Google my Business – How to set up and optimise

2020

Ultimate Guide

22 Point Checklist

Optimizing Google My Business

Beginners Guide / Checklist…

 

 

The way people search for information has changed and search engines along with them. Today, instead of searching for general information, people now expect a personalized experience. 

 

For example, someone looking to repair their watch may be forced to search through business listings in other to find one. But today they can simply type “watch repair near me” on Google and be presented with an up-to-date list of businesses offering that service.

 

This is as a result of Google my Business (GMB). 

 

What is Google My Business?

 

GMB is a free tool in Google’s toolkit that allows you to create and manage how a business looks and responds in Google Maps and Search. The GMB dashboard allows you to control all aspects of your search and maps listing, including adding your company name, location, and opening hours. 

 

You can also monitor and respond to customer reviews about your business in real-time and add photos that showcase your product or location. Finally, GMB also includes an analytics dashboard that shows you where and how people are looking for you, your popularity over time, and much more.

 

Why is Google My Business Important?

 

Think about how many times you needed something, searched for it on Google, and went with the result that fit your particular case. Remember our search for watch repairers from earlier on? Research shows that most people who conduct a local search for services around them like “watch repair near me” end up visiting a store that day. 

 

Asides from providing business with vital tools to help grow their, GMB also allows them to show up in their local area search results with ease, simplifying the way that customers find relevant information, products, and services.

 

In this ultimate beginner’s guide to optimizing a Google My Business listing, we will be sharing with you a comprehensive checklist of how to:

 

  • create your Google My Business account; 
  • verify your business listing; and 
  • make your GMB listing as effective as possible.

 

Note: Google My Business is Completely Free to Use.

 

The GMB tool and dashboard are entirely free to use. Google only requires that businesses update their listing as new services are offered to improve their reliability. They are also required to have some face-to-face time with their customers, meaning that businesses can’t be 100% online.

 

Creating a Google My Business Listing.

 

 

  • Check your eligibility for a Google My Business Listing.

 

 

GMB is primarily focused on helping local businesses, so most organizations, online businesses, artists, and brands without brick and mortar locations are not considered local businesses. Also, real estate rental and for-sale properties are not eligible for a Google My business listing. 

 

 

  • Avoid Duplicate Content.

 

 

If you already have a GMB listing online, you can claim your previous listing instead of creating a new one. Most local addresses that already had a Google+ Business Page (before it was jettisoned) or a Google Local page may have had their pages converted to a Google My Business listing. 

 

To claim a business listing on GMB, you can:

  • Search for your business name on Google
  • If you see your business on the right in the search result page, click on it and see if the “Are You the Business Owner” link appears.
  • If it does, click on it and claim your GMB listing.
  • If the link doesn’t appear, you will have to create another one.

 

 

  • Create a New Google My Business Listing

 

 

If your business is eligible and you don’t have any duplicate listings or are unable to edit them, you can create a new GMB listing following the steps below:

 

  • First, visit the Google My Business page and sign in with the Google account you want to associate with your business or create a Google A=account if you don’t already have one.

 

  • Select the “Start now” option in the top right-hand corner and type in the name of your business on the page that appears

 

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, like a store or office, you can select “Yes” to add an address or “No” to proceed.

 

  • You will be asked to fill in this address and drag a map pointer to your exact location on the map in the screens that follow. You’ll also be asked more questions about your location and the areas you serve. This allows Google to present your locations to people who need your services, so try to be as detailed as possible.

 

  • Next, you’ll be asked of your business category; just start typing, and you’ll be presented with the closest options. 

 

  • Finally, you’ll be asked for your contact details and website address. Filling these steps accurately will make your business discoverable during local and mobile searches and on Google Maps.

 

  • Clicking on “Finish” will take you to a page where you can verify your physical location via mail. Simply fill in the contact name and click on “Mail.” You can also click on “Try a different method” > “Later” if you would like to set up your GMB listing first.

 

  • This will take you to your Google My Business dashboard, where you can modify and optimize your business listing. 

 

 

  • How To Verify Your Google My Business Listing.

