What a Google Business Listing Is and Why Your Small Business Needs It

Make it easy to find your business online by listing it with the world's most popular search engine.
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With a Google business listing, you can provide accurate information about your business and improve brand credibility. (Photo: dennizn/Shutterstock)

Have you ever searched for a business on Google? If so, you have probably noticed a profile for the company pop up in the search results, showing important information such as their website, physical address and map, phone number, hours of operation, photos and reviews.

As a small business owner, getting found online — especially via a Google search — is critical, and one easy way to do that is by creating a Google business listing. Luckily, creating one is free and easy to do.

What is a Google business listing?

“A Google business listing is tied directly to local search results, also known as the ‘map pack,’” explained Mike Tortorice, digital marketing manager of Infront Webworks. “This is the first thing someone sees when searching for a service or business. There is no other way to be in the map pack unless you have a Google Business Listing. By being first in line, you are driving valuable traffic to your website or receiving qualified leads to your phone.”

Related: How to List Your Restaurant at the Top of the Google Search Page

Easy access to your business info

Being listed as a business with Google helps potential customers quickly access information about your business, such as hours of operation, physical address and phone number.

Imagine a customer is about to head your way and enters your business name into a Google Maps search. If your hours are incorrect, he or she will see a warning message in bold, red letters indicating your store is currently closed or will be closing soon. If your business is actually open, you’ve just lost business. Sure, there’s a chance the customer might call to make sure the posted hours are correct, but it’s one more hurdle to cross to get them to walk through your door.

Once you’ve claimed your Google business listing, updating your regular business hours — or a special holiday schedule — is easy. You don’t want someone showing up to your closed business, nor do you want anyone missing out on extended holiday hours.

Related: What Customers Expect from Small Business Websites

A better SEO ranking

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Boost local search results and expand your reach to customers with a Google business listing. (Photo: Tashatuvango/Shutterstock)

Having an accurate business listing with Google will also boost your ranking in local search results, increasing your chances of being seen by customers in the area who are searching for the services or products you provide.

According to Luke Bastin, owner of California-based SEO firm PDA Buzz, Google is “the leading portal for prospects looking to make contact with local businesses,” so ensuring your information is accurate and includes the right search terms is key.

“Often businesses state their main category of business (e.g. ‘dentist’), but then fail to add other equally valid sub-categories (‘orthodontist,’ ‘dental clinic,’ ‘dental hygienist,’ ‘cosmetic dentist’ and so on),” Bastin noted. “Having a complete list of valid categories will result in optimum exposure in the search engines for goods or services offered.”

Related: Up Your SEO Game by Optimizing for Voice Search

Brand credibility

What would happen if someone searched for your business and no listing pops up? Google search has become so ubiquitous to consumers today, not having a listing can create doubt that your business is legitimate — or if it actually exists.

Simply listing your store’s hours, phone number, website and physical address will go a long way toward helping validate your business for a searching consumer. And since listing your business with Google is free — and integral to your local marketing and customer reach — use it to its maximum capacity.

“Ensure that you have external images of your business, internal images, pictures of your branding and team and so on,” Bastin advised. “Ideally, insert as many videos and images into your listing as allowed within the Google My Business platform.”

Related: The 7 Elements of Great Brand Storytelling

Social proof

Your listing also shows searchers what other people think of your business, and this social proof can go a long way toward attracting new customers.

Amine Rahal, founder and CEO of online marketing firm IronMonk Solutions, said his million-dollar tip for small businesses is getting happy customers to leave a positive review on their Google listing.

“A lot of positive reviews correlate with higher rankings and more business,” he said. “Reviews are the name of the game, and as a business owner, you really want to make sure you have a ton of positive ratings.”

Of course, you’re not going to make everyone happy, but you might be able to redeem yourself to a previously unsatisfied customer by responding to their review.

“Reviews are the name of the game, and as a business owner, you really want to make sure you have a ton of positive ratings.”-Amine Rahal

“Reviews are a dominant local ranking signal,” said Justin Shaw, founder of digital agency One & Zero. “Be sure to respond to reviews — both positive and negative — in a professional and upbeat manner.”

And even if they remain upset, it shows other readers that you care about customer satisfaction and are actively trying to improve the customer experience.

Related: How Should Your Restaurant Respond to Online Reviews?

If you haven’t yet claimed your business listing on Google, do so right away so potential customers can find you more easily, learn about your brand and (hopefully) walk through your doors with money to spend.

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