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Google My Business A Guide For Small Business | Honda SEO
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Introduction to Google My Business

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get something of tremendous value to your business and it didn’t cost you a dime? Google my business? Are you asking me a question? (confusion) Of course you want people to Google your business. But that is not what I am talking about.  

This blog post may have tremendous value to you especially if at this early juncture you have no idea what I’m talking about. If you are not sure if you have a Google My Business listing, then you need this blog post for sure big time to compliment your SEO Toronto and internet marketing efforts.

Even if you do know what Google My Business is chances are you will find some value in this blog post as I attempt to give a thorough and complete big picture. For a modest quantity of readers, you may even wind up benefiting by an additional $10,000 to $20,000 or more of new business this year alone – potentially even far larger than that.

What Exactly Is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free business listing that you can get if you own a business. In some cases, it may prove even more beneficial than high rankings of your website. Free from Google? That’s right 100% free. You simply have to go through the motions of establishing a listing or claiming it for yourself if it already exists and trying to position yourself to be one of the select few that gets viewed. I say few in that generally only 3 businesses benefit greatly from the GMB listing.

When you do a Google search, it is generally understood that there are 10 search results per page. The top one is the best and gets you the most traffic. These are referred to as “organic” search results – natural results based on the competition of search engines. You cannot buy rankings from the search engine. You have to get SEO optimization done to your site to benefit the greatest from organic results. The more you optimize your site, the better off you will generally be. (hint hint)

Many times depending on the business, your geographic market and the competition, there may also be paid ads (PPC pay per click) above the organic results, perhaps to the upper right side, as well as below on the bottom of the page. While paid ads work, statistics show they do not generate as many clicks as organic results.

Should there be enough competition, you will also generally see three extra listings that have a map location and other benefits to them. They are sectioned off separately from organic results and PPC. And this extra listing is above, beyond and in addition to any organic search results you might get. These are “Google My Business” listings. The GMB listing is below the paid ads and above the organic search results. See image below.

google-my-business

Google My Business vs. Google Places

In the earlier days, this business listing was called Google Places. Somewhere in the past four or five years, 2014 or so, the name was changed to Google My Business. Ironically even though at the very bottom of the 3rd listing you will see a small reference that still says “more places” which will reveal several more hidden GMB listings. Again the Google My Business listing is free. You cannot buy it. You cannot buy a higher placement from Google.

Whether you benefit from a GMB listing is mostly, but not entirely out of your control. Several tips and hints throughout this blog post may give you some activities in which you can engage that may give you advantages at attempting to raise your GMB listing up to become visible and to the number one spot ideally.

At Honda SEO, I have had a lot of fun and success over the years trying to capture both the number one organic search result as well as the first Google My Business listing result which is the equivalent in baseball of hitting a walk off go ahead home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. This has resulted in definitive and copious additional new business for myself and my clients as well as crowding out more of our competition!

Because I am in the internet marketing indutry and have capitalized on and benefitted so much from GMB listings over many many years, I have had spells of time where I have had a primary 1 2 or 3 GMB lising and a #1 organic ranking for 80-95% of long stretches of time – like years and years! (World Series walk off go ahead grand slam) I have actually had this envious good fortune with such high frequency that I actually get purturbed when I don’t.

And for those ambitious business owners who have an adequate advertizing budget, the savvy the properly imvest it wisely in SEO and the good fortune to wind up with just the right agency or SEO specialist, you too can gain tremendous business from maximizing these importnant marketing avenues for yourself. To take it further and while it is much much more difficult, I have gained GMB listings and rankings in neighboring municipalities in addition to my primary one! Ever so rarely this occurs by accident without frequncy, but to do it by design is quite another feat.

Who Can Get A Google My Business Listing?

Anyone at all. If you own a business, you can get a GMB listing. The unfortunate part of this is most business owners have no idea what it is or that they have access to it. So they have simply been losing out on the opportunity to benefit from it for many many years.

If you have been in business for several years, you simply need to go through the motions of claiming and taking control of a listing for yourself. For your benefit, I am telling you; it pays and sometimes pays very large and lucratively to be informed and or to hire a top notch internet marketing expert! 

