Google My Business: A Walkthrough of Google’s Tool for Businesses (and Plugins for WordPress)
Do you remember a tool that Google had a few years back called Google Places? How about Google+ Local? Both of these free business tools aimed at accomplishing a similar goal: empowering business owners and marketers to control their business’s identity online.
Google Places provided businesses with a hub through which you could update your business listing, keeping search results up-to-date with the correct contact and business operational information. Google+ Local, on the other hand, was connected to a business’s Google+ page. This was Google’s way of encouraging businesses to not only keep their search presence active, but also to get them on to the Google+ social media platform.
However, in the case where someone updated one of those platforms with new information but forgot to do so on the other (since you’d assume that all Google tools are connected), users started to run into outdated information in search. As you can imagine, this was problematic not only for businesses who lost customers due to incorrect search information but for Google whose multiple platforms were telling contradicting stories.
Well, a couple years ago, Google fixed the problem. It merged the two tools together, rebranded, and relaunched as Google My Business. It basically did the same thing as before, but kept the management of one’s business profile all in one place.
If you’re curious to learn more about Google My Business, want tips on setting it up as well as how to make the most of it in WordPress, read on!
An Introduction to Google My Business
You know how sometimes you’ll do a Google Search for a new restaurant you’ve been dying to try and the results page will show a sidebar callout with a whole lot of information about the business? Well, that’s what Google My Business does when businesses set up and manage their profiles through the tool.
In sum, Google My Business is like any other tool from Google. It’s free, intuitive, and enables developers, business owners, and marketers to stay on top of their online presence.
It’s important to clarify that the reason why I don’t say My Business helps users stay on top of their Google search results is because it does much more than that. Be it Google Search, Google Maps, and sometimes Google+ (when you have a page set up for it), My Business is the one tool you can use to keep them all updated and presenting consistent information to your audience, regardless of where they run into your business. Pretty cool, right?
Now, some of you may be wondering if it’s even worth it to use My Business if you don’t have a physical storefront. The answer to that is “yes”.
This is a tool that helps you control your business’s identity on Google’s properties and ensures that the information displayed to users is current. Of course, if your business does have a local storefront, you should do everything you can optimize your site for local search anyway, but getting on Google My Business should be part of that plan, too. However, there is no reason why digital businesses can’t benefit from having a Google My Business account.
Here are some of the details you have the option of providing in your business profile:
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Hours of operation (including holiday closings and other times or days off)
- Photos and videos of your business
- 360-degree virtual tours
- Customer reviews from Google, social media, and review sites
- Other details imported from Google user feedback
One of the perks in creating WordPress websites is that you have full control over your business’s digital presence. Google is trying to give business owners the same type of power over the rest of their online presence with My Business.
How to Setup Your Google My Business Profile
In just five easy steps, you can get your Google My Business profile up and running. Want some help? Follow along with the steps below.
Go to the Google My Business website. Be sure you’re logged into your Google account (for Gmail, Google+, or Google), and then click Start Now.
Fill in all the information on this page. If you do not have a physical address, you’ll still need to enter that information here.
If you do not want your address published to your profile, select Yes next to I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location. On the next page, you can indicate that you want to hide your address from search. Check out Google’s guide on service-based businesses if you want more information on this.
“Phone number” is the only optional field in this form.
On the next page, you’ll see one of two things:
If you clicked on No next to the delivery of goods or services question, you’ll receive a prompt to confirm your business’s name and address.
If you clicked on Yes you’ll receive a prompt that provides information to customers on where you “deliver” your services to.
- If you run a business in a given town or state, indicate that in the first box.
- If you run a business that takes care of customers within a larger geographic space, use the distance calculator.
- If you want to hide your address from your profile, make sure you leave the checkbox “I also serve customers at my business…” unchecked.
- Once you hit Continue, you’ll be taken to the confirmation prompt.
If you are indeed the owner of this business’s profile, then click on the authorization checkbox and hit Continue.
As a means of ensuring that a) you are indeed the owner of this business, and b) that your business address is valid (since they’re not going to drop your information into a pin if it’s going to mislead customers), Google requires confirmation via a verification code that is sent by mail.
While you’ll still be able to update your profile in the meantime, it’ll remain hidden until you can enter that verification into Google. In my experience, it usually takes about a week to receive the postcard mailer to your address, so you won’t have to wait too long.
Once you’ve sent out for verification, your profile is yours to do with as you like. You’ll notice that it has the same UI as Google’s other properties, so this should be easy enough for you to navigate around.
The Home tab shows you the basic details of your profile and includes a link to your WordPress site’s Google Analytics account for added convenience.
Under the Info tab is where you can get more specific about your business: hours of operation, website address, business photos, Adwords integration, etc. You can also close and delete your My Business profile from this tab if you change your mind.
Finally, the Photos tab enables you to change your page’s cover and profile photos (much like you’d do on any social media profile).
Once you verify your account, you can unlock additional tools like Insights and Reviews (under the Home tab). With Insights, you can track your My Business page’s performance for clicks, views, phone calls, and directions. With Reviews, not only can you monitor customer reviews that come in, but you can respond to them, too.
Integrating Google My Business with Your WordPress Website
Seeing as this is a Google tool, you know there had to be a way to integrate this into your WordPress site. Unlike something like Google Analytics, however, this doesn’t sit idly behind the scenes for you to casually check in on. Google My Business is something you should make the most out of by adding pieces of it to your site.
For Local Businesses
When you’ve taken the time to create a Google My Business account and update it with your physical company address, play it up on your website with a high-quality, responsive map. And since your Google marker will be updated with your My Business account details, this’ll give your WordPress site map even more professional street cred.
For Digital Businesses
One of the best things about Google My Business—and it’s something everyone can use even if you only have a digital storefront—is the customer reviews piece. If you’ve verified your My Business account and enabled customer reviews, go ahead and show them off on your WordPress site! Social proof goes a long way in helping visitors make up their minds about whether or not they’re ready to convert.
Perhaps the best thing about this? Google My Business is a great way to give your WordPress site a boost in search results by boldly displaying your contact info, business map, customer reviews, photos, and more. That’s obviously not to say you should neglect any of your SEO efforts; those are still essential for pushing your site up through organic search. This is just a really cool way to make your business (and website) stand out among the heap.