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How to Claim or Create Your "Google My Business" Listing

Google My Business is a dead useful, free web presence that will help Google find your website.

Mobile devices with GPS, like smartphones and tablets, even many desk-top users, announce their whereabouts when they search. Google has a directory of businesses that drives search results.

You need to be in that directory - claim or create your Google My Business page.

More good reasons on this page, below on mobile, to the right on desktop.

How to Claim

Not sure if your business is already on Google? Read how to check here.

Google makes it very easy to claim your My Business page.

To start you'll need a Google account. If you use Gmail, YouTube, or any other Google products, you'll have an account already.

TIP: Remember that Google tries to give Internet users the best information it can. Describe your business accurately; be complete and truthful and don't go overboard.

One more thing: Google keeps improving, so these steps may have changed by the time you read them. However, the principles will be the same.

Follow These Steps to Get Your Business on Google

Click on the lines below to expand them, click again to collapse.

A Google account gives you a Google email address and access to Google services. It also allows you to create and edit your My Business web page.

If you don't already have one, sign up here.

They will ask you for this information:

  • Your first and last names.
  • A "username". Google encourages you to use a Gmail address, but if you already have another email address, click "I prefer to use my current address" and enter it later.
    enter your email address as a username
    If you want a Gmail address, then fill in your name, or other memorable word(s) and Google will suggest a suitable address for you.
  • A password. Security is important, so make it 8-10 characters long, and include a number and a special character, like # or !. Remember it, but don't worry too much. You can still get into your account even if you forget it.
  • They'll want to know whether you're male or female, and your date of birth.
  • Mobile phone number. They use this to make sure nobody else can update your business data - they'll text you a code to type in.

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You need this data before you start:

  • Full business name, address and postcode. It's important to get this information correct: if you ever use this data again on the Internet, make sure it's exactly the same. If Google spots inconsistency, it may push your page down the search results.
    Make sure the address you tell them is the same as that published on your website, if you have one.
  • A "proper" email address is best, one that matches your website's domain name, as it looks more professional, but a personal one like Gmail or Hotmail will do.
  • Telephone number: Google prefers a land line with your local exchange's STD code, not a national code (like 0845). If you work at clients' premises, the a mobile number is OK. If you don't have a land line, you can get a proper geographical number for about £5 a month, plus calls, from someone like Tamar, but try to get an STD code close to your premises.
  • An objective description of your business: up to 200 characters, including spaces and commas, etc.. Describe what you do, not how good you are at it. Don't make it too "salesy". Try and include some of your keywords or phrases - see step 4, below.
  • Two images for your "cover" and "profile" photos. Take a look at our page, here.
    • Our profile photo is the small circular one; we've used our logo but you can use anything - big photos are fine, as Google will make it fit.
    • For our cover photo we've used a composite image of a Portishead scene but you should use a business-related photo if you can. Choose one that's 1080x608 pixels, ideally.
    • Full details of picture sizes on Google's own help page, here.
    The rest is optional. The more you have the better, and the higher Google will list you in search results (probably :-):
  • Opening hours.
  • Up to ten business pictures in total, of your work, products, or anything that helps describe what you do.
  • Up to five videos describing your work; you'll need to put these on YouTube.

Don't worry if you only have one or two pictures and no videos. Get started and add more later.

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Google lists businesses in three self-explanatory categories. You'll need to choose one of:

  • Shop Front: If you have a "bricks and mortar" business, like a shop, veterinary practice or insurance broker, and people come to you, choose "Shop front".
  • Service Area: If you provide your service at customers' own locations, like a taxi, a plumber, or a self-employed tradesman, choose "Service Area".
  • Brand: "Brand" is reserved for marques, such as a rock band, painter, charity and - well - a brand, like Pepsi.

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What would your customers type into Google to find someone like you? E.g.
    stonemason;
    stone wall builder.

The word "stonemason" is a keyword, and "stone wall builder" is a key phrase.

Use your keywords and key phrases in your business description and your business categories (see next section). They are important because Google uses them to rank your business. You'll appear in search results if your description and categories match what somebody has typed in a search query. The closer they match, the higher up the search results your page will appear.

TIP: Ask your customers what they would type to find your business on Google. You might be quite surprised.

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Google will list your business in several categories. You can choose up to ten (at the time I wrote this page) from Google's list.

