If you’re new to Google+ and wondering how to best use it for your business, it can take a bit of time to wrap your head around your different options. Should you have a personal Google+ page, a Google+ community or a Google My Business page? If you opt for the latter, which is better: a storefront or service area (both local business pages) or brand (non-local business)?
If you are the face of your business – for example, a business coach, life coach or someone who’s individual personality is very much tied into their brand – then you may decide to maintain a personal profile on Google+ to connect with your customers. If you have built up a large network of like-minded people – for example, of work at home mums or solopreneurs – you might decide to set up a Google+ community.
There are several benefits to having a Google My Business page. One benefit is that you can have multiple administrators for the same account, which is great if you want several people within your team (or a Virtual Administrator or Social Media Management Company) to update the page without using your personal Google+ login details.
For local businesses, having a local business type page can help you secure a strong presence on search engine results pages for searches for businesses of your type.
Google advises that, in order to derive the best results from Google My Business, you should:
- Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognised in the real world across signage, stationery, and other branding.
- Make sure your address is accurate and precise.
- Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.
Before you decide which page to set up, determine your eligibility
Before you decide whether to set up a local or brand business page, you need to decide which one would be the best fit for your business. Google has strict eligibility criteria for a local Google+ page:
- You must be able to make in-person contact with your customers during your stated opening hours (although ATMs, video rental kiosks and express mail drop boxes are the exemption to this rule).
- You cannot have a local Google+ page if your business is under construction or not yet open to the public.
- Rental or for-sale properties cannot have their own local Google+ page, although sales or leasing offices can.
- You also cannot list an ongoing service, class or meeting at a location you don’t own or have authority to represent. You would need the ‘host’ or owner of the premises to display your information on their local Google+ business page within the ‘Introduction’ field.
Setting up a local Google+ page
Step 1: Create a Google+ account
If you have a Gmail address, then the good news is that you will already have a Google+ account. If you don’t, your first step will be to set one up. When you go to https://accounts.google.com, you will be presented with the option to sign in or ‘Create an account’. Click on the latter option.
This will take you to the following screen:
Complete the form to the right of the screen and you will be given the option to set up your personal profile. Google+ walks you through the process and you can find instructions on Google.
Once your Google+ account is set up and you’ve clicked the ‘Finish’ option, you will be taken through to a screen where you will see options such as ‘All’, ‘Friends’, ‘Family’ and ‘Acquaintances’ across the top of the page. To the top left, you will see a button that says ‘Home’. Click on this to view a pulldown menu – the eighth option on this is ‘Pages’. Click on ‘Pages’ to continue.
Set 2: Get your business page
You’ll be taken to the following screen:
Click on ‘Get your page’. You’ll then be taken to screen where you need to choose what type of Google business page you want.
Choose the Storefront business option if you serve customers at your business location and you want them to be able to find you on Google Maps – this is ideal for shops, restaurants and hotels.
Choose the Service area business option if you serve customers at their location within a specific service area and want your customers to be able to see whether you cover their area on Google Maps – this is the perfect choice for plumbers, electricians, taxi firms and takeaway food companies.
A Google+ brand page is similar to a Facebook business page in that it lets you reach out to existing and potential customers. This is the best option if you work with customers all over the country, or even the world.
Setting up a Storefront or Service Area page
If you click on the Storefront or Service Area options, you will be taken to a map where you will be asked to enter your business name and address. If Google has a record of your business or there are several businesses with a similar name, you will be shown one or more pins on the map and asked to choose which one is yours.
If none of the options Google gives you match your business, you’ll see an option on the search bar drop down which says: ‘None of these match. Add your business’ – click on this. You will then have the opportunity to enter your business name, country/region, street address, city, postal code, main business phone number and choose a category that best fits your business.
On this screen, there is a tick box asking whether you deliver goods and services at your customers’ locations. You would tick this if you run a Service Area-type business such as a pizza delivery company or you’re an electrician, for example, but if people come to you, leave this box unchecked.
Whether your business was already on the map or you had to add the business, you will then see a message asking you to confirm that you are authorised to manage the business and agree to the Terms and Conditions. Tick the check box and click Continue.
Google will then show a message about sending you a code to verify that the page is yours. Click ‘Continue and verify later’.
You will then be taken through to your Google My Business Storefront or Service Area page where Google will talk you through how to configure your settings, access your business apps and edit your page. Your edits won’t show up on Google until you verify your page.
It is at this point that you can add a profile picture (this should be at least 250 x 250 pixels but can be larger) and a cover image (ideally, this should be 1,080 x 608 pixels). You can also add photos of your business, change your opening hours, add further contact details and much, much more.
Once you are happy with your profile (which you can edit at any time in the future too), click on the ‘Verify now’ button.
Setting up a Brand page
If, from the ‘Choose your business type’ page, you click on ‘Brand’, you will be taken to the screen below where you should enter the page name, your web address and the type of page (choose from Product or Brand, Entertainment, Community or Other). Tick the ‘Page Terms’ statement and click on ‘Create page’.
As with the Storefront and Service area pages, you’ll then be given the opportunity to set up your Brand page – you can take a tour if you’re not sure what to do first. Upload your profile picture and cover image before adding your contact details; at this stage, you can decide who can see those details, e.g. make them public, people in your Extended Circles or Your Circles. As a business, you’ll probably want as many people to see your page as possible.
Next, you will be prompted to write a short introduction about your brand. You can add a website or email link in here.
After being asked to add a tagline, the final step is to verify that the website you’ve listed as yours on the page is correct. Google will give you a link to information about how to do this in Google Webmaster Tools.
So, there you have it – how to set up the bare bones of your Google for Business page. Once your page is set up, you can then add in more ‘About’ information, links and images, and begin posting to your customers.
Do you have a Google for Business page or will you set one up now you’ve read this post? Why not shout about it in the Comments below? Feel free to add the link.
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