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This Guide will show you, step by step, how to set up Google My Business like the pros at our SEO Agency.
We’ll walk you through everything, from finding an existing listing, to getting verified, creating posts, managing reviews, and more.
You’ll learn everything you need to know to manage a Google My Business listing that will help convert users into your customers.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business – or GMBs – are business listings that show up in a Google search.
They’re free to create, and show off all your contact info in one place – making it easy for customers to find where you’re located, what services you offer, and even what other customers think of you.
Why do I need a Google My Business listing?
According to Google, businesses who have a GMB are viewed as more reputable, and are twice as likely to be considered by users.
A well maintained GMB listing can help convert customers – even if they don’t visit your business website. It will help establish your business on Google Maps, and even allows your business information to appear before the first search results on mobile.
As well, GMBs offer the opportunity for customers to engage with your business. They can ask you questions, help fellow users out by answering common questions, and leave reviews.
How do I set up Google My Business?
If you interact with customers at your place of business, or deliver a service to customers’ locations, you should be eligible to create a GMB listing.
You can also create a GMB listing for your business even if it hasn’t opened yet. Details on how to add a business before it opens can be found here.
You’ll know you have a GMB if you see this in Google search results:
This is called a “Knowledge Panel”. If you haven’t already created a GMB, but your business has been around for a little while, you may already have one! But how can you find it?
Simply log into your Google account. (If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to create one.)
Go to “find and manage your business”, and type in the name of your business.
If your search yields no results, you can “Add your business to Google”.
Once you’ve added your business to Google, you’ll be able to start editing your listing.
If a GMB already exists but you didn’t create it…
If a GMB for your business appears which you didn’t create yourself, you can still claim and verify the listing. This will allow you to do things like edit the listing, add information, and reply to reviews and questions.
However, if for some reason, the listing is already verified, (maybe by a previous owner) you will have to request ownership. Here’s how.
Following that same link you did to “find and manage your business”, type in your business name. Select your business from the options given.
Next, click on the “Request Access” button.
Fill out the form, and click submit. You’ll receive a confirmation email once this is done, and the current owner should get in touch soon.
How to verify a GMB listing
Once you’ve created your new listing, you’ll need to verify to Google that you’re the rightful owner.
You’ll usually be presented with the option to verify via postcard, unless Google deems you eligible to verify via phone, email, or video chat.
Google will send you a verification code via postcard to your business address to confirm your connection to the business. All you have to do is enter this code once you receive it, and you’ll be verified.
Once verified, you can start editing your GMB!
How to optimise your Google My Business listing
You’ll want to fill out as much information as possible to give your business the best chance of appealing to customers, and making conversions.
A lot of users will compare businesses on their GMB listings alone, so don’t underestimate it as an important part of your online presence.
The first thing to do?
Name your business
Some businesses use this as an opportunity to keyword stuff, but don’t do this. It might actually work against you in SEO.
Make sure you use your real business name, the same one on all your signs – your official business name.
If your business is a franchise, or one location of many, add the suburb onto your business name.
Add a short name
You’ll have the option to create a short/custom name, or short URL for your business, which can help customers find you more easily. You can also use these short URLs to request reviews from customers.
This short name could be a casual name that people use to regularly refer to your business, or your business name plus your location or suburb – e.g. Subway Doncaster.
Unfortunately, your short name has to be unique – no other business can use the same one. Which means you’ll want to set this up ASAP.
Generally, it’s a good idea to take this short name from your website’s URL. For example, if your business name is “Number one plumbing”, but your URL is www.no1plumbing.com, your short name could be ‘no 1 plumbing’.
Choose your business category
Once you’ve set your business name, you’ll have to choose your business category.
Your primary category will let users know exactly what the core of your business is.
When you type in your category, Google will provide you with a drop down menu of options. Choose the most relevant one available.
Additional categories are where you can enter any other categories that are relevant to your business, within reason of course. Here’s what Google advises:
Be specific when choosing a category. For example, choose “Nail Salon” instead of “Salon”. Use additional categories to let customers know more about the specific services you provide. If you manage a grocery store that includes a pharmacy and deli, you would choose “Grocery Store” as your primary category and add “Pharmacy” and “Deli” as additional categories.