 

 

Depending on your business type, location, or services, there are several ways you can verify your GMB listing, these include:

 

  •    Via postcard: 

 

You will be asked to ensure that your business address is correct and asked to provide a contact name whom the postcard will be addressed to. Next, click on “Mail.” The postcard should get to the location you specified in 5 to 14 days, depending on your location.

 

On getting the postcard, log into your GMB account, select the location you wish to verify, and click on “Verify Now.” Next, fill in the five-digit verification code noted on the postcard and click “Submit.”

 

  •    Via phone call:

 

If you’re eligible, you’ll see a “Verify by phone” option on the “Choose a way to verify page.” Ensure the phone number you provide is correct and click on “Verify by phone.” You will be sent a text with the verification code. Simply enter this code and click “Submit.”

 

  •    Via email:

 

If eligible, you’ll find the “Verify by email” option on the “Choose a way to verify page.” Ensure the email address you provide is correct and click on “Verify by email.” You will be sent an email from Google My Business with a verification button. Simply click on this button to complete the process.

 

  •    Via Instant verification:

 

You may have verified your business on another Google service like the Search Console, in this case, you may be eligible for the “Instant verification” option. You should see a notification asking you to verify the listing if you sign into GMB using the same account you used to verify your business with Google, and if you don’t, you are not eligible.

 

 

  • Use Your Correct Business Name

 

 

When creating your GMB listing, you will be asked to provide your business name. Whatever name you provide should be the name your business is best known for or the name on your storefront, website, and stationery. Google provides strict guidelines about acceptable business names.

 

Avoid including any other unnecessary information, including company taglines, special characters, niche keywords, websites, and social media, along with the name of your business. 

 

 

  • Always keep Your Google My business Address Up-to-Date

 

 

Business change, they grow, or they drop; in either case, it is essential that you keep your GMB listing address up-to-date with your current location. This can be quickly done from your GMB dashboard. 

 

  • Sign in to your GMB dashboard and click on “Info,” on the next page, click on the pen-like icon beside your current address.

 

  • In the new window, provide all of the necessary information, including your Country, Street, City, and Postal code. You will also be required to position the map pointer on the map before you can continue by selecting “Apply.”

 

It is essential to ensure that your business details, including its address, contact numbers, and email, is consistent everywhere, from your GMB listing, website, online listings, and social media. Using the “Set marker location” button gives you a bit of flexibility when pinpointing your precise location for potential customers.

 

 

  • Always Provide a Working Phone Number or Contact Option 

 

 

One of the worst things that can happen to your business is for your customers to be unable to reach you when they want to buy. GMB solves this by providing your contact number and other details on your Search badge (shown below). Always provide a number that you can be reached on as Google uses this to match your address and verify your local status.

 

Avoid using a toll-free 800, a Voice over IP (VoIP), or call tracking number when creating your GMB local listings as you may be penalized and not show up in search results. Ensure that you’re using a current, working phone number that bears your local area code. 

 

Tip: Turn leads into paying customers by having someone answer the phone whenever it rings, as most people who call GMB numbers are ready to purchase what you’re offering.

 

  • Editing your GMB phone number

 

You can easily add, edit, and update your GMB phone number from your dashboard by signing into your Google My Business account and clicking on “Info.” On the next page, click on the pen-like icon beside your current phone number.

 

On the pop-up that appears, fill in your best phone number and click on “Apply.” That’s it!

 

 

  • Ensure Your Business is in the Right GMB Category

 

 

When creating your GMB listing, you will be asked to place your business under one of several categories. This is to allow Google to serve your GMB listing to those who actually need your products or services. For instance, placing your toy business under “Auditors” will not produce the results you want.

 

You can find and example from Google below:

 

The first category you select when creating your GMB listing is treated as your primary category, and all others fall under it. This main category should remain constant for all of your store locations and represent your busines ups offering correctly. 

 

Google provides a list of over 300 business categories, and you can select additional subcategories to narrow it down later on.

 

You can easily add, edit, and update your GMB category from your dashboard by signing into your Google My Business account and clicking on “Services.” On the next page, click on the pen-like icon beside your current category to edit it or select “Add another category” to add a new one.

