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Growing your business is all about the detail. And in a time and space governed by search results and customer service, detail couldn’t be more important. Why? Because your brand deserves to be visible online, and you have the tools available to make that happen.

The way consumers create brand associations starts from the moment they type your name into their search bar. From there, they make snap judgements on the validity, professionalism and standard of your company. Consumers expect information, and they expect it to be correct. You could give the best crossfades in the whole of South Africa, but if a pair of scissors snip and nobody was there to hear them, did they really snip?

Google My Business lets consumers know you exist by putting your business on the grid.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a tool launched by Google to help businesses around the world become more accessible to their customers. As Google does, their aim is to bring brands, businesses and companies closer to those who are seeking them out.

Not only is this an incredible convenience for consumers, but a game-changer for small and large businesses alike. When consumers are looking for a service or a brand, they hit the internet. They are likely to make their choice based on who they can contact the fastest, how much information they can gather from a glance and how reputable they gauge a brand to be.

GMB helps you plug in all the necessary information about your business to appear in a single search result. We’re here to talk you through how to get registered plus, the incredible features GMB has and how you can make sure you maximise on all of them.

Google Search Page

Is it Free to Register a Business on Google My Business?

Absolutely free. No cost involved. There aren’t any in-app purchases either that unlock booster features. Everybody is on the same playing field and what you see is what you get. That’s why it’s important that you take advantage of the information you can put out.

How Can I Get Started?

We like that getting started with GMB is straightforward – the way we think business should be.

The Google interface makes it really easy to get set up, but we’ll walk you through the bottom-line information that you need before you get your business profile verified.

Just a tip, make sure your business isn’t already verified using information already found on the internet. Google is designed to crowd-source information, often using the option for customers to pop in additional information about your company when they search. Search your business to see what information has already been put together.

If there isn’t anything there yet or you need to make updates, follow these steps to registering with GMB.

  1. First, you’ll enter the name of your business.
  2. Place the location of your business. This part is important as it is added to Google Maps. At the very least you need to supply your country or origin. If you offer a mobile service or delivery service and don’t use a set business address, you can skip this step out.
  3. Toggle the switch on for if you offer delivery services, turn it off if you do not.
  4. Now you need to categorise your business to help consumers find what they’re looking for. To define your business category, start typing until a designated category pops up. It needs to fall within the set list of categories offered by Google, so you may need to do additional research about which is best for your business.
  5. Punch in your business number and website address. These need to be correct so potential clients can get a hold of you.

Google My Business Info Page

Verifying Your Google My Business Profile

After you have offered all the relevant information, you need to get verified. Google will send a postcard to the supplied address with a verification code to make sure your business is legit. You’ll need to type that unique code onto the Google My Business website to start using the platform.

Maximising Your Business Profile

Your online strategy is vital for your business to be recognised and well-perceived by searchers. That’s why the initial information you plug in to start your account isn’t where it ends. It’s just the beginning. Fully utilise all of the GMB functions to boost your SEO, improve paid searches and reviews (all of which pave the way for informed conversions).

SEO and Search Relevance

For SEO and search accuracy, every detail must be correct. Your name, address and phone number are the three informative pillars that you cannot afford to get wrong. If any other website mentions your company, you want those details to match exactly what is written in your Google My Business info section. When matches happen, this boosts your search strength and pushes your business closer to the top of category searches.

Google also lets you add your open hours with an easy toggle interface and time selection. This will make a difference when a consumer is searching for a place to eat late on a Sunday evening, and you happen to be one of the few open restaurants in the area.

Maximise Your Media

Your job is to bridge the gap between your customer and your brand offering by showing them what to expect even when they’re looking through a screen 50km away. They want to be able to picture where they will be going and who they’re dealing with. With most audiences today being visual creatures, the fail-safe way to do this is through pictures and video – yes, video!

You can upload multiple images and videos of your brand onto your business profile. There are different categories: interior, exterior, at work, team members and brand identity.

These help you to paint a 360-degree picture of who your business is at its core, whilst showing off any creative content you have in your arsenal.

Customer Messaging

On your GMB dashboard, you will see a messaging tab; this is where you activate the messaging feature. Consumers are able to click a button and message you directly. Add in your mobile number or business WhatsApp number, and you can interact with your potential customer directly after they have looked you up. You can also set up brand-specific auto-response messages if you can’t respond to your customer immediately.

But check this out: Google cares a lot about customer experience. If you continuously take more than 24 hours to respond to a message, GMB has the right to revoke your messaging feature.

Accompanying Posts

You can create small posts that accompany your business profile and that are visible to anybody who searches for your business. This is a fantastic way to send out free brand messaging. You can choose categories: what's new, events, offerings and your products.

These posts are only active for 7 days so make sure you include updating it regularly on your social-media checklist.

2021 Features of Google My Business

2020 through to 2021 saw several changes to business operations, and it’s important that this information is made transparent for consumers. GMB makes it easier for you to communicate COVID-19 protocols as well as stay on top of relevant data and insights.

Health and Safety Attributes

You can tick off protocols you have in place to keep your employees and customers safe such as:

  • Appointment required
  • Mask required
  • Temperature check required
  • Temperature checks and masks required for staff

Pandemic Related Information for Restaurants

Let your customers know if you have any delivery or social distancing pick-up protocols, like:

  • Outside pick up
  • Delivery
  • Dine-in

Call History Feature

Customers can phone you directly through Google, and Google keeps a record of the calls made via a search. Track all calls made through GMB by having access to missed calls, answered calls and returned calls. This feature is only available on the app you can use to manage all of your GMB information.

Google My Business Insights Page

Google My Business Insights Data

What is a Google search engine tool with a really cool insight feature?

  • GMB lets you know how many people reached out to you after searching for your page.
  • How many times your data showed up on results.
  • Additional search reports that last for 6 months.
  • Data on Google Maps searches.

This is vital for keeping tabs on how your target market is responding to your online presence; are you on the right track, or are there some tweaks you need to make?

Gift Card and Donation Pages

You can now insert links to gift card purchases or donation pages. With so many businesses struggling to keep afloat in the aftermath of COVID-19, it can make a world of difference to reach a larger audience with your donation page.

On top of that, you make it easier for consumers who don’t want to come in-store to purchase gift cards for their loved ones. It’s all about going the extra mile towards convenient customer service, and these links help you get there.

The Final Word

Take the time to properly engage with Google My Business and watch how your brand becomes more accessible to the audiences you want to reach. To learn more about effective tools that grow your business, keep an eye on our iKhokha socials and blog – we're all about making business easier.