You can also use additional categories to list other locations, for example. More on that here.
Set your location
It’s time to put your business on the map!
Only list your address if you expect customers to visit you at this location. If you’re a service business who only travels to your customers for example, and don’t want customers turning up at your office, you won’t have to list your address. Instead, skip to “Set your delivery/service area” below.
Enter your complete business address, including any floor or suite numbers. Google will either find the exact location already on the map, or a red pin will appear. In the latter case, you’ll have to move this pin to the exact centre of your location on the map.
Store Codes are to help multi-location businesses manage their listings. With these codes, you’ll be able to bulk upload listings into Google My Business. Each location can have its own unique store code of up to 64 characters.
To find out more about what’s allowed in these store codes, check out Google’s recommendations here.
If you don’t have multiple locations, you won’t need to worry about this (or the next) step.
Think of Google Labels like tags. These are also optional, but if you’re managing a large number of locations, labels will help to organise your locations into smaller groups.
For example, you could use Google Labels to group locations by states, area codes, or other defining factors.You can also use them in Google Ads. Google lets you assign up to 10 labels per location. Read more about it here.
Set your delivery/service area
If you have a delivery service, you can select to show this on your GMB listing. Opt for “Yes, I also serve them outside my location”, then enter the areas you serve.
You can always edit these later if you expand (or restrict) your service areas.
Edit your business hours
The intent behind so many business searches is to find out opening hours. If you keep these updated, your customers will certainly appreciate it.
You can enter your regular business hours for each day of the week, but there’s also an option for Special Hours.
Special Hours allow you to enter any unusual or irregular hours you may be open for specific dates, such as public holidays.
Do not underestimate how much customers will appreciate information about changed opening hours on public holidays!
Add your phone number
Enter your business phone number in the “Primary Phone” field.
You can enter any other numbers your business uses in the “Additional Phone” fields.
However, if you use a call tracking number, put this tracking number in your “Primary Phone” field instead. You can then enter your regular number in the “Additional Phone” field.
Link to your business website
Further down under the opening hours, you’ll find the option to enter your website.
Enter the URL of your business website’s homepage. If your business has multiple locations, it may be better to link each suburb page with their corresponding location specific business listing.
If you want to see how many users have come to your website from your GMB listing, you can also add a custom Google Analytics UTM tracking code to your URL. It doesn’t take long and you can learn how to insert a UTM code here.
This is where you can link to a contact page, or online booking system.
Menu URL for restaurants
This is for restaurants to link to an online menu. Note that you won’t be able to link to a PDF file, only a page on your website.
Restaurants are also given the option of adding menu items straight to the GMB listing. Find out more about the menu editor here.
Not all businesses will have the option to list products. But if Google deems you eligible, you shouldn’t list every single product. Think of this as an opportunity to show a sample of your best, most enticing offers. Keep your eye on trends and update these products to best appeal to what you predict to be your searchers’ needs.
You’ll be given 1000 characters to write a product description, which should be enough room to write as you usually would on your website.
The Services section on Google My Business allows you to list specific services you offer to customers, along with a short description for each. For example, if you’re a beauty salon, you could list services such as manicures, pedicures, waxing, etc.
Depending on the type of your business, Google will give you a selection of different attributes to choose from. These can include things such as wheelchair accessible, outdoor setting, and more. Select all that apply to your business, but leave any that don’t. Google is able to confirm these attributes via crowd-sourcing answers from customers if needed.
You’ll be given 750 characters to sum up your business, the first 244 of which your customers will be able to see on your listing before clicking ‘More’. Use this space to let people know what type of service you offer, how you can help them, and why you’re different from your competitors.
Whatever you do, don’t use this space to keyword stuff. There’s no point customers finding your business only to be turned off once they read your confusing, keyword-heavy description.
See Supple’s below:
Google has seen that businesses with photos on their listings receive 40% more requests for directions. For this reason, photos are said to be a conversion factor but not a ranking factor.
