If you run a local business, then it’s a good idea to have and maintain a presence on Google using Google My Business. By creating a local page on Google My Business, you can ensure that your business information will show up on Google Search, Google Earth, Google Maps, and on other Google properties. Your business will also have its own Google+ page to connect with customers and be a place where they can leave reviews. In turn, a presence on Google and customer reviews both provide ranking signals to Google that could help boost your website’s visibility and traffic.
In this week’s blog, we’re looking specifically at storefront businesses, i.e. if you serve customers at your business location and want them to be able to find you on Google Maps. Google My Business has an option specifically for storefront businesses, such as restaurants, hotels, retail shops, dental practices, etc.
This is our guide to setting up your storefront business page.
Using Google My Business
To get best results from using a Google My Business storefront page, Google recommends that you represent your business on the platform in a way that’s consistent with how its presented in the ‘real world’. In other words, you should use the same branding, images, fonts, logos, and key messages that customers might also find on your signage or stationery. This will help customers recognise your business and have the same expectations of it both on and offline.
You should make sure that your address is accurate. In fact, this is good practice whenever your business is listed on a website. Google looks for consistency across directories, for example, so always ensure that you write your address in the same way. If you want to promote a brand, product or organisation that doesn’t have a business address, you should set up a brand page rather than a local business storefront page.
According to Google, you should also choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your core business rather than lots of less relevant categories. This will help customers who are genuinely interested in your products or services find your business, bringing high quality traffic to your Google My Business page.
Google has strict eligibility criteria for a local Google+ page:
- You must be able to make in-person contact with your customers during your stated opening hours (although ATMs, video rental kiosks and express mail drop boxes are the exemption to this rule).
- You cannot have a local Google+ page if your business is under construction or not yet open to the public.
- Rental or for-sale properties cannot have their own local Google+ page, although sales or leasing offices can.
- You also cannot list an ongoing service, class or meeting at a location you don’t own or have authority to represent. You would need the ‘host’ or owner of the premises to display your information on their local Google+ business page within the ‘Introduction’ field.
Step 1: Create a Google+ account
Before you can create your storefront business page, you will need to set up a Google+ account, if you don’t already have one. To do this, go to https://accounts.google.com where you will be given the option to sign in or ‘Create an account’.
When you choose ‘Create an account’, you will be taken to the following screen:
You will need to complete the form on the right of the screen, which will then give you the option to set up a personal Google+ profile. There are clear instructions to take you through this initial setup.
Set 2: Get your business page
Once you have a Google+ account, go to Google My Business and log in. Click on the ‘Get your page’ option and you’ll be taken to screen where you need to choose what type of Google business page you want.
The Storefront business option (which we’re looking at today) is for businesses that serve their customers at a business location and want to be found on Google Maps – this is ideal for shops, restaurants and hotels.
The Service area business option is for businesses that work within a specific service area and want customers to be able to see at a glance if they cover their address – this is the perfect choice for plumbers, electricians, taxi firms and takeaway food companies.
A Google+ brand page is similar to a Facebook business page in that it lets you reach out to existing and potential customers. This is the best option if you work with customers all over the country, or even the world.
Setting up a Storefront or Service Area page
If you click on the Storefront or Service Area options, you will be taken to a map where you will be asked to enter your business name and address. If Google has a record of your business or there are several businesses with a similar name, you will be shown one or more pins on the map and asked to choose which one is yours.
If you don’t see your business listed here, you can click on ‘No, these are not my businesses’ or ‘I’ve correctly entered the business’. This will then give you the opportunity to enter your business details. Make sure you add an accurate, complete street address and a phone number which will let customers reach your businesses directly. Once you are happy that your business information is complete, click ‘Submit’.
On this screen, there is a tick box asking whether you deliver goods and services at your customers’ locations. You would tick this if you run a Service Area-type business such as making and delivering takeaway food. If people come to you, leave this box unchecked.
You will then see a message asking you to confirm that you are authorised to manage the business and agree to the Terms and Conditions. Tick the check box and click Continue.
Google will also show a message about sending you a code to verify that the page is yours – this is so that Google can be sure that the information it has about your storefront or service-area business is accurate. Depending on what type of business you run, Google offers different methods of verification including postcode verification, phone verification, instant verification (if you’ve already verified your business with Google Webmaster Tools) or bulk verification (if you run a business with 10+ locations).
Once you have verified your storefront page, you may see a banner asking you to review your information and make any final changes. Click ‘Done editing’ when you are happy that the information on the page is correct and up-to-date. You won’t be able to change the business’s name on your page until you complete the verification process.
Alternatively, at the point when you see the initial verification message, you can choose to click ‘Continue and verify later’ to go straight through to your page to begin fleshing it out.
Your Google My Business Storefront page
You will then be taken through to your Google My Business Storefront or Service Area page where Google will talk you through how to configure your settings, access your business apps and edit your page. Your edits won’t show up on Google until you verify your page.
Don’t forget to add a profile picture (this should be at least 250 x 250 pixels) and a cover image (ideally 1,080 x 608 pixels) that reflects your business branding. You can also add photos of your business, products and services; change your opening hours; add further contact details and much, much more.
Once you are happy with your profile (which you can edit at any time in the future too), click on the ‘Verify now’ button.
Maintaining your Storefront page
Now that you have a Google My Business Storefront presence, you might want to consider running a call-only AdWords campaign, a relatively new feature from Google AdWords. According to Google, 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results. Call-only campaigns enable you to show up your phone number, business description and call button right when people are searching – instead of paying per click, you pay per call.
Even without an AdWords campaign, by spending just a few minutes a week on your Google My Business Storefront page, you can help your business stand out in Google searches. A professional picture of your real life shop front, for example, will help people recognise your business when they’re looking for it in person and helps to make a connection between your online and physical presence.
Posting news stories, new product information and special offers to your page can all be ways to connect with your customers and encourage people to talk about your business with their friends, again on and offline. If you can encourage your customers to leave reviews on your page this will also help your business to stand out in search results.
Do you use Google My Business yet? Do you have a bricks and mortar shop with a storefront page on Google? If not, what’s holding you back? Building your presence can be great for your local SEO efforts.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences – please let us know in the comment section below.
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