In 2006 the Oxford English dictionary recognized Google as a verb amidst its pages.  More than a word, Google has become a way of life. It’s no wonder then, that utilizing this search engine can be incredibly beneficial to business.  Consumers rely heavily on Google, particularly when looking for local goods and services which is why it is extremely important for small businesses to have a Google My Business Profile.

First off, what is Google My Business?  Formerly known as Google Places, Google My Business is a tool that allows business owners to create a listing that displays their location, contact details and other relevant information.  Business should put much care into verifying these listings as the details and contact information are part of what is visible on a Google search result. A Google My Business listing appears in three spots, on the Google sidebar, under Local Results and on Google Maps which is why having all the key information populated is crucial.  In addition to this, there are three primary benefits to having a Google My Business profile and they are as follows:

1. Free Visibility

It costs nothing to create a Google My Business profile yet having this profile in invaluable to your business. Making use of this free listing, gives your company visibility. Users can access your hours of operation, phone number, website and even directions when conducting a search.   The profile also allows potential customers to see your busiest operating hours and leave reviews.  This is particularly helpful for new businesses with little marketing dollars.

2. Analytics

The insights that are available with a Google My Business profile allow businesses to obtain details on customers are interacting with your listing.  Analytics will show how users found your business and where they are coming from.  By monitoring these insights businesses can tailor their listings and even their marketing efforts to their audience.

3. Connecting with Customers

Along with the business listing, Google also offers an option for users to rate and review your business.  This is a great tool for customer engagement that can help grow and build loyalty. The rating system enables you to start a conversation with your online customers by responding to their reviews.

Now that you’ve read the benefits, setting up a listing with Google My Business is the next step, and an easy one at that.  Begin by visiting Google My Business and logging in with the Google account associated to your business. Once you have signed in you will be asked to enter your company name and verify your authorization to manage the business.  Once you have claimed your listing, ensure that all your business information is correct along with your service category.  When it comes to the category be very specific so that will appear in search results. For example, if you are a restaurant, don’t leave the listing as generic, specify the type.  After you’ve verified all your information upload a few images and ensure they are quality images that will draw people in.  Your images are your first impression with users.

Once you’ve set up your listing, keep going back to it to ensure that it remains current and relevant.  Be sure to include your Google My Business profile whenever you are updating your online presence (website, social media etc.).  Lastly, be sure to review and respond to customer reviews.

Of course, you could always Google for help.