To add photos to your listing, select “photos” in the side menu.
Your cover photo will usually be the first image people see when they come across your listing, so choose this one carefully. Avoid using stock photos – your potential customers want to get to know your business, not some fake representation.
Photos of your employees, and depending on your business, any photos that give potential customers a feel for the place are perfect for your GMB. You want your potential customers to be able to visualise themselves visiting your store, restaurant, or other.
You also have the option to upload videos of up to 30 seconds to your listing. You can show off the interior, exterior, or even give a 360 virtual tour. Videos really help potential customers feel comfortable to visit your business location, because they’ll have a much clearer idea of what to expect, and what to look out for.
Formerly ‘Business Cards’, Google My Business Posts have been slow to catch on with business owners. Posts give your business an opportunity to make Facebook-like posts on your listing, that anyone can see. You can post about events, promotions, products, or more general information. You’ll be able to write a short post, with images, videos and CTAs included.
Can random people really make changes to my Google My Business Listing?
Yes, they can! But if you know how to manage your listing well, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Here’s what you need to know…
Users can make suggestions for you to edit your business name, opening hours, phone number, attributes, and more. But these changes won’t be published unless you, the owner, accept them. You will be able to reject any suggestions you don’t agree with.
Users can also add images to your listing, without permission. You’ll be able to find these images by going to the section of ‘By customer’.
Users can also add video of your business to your listing. Other users love being able to picture themselves visiting your business, it gives them a sense of reassurance. So if a customer puts up a great video of your business, that’s fantastic free advertising.
Again, these can also be reported by the business owner and removed by Google if a user has uploaded inappropriate or irrelevant content.
Anyone with a Google account can leave a review of your business. Whilst this is a scary thought for some, reviews hold the most weight in a customer’s decision process, so it’s important to get them.
Want to increase the number of reviews on your listing?
You can create a link that will allow customers to write Google reviews for your listing straight from your website.
By making it easier for existing customers to write reviews, you’ll increase the number of reviews on your listing, which will in turn help to assure potential customers. Check out Supple’s Google Review link generator tool to create your own.
How to remove fake or inappropriate reviews
If someone has left you a fake review, or has confused your business for a different place, you can ask Google to remove it.
If it’s simply a negative review of your business with critical feedback, unfortunately you won’t be able to get rid of it.
In these cases, the best thing you can do about a negative review is actually to respond, calmly and professionally to the customer. Apologise for their disappointing experience, and offer to either compensate them, or promise to take on board their feedback. This will satisfy the customer that you have heard their grievances, and that you are willing to do something about it.
In any case, be polite, and always professional.
Questions and Answers
Any user can ask or answer a question about your business, so it’s important to keep an eye on your listing’s Questions and Answers section.
Although you don’t have control over what users will say here, you can answer questions as the business owner. You can also “like” questions and answers, to help bump up the best ones.
Make sure you respond to answers through your business account as the business owner, and not through your personal Google account.
How do I report an inappropriate question on my Google My Business listing?
If someone has asked a question or given an answer that is inappropriate, you can report it to Google. But first, check if it violates Google’s terms here.
And to make it all even easier?
You can now manage your listing through the Google My Business app, which you can download here. You’ll be able to respond to reviews, post photos, and see how customers are interacting with your business in real time.
Complete your listing
Once you’ve filled in all your information, added your pictures, services or products, you can check if you’ve missed anything. Simply click on ‘home’ in the left-side menu, and Google will suggest any areas to improve on.
A fully optimised Google My Business listing converts
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of a fully optimised Google My Business listing.
A one-stop-shop for customers, it has all the information they’re looking for at a glance – your location, opening hours, services, products, photos, and reviews. And now you have the ultimate guide on how to set up and manage your Google My Business.
Remember, customers are twice as likely to consider your business once you’ve got a well managed GMB. Not to mention your advantage up the top of the search results.
And if they can find everything they’re looking for in one simple Google search, without having to do any digging on your website, they’ll be more likely to become your customer.
If you need someone to help you with this process you can always reach out to Supple – a leading Digital Marketing Agency.