How To: Set up Google My Business for Service Businesses
The number one thing you must do for your business TODAY is to set up a Google My Business (GMB) listing.
It’s free - you only need a gmail account and that’s free too
It’s Google - if you’re trying to rank on Google searches, it stands to reason that investing in their products is the way to go
GMB listings are often prioritised above other search results
It’s still not super common so get in before the competition
You can customise your profile around your branding
You can add updates and photos and reviews
It works for service-based freelancers as well as physical businesses
I’m going to come back to that last point again afterwards because it’s important for us freelancers.
How Google My Business has evolved to meet demand
GMB started 5 years ago this month and it’s been a big success. It’s still growing and evolving to meet the demands and trends of the market, which is great. (Maybe it can help everyone forget the unsuccessful waste of time, Google+).
GMB was set up to support local search engine optimisation (SEO). Its purpose is to give searchers targeted physical businesses in a particular area. So, for example, if you typed “vet” into a google search, the results would pinpoint all the vet services around your physical location.
And the top listings would be those savvy businesses who had a GMB listing.
GMB has continued to evolve over the last 5 years with a whole slew of features such as reviews, business descriptions and a “women-led” attribute (to support International Women’s Day 2018). You can also update photos, weekly posts, product catalogues and most recently (June 2019) create custom branding.
And can I say again, all this is FREE.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
So, do this today, seriously. Set up your GMB listing. Let’s get to it.
How to set up your GMB listing
Have your business images, logo and business description ready. And at least one blog post or news item that you can “share”.
Posts only last a week so it’s a good idea too have some content up your sleeve that you can push out for a few months ahead.
They don’t have to be full blog posts, just a few lines with a link, an image and away you go. And Google will send you a reminder the day before it expires so you don’t even have to remember.
Hop onto google.com/business and click Start Now.
If you already have a gmail account, they’ll want you to log in first. That’s fine.
Add your business name and then your location.
Now this is important - service-based business have 2 location options:
If you can receive clients at your location, fill out the address AND tick the box at the bottom, “I deliver goods and services to my customers”.
If you can’t receive clients or you don’t want to share your address, DON’T fill out your address but tick the box at the bottom and tick ‘Hide my address (it’s not a store)’
Choose your service area
This is where you can get specific - or not - about the physical areas you want to promote your business in.
If you live in a big city, you might want to offer your services to a specific area. Or if you don’t want to feel restricted, you can include a whole city.
Keep in mind, that GMB is still about local SEO, so clients in Perth are unlikely to find a Canberra copywriter like me in their search results.
In my case, I went for Canberra as a whole region.
Choose your business category
Now, here Google falls down a bit for freelancers. There’s still no category for copywriters - indeed, apparently it’s more likely that I’d be a coppersmith or a cosplay cafe (which I think has something to do with costumes), than a writer. Whatevs.
So, I had to settle for ‘Consultant’. There are additional categories but they are equally archaic when it comes to the freelance world. I did find ‘Web Designer’ but that’s about it. So, instead I added all my other services and skills to the Labels menu.
And people have found me through GMB, so this system does work.
Then put in your phone number and website, and you’re done!
The final step is verification. Now this is Google and they are BIG on security. As you’ll know if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to get locked out of your account (like me - huge pain in the bum).
But thankfully, the verification process has been speeded up since I signed up to GMB. Phone or email are the best and fastest options.
Postcard verification is supposed to take 5 days but I think mine took about 3 weeks. Halfway through my wait, I assumed it wasn’t coming and cancelled it but then just had to do it again and that took another 3 weeks. So, hold out, it will get to you, eventually.
And then you’re done! Welcome to the gang.
Remember to complete your listing fully and keep updating it. The best ways to do this are:
5 star client reviews - there’s a review link so simply ask your clients to write one. The more reviews, the higher you’ll list on the search page. This is SO important.
You can see that I’m sitting pretty in top spot for the ‘Canberra copywriter’ keyword (yay) and that is purely because I have Google reviews and the other listings don’t. But it’s something that I need to maintain and be on top of.
Other things to keep your listing front of mind and out there are:
Add a post with a photo every week
Write reviews for other businesses
Include professional photos of you and your business
Add a few services or products, including descriptions and costs (no images)
Google is rolling out new features all the time so now is really the time to get into it!
Tell me, do you already have a listing and is it working for you? If not, why not?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is a freelance SEO copywriter and web designer for businesses and organisations. Based in Canberra, she delivers smart, savvy SEO copywriting and professional Squarespace web design. She also writes an awesome newsletter on small business marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff".