So, you have your shiny new website with your beautifully crafted logo and branding colour scheme. You also took Neil Patel’s advice when you Googled “why is my website not showing on search engines”, and as a result you now have someone looking after your SEO.
Now someone asks if you have your Google My Business set up. “What on Earth is Google My Business?” you might say.
Every business owner with a website is looking for ways to get noticed in the search results. Google My Business is a fantastic tool to add to your SEO arsenal and help your business get found in local search results.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a space for you to manage how your business appears in local searches on Google and it includes a placement on Google Maps. It is key to good local SEO and will place your business in front of potential customers in your service area.
Your business listing on Google My Business contains essential information for anyone looking to contact you or find your business. Customers can place reviews, you can reply and answer questions, you can add your opening hours, photos of products or services and you can add in your main contact details like email and phone numbers. A potential customer can get in contact with you directly from the Google My Business listing rather than going to your website or social media pages, so it is another string to your bow when trying to advertise your business
How to set up Google My Business
Getting started with Google My Business couldn't be easier. Just follow our steps below to claim your business listing:
1) Sign in/create an account
Go to www.google.com/business to sign in or register. You can either sign in with a pre-existing Google account, or create a new one. Use your business email to set up an account and not your personal email address. If you don’t have a business email yet you can ask your website developer to create one for you. If you’ve already signed in, move on to the next step.
2) Enter your business details
Start by entering your business name and If it does not appear in the drop-down menu, click “Add your business to Google”. Then select the appropriate category for your business in the drop down menu.
3) Enter your business location
You will be asked “Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?”. Select what is appropriate for your business. So, if you have a physical location customers can visit, select “Yes” and add your address.
At this point you might also be asked to drop a pin for the location on a map. If your business does not have a location customers can visit but offers a service or delivery, you can outline the areas you cover.
4) Fill in your contact details
Google My Business is a bit like the old yellow pages, so you want to enter as much contact information as possible so customers can find you. Enter your business phone number, website address and other information like your Facebook page address.
The last step asks you to “Finish and manage your listing.” So click Finish, and you will then be asked to verify your business.
How to verify your business on Google
Verifying your business involves Google sending you out a physical postcard to the address you entered while creating an account.
This postcard enables Google to prove that you are the business owner. Some people may get an option to verify via a phone call or an email, but the postcard seems to be the most common method offered and available.
Once it arrives (and it can take up to a month to arrive in some instances) the postcard itself will have a unique code on it which you will need to enter in your Google My Business account, as outlined below.
Simply login to your new account and click “Verify location” in the menu.
Then enter your unique code which is on the postcard.
Good things come to those who wait, and that saying applies here too, as it may take a few weeks for your new Google My Business listing to appear on Google.
So what’s next?
Now that you have your Google My Business listing you will want to make sure that it is kept up to date and all of the information you entered is 100% accurate. Use the helpful tips below as a checklist once you're set up:
1. Fill out your entire profile
You’ll want to make sure you give Google as much information about your business as possible. This is to ensure they can match your business to relevant customer searches in Google. Any information that makes it easy for the customer to find your business, and easy for Google to understand what your business does, ultimately improves your search ranking.
This means filling out your contact details, address, business attributes and anything else you can see with a blank box waiting for details. You should also bear in mind your keywords when filling out the information as they are just as important in Google My Business as they are on your website.
Everything we are doing here is to improve your local SEO, and your local ranking. What this means is that people searching for your particular skills, product or service in your locality will be able to find you. And the reverse is also true in that people searching for the same things in a different country, won’t see your business in their search results.
2. Use photos & videos
We are visual creatures by nature. As the old adage goes, “A picture can tell a thousand words.” Photos or videos of your products, previous work done, your menu, you and your staff and anything else related to your business like your logo, should be included in your GMB profile.
According to Google, businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for directions, and 35% more clicks to their website.
Aside from helping potential customers find out more about your business, adding images and videos also works in your favour in terms of how Google sees your business listing and your website.
To add photos to your GMB profile:
In the menu column on the left click “Photos”.
To add a photo click the blue circular button with a white + on the right.
Now drag and drop any photo or image you want to add into the box or click the button that says “select photos and videos from your computer”.
3. Helpful posts
You can treat this section almost like your social media account. What I mean by this is that Google encourages users to update customers with posts showing new products, any special offers, sales and upcoming events.
Here's how to create a post:
In the menu column on the left click “Posts”.
Choose the type of post from the options.
Make sure to fill in all details in the relevant fields. Be concise, avoid slang terms and abbreviations.
Click preview so you can fix any grammar errors before you post.
When ready and you're happy with the post, click publish.
4. Add special features and attributes
This section very much depends on the category you choose for your business listing when setting up your GMB profile.
For example restaurants, bars and cafes have the option to show their menu and display dishes. They can also add in helpful online order buttons or a button for reservations.
If you don’t see the special features in your menu, you may have chosen the wrong category for your business during setup.
Here's how to add or edit attributes:
In the menu column on the left click “Info”.
Scroll down until you see “From The Business”. This section has the attributes that are available for you to add.
Select the attributes you want to add and click “Apply”.
In today’s world where customers can find whatever they want online from multiple suppliers at the click of a mouse button, you need to ensure that your post, website or product is what they are clicking on.
Reviews are fantastic for building trust and encouraging sales. Let's be honest, as a customer would you rather buy from a service provider with 50+ five star reviews or from one with zero reviews? People would prefer to play it safe and purchase from a proven business who have built loyalty and won customers already. Google also looks favourably on businesses with reviews and it will help improve your rankings.
You need to get into the habit of asking for reviews immediately after providing your service. The longer you leave it, the less likely you will get the review.
Google has a free marketing kit which you can use to create posters, e-cards or posters and send them to your clients and customers as a creative way to ask for reviews.
When it comes to the actual review left by clients, it is important to build customer loyalty and show potential customers that you value their feedback by ensuring that you respond to their review. Be professional in your response, and stay on brand.
Negative reviews warrant a response too, so just keep in mind everyone can read your response. Make sure to acknowledge their issues, and if it is a sensitive matter ask them to send you a private message.
Finally when someone asks a question on GMB, be sure to respond. You want to try and show your potential customers that you care about their questions, and your profile is active. Anyone can respond to a customer question on Google My Business so do your best to get in there first with your official answer. This will nip any misinformation in the bud.
Google My Business can be used as an extra sales and marketing tool or social media channel for your business. When used correctly, and set up following our tips above, it can be a powerful tool, especially for small businesses.