In-Depth Guide to Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows small business owners greater control over the way in which their businesses appear in Google Maps and Search. You’ll learn how consumers are searching for your business and where they are doing so, among other features. From reviews and photos to operating hours and location, consumers can get the information they need about your business at a glance.

Google My Business is growing in importance for local businesses, due to its ability to help small businesses reach their target customers better than ever before. According to Nectafy, 28.88% of people who perform a mobile search for a specific kind of small business go to or call the business within a day. If you hope to appear in the top 3 local search listings that appear on Google search, called the Local Pack, you must get on board with Google My Business. The only requirement to using Google My Business is that you need to have a physical address.

 

What Should You Do First?

The first step is to claim and verify your Google My Business page. To do that, go to Google Maps and search for your business. There are two scenarios that can occur at this point – either you find your business or you don’t. If you don’t find it, you can add it by entering your details and verifying them. If you find it, claim and verify it.

 

How to Optimise Your GMB Listing

Local SEO has never been easy, but, with GMB, you might be able to boost your rankings. SEO fundamentals, such as technical and on-page SEO remain crucial, of course, but you can sabotage your chances of appearing in Google Maps and Local Packs if you don’t properly optimise your GMB listing. Why should you do everything in your power to be visible? Because, in 2017, 97% of consumers searched for businesses online.

Google is driving more interactivity with its features, such as Google My Business and Knowledge Graph, meaning fewer consumers may click on your website. You can use this to your advantage by making sure you do your bit to get consumers to convert without having to go to your website first.

To get your business listed, visit Google My Business and click “Start Now”. Fill in your details and be sure to include essentials such as opening hours, contact info and business category. Photos are crucial marketing tools, so be sure to include a good number of good quality pictures that represent your business. You also need to make sure the phone number, address and name listed are an exact match with what’s in directory listings and on the website. Any mistakes made, whether it’s in the contact information or category, can negatively impact your local rankings, so be sure to double-check.

 

What if Customers don’t Come to Your Location?

If you provide services to your customers in their own homes or offices, GMB allows you to check a box indicating that you deliver goods and services to your clients. If your business is based in a location you wouldn’t like disclosed, such as your home, there’s an option to hide your address.

How to Verify Your Business

GMB allows postcard verification, bulk verification, instant verification and verification by email, phone or postcard. To verify your business, sign in to GMB and select the business you’ll be verifying.

Instant verification

You might be able to verify your email instantly if you have already verified your business with Google Search Console. This method of verification does not apply to every business category, so you’ll have to opt for another verification method if you don’t receive a notification requesting that you verify the listing.

Bulk verification

Bulk verification applies to businesses with over 10 addresses for a single business. This excludes agencies managing locations for several businesses and service businesses. To begin, sign in to GMB, click “Get verified” and then click “Chain.” You’ll see a verification form for you to fill in and submit. Once it has been submitted, you may have to wait for as long as a week for your claim to be reviewed and processed by Google.

Verifying by Postcard

Double check your business address and add a contact name if you’ll be opting for verification by postcard. Next, click “Mail” and wait for the postcard to get to you in 5 days or so. To avoid delays, don’t edit your category, address or name before it arrives.

Sign in to Google My Business when you have received the postcard and click “Verify now.” You should see a code field where you’re expected to input the verification code on the postcard. If you happen to lose your postcard, or you never get it, you can ask for a new code by clicking the blue “Request another code” banner when you sign in to GMB.

Verifying by Phone

Not all businesses are eligible to verify their location by phone but, if you are, the “Verify by phone” option should be there when you begin the process of verification. Double check to ensure that your phone number is correct and then click the “Verify by phone” button. You should get a text message containing your verification code, which you’ll then enter into the field that appears.

Verifying by Email

Email verification works similarly to phone verification. Click on the option to verify by email and check your inbox for the verification button that will be sent.

What to Do if your Business has been Verified Already

It’s possible for your business to be verified already, possibly with an email account you’re not able to access anymore. While it can be a headache to regain access, it’s worth it. Don’t try to create a new account before you attempt to regain access, or you could end up with duplicate listings, which can affect your rankings. The option to ‘Request Ownership’ should be there if your location seems to belong to a different account. The current owner should receive an email from Google. You’ll need to be patient as the process can take days to complete.

 

Fleshing Out Your GMB Profile

Once you’ve verified your business, it’s time to finish fleshing out your profile. From your GMB dashboard, click on the listing you intend to work on, click on “Info” and select the section you’d like to update. You should fill in as much information as possible, especially since anybody can “suggest an edit.” You wouldn’t want just anyone to be able to make changes to your information. These are some of the most important areas to focus on:

GMB Photos

Google says businesses with photos get 42% higher requests for Google Maps driving directions and 35% more clicks to their website. Your cover photo is arguably the most crucial since it appears front and centre when customers see your listing. Also important is your profile photo, which appears when you review responses or upload new content.

Other pictures you add should include representations of the services and products you offer; the interior and exterior of your business from different angles; action shots of employees at work and a shot of your staff and management team. All pictures should be either PNG or JPG and should be 720 by 720 pixels in dimension.

GMB Videos

Google My Business allows you to add videos. You can use this feature to help your business stand out from others in your category and add a nice dash of variety to your profile. If you’re adding videos, be sure to make them at least 720p resolution, no heavier than 100 MB and no longer than 30 seconds.

GMB Reviews

It’s absolutely important to respond to reviews, whether positive or negative. You need to be highly professional when responding, for instance, not responding aggressively to negative reviews.

 

Key GMB Features

Instead of simply leaving your GMB listing alone once you’ve set it up, why not take advantage of its many awesome features to make yourself stand out from the crowd? Some of the features you can use to improve your local SEO include:

Insights

This feature lets you get all the useful information you need into how customers interact with your listing and how they search for your local business, in tables and graphs that are easy to understand.

Description

Think of your description as a unique chance to pitch your services or products to customers. Be sure to highlight what you offer and what makes you different from the rest.

Services

With this feature, you’ll be able to optimise your listing further by adding services and products for customers to see.

Posts

This feature is perfect for promoting special offers and events, as well as highlighting specific services or products.

Other cool features include reviews, booking, and messaging, all designed to ensure you can convert customers better than ever before. Why not start taking advantage of Google My Business today?

 

 

 

About the author

Matt is an SEO Account Manager at Synapse. He's been working to help small and large New Zealand businesses dominate their search marketing for over 4 years. With rankings in his veins, he’s the guy you want running your search campaigns!

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