By Chad DelMain
A Comprehensive Step by Step Guide
Updated: August 26, 2015
You’re about to dive into a step-by-step guide showing you how to list your business on Google Maps and in Google Places for your city and the keywords your customers are searching for.
To show you what I’m talking about, let’s take a quick look at the Google Map results for the search, “lawyer seattle”:
See that area I highlighted in a green box? That’s a Google Maps search result.
My goal in writing this guide is to show you exactly how to get your business ranked (and ranked well) within those Google Maps search results.
Are You in the Right Place?
If you’re a dentist, a lawyer, or you own a coffee shop, clothing boutique, or any other business that is trying to attract new customers, clients, or patients from a specific geographic area (a city like Seattle, for example), then this step-by-step guide was created with you in mind.
This guide is intended to be a practical how-to best practices guide for businesses, not a textbook on Google Maps. It’s a playbook with steps that you can follow to get your business listed and ranked on Google Maps.
Everyone Benefits from Google Maps
Google Maps is great for you, your customers, and Google! Your customers quickly find what they need. Your business is more visible to more customers. And Google’s audience grows as more people discover how easy it is to connect with local businesses.
Let’s take a closer look at how you’ll benefit:
People use Google to find the information they need right now. When your business appears in Google Maps search results, your customers quickly see important details about your business, including driving directions, reviews, hours of operation, and a phone number.
It won’t cost you a penny to have your business listed on Google Places. For our money, there’s no better value in online marketing and advertising than Google Places.
When your business shows up on the first page of search results, you’re more likely to receive phone calls or clicks into your website. Getting ranked on Google Maps is a great way to get there.
Fast & Easy Updates
When you make a change on Google Places, they’re live and online within minutes. You won’t wait hours for updates to appear.
Your Happiest Customers Become Your Best Advertising
Google Places allows your customers to review your business, which improves your Google Maps ranking, provides you with valuable feedback about your business, and helps bring new customers, clients, or patients in the door.
You’ll have access to a dashboard where you can see statistics on views, actions on posts, new followers, and more.
Ready? Set? Let’s Get You on Google Maps!
Now you know how and why your business will benefit from being on Google Maps, but how do you actually do it?
I’ve broken down the process into 6 steps:
- Sign up for Google Business.
- Search for your business.
- Add your business and add a service area.
- Verify your business.
- Complete Your “Google My Business” Profile.
- Add Business Photos.
Let’s get started.
If it helps, click here for a printable version of this guide, and refer to it while you work through each step.
Google My Business Listing
Step #1 - SIGN UP
You’ll start by signing up for your Google My Business Listing here: https://www.google.com/business/.
Click the ‘Get on Google’ button in the upper-right hand corner to get started.
If you already have a personal Google account, sign in with it. It’ll be connected automatically to your Business listing.
If you don’t have a Google account yet, click ‘Create an account’ and follow the instructions to set one up.
Step #2 - SEARCH FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Start searching for your business name and address to see if you’re already listed in Google Maps.
If you find that your business is already listed in Google Maps, then it’ll appear in a drop down below the search bar.
Click on it and you’ll be asked to verify that you’re authorized to manage this business and that you agree to Google’s Terms of Service (Skip Step #3 and go straight to Step #4).
If your business isn’t listed in Google Maps you’ll see an option to click ‘This doesn't match’ or ‘I’ve correctly entered the name and address’. Either of these options will bring you to a new screen where you’ll be asked to provide some basic information about your business.
Bonus Tip: How can I claim my Google Plus page if it’s already being managed by someone else?
When you see this message, click ‘Request admin rights’ and Google will send the current owner a message asking for permission to change the business page ownership.
If the owner doesn't respond to that email within in 10 business days you can contact a Google My Business representative and they will unlock the listing allowing you to claim it.
Contact Google customer service: https://support.google.com/business#topic=4539639
Step #3 - ADD YOUR BUSINESS AND CHOOSE A SERVICE AREA
After you click ‘Add your business’, you’ll be prompted to provide some basic information about your business and to choose a category. If you don’t see an exact match, just choose the category that fits your business best.