 

Click on “Apply” to save your changes.

 

 

  • Add All the Areas Your Business Services 

 

 

Businesses that serve customers at a physical location cannot afford not to include the areas they serve. Service-based businesses such as restaurants, food delivery, home repair, moving companies, and local stores that deliver goods and services to their customers’ doorsteps should take the time to fill in all of the areas they serve for maximum exposure.

 

 

  • Adding, editing and deleting your service areas

 

 

You can easily add or remove your GMB service areas from your dashboard by signing into your Google My Business account and clicking on “Info.” On the next page, click on the pen-like icon beside the “Add service area” option to add or edit your service areas.

 

 

This will reveal a pop-up where you can add or remove a GMB service area. Simply start typing the name or zip code, and you’ll be presented with several options to choose from. You can remove service areas by clicking on the X beside them. When you’re done, click on “Apply” to save your edits.

 

You can list up to 20 service areas that can be specified by city, postal code, and other areas. When updating your GMB service area, keep the following in mind:

 

  1. Leave the address section blank and only fill in your service areas if you don’t serve customers at a physical location.
  2. Fill in both your business address and service area if you serve customers at a physical location.

 

 

  • Ensure That Your Google My Business Listing is Verified

 

 

None of the above contact details, services, descriptions, or other business details will be displayed on Google properties like Maps and Search if your business is not verified. So, even if you skipped the initial verification process and moved straight into your GMB dashboard, you will still be required to verify your profile.

 

When you’re done setting up your account, you will still be prompted to verify your profile before it goes live. You can easily verify your GMB listing by following Tip 4 above, and the most popular methods include verification via a text message sent to the phone number you provided or a postcard sent to your GMB address.

 

After you have verified your GMB listing, a “Verified” badge will appear beside your business name on your dashboard, and your profile goes live.

 

 

  • Connect Each Google My Business Listing to the Correct URL

 

 

Business with only one street address, one website, and a single GMB listing need not worry about this optimization point. However, if your business has multiple physical locations, you should set up a separate GMB listing for each location and link it to their relevant website or landing page. 

 

You can easily add, verify, and manage all your GMB listings in bulk if your business has 10 or more locations using Google’s bulk verification feature. This allows you to add, remove, edit, and keep each location’s information up-to-date right in your GMB dashboard or by uploading a revised spreadsheet.

 

 

  • Include and Update Your Google My Business Hours

 

 

Whenever people search for your business or services on Google, their search results will feature your hours of operation. 

 

 

Therefore, it is vital to ensure that your GMB listing displays the correct hours of operation at all times. 

 

  • Adding and editing your GMB hours of operation

 

If your hours of operation changes for any reason, you can easily add and edit them from your GMB dashboard by signing into your account and clicking on “Info.” On the next page, click on the pen-like icon beside the “Add hours” option to add or edit your business hours.

 

This will reveal a pop-up where you can add or edit your business hours. Simply activate each day and set your opens at – closes at options. When you’re done, click on “Apply” to save your changes.

 

Now, whenever someone views your GMB listing, they’ll know whether your store is open or not.

 

 

  • Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

 

 

To maximize your exposure online, it is essential to flesh out your GMB profile as much as possible. This involves adding necessary information like your business address, hours, contact details, website, highlights, description, attributes (e.g., “wheelchair accessible,” “free wifi”), business category, and photos. You can also add advanced information like your store code, labels, and Google Ads phone extension number if available. 

 

Depending on your business, you may or may not need to show all of this information. However, it is essential to include, at the very least, your location, business category, contact details, description, and photos. These will guarantee that your GMB listing is shown in relevant searches.

 

As a result of the “suggest an edit” feature, anyone can make edits to your listing, so it’s essential to:

 

    1. Ensure that all your details are correct the first time to discourage changes from third-party editors.
    2. Periodically log into your GMB dashboard to ensure that no changes have been made to your listing.  

 

 

  • Write a Compelling Google My Business Description

 

 

Your business description is one of the first things shown on your GMB listing. Therefore, it is essential that it accurately describes your business, products, and services using a few sentences. 