For many businesses, their websites are either their primary or sole source of new business. In the “sign” business, an old adage is; “A business with no sign is a sign of no business.” As internet marketing and online options are obviously the deal these days, the adage can now be modified to accurately reflect the digital world; “A website with no rankings or exposure is a sign of no business”. The saying is no longer cutesy nor rhymes, but wisodm is wisdom. It would be crazy not to get free exposure from Google if you can.

Benefits Of A Google My Business Listing

Just like any other internet marketing activity, the benefits are additional exposure. Similar to the benfits from my SEO Toronto work that I do. And especially as GMB listings appear above the organic search results, this exposure is without a doubt considered highly highly beneficial. They also give out your address in most cases, a link to your website, directions and a map indicator. Depending on how someone navigates through the listings, a larger geographic map opens up with flags marking more listings. And for obvious reasons, the higher up on the list you get ranked, the better off you will be. 

One of the greatest benefits of all is that unless you are seeking professional help there is no cost to the Google My Business listing at all. I can knock out an initial sign up in 10 minutes spread out over 2 time segments. Without this detailed blog post, it might take someone 30 minutes to a couple of hours to figure it out, research and read a lot of information – and then go through the motions figuring stuff out. You never can tell.

More than a decade ago, with my earlier listings, as things were more complicated than they are now, I had to suffer and stumble through information to figure out how the bloody thing worked or to change things. Honestly there have been a couple of times when the darn thing confounded me in some frustrating way that it consumed 2 hours. This might usually occur when you are revisiting this topic after not touching it for 3-4 years and you are trying to make some type of changes or adjustments.

I am wrapping this all up in one location, in one blog post in a highly comprehensive manner to make it super simple for you. My suggestion is to bookmark and keep this post for future reference or print it, as well as share it with family and fellow business owners and entrepreneurs that you know.

The downside is only a large lack of knowledge prior to ever learning what these listings are. And as is with the case of many things Google and other online activities, there is a large unknown awareness factor of how to capitalize on these features and benefits.

How Do You Get Your Own Google My Business Listing?

Before I cover the step-by-step details to get your own listing, here is a broad overview. You simply will go to a Google website, search for your business and when you determine that no one has claimed it, then you simply validate yourself being the owner and take control of it.

There are some checks and balances and identity factors that will have to be established, but all in all the process really is quite simple and easy. In the span of about 10-15 minutes or so that it will take to read this blog post, that is about all it will take to establish your Google My Business listing, though it will be broken up into two steps broken apart by 7 to 10 business days. 

Instructions To Set Up A Google My Business Account

  1. Go to the following link https://www.google.ca/business
  2. The first step will be to find your business. Click “start now” and go through the motions of the basic data entry; business name, address and the various things they will ask you for on the first screen. Then click continue.
  3. Their system will then check to see if someone has already claimed and owns the listing. The safe presumption is it will come back as a no, it has not been claimed. When Google’s system tells you then that no one owns the listing yet, as long as you are the true owner, you can claim it. 
  4. The next step then will be to go through the various data entry screens of setting up and establishing the GMB account for yourself. We all know that since it is Google, you will have to have a Google/Gmail account to start anything. Sign into your account when prompted. If you do not have a Gmail account, establish one for yourself here; https://accounts.google.com/SignUp. It too is a free, quick and simple thing. Question: “Can I do all of this using my own non Gmail email account?” I am certain that the answer is no. Sorry.
  5. It is all very straight forward in terms of the screens and what you are required to do. Enter the basics. It can be edited at anytime later.
  6. You can display your address, phone number, website, business hours, photos of your business, YouTube videos, posts, etc.
  7. (2 KEYPOINTS) Generally speaking, the better you display your business and make it easier and better for the general public to do and want to do business with you, the better off you will be at gaining a GMB listing ranking that shows up. And like SEO, the more you do and the more frequently you do it, the better off you will be!
  8. The one thing that is of particular importance is selecting your business category(s). (Tip) Before you start tinkering with the categories list, take a step back and try this; go through the list without selecting anything and write down categories that apply to you. You can select up to 5! Figure out everything that legitimately applies to you. Prioritize them. And when you are confident nothing else applies to your business, then literally go in and select them in the prioritized order of your choosing. While it might be argued elsewhere, I believe this might be of benefit to you maximizing this listing for yourself.
  9. (KEYPOINT) For verification and proper authorization purposes, you will be sent a postcard within 2 weeks. This is a very important piece of mail. It will contain an 6-digit verification code that you simply enter into an account screen. If I remember correctly, it will either give you a link. Or if I’m wrong, you simply go back to the link https://www.google.ca/business. And it will remember who you are based on your Gmail account. Etc etc.
  10. Simply enter the verification code and bingo your Google My Business account will be set up, yours and yours only and ready to go.
  11. There is not anything you necessarily need to do to maintain the GMB listing. It just stays there in cyberspace. It gets highlighted and displayed or not depending on your website’s SEO and organic rankings. You might only need to go back in if you change or add addresses or modify your business activities in some way.
  12. As with website administration and hosting accounts, this is important, high security stuff. So the suggestion is to keep important records for yourself; sites, logins, passwords, basic instructions. Print things off and file them. Perhaps keep this blog post long term.
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Miscellaneous Comments

