Live by the Google and you’ll die by the Google. John keeps bringing up this mantra time and time again, because there certainly is a lot of truth to the statement. If you come to rely on Google for the entirety of your web traffic and monetization, it only takes one swift smack from Google for your house of cards to come crumbling down. This isn’t to say that Google shouldn’t be a part of your bigger plans and this is particularly evident in the case of brick-and-mortar businesses.
If you have a traditional business with a physical location or even if you have a mobile business that serves a particular geographical area, it is in your best interest to stake your claim to your company in Google’s listings. This helps tremendously when potential customers are looking for you, providing critical information like how they can contact you and what your business hours are.
Here’s an example of a local chocolate shop and French bakery. The business listing is displayed to the right of the main search engine results and it outlines all sorts of important information, including customer reviews and ratings. How can you get your business to have the same kind of highlight? The process is actually not that difficult.
The first thing that you’ll want to do is get your Google+ profile set up. If you’re already using Gmail, YouTube or any number of other Google services, then you already have a Google account. Just head over to Google+ and enter the basics. This part is necessary, but not terribly important.
The next thing you’ll need to do is set up the Google+ page for your business. This is far more important and far more relevant to the current task at hand. From your Google+ profile, you have the option to set up a separate Google+ page for your business. Do that. You can swap between your personal profile and your business page by clicking on the circular avatar icon at the top-right of any page where you’re logged into Google.
It is through here that you can define whether your business is a storefront, a service area, or a brand. That last option is particularly relevant for online businesses like blogs and e-commerce stores. For physical locations, you’ll be asked to pin it to a map. Sometimes, your business may already be listed and you just have to claim it.
The next step is to visit Google My Business and claim your business. They say you’ll “show up across Google” and you’ll have the opportunity to “build lasting relationships” and “give customers the right info.”
And then there is the verification process. This is accomplished through “Your Dashboard.”
If your business is already listed in Google, then you may be able to do this over the phone. Click on Verify by phone and a code will be sent to your business number via automated message. If your business isn’t already listed, then you’ll need to request a verification postcard. Make sure the address is correct and the postcard will typically arrive in a week or two.
Even better, if you’ve already verified your business through Google Webmaster Tools, you may be eligible for instant verification. Just sign into Google My Business with the same account and you can verify it that way.
Once your business is verified, you can expect to see it properly listed across a variety of Google services, including Google Maps. Your goal now is to elicit those positive customer reviews to bolster your online reputation. Whether you’re an eatery, a mortgage broker, a lawyer or an e-commerce store, positive reviews go a long way.
And that’s it! You’re listed in Google. It may not be your primary source of traffic and customers, but you don’t want to leave any money on the table either.