If your business offers delivery of products/services to your customers, check the box at the bottom of this form. You’ll be directed to enter the radius your business serves or provide specific cities and zip codes.
However, if you only deliver your products and services and do not have a brick and mortar location, don’t check the box saying you also serve customers at your business address. Click ‘Continue’ when you’re ready to move on.
If you deliver your products/services to your customers and also have a brick and mortar location that customers can visit, you’ll need to check the box that says ‘I also service customers at my business address’.
Again, just click ‘Continue’ when you’re done.
Once you’ve defined your service area, you’ll need to tell Google that you’re authorized to manage this listing and that you agree to their Terms of Service.
Step #4 - VERIFY YOUR BUSINESS
Now it’s time to verify your business listing with Google.
If your business wasn’t found when you searched and you added a new business, then your only option is to have Google send a postcard mailer with a PIN code to your business address. This usually arrives in about 5 business days. It’ll include instructions on how finish the verification process.
Bonus Tip: Your Google My Business listing will stay unverified until you’ve entered the verification code on the postcard you received and it expires after 30 days.
If your business was already in Google Maps, you’ll be able to verify using either the postcard mailer or a quick phone call.
Step #5 - COMPLETE YOUR “GOOGLE MY BUSINESS” PROFILE
It’s very important that you complete your profile all the way to 100%. Click the ‘Edit’ button and add the following:
- Business Name - Enter your full business name, as you’d like your customers to see it.
- Physical Address - Be sure to place the pin marker on the correct location of your business.
- Phone Number - Must include a local area code.
- Website URL - Enter the URL for the homepage of your business.
- Category - Choose the most applicable category as your Primary category. Feel free to add additional categories if they fit the products or services you offer.
- Hours of Operation - Make sure you fill out this section carefully. You don’t want to say you’re open when you’re not-- or vice versa!
- Introduction - Write about the products and services you offer. You can even include links to pages on your website.
- Photos - Our research shows that you should aim to add 10 photos. In order to have a 100% complete profile, you’ll need to add a profile photo and a cover photo for your listing. Your logo can make for a great profile picture!
Bonus Tip: Google Places listings that are 100% complete and that are frequently updated rank better than those that aren’t. Many business owners get partway through the process and then stop. Don’t let this happen to you!
Step #6 - ADD BUSINESS PHOTOS
Business photos are very important to Google. The more images you include, the better you look to Google. The better you look to Google, the higher your website will appear in search results.
Make sure to add:
- Your business logo
- Photos at work
- Team photos
- Product show
- Interior office & exterior building photos
- Additional photos
Bonus Tip: You can also recommend which photo you’d like to appear first in Google Search and Google Maps: either your profile photo, cover photo, or logo.
You Did It!
If you’ve completed the steps above, your business will start appearing in Google Maps search results soon. You’ll start to see new leads as a result of your brand new Google Places listing before you know it.
Taking the Next Steps
As a business owner, I’m sure you know that there’s always more work to be done, and more that you can do to make yourself stand out from your competition.
Here’s your homework:
- Add one new photo per week to your business page.
- Start sharing blog posts from your website, an interesting link that you found, or something else on your business page.
- Follow other businesses in your area. See what they’re doing and sharing on their Google Business pages and follow their lead!
- Discover niche citation sites will give your business a Google Maps ranking boost.
- Learn more about the most recent Google algorithm changes and how they affect local search.
Don’t Be a Stranger
Did this guide help you list your business on Google Maps? Do you want to know more about something you read? Or do you have general questions about marketing and growing your business?
CHAD DELMAIN - DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIST
Chad DelMain has been with DelMain Analytics for over 2 years. Specializing in Organic SEO, Local SEO and PPC, Chad develops strategy, executes implementation and works closely with clients across all industries. Prior to working at DelMain Analytics, Chad was a junior digital marketer at Chi Evolution, an ecommerce company selling natural health products. A graduate of OSU, Chad can be found playing soccer and basketball, cheering on the trailblazers and hanging out with friends.