  1. Should you decide to do some research, search either Google My Business or Google Places. Same thing, one is just the older name.
  2. Links to go straight to Google;            
    Google My Business
    How It Works
    Resources and FAQ
  3. If your website is already in one of the top 3-5 in organic results, you have a good chance to be a GMB listing. I would give your odds 50-50 or better.
  4. The better off you are on your website being SEO’d properly and ranking organically, you improve your chances.
  5. The more good reviews you get, you help your chances.
  6. Again the greatest benefit is that the Google My Business listing entries are in addition to your organic result.
  7. If you want to check on your own rankings with any kind of regularity, if things go really well, you will wind up being one of those three GMB listings all of the time.
  8. There is a tendency for Google to rotate one, two or maybe even sometimes all three of those listings. So don’t be surprised if you’re there one week and the next week you are not.
  9. But again if your website is highly SEO’d (hint hint), you could wind up locking in and being a GMB listing continuously. That’s the goal. I have had projects where the client got locked in and was benefitting from these GMB listings 90-100% of the time for years and years on end. They bring in a lot of business. Big factors are the amount of and quality of your online competition for sure!
  10. You will sometimes even see some local business that either does not even have a website or their organic results are poor and only land on the 2nd or the 3rd page, and they will wind up in a Google My Business listing for brief periods of time. Google does like the spread things around to some degree.
  11. But it does vary quite a bit on whether a company consistently gets and stays there or whether there’s a lot of variation to it. The age of your url may be an advantage here, as well as your newness of your GMB listing may possibly not work in your favor. The older your url or domain is, the better your chances are. Google likes solid companies with great content and well optimized websites. SEO SEO SEO !!!
  12. You may know as well as anyone in the business that there is a lot of guess work with things coming from the Big G/Google.
  13. I’ve definitely noticed over time that stronger organic results of your website definitely have a tendency to influence a presence of a Google My Business listing.
  14. The only other definitive factor is the quantity of reviews that a business generates. Generally speaking the more reviews, the better things are for the business. That being said, keep this in mind and make a mental note of clients past and present that you feel might be kind enough to take 5-10 minutes to write a highly positive review for you. If you don’t think they will give you 4 or 5 stars out of 5, then don’t pursue the matter.

Conclusion

There is a lot of business to be generated via a Google My Business listing. So go through the motions to establish your account and wait for your postcard. It is too bad things with Google are so misunderstood and secretive.

I am hoping this one freebee tidbit of the online marketing world bears significant fruit for you. While an SEO like me cannot educate you on everything in internet marketing in that most things get 5 to 20 times more technical, the benefits of getting top notch SEO work done to your website bears quite extraordinary benefits. So I leave you with my motto; Rank #1 and Have Fun!

If you have any wild success stories of your GMB listing or any questions or comments, leave them in the comments below. We’ll try and get you answers.

 

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