This is another blog on my local SEO series explaining how to get your business ranking for local searches on Google.
Google My Business (GMB) is a free service provided by Google enabling company owners to verify their business location and enter basic information about their company. This is then shown in Google search and on their maps. This allows business owners to engage and be found by existing and potential new customers in their local area. GMB is also known as Google Places and Google Business.
Summary of Google My Business
Simply put, Google My Business (GMB) is an essential part of local SEO.
GMB offers business owners metrics on their companies visibility and engagement levels that other products don’t provide, including Google Analytics. There’s also the easy to use companion apps, available on both Google Play and the App Store, making it easy to manage and monitor your business listing.
Is my business eligible for Google My Business?
Any business which has a physical location is eligible for Google My Business and can set-up a listing for their location. Plus, businesses with 2 or more locations can have separate GMB listings for each of their sites.
If your business doesn’t have a physical location or you work from home and visit customers so don’t want people to know your personal location, but your service covers customers in a particular area, you’re classed as a ‘Service Area Business’. For example, if you’re a window cleaner or dog walker. You’re still eligible for a GMB listing, although you’ll want to mark ‘Yes’ when completing your GMB listing and asked if you deliver goods and services to customers at their location.
The exemptions to being able to have a Google My Business listing is when for example, you’re an eCommerce company based in London, you would not be able to have a listing in Bristol without another physical location in Bristol; only your London site could have a listing. Just because you have customers in another location, you can’t have another GMB listing without the physical location.
How do I verify my location on Google My Business?
To enable Google to determine you are a legitimate business and protect its users you are required to verify your business through a couple of different options.
First of all, you need to claim your business. The simplest way to do this is to search Google with your business name. If you see a Google My Business panel pop up on the right-hand side of the screen, it’ll include a phrase, ‘Own this business?’. Before clicking the button make sure you’re signed into your business Google account or not signed in so you can create a Google account for your business. Do not use your personal Google account to claim a business; this is a tip rather than a requirement, but it’s easier to share access to the business listing with other employees or agencies when it’s a business account rather than personal.
If your business does not come up to claim to go to https://www.google.com/business/ and follow the easy step by step guide to claiming your business.
Once you complete the basic information Google My Business requires it’ll verify your listing to confirm your telephone number and address are correct. You’ll receive a phone call from Google with a pin number you’ll need to enter on your screen. If GMB has not identified a business with your telephone number and address before it’ll send you a postcard within 7 days. Just follow the instructions on your postcard and your business will be verified and visible through Google My Business.
Not sure where to begin?
What’s the basic business information needed for Google My Business?
It’s as simple as business name, address and telephone number.
There’s no need to overthink it when it comes to your GMB listing, these are the details required for GMB to help with your local SEO.
These three details; name, address and telephone number, are also known as ‘NAP’. They’re you’re businesses simple thumbprint online and create a digital trail online which helps give customers and Google trust that your business is authentic. Always make sure these details are accurate and the same where ever they’re listed online. If Google doesn’t believe your details, they’ll lose trust in your business and stop sending customers in your direction.
To help build Google’s trust, make sure the address you submit is the same address shown on your website, even if you consider yourself a ‘Service Area Business’. Do not use a PO Box address or similar, make sure its a physical address only.
Always double check where Google places the pin for your address on its maps. Google tends to be pretty accurate, but you can adjust the pin to make sure it’s perfect.
Don’t be tempted to use a tracking phone number to segment those customers you get from google. This can be detrimental to your GMB success, it’ll not trust this is an authentic detail as it won’t be able to match it to phone numbers on your website, etc.
Also, do not keyword stuff your business name. It might seem like a quick trick to get in front of your target audience, but Google sees it as spammy and monitors for this regularly.
Make sure you choose an accurate category for your business, this is the best way to ‘optimise’ your company in Google My Business. Have a good think how you best describe your company and then start typing it into Google. Google has established a very extensive list of company categories over the years, resulting in them providing you with a narrowed down list after you start typing the first few characters of your keyword. You should be able to find a relevant category fairly quickly.
