Have you claimed your business on Google My Business? Use this quick guide to get it done and start seeing all the benefits it can bring to your business.

For a lot of consumers, Google is the first place they turn to for information. Whether the question is about a particular product, brand, manufacturer or local company, Google has answers. However, details about local businesses are often incomplete or inaccurate, because the business owner hasn't taken the time to share the correct information. Fortunately, Google My Business makes it easy to bridge the gap.

This free tool from Google helps answer customer questions about your company immediately — and shares information about them with you, the business owner.

Here's how to get set up:

1. Register

Go to Google My Business and click Start Now. Enter your business name, address and any contact information you want to share. Then indicate your geographic service area (by region or ZIP code) and specify whether customers come to you (e.g., you're a salon) or if you go to them (e.g., you're a landscaping company).

2. Verify

Google wants to make sure that you have the authority to list the company, so it requires verification by mail, email, phone or search console property (i.e., website) before it makes your listing visible.

3. Create

When you register for a business account, Google starts building a simple website for you that customers will see when they search for you. You can add information about business hours, phone numbers, products and services.

4. Add Photos

Once your basic business information is visible to customers, stand out by sharing colorful photos of your products, space or satisfied customers. Restaurants might share photos of this week's specials, a tailor might share photos of recent garment repairs and a function hall could share photos of events held in their facility. There is no limit to the number of photos you can connect to your business account, so consider adding them regularly.

5. Start Posting

Create content, like short articles or blog posts, and share it on your new website. You could post daily deals or specials, update customers on seasonal changes or additions, announce upcoming events or answer questions you frequently hear from customers.

6. Get Alerts

Google My Business allows customers to review your business — and lets you know when they do. Use this opportunity to address any issues they raise but, more importantly, to thank them, both for their feedback and any compliments.

7. Analyze Your Results

Google Analytics is built in to Google My Business, so you can quickly click a button and be taken to a dashboard that tells you how much traffic your site has seen, where customers are originating, when they visit your site and how much time they spend there. This provides metrics you can use to track your business's success online.

The biggest benefit that Google My Business provides is the ability to control what potential customers see when they search for your business online. Make the most of this opportunity and seize the power to tell your own brand story.

Tags: branding