When you’re starting a business or keeping a small business afloat, if you haven’t got an endless list of things to do then you’re either a genius (well done, you!) or you’re not taking your business seriously. And if you are anything like me, there are things on your list that should reach the top and just get done, but somehow always languish in the murky depths of your to-do list.
If there is just one thing you should do for your business today – or at the very least, this week – then please get your business a Google My Business account. (It’s free).
If you’ve done that already, your marketing efforts are off to a positive start (but all the same, do yourself a favour - log in to your account, check all your information is still current and update it with fresh content if you can).
But if you don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, then please read on.
So what’s Google My Business and why do you need it?
You will have seen info boxes like this when you’ve done Google searches.
This is what Google calls a Knowledge Panel. If you have a Google My Business account, you can increase your chances of getting one of these appearing on people’s screens when they do Google searches.
What this means for your business is that it is you are eliminating any obstacles to potential customers finding and contacting you.
If you have ever given up trying to find a business online and taken your money elsewhere, then you’ll know how powerful it is that with just one click, or tap on a mobile, you can get directions, call them, view the website or see opening hours.
It’s a great way to open up potential business opportunities so it’s well worth setting it up. So put aside 30 minutes in your diary and come back to this post to do this one thing that could help boost your business today.
Preparation: 10 minutes
(Possibly more if you need to track down photos or decide what it is your business does exactly!)
This is what the listings look like when you are setting it up (thanks to my friends at Adoro for letting me use their page as an example). You’ll need to have an idea of how you want your page to look so have a think about that when you are gathering your material together.
The round image is your Profile picture, and the larger image is the Cover image. (And in case you were wondering, the background image on the left in the desktop view is a blurred version of your Cover image.)
Before you get started creating your Google My Business account, you’ll need to have the following things to hand:
(I’d suggest you create a folder with all these files, so everything you need is in one easy-to-find place.)
- Your logo if you have one. This should be a .jpg or .png file. (If you only have a PDF version of your logo you will need to get a jpeg from your logo designer. If you don’t have a logo, you should get one, and pronto.)
- The image/s you will be using for your Profile picture and your Cover picture. (If you are using your logo as the Profile picture, you’ll just need the Cover picture.) Note: you don’t need to supply a round image for your Profile, Google will crop your supplied image into a circle (and you get to adjust it so it looks its best).
- If you have images you can use for the exterior view of your business, the interior, any product shots or photos of you “at work” then put those in your folder too. Google recommends up to three photos per category. Just make sure the photos you select represent your business well – don’t choose images that are out of focus or dated or worse!
- If you have a tagline for your business have that ready.
- Pull together a few sentences that summarise your business and what you do for your clients.
Finally, check your image sizing.
Profile Pictures should be a minimum of 250px by 250px.
Cover pictures should be a minimum of 480px by 270px.
Other photos should be a minimum of 720px by 720px.
(If you’re not sure what size your images are, you can try right-clicking and selecting Properties or use an online image resizing tool like picresize.com).
Creating your Google My Business Account : 15 minutes
This is how it’s done:
Sign up for your account here by clicking the blue ‘Get on Google’ button.
If you already have a Google Account for your business, then you’ll just need to sign in at the top right.
If you don't already have a Google Account for your business, then click on Create account to get one.
Next, you’ll be asked to find your business. Type in your business name, but don’t worry if it doesn’t come up as an option, just hit enter anyway.
Select Add your business and then you’ll see a screen like this.
Fill in all the information and don’t forget to scroll down. When it comes to Category, choose all the categories that best suits your business.
If you are an online business, a mobile business, or work from home, be sure to select I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location. This will bring up some additional fields to complete. This is where you can choose what area your business covers - whether just your local area, or further afield.
Select that you are authorised to manage this business, check out the Terms of Service and click Continue.
Well done, you are on your way to making your business more visible online!
I'd suggest you click Get Started, so you can be walked through the process - it doesn't take too long. But if you are keen to get going yourself, click Skip tour and so ahead and start editing.
Use the files that you set aside at the start to build your profile. When you think you are all done, you're not! Take a break and go back to it and read it like a prospective customer would. Even better, get somebody who won't be scared to tell you straight to give you some feedback on it. You want to represent your business as well as you possibly can.
(And a little word of warning: don't be like me. I tried out quite a few images to see what looked best, without realising that Google keeps all the images you upload under your Photos tab. So anyone viewing my photos will have seen just enough duplicate or oh-so-slightly different photos to make it look like I had no idea what I was doing! So, if you want to delete an image or twelve, just head over to your Photos tab, click on a photo you want to get rid of, find the trash icon at the top right and delete away.)
Verification: 2 minutes
Once you’ve fully completed and saved your business profile, Google will send you a verification code via snail mail at the physical address you supplied. It can take up to two weeks for this to arrive, and once it does, log back in to your account and enter the verification code.
Reviewing account: 3 minutes +
Finally, put in your diary to log in to your account every 1-2 months at the very least. You’ll want to keep an eye on any reviews being published. It can also be interesting to see what’s happening with your profile and how many people are checking it out – you might be surprised!
So that's it. It'll take you a little time but think of it as an investment that will pay off in the long run. The end result is that you are in control of all your own information.
I hope you have found this useful. If you have, don't keep it to yourself - please share it with anyone else who you think might benefit from it.