The Ultimate Guide To Google My Business
Take control of how your business information is displayed in Google & Google Maps!
Google My Business Overview & Basics
One of the largest influencing factors on gaining local visibility in the Google is the optimization of your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business is essentially your center for controlling how your business’s information is displayed on Google & Google Maps.
Ready to take control and get more local search traffic?
Let’s get into it!
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows local businesses to create a profile and control how their business’s information appears in Google search and on Google Maps.
With Google My Business (also referred to as GMB), you can add photos, create compelling business description to entice customers to visit your location, display your hours and contact information, and also monitor and reply to reviews that customers leave on Google for your business.
GMB also has a mobile app that you can use to monitor your online presence when you are away from your computer.
Google My Business also offers free analytics to let you know how people found your business online.
Why Is Google My Business Important?
According to Moz’s local search ranking factors, Google My Business is consistently in the top spot for ranking factors in local map search and also a significant factor in organic local search.
If getting search engine traffic is important to your business, then you absolutely need to set up & optimize your Google My Business account.
Being visible in local search makes it easy for customers to find you. Customers that are looking for businesses on Google maps and in local search are usually ready to buy.
Here’s an example of what shows up when I search for “pizza” on Google. In this example, the Google maps results are displayed above the organic search results:
Note that the Google map results don’t always show up on top, but people still tend to click on them even if they are farther down on the page. Juris Digital did a heat map study and discovered that around 32% of people clicked on the Google maps results, while the remaining users clicked on organic search results or paid ads.
Google maps makes it easy for customers to see exactly where you are located and get directions to your business location. Being listed on Google maps can drive a significant amount of traffic to your local business.
Having a Google My Business account also allows customers to leave reviews for your business. Reviews are another important ranking factor for search engines, so being able to accumulate reviews will also help you rank better in local search.
If customers leave negative reviews you can also reply to those reviews to resolve the situation. Being proactive and replying to reviews lets customers know that your business cares about their customers, which will increase people’s confidence in doing business with you.
How To Claim Your Google My Business Account
To sign up for a Google my Business account, go to Business.Google.Com and click on the button to get started.
Once you click on the button, Google will ask you a series of questions, starting with your business name. You will also be promoted to enter your address, business phone number and hours of operation.
Be sure to also upload photos and write a compelling business description that will encourage customers to visit your location. A strong business description and high quality photos can encourage customers to click on your listing and visit your business.
After you’ve completed the forms, Google will send a postcard to your business address to confirm your location. The postcard will have a code that you can use to confirm that you are the owner of the business. After you’ve entered the code, your Google My Business account is confirmed and active.
If you need further details, Google has also created its own guide to help business owners set up their Google My Business account.
Another important thing to note is that people can suggest changes or edits to your business on Google. This feature allows consumers to alert Google if a business closes down or if the business’s information changes (since business owners don’t always update their online information).
However, one of the downsides of this feature is that unscrupulous competitors or malicious individuals can also change your information without you being notified. Be sure to check your Google My Business account periodically to make sure that your business information is up to date and accurate.
How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Setting up your Google My Business account is a great first step to getting traffic from local search.
But to maximize your results from Google My Business, you can take several steps to optimize your listing to help drive even more traffic from local search.
Optimizing your listing may take a little time to do, but is not difficult. Any business that wants to be competitive in local search should do these steps.
Here are some simple steps you can take to increase the effectiveness of your Google listing.
Business Name and Basic Information
For the business name, Google wants business owners to enter their actual business name and nothing else. Avoid using taglines, location information or mentioning products in your business name unless they are an actual part of your business name.
Some SEO practitioners believe that adding keywords into your business name will help you rank better.
However, note that listing your keywords in your GMB name is not required to rank. A quick search for keywords like “pizza” will show that several of the ranking businesses don’t have the keyword in their name.
Instead, be sure to include your keywords in your business description and on your website’s title tag and text.
Fill out your other business information including business hours, address, website and phone number. Select the right business category so that Google will rank you for the right terms.
Google might also provide other options, like menus, where you can enter information specific to your type of business. For business name and information, the most important part of this section is to fill it out as completely and accurately as possible.
