If it's been a long time since you last logged into your Google My Business account, take note: Google may soon start de-listing businesses that show few signs of active management. Google says it will first try to contact owners of neglected listings before cutting the cord, so you won't be caught completely by surprise (unless you never open your e-mails from Google).
Your Google My Business listing is a tremendous online asset for generating new business. If you've been neglecting it, start getting into the habit of posting business updates, or uploading new photos. Sales promotions with expiration dates are great for making the phone ring or getting new customers in the door. While you're logged in, you can also view key metrics for your listing like number of impressions, and actions taken by viewers (clicks to website, calls, clicks on map for directions) to remind you of what you could potentially miss by neglecting your Google listing.
Just getting started to get your business online? Here's the LocalBizNYC.com quick and easy to do list to get your started to show up online:
1. Claim your business on Google My Business. (Note: If you do not have a Gmail account, you will first need to create one before you can claim or verify ownership of your business.) The process takes no more than 10 minutes. Google verifies ownership by sending you a code through regular mail (this can take up to 2 weeks). Once you enter the code online, your business is verified.
2. Create a Google+ listing for your business and optimize it with detailed information on your services, store hours and photos. Encourage your customers to provide reviews on Google +. Google rewards relevant, good quality content, so providing more is better than less.
3. Claim your business on Yelp. The process is similar to Google, except Yelp verifies ownership by telephoning you with a code that you enter online. Once this happens, you optimize your free listing in a similar fashion as Google. Yelp listings rank well in local search results, so the more presentable your business is, the more likely you will show up in results. The Yelp Business account also alerts you when someone reviews your business and allows you to directly respond to negative reviews. So, prospective customers can read your side of the story.
4. Claim your business on Bing Places for Business. With 30% of the search market, Bing generates relevant local search traffic. It also covers you for local searches on Yahoo's search engine.
All of these are quick, easy and, best of all, free things you can do to jump start your business' online presence.
William Manny is the Founder of LocalBiz.NYC.