A Googe My Business listing is necessary nowadays.
Just about every local business has a listing, albeit they may not optimise it, but Google will still reward those listings by showing them at the top of most search results when someone is searching for that type of product or service!
Your Google My Business listing is also a tool to collect and show customer reviews. This allows your potential business to see what great work you do and make them more likely to call or visit your website! This means more leads, which translates to more business for you.
We will go over the basics of setting up your Google My Business to get you started.
We will also give you some tips on optimising your listing so you can stay ahead of your competition who may have lazily just created a listing and left it alone.
Claim Your Business
The first thing you will want to do (a desktop or laptop computer may make this quicker, but not necessary) is go to google.com/business.
From there, you will want to click “Manage Now”.
Be sure to sign in with a Google account.
If you do not have one, now is the time to create one.
After you have signed in, Google will ask you to search for your business name.
Don’t worry, if you do not see your business name in the result, you can easily add the business by clicking “Add your business to Google” right under the search box.
From here, add your business name and add the main category for your business. If you are in multiple categories, don’t worry, you can add secondary categories later.
For this step, it is best to pick your main line of service to get the listing added.
Next, Google will ask you if your business has a physical location for customers to visit. Answer that question, then get to the next step.
You will then want to add your full address. This must be exactly the way you have your legal business name listed. This must also be a real location, so NO PO Boxes, and unfortunately as of late, no virtual addresses as well.
*Side note: some people have still been able to add virtual addresses and get approved, however, this depends on many factors such as business category as well as locations.
Depending on the category you picked, Google will then proceed with questions you will have to answer before completing adding your business. Take your time and answer each question based on what your business provides.
Once the questions have been answered, proceed to enter your legal business phone number, and if you have one, enter your full URL for your website.
If you are asked at any point to turn on messaging, we recommend you select “yes”. This will allow customers to send messages to your listing. These messages will be received on the Google My Business app, which we also recommend you add to your mobile device or tablet.
At this point, Google will do one of two things:
- They will automatically “Verify” your business listing or
- They will want to verify your business, typically by sending you a postcard in the mail with a code.
The mail verification can take 3-7 business days, depending on your location. But do not worry, you can still make changes and optimise your listing while you are waiting.
If you do get an instant verification, you can proceed to optimise your listing.
We will get into that next!
Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
Google’s free GMB tool is a powerhouse when it comes to showing up in the search results. Many businesses underestimate the power of this free listing.
So, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of all aspects, space,s and areas of the tool where you can provide as much information about your business?
Google rewards listings it trusts, and how else to show trust than by providing as much information as possible?
During the setup of your business, Google may ask you to start adding photos, descriptions, etc. If you did all of that, great! If not, that’s ok too. We will go over the basic areas you need to be sure are filled out.
And don’t worry, if you did add some basic info when you added the business, you can also edit when you are on the dashboard, just follow this formula we layout below.
The main areas you want to be sure are filled out are listed below. You can find most of these in the “Info” section on the left menu bar of the GMB Dashboard.
You have up to 750 characters to describe your business.
The first 250 characters show in the results, so be sure to add the main service and areas you service in that first set.
Be sure to be very detailed here.
Typically this is where you can put your “elevator” pitch, but be sure to include where you are located, or what service areas you provide.
For Example: Staffordshire SEO is a premium search engine optimisation provider serving Lichfield, Staffordshire for over 10 years. We use organic backlinks along with our secret tactics to provide the best Google rankings for your small business! Enjoy watching your business grow online and ensure the phone is always ringing!
This example is just a bit longer than 250 characters but should give you an idea.
Of course, we would want to add more after that to fill up the 750 characters given to us (for free) by Google, but his section is what most people will see right away.
So use the space wisely.
This section is where you tell Google where your customers are.
Do not be too broad here (such as picking an entire state/province/etc). Instead, search for cities or town names and select.
This will ensure you show up where your customers are.
For our example above for SEO Staffordshire, we would pick Lichfield, Staffordshire, but would probably suggest the surrounding areas such as Stafford, Tamworth, Cannock etc.
You may also add service areas by ZIP or postal code.
