This is step one of our 4-step process for utilizing Google’s MyBusiness listings. If you’ve arrived here directly, I’d encourage you to take a moment to read the introduction and view the complete Action Plan here.
Otherwise, we’ll get right to it!
To keep this simple, I’m going to assume you have a Google/Gmail account and that you are logged into Google. If you’re brand new to Google, you will need to go there now and sign up before you continue.
Once you’re logged into Google, the following screenshots should be a fairly close match to what you see, though be warned there may be some regional variations, and Google will no doubt make some more changes before long, but if you focus on the various processes it should all make sense.
Go to google.com/business/go and click the start now button and you’ll be shown a Google Map and a search form.
Start by entering your business name to see if you’re already listed. If your business name is at all generic… ie John Citizen Photography… you might find other businesses using the same name, in which case you might need to add your city and state as well.
If you do see your business listed, just click on the Business Name.
If it hasn’t been verified, you’ll be prompted to do that. You can skip ahead to Step 4 now to do that, (though you might want to check the notes below on entering your business information to make sure you got your NAP right!)
If your business is NOT listed, look for the bottom option … this doesn’t match, add your business… click on that to open the submit form where you add your business details.
The most important thing from here on is, you need to be consistent.
Google places a lot of importance on matching your details across multiple web properties, so you really want to make sure everything you enter is IDENTICAL on every website, profile, social media account and business directory that you use.
The most important fields are what Google refers to as NAP … Name, Address, Phone…
Your Business Name should be the same everywhere. Any little changes will hurt you, so decide on photography/photographer and stick to it. If you use your middle initial here, you need to use it every where.
Your Address should be the same everywhere. You can use St. or Street, as long keep it the same. You can use State abbreviations or write the state name out in full… it’s up to you… as long as you’re consistent.
Your Phone Number should be the same formatting as well. Where it’s 012 345 6789 or (012) 345 6789 or 012-345-6789 … you need to keep it identical, so Google can recognise it as being the same entity, and connect the listings.
Get the idea?
Total consistency will get you a significantly better ranking, because most photographers tend to get bit haphazard. They add a profile here and there over time, so details vary and Google simply doesn’t recognise them as all belonging to the same business.
So take your time and enter the information here as your new ‘standard’ version.
Then copy-and-paste it into a text file for future reference.
Then once we’re done here, you should revisit every other website, social media account and directory listing you have, and make sure they are all as close to identical as possible.
When you get to the category, start with photographer, but check to see if there’s a suitable/relevant sub-category as well. There’s not a lot of choice there, but if you’re a wedding photographer for example, do select that, as it will get you better rankings in more relevant SERPs.
There’s also a checkbox for businesses that ‘deliver’ goods and services to their Clients… that’s going to be a ‘Yes’ for most photographers. If you don’t have a studio or shopfront, you should definitely check this one, as it will give you the option to not have your address shown.
You’ll have the option to indicate a ‘service area’ after that. Make that fairly generous… you can always say no to the small jobs but it would be a shame to miss out on a big assignment because it was a couple of miles further away than you’d normally like to travel!
Finally, you can indicate whether or not you serve customers at your address. If you select ‘No’ your street address will NOT be shown on your business listings.
**** You do still need to enter a street address though, in order to create a Google Maps listing and to have your business verified! ****
Once Google is able to ‘locate’ your address on the map, you’ll be asked to Continue. If Google can’t locate your position, you’ll be asked to click a button to position the Map Marker manually. Follow the prompts to do that and save the location.
Next you’ll be asked to Verify your information so you can be designated as the authorised manager of this listing.
Just check the box to say you are authorised to manage the business and click continue.
Most people will be verified by mail. Google will send a postcard to your street address. That will take a week or so to arrive and will have a code number inside. You just login to Google and follow the prompts to enter your code and verify your business.
You may have the option to verify by Phone, in which case just click the button, answer the call or look for the text message, and then follow the prompts to enter the code number they give you.