 

We recommend keeping your description short, sweet, and focused on the most critical parts of your business as Google will only pick up a snippet to display in SERPs. You can use this opportunity to highlight your unique selling points and points of differentiation.

 

For instance, the above listing reads: “Pottery studio with a retail storefront offering a selection of one-of-a-kind, locally made pieces.”

 

In one sentence, we know what the business is about, what it does, and what one can expect to see there. 

 

  • Adding and editing your GMB description

 

You can easily add and edit your GMB description from your dashboard by signing into your Google My Business account and clicking on “Info.” On the next page, click on the pen-like icon beside the “Add description” option to add or edit your business description.

 

This will open up a window where you can add or edit your GMB listing description. When done, select “Apply” to save your changes.

 

 

  • Add Relevant Photos to Your Google My Business Listing

 

 

Google My Business allows you to showcase your products, services, locations, and personnel by adding photos to your GMB listing. 

 

Photos are not only good for showcasing your offering, but they are also good for your SEO as Google will show listing with images over those without. Adding relevant images will also increase your click-through rate. 

 

There are different types of photos you can add to your GMB listing including:

 

  • Profile photo – This appears on your GMB profile besides your business name and is used as your business image.
  • Cover photo – This appears as a large featured image on top of your GMB listing in search results.
  • Logo – This is used to show your business identity when you post a photo or reply to a review.
  • Preferred photo – This appears alongside your business name on Google Search and Maps
  • Interior/Exterior photo – These images showcase the interior of your business while making it for customers to spot it from outside.
  • Video – You can also make use of videos to showcase your business and what makes it different.

 

  • Adding and editing your GMB photos

 

You can easily add and edit your business listing photos from your GMB dashboard by signing into your Google My Business account and clicking on “Photos.” On the next page, click on the plus-like icon on the top-right corner of your screen. You may also use the “Add photos” button on any of the easy categories provided.

 

This will open up an upload dialog box where you can add your images. Google recommends that all photos have a minimum resolution of 720 X 720px with a maximum size of 5MB. Your photos should also be in focus, well lit, and realistic without any filters or graphics.

 

  • Tip 1: Ensure that your business environment always looks inviting as customers are also able to add photos to your GMB listing.
  • Tip 2: Since images play an essential role in converting your online visitors into buyers, we recommend uploading only high-quality photos that show off your business right.

 

 

  • Add Products/Shop to Your Google My Business

 

 

The Products/Shop feature allows businesses to display their offerings on their GMB listing. These will be shown under the Products tab and can include several CTAs like Buy, Learn more, Get offer, and Order online. 

 

Access to this feature is currently limited and is highly dependent on your primary category. Some businesses that have this feature include car dealerships, lawyers, private practitioners, optometrists, self-storage facilities, roofing contractors, and HVAC tradespeople.

 

  • Adding a Product/Shop item

 

You can easily add and edit your GMB Products/Shop from your dashboard by signing into your Google My Business. Depending on your primary category, the button may show either Product (Beta) or Shop (Beta) on the left side of your dashboard. 

 

Clicking on that should bring up your products. Since we don’t have any yet, we can simply click on “Get started” to bring up a product questionnaire where you can add:

 

  • Product Category (e.g., Law Services, Truck Rentals, etc.)
  • Product Name
  • Product Image
  • Product Price
  • Product Description
  • CTA Button 

 

Click on “Save” to apply your changes.

 

Searchers who see your products on the front-end will also see a Call button that is added automatically and connects to the primary number on to your listing.

 

 

  • Add a Virtual Tour to Your Google My Business Listing

 

 

You can get a step over your competitors by adding an indoor virtual tour to your GMB listing to give searchers a feel of what your business premises look like. You will have to seek the services of a recommended Google StreetView photographer to shoot the inside, and if necessary, the outside of your business. 

 

Businesses and public institutions that rely on their ambiance and interior décor to attract customers, like restaurants, parks, and hotels can benefit significantly from showcasing their space. Footage from the StreetView will be used to create a virtual tour that is added to your search results on Google Maps and Search, especially restaurant and Hotel Searches. 

