Vanessa M.

September 13, 2021

in Local SEO, Google My Business

If I Google your business name right now, what kind of information will I find? 

This might seem like a very simple question, but if you actually do this little exercise yourself, you might discover 2 things;

  • Your business cannot be found on the Google search page meaning it isn't visible online.
  • The information you have out there is either incomplete, outdated, or not enough to convince your customers to want to engage further with you.

In this post, we'll look at 3 scenarios. I'll also show you how to set up your Google My Business account the right way.

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Why your business needs to be on Google.

Let’s look at these 3 scenarios.

Scenario 1

Peter is a prospective customer in Abidjan looking to buy footwear made with African prints by Ivorian designers. 

The first thing he does is go on Google to search for businesses that sell such items near him. 

If your business name doesn’t appear on the first page of his search list, you are already losing him and other potential customers searching for the same products. Remember, people rarely visit the second or third pages of the Google search page.

Scenario 2

Let’s say your business name does appear on his search page. Peter clicks to get more information about your products and how to purchase them, but he finds nothing.

No phone number to reach you on, no address to your physical store or link to your website where he can buy from.

If this happens, Peter will eventually leave your page and continue his search for another business he can buy from.

This also means that, you have lost Peter - a potential customer.

Scenario 3

Let's say Peter sees an address on your listing, he clicks on the 'Direction' button which opened up your business on Google Maps and follows the instruction to get to your store.

After a few minutes of driving around town, he realises that the address listed on your page is wrong, and since there is no other contact detail listed, he gives up the search.

These are possible reasons why your business is losing customers online.

Such a scenario is likely to happen to you if you have not claimed and optimised your business profile on Google.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that your business needs to be online and your customers need to be able to find and connect with you.

Having a social media page or a website isn’t enough anymore. You need to think one step ahead and ask yourself “how are people actually finding my business in the first place?”

You might have a website, but if people do not know you exist, how will they know what to search for in the first place?

If a customer is searching for a local business offering certain products or services, chances are that your business will likely come up on the first page of the Google search page.

As I mentioned above, this will only happen if you have claimed your business profile on Google and properly optimised it for search.

The first thing you need to do to get your business visible online and avoid losing more customers, is to create a Google My Business account.

Now the big question .....

What is Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB for short), is a free and easy to use tool that helps local businesses manage how they appear online across Google search and maps.

As a business owner, there are several benefits to having and using your Google My Business profile to enhance the visibility of your business online.

Since a large percentage of people use Google to conduct searches, it means a huge audience of potential customers can view and access your profile online.

The more visible you are — or the more often your business shows up in search results — the better the chances are of drawing people’s attention to you.

Geography (i.e where your business is located) also plays a big role here as people want to find businesses that are close by.

How to set up your Google My Business account the right way.

Step 1: Visit the Google My Business sign up page

Go to business.google.com/create

PS: You might be required to sign in to set up your Google My Business account. If you are, use your Gmail account to do so. If you don’t have one, click here to create a new one.

If you are already signed in from your browser, click 'Get started' to continue.

Set up google my business account -1

Step 2: Add your business name & category

Type in your business name (label 1) and select a category (label 2) that best suits your business and then click next (label 3) to continue.

PS: Make sure that the name you use here is the same as the one listed on website, social media, and on other online directories.

Set up google my business account -2

Step 3: Add your business location/service area

This next step will ask you if you wish to add an address to your business listing.

Important!! Before you go any further, read this part.

There are two types of people who will be creating GMB accounts for their businesses.

The first set are those who run virtual businesses i.e. they do not have a physical address for their business but operate from a particular service area.

The second set, are those who have an actual business address i.e a physical store/office where their customers can visit.

  • If you do not have an physical address, jump to 3.1 by clicking -> HERE
  • If you have a physical address, jump to 3.2 by clicking -> HERE

3.1: Businesses without a physical location (SAB)

If you do not have a physical location for your business, you will be required to provide a service area within which you operate, (i.e the area where you are located and serve customers from. This is called a SAB (service area business).

Select 'No' (Label 2) as shown in the image below.

Set up google my business account - 3

What this simply means is that you are informing 'Google' that you do not have a physical store where your customers can visit. 

By opting out of providing a business address, your business listing on Maps and search will also be address-free. Instead, you’ll be asked to confirm the areas that your business services.

3.1.1: Add your service area

Where do you operate from? Your home office, a rented workspace, etc. Put that in the space below and click next.

PS: You cannot change this after your business has been verified so think carefully about this before you select an area.

Set up google my business account -3-Add service area
3.1.2: Add your contact details

Tell customers how they can get in touch with you.

  • Include your business phone number (Label 1),
  • Add your web address (if you have one) (Label 2 ),
  • If you don't need a website you can opt out completely (Label 3), or
  • Alternatively, ask Google to provide you with a free website (Label 4). This website is automatically built using the info you input when creating your Google My Business listing.

In another post, I will show you how to create a free optimised website for ranking on Google using Google sites.

