Getting started with Google MyBusiness
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool from Google to help you manage how your business appears in Google search results and on Google Maps. As it’s tied so closely to Google Maps, GMB is important for local SEO (e.g. when people search on Google for services ‘near me’ or in a named place, which may be where they live or somewhere they plan to visit). Your business’s GMB listing will contain details such as contact information and your website, and give viewers directions to your premises. Using photos – either yours, or ones your business is tagged in – you can showcase what you have to offer potential customers.
The main restriction on what kind of business can have a GMB listing is that they must have at least some face-to-face interaction with customers – companies and organisations who conduct their business entirely online are not eligible for a GMB profile.
Google My Business allows you to interact with customers and update opening hours and services instantaneously. Through GMB, you can respond to reviews and even allow customers to message you directly (without revealing the phone number used).
How do I set up Google My Business?
Setting up your Google My Business listing is fairly intuitive. Simply sign in to www.google.com/business with your Google Business account (or create one if you haven’t yet), using an email address at your business website’s domain. Then, you will be prompted to find your business by typing in its name. If your business doesn’t appear, click ‘Add your business to Google.’ If asked, select the category that best describes your business. Try to be as accurate as possible, but there is a balance between accuracy and being too specific. As you go, enter your business’s location and contact information as prompted, then click ‘Finish’.
Next, you’ll be asked to verify your listing. Sign in as before, and click ‘Verify now’. Ensure you select the correct business if you manage multiple listings. The default option is ‘Postcard by Mail’, which takes up to two weeks to arrive, but you may be eligible for phone or email verification. Once you have the verification code, submit it. Your business listing may take a few weeks to appear in Google, but in the meantime you will still be able to add photos and other information to it.
How do I claim a Google Business listing?
Anyone can add a business to Google Maps. If someone else has already added yours, you can claim it, but there’s unfortunately no guaranteed method for doing so. You will need to request access from the current account owner via Google. You should receive an email either confirming that ownership of the listing has been transferred to you, or advising that access has been denied. If this is the case, you may be able to find support in the GMB Help Community. If you don’t hear anything within seven days, reach out to Google Business Support.
What’s important in a Google My Business listing?
As a general rule, a regularly, relevantly updated GMB listing will perform better in search rankings than those updated once then forgotten. If your opening hours change, make sure that’s reflected. Try and update photos of your business regularly, perhaps keeping them seasonal. And it goes without saying that your business name, address, and phone number absolutely must be accurate and consistent with those displayed on your website. Discrepancies are picked up by Google and will harm your business’s search ranking.
As with any form of local SEO, it’s advisable to see what your competitors are doing. Photos are always a plus, as they significantly increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your listing. You should also add a Business Description, which, like a website description, should contain relevant search keywords. Similarly to website SEO, however, Google has grown wise to the practice of stuffing keywords into descriptions in an unnatural manner, so keep it as human as possible!
Google My Business has many features, some of which are only usable for certain business categories. After all, it wouldn’t make much sense for GWS Media to list a takeaway menu. Your business will have updateable attributes such as services, products, and menus. Customers absolutely take notice of these, and you can also use them to see what your competitors offer – or claim to offer.