Once that’s done… or the postcard is on the way, it’s time to set up the rest of your My Business listing.
You’ll then be shown to your Google+ Business Page and be prompted to set it up.
This part can be a bit confusing if you’ve dabbled in Google+ before as a lot of people have personal pages and ‘brand pages’ that are connected to their personal G+ page…
And trying to sort them all out and get the right page in the right place can be a headache. So much so, my suggestion is usually going to be to just start over.
If you have built up a large circle of connections on your old pages, get the new page fully set up and then invite them to connect with you on the new page.
If you’re been doing it well and they appreciate your content, most will happily follow you across.
If not, they probably aren’t particularly good prospects anyway!
What I tend to find is that most photographers have set the pages up and never really used them anyway, so they don’t lose much at all by starting fresh.
The good news is, the layout and set up process is really easy to follow, and you can pretty much just start at the top and work your way through it. Here’s a few pointers though, just so you don’t miss anything important!
This will be locked until your business is verified. Though hopefully you entered it correctly and shouldn’t have any need to change it anyway. (You’ll notice I made a typo in my demo above… I basically won’t be able to change that until the postcard arrives and I verify me account).
This should be entered in your standard format… just double check to make sure your map entry works as you’d expect.
Your main number is the exact same format you entered before, though you can also add additional numbers for landlines, mobiles, faxes etc.
Again consistency is important here. The www. in your domain is usually optional (do check if you’re not sure) so you can use it, or not, as long as you use the same version anytime you list your website anywhere.
A good format here is to start with your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as an intro, then show a list of services you offer, and finish up with a short summary and Call to Action (CTA).
Your USP… what it is that you offer that separates you from your competitors and makes you attractive to your customers? Wrap that into a short sentence or two… what you do, how you do it better than the rest, and what the real benefit of that is to your customer.
Your List of Services is a great way to get some relevant keywords into your copy, plus it lets the visitors see at a glance whether you are the photographer they’re looking for.
Your Summary and CTA should work together to reiterate the benefit for the customer in choosing you, and then clearly direct them to take the next step… pick up the phone, visit my website, send an email etc.
As you write this content, try to be thinking about the kinds of keyword phrases a potential customer might type into Google is they needed a photographer just like you? Usually it will be pretty simple… a location, a field of work and a photograph keyword…
ie Cairns Wedding Photographer, Portrait Photography Western Sydney etc.
That’s where your ‘Services List’ lets you cover a lot of options without it looking like a spam listing… as long as you mix it up a bit and keep it relevant, this is extremely valuable copy.
This is another area where you can seriously stand out from the crowd if you simply invest a little time and effort because most photographers don’t take full advantage of this.
In fact, quite a few tell me they don’t see the point, as they assume any potential customers will go to their website if they want to see sample photos.
They’re missing the point…
Posting plenty of images here will get random visitors to a point where they might decide to visit your website for more info… and it’s only then they become potential customers.
Not posting images positions you behind every other photographer who does add some photos.
There’s a reason people pay thousands of dollars every year for a ‘display ad’ in the Yellow Pages… it works to make you standard from the crowd… and you can access all the same benefits here, totally free of charge.
So for starters, upload a high quality head-and-shoulders profile shot.
Make it a good one!
If you don’t have one, consider doing a deal with a photographer-friend to shoot each other, because nothing is more unprofessional than a photographer with a bad headshot on display.
If you do it yourself, be very careful.
A side effect of the selfie-craze is that a lot of creative self-portraits we might have gotten away with in the past now just look like amateurish snapshots… and that will hurt your brand.
And don’t be tempted to hide behind a logo… you wouldn’t try to operate a shopfront from behind a one-way mirror. People would walk out in a flash. And it’s really no different online… people still like dealing with real people, so help them put a face to your name and brand. It will pay off.