Google allows 750 characters for the business description, but only 250 characters will show up in the short versions when display space is limited. Be sure to write a compelling description in the first 250 words that can stand on its own. But also use the remaining space to create a longer description if you feel that it can help.
Business descriptions should not contain self-promotional language or offensive or inappropriate content. Avoid talking about special promotions that you are offering at the time. You are also not allowed to use links within your description.
Instead, take the time to write a description that accurately reflects what your business offers and highlight key selling points.
Do a quick search and look at what other businesses have written for their business description. Think about how you can write a description that stands out from the rest.
According to Google, businesses with photos see 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more clicks on their website link than businesses without photos.
Uploading high quality photos and videos can make your business look more appealing to potential customers. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or video editor. Sometimes even cell phone photos can do the trick.
Google recommends that photos should be at least 720 x 720 pixels and saved in jpg or png format. They should also be no larger than 5MB in size.
If you are an agency or marketing manager, there is a tool called LocalPics that will automatically send text message reminders to business owners to send pictures. The business owner can upload the pictures to LocalPics and they will automatically get uploaded into their Google My Business account.
Let’s take a look at the types of photos you can upload:
Your cover photo is important because it is the most prominent photo shown on your business profile. This image is also used in thumbnails, so be sure to pick an image that makes you stand out from competitors or makes people want to click on your listing:
Your profile photo is what shows up on your avatar when you post a photo or reply to a customer review. A business owner might choose to upload a high quality photo of themselves as the profile photo or a high quality image of the business logo.
Be sure to also upload a variety of other photos to represent your business. Here are some ideas you may want to consider:
- Photos of the exterior of your business
- Photos of the interior of your business
- Photos of your most popular products
- Photos of happy customers enjoying your products
- Photos of your team or employees
Add as many high quality photos as you need to fully convey your product offerings and what your business does.
If you have a lot of photos or multiple business locations, you can upload photos using a spreadsheet.
Google also allows you to upload videos to a Google My Business profile.
Adding a video can be a great way to engage your customer, showcase your location or demonstrate your product. Some video ideas might include giving a tour of your location, having the business owner share a message, filming happy customers or showing off some of your products.
Videos can be a maximum of 30 seconds long and 100 MB in size. They should be 720p or higher in resolution.
Most local businesses don’t have videos on their Google profile, so it’s not really required. But taking time to create and upload a video can be a good way to stand out.
How To Get Reviews On Google My Business
Another important step to getting search engine traffic from Google and also attracting more visitors is to get reviews on Google My Business.
According to a study by Brightlocal, 91% of people surveyed trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 86% of customers read online reviews for local businesses.
To get more reviews, you need to ask!
You can create a link to give to your customers by using this formula:
- Use the Google Place lookup tool to find your “PlaceID”
- Replace the words “placeid” in the following URL with your real PlaceID: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid
Next, you can ask people to leave reviews by sending them an email and simply asking for a review (if they join your email list).
It can be as simple as the following:Hey [Customer Name],
Thank you for being a customer of [Busienss Name]. We know you have a lot of options for [service], so we’re thrilled that you chose us.
We would love to get your feedback on your experience. Do you have a minute to leave us a quick review here?
Thank you very much and we look forward to serving you more in the future.
If you have any questions or additionally comments, feel free to just hit reply and I can answer you directly.
Avoid offering incentives like discounts or free products for giving a review.
Reply to positive reviews when appropriate to thank customers for their business and show them your appreciation.
You should also reply to negative reviews diplomatically, apologize when necessary and offer a solution to the issue.
Stay engaged with your GMB account
Engagement can be a factor that affects how websites rank in Google local search, so be sure to log into your GMB account periodically.
Review your business description, images and other details and update them to improve your listing, if needed. Replying to reviews to takes time, but increases engagement from your customers.
Additional GMB Features You’ll Want To Use
Setting up your Google My Business account is a great start if you want to get more customers and search engine traffic to your business. But you can increase your website traffic and get more customers by using some of the other features that Google offers.
What else can you do to stand out from your competitors? And what other steps a business take to improve engagement and get more customers?
In this section, we will cover some other powerful Google My Business features that business owners can use to improve search rankings and attract more customers. These features include Google Posts, Google Booking and Reservations, Google Messages and Google Questions and Answers.