You can choose multiple categories for your business. Although Google recommends as few as possible, as long as you keep them specific to your business, choose as many categories you can find which are relevant & specific to your business. Google may remove a few during its automated authorisation review, this won’t harm your listing. The more relevant categories you have the more searches you’ll appear in.
Which page should I direct them too on my website?
When trying to decide whether to send them to your homepage or if for instance, you have multiple physical locations you could send them to a landing page for that specific location, consider the potential customer. Which page will give them a simpler journey on your website and give them the best information they’ll be after?
The above information enables you to verify your business and get it live on Google My Business, but I recommend you continue to fill in the other options to help maximise your exposure.
Photos and Images:
With visually social platforms such as Instagram & Pinterest rapidly growing in popularity, its easy to understand why photos are very important on your GMB listing, yet its still one of the most under-utilised assets. It’s particularly important on GMB’s mobile offerings, like Google Maps as images are one of the first representations the potential customer sees.
Take time to review Google My Businesses image size requirements and optimise your photos for their listings. Customers can also add photos, so consider running a competition for guests to add photos of your store or product in the best possible way.
Google’s functionality for opening hours is very flexible making it easy for you to make them accurate. It’s extremely important you keep your opening hours up to date as they’ll be one of the first details customers will see across all GMB platforms.
You can show standard opening hours, including splitting days into multiple times, ideal if you close in the afternoon but are open in the morning and evening. You can also show specific opening hours for any special events you run or if you close over holidays, etc.
Although you can’t control it, its worth noting Google provides its users with a guide on the busy-ness of your business in real-time via location tracking on users of Androids and iOS Google Maps.
What can I find out from Google My Business Insights?
The Google My Business Insights package provides you with the essential information Google has gathered about your listing, giving you an idea of how Google users are viewing and engaging with your listing.
The basic information you receive includes, how many times your GMB listing appeared in standard Google search vs Google Maps, the number of times users clicked through to your website, requested driving instructions and used the call now option.
There’s also a breakdown of how many customers found you listing through direct searches (searching your business specifically), verses discovery searches (searching businesses like yours in the same category or area). Google hasn’t necessarily made it clear how they determine this, however, it’s a good guide to decide how well your local SEO is working.
Top tip – record the data in a spreadsheet so you can monitor growth. The discovery vs direct searches insights for an example is a snapshot of what’s happening. Recording the data offline helps you monitor this over time.
I’m having problems setting up my Google My Business listing, help!
If you’re having a troubleshooting issue setting up your GMB listing its most likely to be because of a duplicate listing for the same business. If you find a duplicate it’s now fairly easy to close them. If you believe this could be the issue, go to https://www.google.com/maps then search your business name. If in the listing Google provides there are multiple listings for your business, select the option which you’d like to close and click ‘Suggest an edit’. You’ll then need to select ‘Place is permanently closed or never existed’ and then choose the option ‘duplicate’.
Google tend to respond to these reports within a week, but if it goes on longer ask fellow workers, friends, etc to report it in the same manner too and Google will consider it a higher priority to remove. If the problem still continues contact GMB via @googlemybiz on Twitter.
What do I do next on Google My Business?
Firstly, continue to keep your business information up to date, whether that’s updating any adjustment in opening hours or changes to a telephone number. It’s extremely important for your local SEO this information is kept up to date.
Use the GMB Posts option to give Google users the opportunity to see any new products you launch, company updates or events. GMB Messaging is also a great resource as it gives a simple way for Google users to communicate with you quickly and securely.
Encourage customers, especially those who are fans of your business, to leave a review via your Google My Business listing. The more positive reviews you receive the more trustworthy Google users will feel your brand is. Plus always respond, not just to any negative reviews you have, but to the positive ones too so potential customers can see you’re actively using the platform and care about your customers.
What should I remember from this article?
Make sure you are always representing your Name, Address, and Phone exactly as they appear to customers in the real world and on your website. Take time to consider the correct categories for your business and select as many categories you feel are relevant and accurate.
Make the most of being able to upload fantastic photos of your business and encourage good customers to load there.
Keep an eye on the Discovery metric as a guide to the success of your local SEO.
Begin using GMB’s additional features like Posts & Messaging.
Encourage customers to leave reviews.