While you’re at it, create an account at Gravatar using your main email address, and then anywhere you use that for social media or blogs, your profile pic will show up there as well.
If you use one, you can upload a logo as well.
If you don’t have one, and you’re not a skilled graphic designer, it’s probably best that you don’t try to wing it. There’s some excellent low-cost software options to do it yourself or for the same price you can get one made for you. (I’ve used LogoNerds in the past and always found they are quite good and very affordable).
After that you want to find a ‘Cover’ photo… this is the large image used at the top of your page.
Currently you need a photo at least 900 x 500 pixels. Google’s size requirements do seem to change a bit on this one, but it’s OK if you go ‘over’… you’ll just be prompted to crop it as you upload.
Be sure you check your live page as you go.
Make sure your three main pics… profile, logo and cover… all work together to present a complete and professional presence…
Get all three working together in perfect harmony and it will create a more engaging and appealing page…
And that will translate into more leads and sales for your business.
After that you have a number of sections you can add photos to.
Google has set some labels for these that don’t really fit our needs all that well, but you can use each section for anything you want and load anything you like.
You’ve got five sections you can use to illustrate up to five distinct service areas… or five main fields of work, or five main types of customer?
It’s up to you so experiment with the content and layout to get the result you’re after from each section.
I’ve seen a number of photographers recently using a few carefully positioned text-graphics instructing the visitor to take a specific action to book a shoot or hire them for a job.
I’ve also seen others who include text overlays on the full set of images, explaining the process step-by-step as if the viewer had already booked a shoot…
“first we’ll go through… and then we’ll take you over here and do… and then we’ll finish off with…“
You’ll also see a lot of photographers use collages to showcase an even larger selection of their work without publishing high-res images that might be misused.
Always think about these photo sets as having a very specific purpose… to get your visitor to take a specific action… so choose the selection wisely, impress them, show them a good sample of your work.
Like any slideshow, you generally leave them wanting more and get them to a point where it makes perfect sense for them to take the next step… whatever that might be.
If you don’t like the way Google’s ‘sections’ are labeled, consider making your first photo in each section a ‘title slide’ … add a prominent text overlay and your visitors won’t even notice Google’s heading.
This is actually worth doing anyway, as visitors from Google Maps and the SERPs will often end up viewing all your photos as one long slideshow gallery… see below… so a series of ‘section header slides, with your logo and title of some sort… will break it up and help the visitors understand what they’re looking at!
The main thing is, don’t use Google labels as an excuse not to load photos!
You’re a photographer marketing a photography business so your visitors are going to expect to see a lot of photos… so load plenty of photos! At least 4-5 to each section.
One final tip is to rename each photo you load with a relevant keyword tag. It’s not a massive benefit if you only load the 3 basic identity photos, but if you use the additional photo sections, this can really add up.
So going back to our earlier example, something like CairnsWeddingPhotographySample1.jpg is going to add a bit more SEO juice to your listing than a generic pic1234.jpg.
Once you’ve add a heap of photos, you’re done editing, so save your changes and check your page carefully.
If you go to the Edit Info tab and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a link to View Your Business On Google… click that to check your work.
The most important tip I can give you here is one I learned the hard way, through too many years of making the same mistake myself…
Do this properly now, while you’re here,
And don’t kid yourself you’ll come back and fix it or finish it later.
It never happens!
Do it right and do it once.
Spend even one hour doing this and you are going to be light-years ahead of most photographers out there.
Again I’ve got to stress that it’s not often you’ll find such valuable online marketing real estate available anywhere… especially for free.
The fact that it’s Google is making it available is even more amazing… they usually prefer businesses to spend a fortune on paid listings… so my suspicious nature makes me think it won’t be so freely available forever.
So make sure you grab your business listing and get it set up fast… while you can… and while so many other photographers are lagging behind.
This is quite literally money on the bank for ANY photographer looking for local photography jobs, so make sure you get your share!
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