You’ve got to make friends with Google (particularly, Google My Business,)  if you want to run a successful business. A recent survey shows the average person Googles something at least three times per day, and some sources estimate it processes more than 3 billion searches every single day. Think about that. Gone are the days when anyone relied on a phone book to find a vendor. Some 275 million Americans have a smartphone in the palm of their hands, and 63% of all Google searches are initiated on mobile devices.

The most powerful tool you can harness in your marketing arsenal is Google. The first step to take in your relationship with this modern-day “Great & Powerful Oz” is its online platform called Google My Business.

What is Google My Business?

The last time you Googled a company, what happened? If you were on a desktop computer, on the left side of the screen you saw links to web pages that matched your search parameters. On the right side of the screen on the desktop, or at the top of the page on a mobile phone, did you notice the stand-alone box with the name of the business you searched? It includes a picture of the firm’s location as seen from the street and buttons to click on to visit their website or get directions. Perhaps you noticed store hours and a phone number to call? It was pretty handy, wasn’t it? That, my friends, was a Google My Business listing.

Google My Business is Google’s replacement for the phonebook. Not only that, your listing impacts how your business appears on Google Search and Google Maps. Part directory, part social media platform, Google My Business allows business owners to capture the attention of potential customers long before they visit your website. In fact, if someone Googles you, a certain percentage of customers won’t even click through to your website if your Google My Business listing is complete. They can get directions to your location or even call you from right there.

Customer convenience is just one reason to create a Google My Business listing. Information provided by Google itself states that one way to improve your local ranking on Google is to have a complete Google My Business listing. Considering that a Google My Business listing is free, there’s just no reason not to take the time to create it.

Setting up your listing

Even though Google sometimes seems like Big Brother, Google doesn’t actually know everything. A Google My Business listing doesn’t magically appear. You’ve got to set it up.

• Visit: business.google.com

• Sign in to your Google Account, or create one.

Be sure to sign up with your business email domain (example: JoeSmith@SmithLandscaping.com), not your personal email.

• Google will walk you through the steps to verify that you are the business owner. In most cases, Google will mail a physical postcard with instructions to complete the registration.

Optimize your listing

The best Google My Business listings have useful content that is updated regularly. Write a short description of your company along with descriptions of key products or services. Collect photos of your location, job sites and finished projects. You’ll add these to make your listing more robust.

Once you’re up and running, your Google My Business listing becomes the space where customers can leave Google reviews of your business and ask questions. Download the Google My Business app for your phone so that you can quickly reply to questions and thank folks for their reviews. If possible, continue to post photos as you might on your other social media pages, and update the listing for any changes in hours, services or products, because Google rewards businesses with higher search rankings when they do.

Even if you set it and forget it, you will reap the benefits when customers look for you online. I’d advise you, however, to nurture this relationship. Revisit your listing, add photos, update your office hours on holidays and reply quickly whenever anyone leaves a review. Go ahead and make friends with Google today!

If you need help setting up your Google My Business account, we’ll be happy to help. Send us a message here.

This article originally ran in the August 2020 issue of Irrigation & Green Industry magazine.