PS: These details will be displayed on your public listing so ensure you’re putting a valid business number prospective customers can reach you on.

Set up google my business account -3-Add contact details
3.1.3: Verify your new GMB account

When you arrive on this page, it means you are ready to verify your new GMB Account.

Due to the challenges of receiving the postcards in Africa, Google has put in place a new system of helping businesses in Africa verify their GMB accounts.

Set up google my business account -3-Verify GMB Account

If you are a business owner in Africa, select on 'Verify later' (Label 1) and click next.

If you reside outside Africa, fill out the form and then click next to request for the postcard to be sent to you.

PS: This verification service is sponsored by Google and provided to you FREE of charge. Do not pay anyone to verify your Google My Business account.

Once you have completed all the steps above, continue to the final steps by clicking -> HERE.

3.2: Businesses with a physical location

Since you have a physical address for your business, select 'Yes' (Label 1), as shown below and click next (Label 3).

Set up google my business account - 3
3.2.1: Add your business address

Fill in your address correctly to tell your customers where to find you.

PS: To avoid getting your account suspended or being asked to re-verify, ensure you put in the right business address when you are setting up your account. 

Set up google my business account - 3 Add business address

There are instances where your business might already have a Business Profile on Google Search or Maps. Google will provide you with a list of businesses it thinks might be yours. If you see your business name on that list (as shown below), select it, and click next.

If on the other hand, your business is not on that list, select 'None of these' (Label 1) and click next. 

Set up google my business account -3 verify business name
3.2.2: Pin your position on the map

Click on the pin 📍 (Label 1) and drag it to the exact spot where your business is located on the map.

You can also zoom in and out by clicking on the + or - sign (Label 2) as shown below. 

Set up google my business account - 3 pin location
3.2.3: Add the service areas you cover

If you serve customers outside your office, i.e you visit them to offer your services (e.g. painter) or deliver your products to them, you can let them know where you are willing to go.

Set up google my business account - 3 service area

Fig 1

Click 'Yes' (Fig 1 - Label 1 above) if you do this and list out the service areas you cover as shown in fig 2 below, then click next.

Set up google my business account - 3 Service area list

Fig 2

If this does not relate to your kind of business, select 'No' (Fig 1 - Label 2 above), and click next.

3.2.4: Add your contact details

Tell customers how they can get in touch with you.

  • Include your business phone number (Label 1),
  • Add your web address (if you have one) (Label 2 ),
  • If you don't need a website you can opt out completely (Label 3), or
  • Alternatively, ask Google to provide you with a free website (Label 4). This website is automatically built using the info you input when creating your Google My Business listing.

In another post, I will show you how to create a free optimised website for ranking on Google using Google sites.

PS: These details will be displayed on your public listing so ensure you’re putting a valid business number prospective customers can reach you on.

Set up google my business account -3-Add contact details
3.2.5: Verify your new GMB account

In order to fully manage and represent your business on Google, you'll need to verify it.

If you live in a country where the postcard system works, simply go ahead and request to receive a verification postcard by mail (Label 1 below.)

Set up google my business account - 3 verify by postcard

If your business is located in Africa, the verification process is quite different. This is due to the problems involved in receiving the postcards in these regions.

To solve this problem, Google is working with local partners to verify business profiles for businesses in Africa

Select 'More option' (Label 2 above), then click on 'Verify Later' as shown in Label 1 below.

Set up google my business account - 3 verify by Ztallion

Follow the instructions that follow and select the best option that suits your business. Once you have completed all the steps above, scroll down and continue to the final steps.

Final Steps:

1 - Join the GMB support community

The final and most important step is to join the GMB support community to ;

  • get updates on your verification status, 
  • get support from our team of GMB experts,
  • ask questions and learn how to manage your Google My Business account to avoid suspension and re-verification ban.

Join the community here --> GMB Support Community

2 - Verify your Google My Business account

Once you have set up your GMB account, the next step is to verify your business profile. Visit this page and follow the instructions given to -> verify your Google My Business account.

How to verify your Google my business account without a postcard

Now it's your turn!

I've shown you know how to set up your Google My Business account the right way. Now it's your turn to do same.

Give it a go!

In fact, do you have any questions after reading this article? If you need help figuring out how to select the best kind of business category, service area, etc....

Let me know in the comments below!


Comments

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  1. Hello Vanessa,

    Appreciative of the information shared, it was truly exhaustive. I have had the difficulty myself for over a year and each time I am told to provide the code sent to my address, I get confused because no postcard was received as notified.

    My home business has been on for some years now and I truly understand the extent of benefits that link to having a properly verified online presence.

    I hope this material proves useful and would update you on the development as I revert to complete the exercise again.

    Regards,

    1. Hi Stannis, I’m happy you found this article useful. I know how frustrating it can be waiting for that postcard.
      Once you have created your account, please go ahead and follow the guide provided to verify your GMB account here -> https://ztal.me/gmb. If you have any challenges, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll be happy to assist you with it. Best of luck.

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