Google my Business.
- Verify your listing via email. It’s simple – a verification code will land in your inbox, and you’ll be able to use this to finalise your listing.
Another top tip: make sure all your company information is correct. (Yes, I know it sounds obvious, but typos happen, people.) You can change your name, address and other contact details at a later date, but this involves re-verifying the account, which can take time.
Core features in Google my Business
Here’s a quick look at some of the most useful tools and features in Google my Business.
- The primary category
This helps Google to understand what you do (and, in a roundabout way, what kinds of keywords your business should rank for). You can add a series of secondary categories to your listing if you want to.
- Services and products
Let your customers know exactly what you offer by adding all your services and/or products to your Info section.
- Website link
Point users in the direction of your actual business website by adding the URL to your profile. You can track any referrals from GmB using tools like Google Analytics.
- Opening hours
This is a fantastic feature for brick-and-mortar businesses, but pretty much all companies will benefit from adding their opening times to their listing.
As with other social platforms, you can share media, updates, and links via Google my Business. These posts will appear next to your listing when you search for your company name.
Google my Business will gather all your images into a gallery, which you can organise into different categories. Customers can add their own photos to this collection, too!
Ask customers to leave their feedback via Google, and all their lovely comments will appear alongside your listing. (Gathering lots of Google Reviews is also a great way to boost your SEO.)
Hopefully, you’ll now have a better understanding of what’s on offer from Google my Business, and why it’s so central to your digital marketing presence. But there’s so much more to discover. The only way to learn is to do, so roll up your sleeves, set up your account, and start using this platform to get your business out to the masses!
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