Google My Business (GMB) is the successor to Google Places and was launched in 2014. Since then, local businesses have been using it to extend their reach in local search and connect with new customers. It features an extended functionality of the Google Places program, giving you control over how your business appears on Google properties like Search and Maps.
How a Google My Business Listing Can Help You
If you are a new player in local SEO, creating and optimizing a Google My Business (GMB) listing is a smart move. It can help improve your visibility and effectively showcase your brand to the local market. With a GMB listing, your business will show up when consumers search for “near me” or “close by” searches which have grown more than 900% in over two years time. What’s more? 50% of those searches end up in a store visit. In terms of local mobile searches, an in-store or online purchase results 78% of the time.
These numbers show that when consumers search for a local service, they have already made up their mind about buying and are just looking around for the best provider of the product or service they are searching for. GMB helps you be one of their top choices.
What a GMB Listing Does
When you create a listing with Google My Business, maximize its use and take complete control over the visibility of your business name, business locations, and operating hours. Doing so ensures three things:
- You make your business visible and make it show up in relevant local searches.
- You present your brand effectively with a high-quality listing drawing more customers to you.
- Your business is easy to find and contact in GPS systems using the information you provide such as phone or email.
What’s more? GMB allows you to keep track of customer reviews and respond to them, add photos of your products, and learn more about how people are searching for your business. You end up not just being visible but learn how to be competitive with other business in your area and stand out from them.
The Cost of Google My Business
Surprise! Google My Business is free of charge. Yes, you heard it right. All you have to do is create an account and verify your information to get started. Then, you can regularly update your information as you go along, optimizing your profile to draw in more customers and see where you stand in local search. Want to advertise? You can use Google Ads to promote your products or services and increase their visibility in Google Search.
8 Easy Steps to Creating Your Free Google My Business Listing
Now let’s get started and create your very own Google My Business listings in 8 easy steps. You can always verify and edit it later on.
- Log in to your existing Google account – Create your GMB listing using your existing Google account which will have administrator rights over the listing moving forward. Make sure that your account recovery and security measures including two-factor authentication are in place so you can always retrieve your account in case anything goes wrong. Recovering a breached Google account is a complicated process and you don’t want to go through that.
- Go to the Google My Business page – Once you’re on the GMB page, look for the “Manage now” button at the upper right-hand corner and click it. You can also log in to your Google account here if you haven’t done so. You will then be taken to a new page where you will be asked to input the details of your business.
- Create your account and input your business name – If you have a Google My Places listing, a drop-down menu will show and let you select your previously enrolled business name.
- Input the details of your location – Here, you will provide the physical location of your business, if any. If you click “Yes,” the “Next” button will take you to another page where you’ll be asked to provide your business address. Make sure it’s an accurate one so that searchers can easily locate you.
- Inform Google all the locations your service covers – If you provide home services such as pest control, home cleaning, and appliance repair or services requiring no specific location such as car towing, emergency car lockout services, and shuttle services, make sure you input all the areas you cover so you don’t miss out on search queries that would otherwise be applicable to you.
- Choose your business category – On the business category page, make sure you choose the right option so that Google can sort your business and show it for relevant industry searches.
- Input your business’ contact details – Here, you provide your business phone number and website address. Don’t have a website? Google can provide you with a free, basic auto-generated website.
- Ensure the correctness of your details and submit – Click “Finish” to submit when done. You can always go back and edit your information anytime.
Ways to Verify Your GMB Listing Information
There are several ways in which Google can verify all the information in your Google My Business listing. These are:
- By postcard – Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a postcard via snail mail? Google can verify your GMB through this method. You just have to provide an address, typically your business address, where they can send it to you. It should arrive 4 to 5 days after your request, and once you receive it, follow the instructions and use the verification code included therein to complete the task. If the postcard never arrives or you misplaced it, you can always request for a new one in your Google My Business account.
- By phone/text – This is way faster than the postcard method but unfortunately, not all businesses are eligible for phone/text verification. However, if you qualify, then you’ll be in the system in a matter of minutes. To do this, log into your GMB account and select verification by phone. You’ll receive a verification code and instructions via text message to complete the task.
- By email – Again, not all businesses are eligible for email verification. If you are, log into your GMB account and select the “Verify by email” option. You’ll receive an email with a verification button that will take you to the verification page.
- Bulk multi-location verification – Service businesses that handle customers in multiple locations and agencies attempting to verify locations for different businesses are not eligible for GMB bulk multi-location verification.
The verification process for companies and franchises with more than ten locations can be time-consuming and may lead to listing mistakes which not good for the business nor Google. A filled out verification form with the business name, country, operation locations, contact names, and company information is required for this. A Google Account Manager should also be accessible to help in the process. Need more information about bulk verification in Google My Business? Read Google’s help document.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Optimizing your Google My Business listing is very important if you want to attract more customers. It will help you show up first in search engine results pages (SERPs) since you will become a business that Google tends to recommend.
How do you start? Log in to your GMB account and click the “Info” button from the sidebar. Input as much information as you can for your customers. These include:
- A profile photo for your business
- Your service area
- Your operating hours
- Your phone number
- Calendar and holiday information
- The year your business was established
- Your website URL
- Wheelchair access
- Wi-fi access
Providing your information establishes your credibility thus helping potential customers make the decision to eventually choose you.
Your Google My Business Photos
The photo you display on your Google My Business listing plays a big part in its optimization. It also creates a first impression with new customers, so it is important that you choose your photos wisely and appropriately. Now, let’s discuss the different photos that are required from you:
- Your Google My Business cover photo – Your GMB cover photo is the largest and most important photo that shows up in your listing. It is also the most visible to customers who are checking out your business. To be effective, it should accurately show a picture of your location, product, or service.
- Google My Business profile photo – Your GMB profile photo shows up next to your business name whenever you upload a new photo, respond to a review, and share a new post. Most companies usually use their logo for their GMB profile photo, which you can also do.
- Other photos – Uploading as many photos as you’d like to your GMB account can help would-be customers understand your business better. You can upload photos of your place of business, your products, your team delivering your service, and your satisfied customers with your product. These are very helpful in helping you connect with new customers.
Google My Business Videos
You can also upload videos to your GMB listing. To ensure that your uploads go without a glitch, keep these in mind:
- It must be 30 seconds or shorter.
- It must be 100 MB in size or smaller.
- It must be 720p in resolution or higher.
Short business introductions and descriptions of your product or service are also a great way to introduce interested local customers to your business and help you stand out from the competition.
Google My Business Reviews
Google My Business allows you to monitor and respond to reviews from your customers. Whether positive or negative, responding to reviews in a professional manner can help establish a connection, especially with satisfied customers. This section is one of the first places that potential customers go through to learn more about your business and read what others have to say about your business so make sure to display professionalism all the time.
A Powerful Local SEO Tool
Google My Business is an easy-to-set-up and powerful tool for local businesses. Aside from being able to display eye-catching photos and videos, it gives them the ability to communicate with their customers and build bridges. Make sure to utilize this tool to the fullest by keeping your information up to date and Google will do the rest.