As a freelancer, one of your primary goals is getting people to know about your services. One free tool that you shouldn't sleep on is Google My Business (GMB). With it you can reach a wider audience if it's set up and optimized correctly.
Both businesses and organizations can manage their online presence on Google, including Search and Maps. It helps customers find your company, and it gives owners a space to share their stories. When using Google My Business as a freelancer, some guidelines and restrictions make it a bit more complicated than a mere business listing.
Initially, Google set up GMB to support local search engine optimization (SEO). Its primary purpose is to show people targeted physical businesses in one particular area. Now, most freelancers work from home and don't have a client-facing structure.
Additionally, most freelancing services are not local. Thanks to today's interconnectivity, freelancers can work with clients from all over the world. Thus, some people think setting their profile as a freelancer isn't worth it.
However, if you want to improve your local SEO without too much effort or knowledge, setting up your GMB profile is effective and easy. But, to comply with Google's guidelines, you need:
- Your business name
- Hours of operations
How to Set Up Google My Business as A Freelancer
Not all is lost when it comes to leveraging GMB for your freelancing business. For boosting your local SEO, you can create a service-based business profile that caters to a service area.
Log in to the Google Account you want to be associated with your business (or create an account if you don't have one). Try and make sure you use a business Gmail account for professionalism.
Go to google.com/business and select "Start now" in the top right-hand corner. Enter your business name and click next. Follow the steps to submit the rest of your business information.
1. Create Your Profile
Follow the website prompts and accurately fill in all the required details. You'll want to set up your profile as a service-based business. You're allowed to choose only one primary category for the category section, and then you can add secondary categories to expound on what other services you offer.
The only downside to this is Google doesn't provide a drop-down list to pick from. Everything is auto-complete. To make your work easier, search for Pleper, a free online tool that lists all the categories offered by GMB.
Once you find one that matches what you offer, the tool will look for other related categories, so you don't have to do guesswork on GMB.
2. Get Your Business Name and Location Right
If you operate an LLC, use this as your business name. If you don't, consider using your name and specialty as the name of the company. For example: "John Smith, SEO Expert & Content Marketer."
Now, this is the most crucial step. As a service-based business, there are two location options. One is to say you receive clients at your location, meaning you'd like clients to find your address. The second one is for those who don't want to share an address. There's a checkbox that says, "Hide my address (it's not a store)."
3. Select Your Service Area
Those who choose not to display a specific address can select the physical areas you want to promote your business. GMB is all about local SEO. Unless your services are targeted towards a particular service area, you want to be as broad as you can.
Google My Business allows you to select a specific area, say a small town, or include a whole city. Even though clients in nearby cities won't necessarily see your GMB listing, it will be a useful marketing tool for potential clients within your service area.
4. Wait for Verification
Google is all about verification and security. They need to verify your listing before publishing to avoid misleading their users. They do it by:
Sending a postcard. The postcard contains a verification code, and it usually arrives within a few days. Once you sign in to your GMB account, you'll see the verify now option where you'll enter the code and hit submit.
Sending a text message. If they give you the option of 'verifying by phone', you'll receive a code via text to the number you provided while filling your profile.
Sending an email. You simply have to click 'verify by email', and you'll receive an email with a verification link, similar to the one that's sent by most websites.
5. Ask for Reviews
Merely having a GMB profile isn't going to do much for your business. Ask for reviews and make sure to publish them. Unlike other sites, Google Maps will rank companies based on the number of reviews they have. So, the more you can harvest, the better.
6. Update Your Posts
Keeping your page fresh and updated will make customers feel like you're invested in your services and will save you a lot of phone calls. You can decide to post offers, updates (e.g., on Covid-19), new products, and Q&As.
Stay vigilant, especially in the Q&A section, because anyone has the freedom to answer or ask whatever they wish. To prevent unnecessary drama, you can ask the questions and answer them yourself. Google allows owners to do it for transparency.
Google My Business Alternatives
Although GMB is an excellent marketing tool for all sorts of businesses, freelancers have other options. Some GMB alternatives for freelancers include:
- LinkedIn Profinder
- And, of course, Indy
Consider these job posting sites and portfolio sites to showcase your talent and grow your client pool. However, relying exclusively on these sites means that your income is subject to their terms and conditions. They can charge you a commission of 20% or more on your hard-earned money. Indy has a commission-free job matching program which you can join by creating a profile on our platform.
Other times, you might lose a client, not because you're underqualified, but because someone else offered to do the job at a lower price. Such conditions might coerce you into lowering your rates, which eventually goes hard on your income. Take caution before deciding to sign up for these freelancing sites.