What Are Google Posts & How To Use Them?
One feature that Google My Business users should look into are Google Posts. Google Posts allow business owners to share announcements, offers, news and other content from their Google My Business account.
This content can show up in Google search or Google maps when someone does an online search in Google.
Some marketers also believe that creating Google Posts can help businesses rank higher in the organic search results. In this case study, A marketing agency successfully increased organic traffic and search rankings for a local garage flooring company and a church by create two Google posts per week over a period of 3 weeks.
Patient Pop also tested Google Posts with their clients and found that using Google Posts increased the number of booked appointments by an average of 11%.
So what types of content can you create in Google Posts? And how can you optimize your results?
Let’s take a look…
Event Posts Vs. Regular Posts
Google posts allow you to create regular posts or event posts. Posts are required to have a minimum of 100 words and can have a maximum of 300 words.
Regular posts expire after 7 days and can be used for business announcement, news or status updates. Since standard Google Posts only last for 7 days, ideally, you should strive to create at least one new post each week.
Event posts last until the event is over, so they can drive traffic and customers for a longer period of time.
Both types of posts can be helpful for driving online traffic to your website and business. Asides from showing up on your Google business profile, Google Posts are also indexed and can show up in independent search results.
Google also allows you to schedule your Google posts in advanced or save them as drafts so that you can publish them later. Google keeps up to date information on how to create Google posts in their help section.
Adding Images To Google Posts
Another great feature of Google Posts is the ability to add an image to your post. Adding an image can increase user click through rates and engagement, so be sure to take advantage of this feature.
Images must be at least 400 x 300 pixels (10 kb) in size and no larger than 10,000 x 10,000 pixels (25 MB).
Bookings and Reservations With Google
Another useful feature that Google offers is the ability to add a booking or reservation button to your profile. This feature allows people to click on the button to book an appointment or make a reservation with your business.
If you want, you can also share the booking button on your website or social media sites like your Facebook page.
Adding the booking button in Google can increase the number of appointments a business gets as it makes it easy for people to book appointments. Additionally, the booking button can also benefit customers, who can add their appointment to their Google calendar to get automatic reminders.
Google provides up to date instructions for enabling the booking feature in this helpful article. Google can also integrate their button with these third party booking and reservation software tools.
What are Google Messages?
Studies show that businesses that focus on engaging their customers experience increased sales. So it’s no surprise that many businesses are starting to focus on increasing engagement with customers.
Google Messaging allows customers to contact businesses directly through their Google My Business Listing. Enabling this feature can allow businesses to answer customer questions quickly and better engage people who visit their listing.
Messages are sent to your phone and you can reply. Phone numbers are not revealed for either the business owner or the customer, so you can even set it up to send messages to your personal cell phone.
If you decide to enable Google Messaging, be sure that you are able to reply to inquiries quickly. If you aren’t going to be able to reply in a timely fashion, then you will be better off leaving this feature disabled.
Google also provides some guidelines on what types of messages are appropriate and inappropriate for this service.
What is the Questions and Answers feature?
Google My Business also has a Questions and Answers feature where people can ask questions about a business. Business owners and other people can reply to these questions.
According to a study conducted by Gather Up, 25% of businesses get questions on their Google business profile. Unfortunately, independent studies show that most local businesses and big brands are ignoring questions and leaving them unanswered.
Monitoring and answering questions is a great way to engage customers and provide answers to commonly asked questions.
Business owners can also ask and answer their own questions. Using Google Questions and Answers to create your own FAQ can be a good way to market the business by showcasing what you offer and describing the benefits.
Businesses that are concerned about reputation management should also monitor their questions because visitors can use this feature to write comments and criticisms. Unhappy customers or competitors can also reply to questions that other people ask and leave negative comments.
Replying to these comments can be a good way to fix problems and maintain a positive business image.
Note that Google My Business does not notify business owners when new questions are asked. To monitor your account for new questions, you can install the Google Maps app on your phone and turn the notifications on. You can also use a paid service like Gather Up that monitors Google Questions and Answers for you.
There it is, HOTH’ers. Now that you have these resources, it’s time to get set up on Google My Business and take over the map pack!
If you have any other pointers, suggestions, or questions, let us know what you think in the comments below!