As an entrepreneur, you are always looking to grow your business online presence, and having a Google My Business page is vital. Well, if you didn’t agree, you probably wouldn’t be here.
This guide has been prepared to help you build a Google My Business page, and condition it to create a solid online presence for your business, and subsequently increase your leads and sales opportunities.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to set-up a Google My Business page, claim and verify your listings, optimize your page to generate reviews, manage your dashboard, and use insights to gauge the quality of your online presence.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free and simplified dashboard that helps business owners manage and update business listings across the Google Ecosystem. It is a program that was developed by Google for over ten years before its inception in the year 2014.
With several upgrades and tweaks, Google built this CRM feature to help businesses build an online presence that will help users conducting searches to receive not only the basic NAP (name, address, phone number) details, but other kinds of information such as business hours, and specifications as to the availability of facilities such as parking and so on.
This is not only an attempt on Google’s side to better its user experience, but it is also focused on helping business owners reach their target audience on online searches.
So, here’s what you can do with Google My Business
- The most important benefit your business can achieve with Google My Business is creating a strong online presence. Aside from creating listings to increase your chances of appearing on searches, GMB also offers data-driven insights about your online presence with added access to Google Adwords and Google Analytics.
- Google My Business comes with a review feature that allows your customers to leave you reviews and therefore increases your chances of build better relationships with your customers.
- The centralized dashboard is an easy, user-friendly tool that allows you to manage your business information across several Google based platforms.
What kind of information can you share on Google My Business?
- Business name, address and phone number (NAP): These are the vital pieces of information your customers need to get in touch with you and recognize your business. Clearly stating your business’s name, address and phone number (otherwise known as NAP) is the standard for optimizing your business. Namely with GMB.
- Website: Where do customers go to find your business online? Having a link to your website very clearly and easily accessible is not only good for your listing – it also helps drive an additional stream of traffic to your website.
- Working Hours: This is a given – however you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t put their working hours. This is a big red flag for customers searching for your business online. Let them know when they can come to your location – even if you’re based online; having a ’24/7 listing’ is better than ‘no working hours’.
- Business Category: This is mainly for your GMB ranking. Target higher ranking keywords in your industry that customers are already searching for to leverage a heftier stream of search traffic. (Remember, this traffic is often ‘buyer-oriented’) meaning; they’ve already made the decision to either buy or get a price.
- Accessibility: Accessibility is a great way to show your customers that you go the extra mile. Have wheelchair ramps? List them in your listing! It does more good than you’d think!
Google My Business Guidelines
There are some criteria that you need to look out for before you decide to get onboard Google My Business:
- Make sure that your business has a physical location
- Make sure that you are entering consistent and accurate business information
In addition to this, Google has specifications about the eligibility of businesses to create a page on Google My Business. If your routine business tasks involve interacting with your customers in person during business hours, you are eligible. Although they do make an exception for ATMs, video-rentals and express mailboxes.
In case you are adding these exceptions to the rule on Google My Business, it is crucial that you add your contact information in the listing to help your customers contact you.
And here’s what makes your businesses ineligible to have a Google My Business listing:
- Business locations that are under-construction
- Rental or for-sale properties
- An ongoing service, class, or meeting at a location that you don’t own or have the authority to represent
Ideally, Google has tailored GMB for business owners to ensure the pages are authentic. But they have specifications for authorized representatives like agencies or freelance agents when it comes to creating a business page.
Once you’re done creating the account, you can use this Google My Business Guidelines Checker to check your account for any inconsistencies you might face.
Checking For Duplicates
Make sure that you run a search on your business contact information to find duplicates. A simple Google search should do for you to find duplicates.
If you haven’t found any inconsistencies, you can carry on creating your page. In case you have found duplicates, or if it looks like someone has already created a page that you haven’t, hang in there. You need to continue to a point in the sign-up process that will give you an option to fix this issue. This will be covered in the course of this guide.
Creating Your Google My Business Page
Start by signing into your Google Account by clicking on this link and hit “Start Now.”
Add the required business information in the categories that appears in the prompt window. This is very easy! Here’s what you need to fill out.
