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Official Guide to Building an Online Presence for Your Local Business

7 Chapters

While a great website is one way to catch the attention of searchers, Google My Business listings provide another venue for local businesses to reach potential customers.
Setting up a Google My Business account and being listed on Google Local is critical for any local store, professional, or other business. In this chapter, we help you get started and answer questions like:

  • How do I set up a Google My Business account?
  • What images should I post on my Google listing?
  • How to categories work?
  • What’s the deal with Google reviews?

Step 1: Sign into your Google account.
Like many of the other accounts we have set up in this guidebook, Google My Business is designed to be easy to use. You can start the step-by-step process by visiting business.google.com. If you already have a Gmail account, click “Sign In”; if not, click “Start Now.”

Step 2: Enter your Business Information
You will then be shown this form to fill out with information about your business.

Step 3: Verify your business.
Google uses good ol’ fashioned mail to make sure the business address you entered is real. Once you receive the verification package, simply follow the instructions to enter the code and verify your account.

Step 4: Optimize your Google My Business listing.
Here comes the fun part! When you first create a listing on Google My Business, you will be presented with a prompt to “Take a Tour” of the dashboard. It’s a good idea to do this before diving in so you can find everything you need in the future. Then, you can get to work on adding images and fine-tuning information to help people find your business.

How to pick the right category for your business
It’s important to list your business under the right category. This lets Google know exactly when your business should be presented to a searcher.

If your business falls under multiple categories (for example, if your business could be described as “marketing consultant,” “writing service,” and “internet marketing service”), make sure this is communicated to Google. While you can only pick one category during setup, you can add other categories using the Dashboard later on.
What images should I post on my listing?
Images on Google business listings should both promote your business and let people know what to expect. For example, a restaurant may include images of its logo, dining room, a couple of key meals, and its menu. You typically do not want to use stock images here.

Visitors will also be able to upload and tag your business in images. They can upload images at any time through their mobile phone, or may attach it to a Google review. If you see someone taking a photo of their experience at your business, it could be a good opportunity to ask them to review you online.
Reviews on Google My Business
One of the most visible elements of your Google listing is the reviews. Your overall “star rating” will often show up alongside your competitors’ in search results, and many searchers will choose a business based on reviews.

It’s a good idea to respond to reviewers and ask happy customers to leave you a positive note on Google. This will increase your popularity with searchers and improve the SEO of your listing.

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