True story: My husband & I were set up on a blind date. It was, hands down, the most awkward day of both of our lives.
It was Thanksgiving 2009. He was in the Navy & had been “adopted” by my cousins for the four-day holiday (which is pretty common). On his ride to my aunt’s house, he was told, “By the way … there’s this girl we want you to meet.” He perked up. “And also, her parents and brother will be there.” Oh, that’s weird.
My cousins’ eyes were on the two of us all night. We barely talked, because we were being so closely monitored. Every time I left the room, the only seat left when I returned was next to him. When it was dinner time, our place cards were next to each other.
But even after all that … I gave him a chance. Why?
Partly because he’s really cute.
Partly because in one of our brief holiday interactions, he quoted Arrested Development.
And partly because I trusted my cousins.
Yeah, the execution of the set-up wasn’t perfect. But he did seem like a really nice guy, and they knew me well enough to know what I would like. And when we did finally go out on a private date? It went nine.hours.long. Because we just couldn’t stop talking.
So … what does this have to do with SEO and getting found on Google?
Because Google is like a matchmaker. It takes what you tell it you want and pairs it up with the information it already has.
You know the best way to be “matched” by Google? Build a profile page on Google My Business.
What is Google My Business?
Here’s the official explanation:
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.
Here’s my explanation:
Google My Business is like Tindr for your biz.
You tell Google who you are and who you want to attract, and when somebody searches for you or your services, Google is more likely to send them your way because you’ve been incredibly explicit about who you want to find you.
What are the benefits of Google My Business?
- Google listing sidebar: Every wondered how to get one of these sidebars next to your website in google? ALL of that info is pulled from my Google My Business page.
- Quick access to crucial information: Potential customers can learn about your business – contact details, business hours, website URL, products categories, etc — and even contact you without needing to click through to your website. My GMB sidebar even has a link to book a call with me!
- Consistent information: It provides the same content across all Google platforms — the same bio + contact info will show up on Google Search, Maps, Reviews, etc.
- Search insights: You’ll get important data about how many people are finding you and checking out your business info directly on Google
Google My Business is essential for local businesses
Just by setting up a Google My Business profile, you’re more likely to be found by people who are near you, both through regular Google search and through Google Maps. If you have a brick & mortar location, people can easily see your hours & get directions to your storefront or office.
By setting up your Google My Business listing, you’re improving your chances to be found online.
And now that people are doing more searching on their phones (thanks Siri!), Google is focusing more than ever on geographically-specific search results.
Imagine you’re looking for a coffee shop with great wifi (or a Mexican restaurant or nail salon or yoga studio …). You may have searched for “cafe near me” and seen 3 locations pop up right away. You know where Google gets those 3 top listings from? Those companies’ Google My Business pages show up first, even before the organic search results.
If those companies didn’t have a Google My Business listing, then they wouldn’t show up … but because they have a GMB page, they may have jumped ahead of really well-known competitors.
But I don’t run a local business! Can I still use Google My Business?
You don’t want people to show up on your front door. I get it – I run my business out of my home office too.
Google My Business is still a great way to increase brand awareness & drive new traffic to your website and increase.
But the Google My Business set-up process will make it easy to share your contact info without sharing your address .
There are two checkboxes when you’re setting up your profile:
- I deliver goods and services to my customers
- Hide my address (it’s not a store)
The cool thing about this is that you can choose where you want to target your audience. For example, if you’re an interior designer who lives in Brooklyn but you want to attract clients on the Upper West Side, you can specifically target people from the UWS zip codes who are looking for interior design services.
Or, if you’re online-only (like yours truly), you can still include all the information about your business, but set your service radius super wide. So in my case, my “local business” provides services for thousands of miles in every direction.
Ugh, this sounds time consuming. How long does it take?
Actually setting up your profile should take about 15 minutes. Then Google will send a postcard to your address with a verification code, and once you’ve confirmed that you actually receive mail there, your listing will go live.
(Yes, it’s a delay, but it’s important to make sure that people aren’t claiming business listings without actually having access.)
Any other pointers?
Make sure that your business name, address, phone number and email are all listed the same EVERYWHERE. So your contact information on your website and all social media profiles should match your Google My Business listing exactly. (For example, if you’re in St. Paul, MN, choose whether you want to abbreviate or spell out “Saint Paul” and write it the same way everywhere.)