  

 

  • Engage with Customers and Ask for Customer Reviews

 

 

With your GMB listing set up, the next step is to give it some authority, so people know you mean business. The best way to do this is actively engaging with your customers and asking them to leave positive reviews on your GMB listing. 

 

Positive reviews are a psychological call to action that’ll increase your click-through rate and increase your search ranking. You can remind your customers to leave a review on your GMB page when they come to you or provide incentives for those who do so. Another way to garner reviews is by sending them an email with a link to your GMB listing and requesting them for a review.

 

It also pays to respond to reviews, especially negative ones, this shows that you care about their thoughts. Customers have more incentive to leave their feedback if they know that it will be heard.

 

 

  • Post on Your Google My Business Listing

 

 

Like all social media platforms, you can publish posts on your GMB listing and maximize your SEO. You can add, edit, and delete posts on the “Posts” tab of your GMB dashboard. Certain parts of your posts may become visible on your Google Maps and Search results pages, depending on relevance.

 

The Google My Business post feature doesn’t limit you just to blog posts or updates; through posts, you can run promotions, create events, make announcements, and highlight products. Therefore, the information in these posts has to be highly relevant and, in most cases, addressing common customer pain points to engage with them. 

 

You can schedule weekly posts to optimize your Google My Business profile and stay ahead of the competition. Don’t forget to include your call to action button on each post to ensure a seamless experience from discovery to engagement.

 

 

  • Ask and Answer Questions on Google My Business

 

 

The primary reason why people come on Google is to get more information on something, and the people over at Google understand this. In addition to your business description and customer reviews, Google Maps now offers a section for potential customers to ask questions.

 

Anyone can ask and answer questions on your public GMB listing, frequent answerers are called “Guides,” and are awarded different badges depending on the information they provide. These questions are meant to tell people more about your business, but they can also be an excellent way to promote your services too.

 

By preemptively creating questions on your GMB listing and answering them, you can have a sort of FAQ section that will show up in your business listing on Maps and Search results. For instance, if you answer that your produce store sells organic products, you stand a better chance of appearing in a search result for “organic products near me.”

 

Begin by understanding your customers’ pain points and any barriers to potential customers coming to your business and populate the questions and answers section of your GMB listings. By clearing up any confusion about your business, you can improve the efficiency of your Google My Business listing.

 

 

  • Consider Using Google My Business Messaging Feature

 

 

Google My Business recently unrolled a new messaging feature that allows searchers to send messages and texts directly to you from your GMB Knowledge Panel. This feature is available in Google Search results as a “Request a Quote” button and in Google Maps as a “Message” or “Contact Us Now” button. 

 

 

 

This feature has to be enabled before you can use it and can be disabled at any time. Enabling this feature will allow customers to send your business messages and receive replies in real-time. Therefore, it’s best to activate it only when there is someone around to answer questions.

 

How to Setup Google My Business Messaging:

 

  1. You will have to download the Google My Business App from the
    1.  App Store or
    2. Google Play to enable the messaging feature.
  2. Next, sign in to your Google My Business dashboard and choose the business that you want to activate messaging for.
  3. Select Customers > Messages > Settings > Turn Direct messaging is now active.

 

Google outlines several chat policies that business has to follow to use this feature, ensure you read and understand them before enabling it.  

 

 

  • Grade Your Google My Business Optimization

 

 

When all is said and done, you will want to know how well you have optimized your GMB listing. ThriveHive Grader provides a tool that helps you take the guesswork out of your Google My Business optimization efforts and shows you the areas you need to improve on.

 

Asides from analyzing your GMB listing, this tool also gives your profile an overall grade after analyzing three important criteria: Presence, Reputation, and Outreach. You’ll get to see the different elements of your Google My Business, including what you’re doing well, and what areas require optimizing.

 

The best part is that it highlights all the points that need fixing and provides recommendations and guidance on how to go about it.

 

No doubt the Google My Business platform is another useful innovation from Google that strives to bring the physical world closer to people online. The above tips will help your business stand out so that it can be searched and accessed quickly and easily. 

 

Use these steps to create, optimize, and maintain your profile will help get your Google My Business listing found by the right people.

 

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