TIP: Be sure to choose categories that describe what your business does. It can be difficult to decide, but have a go. You can always change them later.

Your business will appear on Google Maps when somebody searches for these categories. It's important to get them right, but don't worry if you can't use all of them.

If someone does a local search, your page may be listed in normal search results, too.
E.g. if someone searches for, stonemason in bristol, or solicitor in weston-super-mare.

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Google may already have found your business. It won't wait for you to create your listing if it finds information elsewhere. When we submit your website to search engines, Google will know about it.

  1. Go to Google Maps
  2. Search for your business using its full name and town
  3. On a full size computer, look down the left and click Claim this business
    On a mobile, click MORE INFO at the bottom, scroll down, again Claim this business

Example of an organisation in Portishead that hasn't claimed its Google My Business listing

Then, follow the prompts.

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Go to Google's My Business page. That may have changed since I wrote this, so if it doesn't work, use Google to search for how to set up a Google business page.

Google will encourage you to get your business found on Google My Business. Look for START NOW, currently top right, and follow the prompts.

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They need to be sure you are who you say you are, so they may want to post a special code to the address you've used. You need to type in the code to complete the process. The card they send contains instructions on how to go about it.

You won't be able to update your My Business page until this process is complete.

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Ask your customers to write some reviews. Google may reward businesses with reviews by listing them higher in search results.

TIPS:

  1. Don't cheat. Don't write them yourself! And don't offer incentives to others to write them. If Google finds out, your free listing will disappear from the Internet. There is an appeals process but takes ages and cannot be guaranteed.
  2. Be sure to reply and thank people who leave reviews.
  3. Occasionally, a client may leave a bad review. This does no harm if you reply in a constructive way. Readers will understand and not be deterred if they can see you replied and sorted out the situation.
  4. If competitors leave bad reviews, reply promptly. This isn't very likely. Hopefully, it won't happen. If it happens a lot, you may need to use Google's appeal process.

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After a short time, Google may offer you a memorable name for your My Business page, to replace the long ID number. This makes links shorter, making it easier to include them in Tweets, for example.

Be aware that this may happen and select one promptly from those offered.

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Don't forget to check if it's working. Always ask new customers:

  • How did they find you?
  • If they found your Google My Business page, what did they type in their query?
  • If not, what would they type to find you?

Google also helps by provided analytical data that you can explore on your My Business management page. There's too much to explain here, but it's all fairly easy to understand.

If, after a couple of weeks, you're not getting results, add more pictures and videos. Reconsider your categories and description.

Keep a record of what you did before and make sure things keep improving.

Check you appear in search results regularly.

TIP: log out of your Google account before checking. Google shows you what it thinks you want to see. If you're logged in, it will put your business high in the results. This is not what somebody else would see.

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Near the bottom of your My Business management page you'll find the G+ Share logo.

This is like an optional blog, where you can post things about your business. No need use it if you don't want to, nor to go overboard. But telling the world about your successes helps Google to feel that your business is active. It may help your website rank better with search engines (a little).

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Apple devices account for nearly 40% of the UK mobile market, and about 60% of local searches are done on mobiles. So if your businesses isn't on Apple Maps as well, you're missing out.

Here's how, and why, to claim your business listing on Apple Maps.

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Microsoft's Bing, and Yahoo, use the same database. Between then they have about 14% of the market. Quite a few new computers ship with Microsoft defaults software and there are people don't bother, or don't understand how, to change them.

Having dealt with both Google and Apple now, you'll be able to handle Microsoft Maps without any help. For Bing Places for Business, start here.

SHould you want some help, please get in touch.

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map showing Portishead Lighthouse, near our business.

Why bother With Google My Business?

  • It's free advertising
  • People search Google before newspapers or business directories these days
  • Google will find it anyway, and other people may add photos and comments you might not like
  • If you don't, and you later change your name, address or phone number, it'll be hard to get the old data off the Internet
  • It may generate enough enquiries for you to reduce your traditional advertising budget

Go back to How to Claim.

Too busy?

It's not difficult, so why not do it yourself?

We'll do it for you if you really want, including cropping and re-sizing your cover and profile images, for £95.

Call us on 0117 339 0095.

We Make Websites Too

A website is essential to add credibility to your Google My Business page.

We help small businesses and start-ups get all their Internet marketing right, especially those around Bristol, Gloucester and North Somerset:

 

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