Google My Business (GMB) is the single most effective free marketing tool for local businesses: so much so that, if your business doesn’t have one, it’s missing out on hundreds or even thousands of free hits per month.
So, if you just started your business, or if your business has just started getting control over its online presence, Google My Business is the best place to start. Before you run ads, before you do a great deal of SEO, and before you start optimizing for online, you should create, claim, and verify your Google My Business listing so that Google can give you the recognition you deserve.
What Is Google My Business?
Google My Business is Google’s business listing tool that helps people identify, find, and navigate to a local business. It feeds information into the search engine results pages (SERPs) and to Google Maps to help searchers find you. This tool also helps people understand whether the business is open and if they’re able to contact them at that time.
Google My Business exists as a way to help Google verify the existence of all the local businesses in the area. It’s Google’s way of telling the world that your business legitimately exists in the area.
How Do I Create A Google My Business Account?
It’s simple. Go to https://google.com/business and go to Manage Now.
It will then ask you to identify your business. Once you’ve done so, you will be prompted to create a listing by adding a location.
Add your location, phone number, and business hours. Then, submit the info and wait for an email to hit your inbox. Within 24 hours, your maps listing should be active.
I Don’t Have A Google My Business Account, But My Business Still Shows Up On Maps!
That’s okay. Anyone can create a listing for a business, and people who want to help others in the community find your business may have done so. Or, your listing may have been created by an employee of the business in order to show up.
But, without a Google My Business account, you can’t claim or verify a listing as yours. So you’ll have to create a Google My Business account before you can claim a listing. This is simple.
Go to Google Maps and search for your business. Click on the listing and you should see a link that says ‘Own this business?’ Click that and you will be prompted to sign in with your Google My Business account. Go to ‘Create Account’ to make a Google My Business account.
If you already have a Google My Business account and have created the listing, Google will log into your account and show your listing, allowing you to change what you need to. Since you don’t have one yet, you’ll need to verify your claim to the business in one of several ways.
Verifying Your Google My Business Claim
Google will ask you to verify your business by sending you a PIN code through one of several methods. They may call the number listed, or send a postcard to the physical address listed, or email to the email address listed.
You cannot change any of the information provided before you claim your business.
How Should I Use My Google Listing?
Your Google listing appears in both Maps and regular Search, which means you’re going to want to make sure that your listing is as accurate as possible.
- Link to your website. It’s unclear if this has any bonuses in SEO, but it does have the added effect of giving your website and your listing more legitimacy.
- Make sure your business hours and contact info are correct. If there’s a wrong phone number, incorrect hours of operation, or a misspelled email address, you could be losing hundreds of requests per month and causing a much worse customer experience.
Optimizing Google My Business
Now that your listing is set up and accurate, you’re going to want to learn how to make it optimized for both the search engine and customers who are searching for you.
An optimized Google listing causes a business to be considered 2.7x more reputable than a business without an optimized listing. It also increases purchase conversion rates by up to 7x. How’s that for a motivation to optimize your Google listing?
So how should you optimize your Google My Business listing? Here are a few tips.
Add Descriptive Photos
Your business listing absolutely needs to have photos associated with it. By adding photos, you are giving people a visual representation of what your business does.
Your profile photo should not just be a picture of your company’s logo, but of a descriptive representation of what your company does or promises.
Your cover photo should focus more on the branding, which includes the logo but could also include images or lists of your top products or services.
Other photos could show:
- A picture of your physical location
- The inside of the store
- Key photos of your product or service. For example, a plumber will want to show a job well done, and a restaurant will want to show pictures of their most popular dishes.
- Pictures of staff.
Your photos will need to be high resolution (at least 720×720) but cannot exceed 5MB in size.
Include Keywords In Your Listing
Do some SEO keyword research to see what people are actually searching for when on the hunt for a product or service like yours. Find the best ones and include them in your listing.
Don’t stuff keywords in your description. Instead, use them naturally and include them as if you’re talking about them specifically.
For example, if you’re a plumber and you operate in the Alpharetta area, you might find in your keyword research that “plumber in alpharetta” is a common search term. So, in your listing, you might say “The most trusted and professional plumber in Alpharetta”.
Engage With Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are one of the last, and most important things, that people look at when deciding to buy a service. They’re often the thing that swings someone from a prospect to a buyer. Because of this, you bet people are going to be reading them. Responding to the review is not just an excellent opportunity to engage with the reviewer, but also with the searching public.
Most of the reviews you see might be positive and short, not including much information in them. Engage with them anyway: tell them thank you for the review!
You might get some negative reviews as well. Engage with those as well, as the way you handle negative reviews will reflect on how professional your company is viewed.
- Google My Business is Google’s free business listing tool that all local businesses should be on.
- If you own a local business, you can either create your business listing or claim one that may have been created already.
- There are ways to make your listing even better than the competition, making you more likely to be chosen by a prospective customer.