If you build it, they will come — at the least, if your customers can find you. Yet only 37 percent of small business owners have claimed their local business listing on a search engine, according to Google. That's the quick-look table that pops up to the right of Google search results with maps, hours, photos, and reviews. When 4 in 5 people look up shops online for basic information, it's just good sense to have as much control as possible over how your customers learn about you.
1. Claim your listing.
Go to Google My Business and follow the directions to register your connection to the search result. You can call (844) 491-9665 in the United States between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
2. Manage your dashboard.
Google has just introduced ways to edit your listing right inside your search result page. You can add photos, link to menus, answer questions (such as holiday hours), and more. According to Google project manager Ranjith Jayaram, "Businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust, 38% more likely to attract in-store visits, and 29% more likely to see a purchase."
3. Keep learning.
Check in with Get Your Business Online, Google's resource center for marketing tips, building a free website, community connections (including in-person workshops near you), and quick business lessons you can access on your phone.
Google isn't the only game in town, but it's certainly the biggest. To give your website the best material for every search engine to surface your business, look for SEO tips to build into the site's backend. Finally, stay engaged with your customers — search engines are often where first impressions happen, and that includes reviews. Keep your local business listing current, friendly, and personal. Following these steps and integrating search into your business strategy is a quick and easy way to stay ahead of the pack.