You likely played some version of "hide-and-seek" as a child. It's a simple game: one person hides, another person seeks. The game ends when the hidden person is found. Most people move on to more advanced games as they grow older.Surprisingly, lots of small business owners still play hide-and-seek. A January 3, 2013, post on Google's blog states that, "In the U.S., 58% of small businesses don't have a website". Yes, more than HALF of small businesses in the U.S. don't have a website. They're hiding. European companies play hide-and-seek online, as well. Email-Brokers, a Belgian database and marketing firm, found that 40% of businesses in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have no internet presence, as reported by Reuters on January 8, 2013.
Not surprisingly, potential customers seek information online: "97 percent of Internet users look online for local products and services," says the Google post. (If you're a super double secret government agency, you probably don't want to be found. Hiding is good. But businesses should want to be found.)
No more hiding
If your business doesn't yet have a website, follow these simple steps to create a Google+ Local page for your business.
1. Create your Google+ Local page
Go to https://plus.google.com/pages/create to create a Google+ page. (You'll need to login with an existing Google+ account, or create a new one.) Choose the "Local Business" option to create a page for your business tied to a specific location.
Create a new Google+ Local Page
2. Choose your country and enter your business phone number
Enter your country and phone number. (In some cases, your business may already be listed in the Google+ Local database.)
Enter your country and phone number.
3. Enter your business information
If your business is not already listed, you'll need to add the business name and address. You'll also need to choose "category" for your business. Start typing a word that describes your business, and then look for possible categories. Choose the category that best fits your business.
Add your business name, address, and category.
4. Add your contact information
Add your email address (and web address, if you have one) to make it easy for customers to contact you. Also upload your company logo or photos. For retail locations, if you need a quick photo, use your smartphone to take a photo of the exterior of your location. Then click "Finish".
Add photos and contact information to your listing.
5. Add hours and description
Your local page is almost complete. While on your page, click the "Edit business information" button.
Edit your information
Make sure to enter your hours of operation; this is particularly important for small retail businesses and public-serving nonprofit organizations. Describe your products or services in greater detail in the "Description" field.
Add your hours so customers know when your business is open
6. Get verified
Finally, click the "Verify Now" button. Walk through the process to obtain a PIN from Google to verify your business. Google sends a postcard with a PIN to your location. You'll use the PIN for verification. (Read more about the process here.)
Be sure to verify your Google+ Local page.
Your Google+ Local listing ensures that your organization will at least have some basic location information online.
Regardless of what tools you use, stop playing hide-and-seek from your potential customers. Make yourself visible online today using Google+ Local. Then get ready for your customers.
5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1; ready or not, here they come!
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.