Make sure you zoom into the map, and check the location that is marked. Once you’re done, click on “Continue.”
Do not add any additional information to your business name, like your city or location. Mike Blumenthal, a top Google My Business contributor, says that this is risky business. But as a rule of thumb, do not add unnecessary information in the business name category.
Verifying Your Google My Business Page
Now, you’ll be prompted to verify ownership for your business through postal mail, email, a phone call or text message.
Some of these verification methods are not made available for all types of businesses. Verification by postcard is a little more complicated as compared to the other options which are quite straightforward.
So, here’s what you need to know about verification by postcard.
Post Card Verification
Once you opt for the post card verification, make sure that your business details are accurate.
You can have additional contact information just in case you aren’t available when the postcard is delivered. It takes around 12 days for the postcard to arrive and it is vital that you don’t alter any information in your address during this period.
Here’s what you need to do when you receive the verification code:
- Sign-in to Google My Business
- Go to the ”Manage Location” option
- Click on the “enter code” button on the blue banner
- Enter the 5-digit verification code and hit submit
In case you haven’t received your postcard, or if you have lost it, you can request for a new verification code by following the same process mentioned above. If your business’ website is verified with Google Search Console, you listing can be verified instantly.
After this, you will receive a notification that you’ve verified your business with the given code. Google will prompt you with a window with your business details. Affirm your authorization and hit continue
As mentioned before, the other methods you pick to verify your business are quite simple. You will receive your verification code via text message, phone call or email which you can use to verify your business details as mentioned above.
What if Your GMB Page is Already Claimed by Someone Else?
This is a common issue when business owners create their Google My Business pages, and it is fixable.
There are three ways to go about it:
- Check if your listing was verified with an older email ID which you’ll need to update your page with
- Contact the page owner and request access
- Request access from Google
The first two ways are quite straightforward, and you can do it yourself. Here’s how you need to go about requesting Google to claim your business listing
- When you go on to your account, locate your business on the map in the search bar
- Once you’ve found your business, Google will prompt you to ask for admin access
- Now, Google will prompt you with verification questions that you need to answer about your business
- Google will contact the owner, and request him/her to get in touch with you
If your request is verified, you will receive management access to your listing page. If not, your request might still be under Google’s verification process. In case Google hasn’t responded to you within a week, contact Google My Business support again.
In case you feel like your request is not attended to, you can try tweeting your issue to Google My Business at @GoogleMyBiz. Mike Blumenthal wrote about some hacks you can use to contact Google with your queries and issues. Read about it here.
Adding Details to Your GMB Page
Once you get access to your dashboard, make sure you fill out your business details in the “Info” section. This information will appear on search results and the “website” section. Once you’re led to the page, just add the required information in the relevant slots. In addition to your business NAP details, you’ll need to add additional information about your store.
This includes accessibility information, timings, payment methods, etc.
Google My Business Posts
On your Google My Business dashboard you are given the option to create 300 word posts – like your average Facebook status. You can promote events or other kinds of content with these.
Click on Posts in the sidebar
Fill up the details about the duration of the campaigns
Add a button that is relevant to your current marketing campaign
Here are some pro-tips from Joy Hawkins, a top contributor for Google My Business
- Add UTM parameters for the links you add as the Google posts don’t “naturally integrate” with Google Analytics. Aside from the number of views and clicks that you get with the “insights” from your dashboard, you cannot track any other metrics.
- Aggregating keywords in your posts won’t benefit your rankings.
- The best image size to use is 750×750. Images smaller than 250×250 will not be accepted. In addition to this, other multimedia elements like GIFs and videos can’t be used as they are not supported as of now.
- You need to make the first 100 words of your post description count because that is what appears in the Knowledge Panel.
- The most recent post that you put up will be the first to show on the carousel followed by the previous ones that you created.
- These posts don’t get indexed by Google.
- Google doesn’t allow a post to stay for longer than seven days.
Adding Photos of Your Business Location
Adding photographs to your page will help users get a better idea of your business. Businesses with photos in their online pages get 35% more clicks than businesses without photos. Many businesses fail to recognize the effectiveness of adding photographs.
