Google My Business (GMB) is a vital and valuable tool for any business owner, as long as it’s used effectively. From showcasing your products and services to quickly providing contact information and updates, and from building trust with customer reviews to showing up more prominently in search, your business can benefit a lot from a GMB listing.
The fact that it’s completely free tool makes it even more surprising that more businesses aren’t using it to its full potential. What that does mean is that, by creating a great listing for your own business, you’ll stand out in the crowd.
Why Should You Optimise Your Google My Business Listing?
1. Local search
A Google My Business listing helps you show up in local searches and searches on Google Maps, which means you are more likely to be seen by people who want to use your service.
As for websites, Google will rank your business listing based on a number of factors, which includes quality of information. So the more optimised your listing, the better the information, the higher it appears in search, and the more people see you.
2. User engagement
More and more frequently, people aren’t clicking through to websites because they’re finding the information they need on Google. So you want to make sure they can still find as many useful details about you as possible. If they can’t find your information right there in their search results, they’ll find it from another competing business who is showing up.
3. Google holds the market share of traffic
Google as a search engine is a true giant, claiming over 90% of worldwide search traffic. Of that, nearly 46% of searches are looking for local information, and 97% of people learn the most about a local business online.
Even beyond that, there are a huge number of third-party platforms that use the information Google holds to provide local information for their own customers.
If any part of your target audience is local, then a Google My Business listing is vital for showing up in front of them. So set some dedicated time aside to optimise your listing.
How to Set Up Google My Business
If your business has been around for a while, there’s a good chance that there’s already a GMB out there for it, and it’s important that you claim it so you can take control of the information on there. If there’s no existing listing, it takes just a few minutes to create one.
You should first log into your Google account, or create one if you don’t already have one. Then head to Google My Business and click Manage Now. From there, follow the instructions to set up or claim your account.
Optimise Your Google My Business Listing
1. Basic Details
Before anything else, you need to include the very basics:
- Business Name
- Telephone number
- Website address
- Opening hours
If they’re already there, make sure they’re all correct and up-to-date. You don’t want someone trying to visit a website that no longer exists, or calling a number for an old office.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re using the same information across the internet. If you have a landline contact number on your website, don’t put a mobile number on your listing. And your business name should be an exact match to what’s on your website.
2. Business Category
This may seem straightforward on the surface, but make sure you take some time to select the correct primary Business Category. There may be several very similar options, so go through them all to select the one that most closely matches what you do.
Your primary Business Category will help you show up in the right kind of searches and also affects what features you can use in Google My Business.
If you provide a number of different types of services, then you can also choose secondary Additional Categories.
Remember that categories indicate what your business does, not what it sells.
It’s vital to verify your business before you can start getting results. By doing this, you tell Google that you’re a bona fide business and the bona fide owner.
To do this, Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code and instructions. This should be with you within 5 working days and, in the meantime, you can continue working on your listing.
4. Service Area and Physical Location
Depending on the type of business, you may have a physical location, a service area, or both.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business where customers come to your location – such as a store or an office – then add the address to Business Location.
You may also have, or have instead, an area in which you provide a service. In this case, add a Service Area.
For example, a garage will have a physical location where you bring your car for an MOT or repairs, but they may also offer roadside assistance within a 20-mile radius. In this case, they’d have both a Physical Location and a Service Area. A mobile hairdresser, however, may only have a Service Area and no Physical Location
It’s important to clarify that a Physical Location is different to your Business Address. You will still need to include your Business Address, but can opt for it not to be shown on maps.
5. Logo and Cover Photo
Your logo is an important part of your business identity and can make you easily recognisable and memorable, and GMB will highlight this on your profile. So make sure you add a good quality version of your logo. A cover photo makes the listing look overall more appealing.
6. From the Business
This section is where you tell people what you do. With 750 characters to use, you have a good amount of space to talk about your business and encourage customers to buy from you. Make it clear what you offer, be engaging, and include important keywords.
7. Additional Photos & Video
Additional Photos and Videos, alongside your logo and cover photo, help you tell more of a story about your business. You can include images of photoshoots, your team, where you work, your products… There are plenty of options!
Video, too, is an underutilised tool. A high-quality video is excellent, but an informative and interesting video shot in your home office on your phone is good too. You might be showcasing your products or services, or simply talking face to camera about exciting news.
8. Products, Services & Appointments
When adding a product, you should fill in as much information as possible to make the most of this feature. As well as a name and description, you can add an image, categories, price, price range, and a call to action button.
Like the From the Business section, all this information together should appeal to your potential customers and give them the information they need. Write naturally using keywords that represent the product. Show an image that accurately represents your product.
The button is particularly important. Don’t spend all your time crafting a fantastic description and then forget to give the user something to do next.
Each button should link to a relevant page, most likely on your own website.
Services allow for a brief description of what you offer, while adding an appointment link lets customers book an appointment directly from your GMB listing.
There are four types of posts on Google My Business:
They may not all be relevant to you, but you should utilise those that are.
You can download an App on your phone that allows you to receive text enquiries directly from people who see your business in search. This not only allows you to provide amazing customer service, it also helps you make sales.
Your private number will remain private with this feature.
Reviews are a great way to build trust and a good reputation, and Google makes it very easy to collect them from customers.
Every time someone buys your product or uses your service, encourage them to go to your GMB listing and write a review. They’ll rate you out of 5 stars and have the option of giving more information about their experience. Google then adds up all your reviews and displays them prominently on your listing.
Bright Local found that reviews play a big part in whether a user clicks on your business listing or not.
12. Special Attributes
Special Attributes allow you to provide even more information about your business in bite-size chunks. Take a look through the options available and select all those that apply to yours. They include attributes such as women-led, online appointments and, in the age of Covid, temperature check required.
13. Opening Date
The Opening Date of your business is a small but nice feature that just gives a little more information to those who are interested. If you’ve been around a while, it also helps you show that you’re an established business.
Google has quickly and helpfully adapted its My Business listings to allow you to provide more information to customers that are relevant to restrictions and changes that are taking place in your business. From temporary closures and updated opening times, to additional safety measures and adapted services, make sure that your information is up-to-date in relation to Coronavirus.
You can find more guidance from Google on these features.
Once you’ve update all the information, make sure you check your settings so that you’re receiving updates and changes. You don’t want to miss an appointment or an important question because your settings aren’t correct.
Keep Your Listing Up-to-Date
Once you’ve set up your listing and fully optimised it, set aside a bit of time each month to keep it updated. Like your website, Google rewards those listings that are active and keep users up-to-date. You can keep your listing fresh in lots of ways including:
- Uploading new photos
- Writing posts
- Responding to reviews and questions
- Updating opening hours for holidays
- Adding new products, services and special offers
- Reviewing current information to make sure it’s up-to-date
- Analysing the in-built insights and making adjustments to improve your listing
An up-to-date and optimised Google My Business listing is vital for any business that wants to be seen in local searches. Creating and maintaining a listing is a free and easy way of boosting your visibility and engaging with new potential customers.