Be specific in this section, and keep in mind you are currently limited to 20 service areas.
General Business Information
Depending on the category, you may have different sections to modify.
However, some standard items you will want to make sure are updated are things such as hours of operation, Business Name, Phone, and Address (known as NAP) – but this was probably done at the beginning.
Comb through this section and fill out as much information as you can.
In our example above, there are sections such as “Menu Link”, “Reservation Link” as well as “Order Ahead Link”.
Since Google My Business will change these sections based on your category, just go through each one as best you can.
Do not worry if you do not have information for every section.
Logos and Photos
Another section you will want to focus on is the “Logos”.
This is located in the “Photos” area of the dashboard.
When you first add your listing, adding your logo is very important.
If you do not have one, please try to find someone to design one.
This logo will help Google My Business trust your listing even more. They will show this as your business “avatar” when your listing shows up.
This is equivalent to your profile picture on a platform like Facebook. It is the first thing people see when your Google My Business listing shows.
The next thing to work on, when you can, is adding photos.
You will see Google organises photos by a few categories depending on your business category.
You may see sections such as exterior, interior, videos, staff/employees, etc.
For our example of Staffordshire SEO, since it is listed as a digital marketing office, we would also have a photo category of our team or offices. These change per category, so go through them and add as many photos as you can!
Google My Business Profile Optimisation Check
The good news for you is that Google will remind you of sections you may want to consider filling out.
Sometimes these may be new items, such as COVID updates from 2020.
Just keep going into your Google My Business dashboard, and check any recommendations they may show.
Google likes to guide you on how to make them happy so they show your listing over another.
Now that you have the basics, it’s time to get the business rolling and to get your GMB listing ranked!
Getting Your Google My Business to Rank
Once your listing has been optimised and verified, it is now time to get it showing over your competitors.
This guide was really for a simple setup, however, this is some bonus material to guide you in the right direction.
Google will reward listings that use it to their full potential.
That is why we suggested to fill out as much information as you can in your listing, as well as add as many photos as you can.
So the next steps will also help you use MORE of the tool as you go along. Here are two excellent items to follow.
Google My Business Posts
There is a section on the GMB dashboard called “Posts”.
These are like mini-blogs or updates similar to Facebook, Twitter, etc. You have a few options when you select this:
- COVID Update
- Add Offer
- Add Update
- Add Event
These are pretty self-explanatory, however, there is one you want to add at a minimum of 4 times a month if you can.
Add Update is the same as a small blog post. With these, you can add a photo, and write about something your customers may be interested in.
For Example, Dave’s Steakhouse in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, we may want to write about where we source our beef from. This will educate the customer more about our business.
Not to mention, Google will love the content and be more likely to show our post to someone who may be searching “organic beef tacos in Birmingham”.
This does not go without saying, the other categories are just as important.
However, some businesses may not have events or offers.
But, if you do, post them as well!
Reviews can make or break a business. But they are necessary in today’s world.
GMB allows you to collect reviews and show them publicly.
So our next piece of advice is to be sure to ASK for reviews!
When you are getting a high number of reviews, especially if they are also a high rating, Google will reward your listing over others.
So be sure to ask customers to leave reviews.
Another pro-tip: be sure to respond to every review. If you get a negative or bad review, be sure you still reply with a professional and courteous response. Nothing turns customers away more than an angry owner who cannot handle a little criticism.
If you are too busy or easily forget this, you may also use 3rd party services that will automate the review request.
Some of them use SMS text and/or email to request the review.
This article will not get into this, however, you can search for this service to see which one may fit your business model.
Do Not Leave Money On the Table
As you can see, setting up your Google My Business is not too difficult.
As a business, you will see the return by doing so.
After all, it is a FREE tool provided by the largest search engine on the planet.
If you follow our steps on making sure every section is filled out, photos are added and service areas narrowed down, your chances of a successful listing increase over your competitors who are leaving money on the table!
Posting updates weekly and getting customer reviews will round out the rest of your GMB listing and make it soar to the top of the search results for your business!
And finally, You can learn for about Google My business and Local SEO on my How To Rank On Google Guide.