These pictures will be displayed alongside the map after your business is clicked on in the search engine results page.
Google My Business requires you to add different kinds of photographs to enhance your business listings. Here are some of the photos you’d need to upload:
- Make sure that your Page Photo is one that will leave a good first impression. It needs to be something needs to stand out, so, make sure you check your competition. Don’t just make it your logo. The picture should have a 250 x 250 resolution.
- When you upload your Cover Photo, it will be displayed in your Google+ business page. The ideal image resolution for this Google My Business is 1080 x 608
- When you upload your logo image, make sure that is of a 250 x 250 resolution.
- You can even upload a Preferred Photo that will be displayed alongside your business name on Google search and Google Maps.
- By uploading Exterior Photographs, you can help your customers find your store. Think of it as an extension to the your address details. When you take pictures for this purpose, make sure that you cover every direction of your street.
- Interior Photos are pictures of the inside of your store. The best thing to do while taking these pictures is by imagining what it feels like for a customer inside your store.
- Similarly, add Product Photos and Team Photos to your page as well
Hire a Google Trusted Photographer to take it all the way and ensure that your pictures are in JPG and PNG format.
Google My Business gives you analytics in its insights option. You can track the number of clicks and visits that drive traffic for your business. According to Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land, you can even find out how your customers ended up on your page on SERPs (search engine results page) through direct and discovery.
Direct refers to a user who searches specifically for your business information online.
Discovery refers to a search that organically leads a user to your page because of the information on your business category, product or service. And lastly, you can even track the number of phone calls you receive from your listing with insights.
You can adjust the date range to get the data from a specific period, and similarly, you can focus on a certain area to find specific information.
This year, Google even rolled out a newer email feature that sends out periodic emails with data about your performance on Google My Business.
Creating a Website with Google My Business
The website builder feature was rolled out by Google recently to help businesses create websites by themselves. The feature is mostly free, although it will cost you to get a custom domain – that is, a .com, a.biz or .net site, – from Google Domains. It is best to purchase a domain as it will turn out to be SEO-friendly, and it will be memorable to consumers.
In addition to this, the website feature is mobile-friendly, has automatic updates, and has simple provisions to help you place ads on your site.
Creating a website with Google My Business is quite simple. You will find the feature in the hamburger button (the three horizontal lines on the top left-hand corner of the page).
From here on, Google will prompt you with to create a website, instructing you in a step-by-step process. You can edit the website layout with themes and website content – headline, body description, and add photos for your cover picture and gallery.
There site is a straightforward, user-friendly, simple one. Although, it is far too simple. It lacks social sharing buttons, doesn’t allow you to add CTAs, and doesn’t have an integration with analytics (which means you need to solely rely on Google My Business Insights).
In addition to this, the site doesn’t allow you to add structured data markup, and by extension local business schema.
But it is a good option for businesses that cannot invest in creating a website.
Reviews are important and Google understands this! You don’t need any convincing when it comes to online reviews and what it can do for your business. According to a recent study, 84% of consumers trust online reviews over personal recommendations. It goes without saying that your online reputation needs to be good, and helps consumers make purchase decisions.
Google My Business has a simple set-up for managing reviews. Here’s what your reviews appear on searches:
Essentially, when your business appears on SERPs, this is how your information is represented among users. There are two things you need to keep in mind: generating reviews and managing the reviews that follow. In order to make sure your customers leave you reviews, try these tips out:
- Use a review handout generator
- Use review widgets
- Just ask. According to research, seven out of ten consumers will leave you a review if you ask them
Responding to reviews is very important. Make sure that you respond to all kinds of reviews, be it appreciation or criticism. In case you have received negative feedback about your services, make sure you respond tactically.
Make sure that you aren’t defensive when you respond, and leave your contact details so that the reviewer can get in touch with you for further resolution of the problem.
Leverage the Power of Google My Business
Here’s everything you need to do to create a page on Google My Business. It is very effective for businesses to establish a good online presence. By creating a page with Google My Business, you’re essentially making it easier for your customers find you through both direct and organic searches. Google is meticulously working to build this tool to make it more efficient and intuitive to give its users a holistic experience in finding information.