Google is always introducing new tools for small businesses. Tools which can help present business to your perfect customer or give you the platforms to establish and build new audiences. With Google My Business, consumers can search for businesses and services near them via Google Search and Google Maps. It is a crucial element for local businesses to sign up to and optimise as it means your business will be presented directly from the Search Results screen rather than just another link next to countless others. Whether you have a listing or not, you may be confused as to what exactly Google My Business is. We’ve prepared this article to demystify things and to help you get on track to reaping the benefits of a Google My Business listing.

What is a Google My Business Profile?

A Google My Business profile can be considered a combination of an online directory listing and social media profile. As with only directories, business owners can create and claim ownership of their Google My Business profile and populate it with vital information such as hours, location and photos.

As with social media platforms, business owners can publish posts to their Google My Business profile. Similar to social media stories, these posts are not permanent – they are automatically deleted after 7 days from posting. Additionally, customers can upload photos of your business to your listing without leaving a review although they can also leave a review if they choose to.

What is the difference between Google Maps and Google My Business?

As highlighted above, Google My Business is solely the concern of the business owners. General consumers do not create an account for Google My Business, they simply use Maps and Search. Business owners and operators create a Google My Business profile so they show up in relevant searches. Google My Business also provides business owners with tools to gain insights into their audience.

Google Maps is an important element for those running a local business, as it helps Google understand where you are located from and what your service area is. Potential customers searching for your business or services in Google Search are typically presented with local businesses within the search results and these results are driven from Google My Business profiles. Without one, you may discover that you’re missing out on highly localised business opportunities.

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Anyone can use Google Maps and anyone can add a location to Google Maps. However, to have control over your business listing, you must create a Google My Business profile and claim that listing.

What’s the difference between Google+ and Google My Business?

As we all know, Google + is no longer an active platform. It was originally created by Google to compete with other social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter, where businesses could post status updates, share interesting photos and links to obtain follows (and create an audience). In fact, Google required all businesses to have a Google Plus page. Google Plus profiles were no longer necessary once Google My Business accounts enabled social posting and an audience engagement interface, and of course they are no longer relevant as the platform has now been discontinued.

If I create more than one Google My Business profile, will it improve my ranking?

Google is on our side and is always striving to provide a superior experience for its users, which requires relevant, valuable and accurate information. For Google My Business, this means creating a single profile which highlights your business. Creating duplicate profiles under different suite numbers or office numbers at the same address or creating a new profile for each service you offer is not best practice and can result in punishment – where Google reduces your websites rank, effectively hiding your business from interested parties.

If you have one business and one location you will want to associate only one business profile with it. Otherwise, you do run the risk of confusing search engines and consumers alike. Aside from making it increasingly difficult for consumers to find your business both online and offline, these types of inconsistences can also present prospects with an unorganised and unprofessional first impression. The best way to present your business (if it has multiple locations) is to simply introduce multiple listings under a single profile.

How do I get my business on Google?

To get your business on Google My Business, you simply need to login using your Google log-in details and sign-up for Google My Business. When fully completed, your Google My Business profile will begin to show up in organic Google Search results and Google Map listings.

The real target for any business is to consume as much screen real-estate in the first page of Google Search results and by completing your Google My Business profile you have the opportunity for your business to show up in (i) Paid results (appearing at the very top of the page), (ii) Map listings (appearing just under paid results), (iii) Google My Business (appearing to the right of the search results) and (iv) Organic results (appearing beneath the Map listings). With the right optimisations in place, when someone searches for your business name or business services, you can consume around 2/5’s of the search results screen drastically improving the chances someone will see your website and contact you.

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