Whether you’re looking for customers around the world or in your own backyard, marketing your business online is non-negotiable these days. But if you’re relying solely on your business website to bring in customers, you may be missing out.

For businesses seeking customers in their area, local search-engine optimization has become critically important to bringing in traffic. And perhaps no one tool is more vital to local SEO efforts than Google Business. There is even a convenient app - Google My Business, for people searching on-the-go.

Not so long ago, promoting your local business through Google involved registering and maintaining a presence on a hodgepodge of sites and services. Today, Google Business is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get your business information added to Google Search, Google Maps and the rest of the Google platform.

A Google Business Page Means You Control Your Brand

Establishing your free Google Business presence puts you in control of your brand, ensuring that the information floating around online about your business is correct. After creating your business page, you can update your contact info at any time, and you can swap out images and update other information as needed. So you can feel confident that when prospective customers find you online, they’re getting the straight scoop on your business.

In addition, a Google business page significantly increases your visibility online. If you do a quick search for any business with a local presence, what do you see on the results page? Right at the top, you’ll probably see sponsored listings. But just underneath, you’re likely to see results for Google Maps and other local results — often above the “organic” search listings and even above the business website. Keeping your Google Business page up to date helps secure your spot in that prime online real estate.

How likely is it that prospective customers will keep scrolling to find just the right business website versus clicking on a local Maps or Places listing? Not very likely! 

Getting Started with Your Google Business Page

Now that you know the importance of a Google Business presence, how can you get yours going? To begin, you can either sign in or click “Get on Google”; if you have an existing Google Places account, it will be migrated to the new platform automatically. From there, the Google Business interface will guide you through either setting up a new business or claiming an existing business.

Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to access a new page that integrates a number of options and metrics relating to your overall business presence on Google. You’ll also be able to view your profile page, including any available user reviews.

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Optimizing Your Presence

After you’ve had a chance to look around and you feel comfortable updating information on your Google Business page, you’ll want to start building out your listing with engaging content, including videos, photos and links to your website and blog. You can also add details like your hours of operation, special deals and other information that can help you stand out.

Social engagement is more important than ever for differentiating yourself online, and you should take time to respond to reviews. If you do happen to receive any negative reviews on your page, it’s important to acknowledge them and respond to concerns; you don’t want other customers shying away because of one or two negative comments.

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Staying Involved with Your Google Business Page

Once you’ve gone through the process of setting up your Google business page, don’t just forget about it. Keeping your page current should be part of your ongoing local SEO strategy to ensure that you’re found by the right people in the right place.

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