Are you looking for a place to eat or a plumber maybe? In the good old days, you may have asked your neighbors or friends for recommendations! Now, you have a personal assistant – “Google” at your fingertips. Each day millions of people are searching on Google for places to eat, nearby salons, plumbers and every other imaginable thing. Google provides businesses a great opportunity to meet their target audience right where they are looking for them- A Google My Business Listing.
Google My Business is completely free to you. It can help boost the local SEO of your website by showing it in local searches. If you have not claimed and optimized your Google My Business listing yet, you are missing out on substantial traffic.
In this article, we will show you how to create a GMB listing for your business and optimize it to reach more customers.
Creating a Google My Business Listing
First off, search for your Business on Google to ensure that it is not already listed on GMB. If your business has been around for a while, chances are that it is already listed on GMB and you just need to claim it. On the other hand, if you’ve used Google tools such as Google Places or Google+ Pages in the past, you would have automatically upgraded to Google My Business.
To claim your business, head over to https://business.google.com/create and enter your Business Name. If the listing has already been created, GMB will show you the following message, you can use any of the options listed here to claim your Business.
Once successfully claimed, you can start optimizing and managing your GMB page.
If you do not already have a GMB listing you would need to Create one
Step 1: Head over to google.com/business, it will prompt you to log in to your google account. Login with your Business account. Once you have logged in, select “Start now” in the top right-hand corner
Step 2: Enter your business name.
Step 3: Business address
Step 4: Select Delivery Area
If you deliver your goods and services to your customers’ locations, check the box “Yes, I also serve them outside my location.” You can also add the delivery area.
Step 6: Choose your business category.
Step 7: Add your business phone number or website.
Step 8: Choose a verification option.
How to Verify Your Business on Google
There are several ways to verify your GMB listing:
- By postcard
- By phone
- By email
- Instant verification
- Bulk verification
If you are opting for this method make sure your business address is correct. Do not make any changes in the business name or address before you receive your code as that could impede the verification process. The postcard should normally reach you in five days, however, if your postcard does not reach you, you can request a new code by signing in to Google My Business and clicking on “Request another code” Once you receive the code, login to GMB and select the listing you want to verify and enter the code to verify your account.
Google allows certain businesses to verify their location by phone. This option will appear for you only if you are eligible. Ensure that you have entered the correct phone number before you select this option. Enter the verification code received via text message to verify your account.
You can also choose to “Verify by email.” In this case, google sends a verification email to your registered email id. All you need to do is click the verification button in the email.
If your business has already been verified with Google Search Console, Google will instantly verify your GMB listing.
If you own more than 10 locations for the same business you might be eligible for bulk verification. Learn more about Bulk Verification.
Once your GMB page has been verified you can start optimizing your profile. Navigate to the left-hand menu and click on Info. Here you can edit the information under each heading/subheading by clicking on the pencil icon
Optimizing Your Google My Business Page
1. Ensure your Business information is accurate and up-to-date
- Address including Pincode
- Service Areas: Let your customers know whether you provide delivery or other services. In this section, you can also provide information regarding the distance or area in which you provide these services.
- Provide Accurate Business Operating Hours: Ensure that you update this info on a regular basis- to keep your customers up-to-date on holidays any other changes in operating hours.
- Phone Number: (Preferably a Local Number)
- Website: In addition to your website, restaurants can also provide the links to their Menu, Order ahead or reservation pages.
- Menu/Services: GMB provides the option of adding your menu/services to your GMB listing. It allows you to list out your menu/services so that your customers can see what your business has to offer directly on Google without having to navigate to your website. This feature is only available for food and drink, health, beauty, and other services businesses that don’t have a third-party “menu” link.
- Attributes: In this section, you can provide detailed information about the services available at your business. If you are a restaurant, you can provide information about the various amenities that your restaurant provides including dining options, acceptable modes of payment, other things which customers can expect at your restaurants such as kids menu, salad bar, Hallal food and the like.
- Description – add a short description of your business.
The information that you provide on your GMB page should be consistent with that on your website. You can edit and update this information at any time by logging into your GMB account and navigating to the Info tab.
2. Add Photos and Videos
According to Google, Businesses with photos receive 35 percent more click-throughs to their websites than businesses without photos. Photos help you to showcase the best of your business- it gives potential customers a vivid idea of what to expect from your business. Remember the instances, when you are searching for a new place to eat on Google, don’t you like take a look at the interiors of the restaurant to get a better idea of what to expect in terms ambiance or the photos of food to make a fair estimate of the kind of food to expect. Your customers looking for the same.
Good pictures can make or break your business. GMB allows you to upload different kinds of photos of your business to help increase the reach and visibility of your business.
Logo image: Your logo is an important part of your brand identity. Google recommends that you upload your brand’s logo on your GMB listing.
Cover photo: Your cover photo could be anything that fosters your brand image, from a picture of your products to the interiors of your establishment, you could even update your cover image from time to time to showcase the latest offers and deals.
Additional photos: Google allows you to upload additional Pictures of your Business. This could include pictures of your products or interiors and exteriors of your shop or business place.
Videos: You can also add short videos up to 30 seconds.
All information that you have updated on your page is verified by Google and may take up to 3 days to be published. Your GMB listing is now complete and ready for the world.
However, your task is not complete, you must realize that anyone can suggest a change or edit to your business listing. Anyone who searches for your business/or business like yours online can see “suggest an edit” option marked in the picture below.
By clicking on this option they can edit any business information they want to. And if you do not monitor your page regularly, these changes can go live without your approval. When these changes are made, Google sends out emails to the people managing your Google My Business account, but most account managers claim that they never receive notifications about changes to their listing. So, how do you monitor these– Log in to your GMB page. On the left-hand menu, navigate to manage locations listed towards the bottom. When you click on it- you will be lead to the page below.
Click on review updates to see the updates or edits made to your page.
The changes are highlighted in red- You can confirm these or edit them from here.
Also, it’s important to note that Google crowdsources information about your business by allowing people to answer questions. They can simply click on the “Know this place – answer quick questions” To answer these.
Now, it is all good if a genuine customer answers these questions, but there have been instances when people with malicious intent or your competitor may choose to provide incorrect information that may harm your business. Google, nevertheless, encourages this type of user-generated content as they feel this helps them in providing them a more complete business profile. The only way to regulate these unauthorized changes is to login to your GMB page regularly and keep an eye on these changes.
Some Additional Features You Should be Using
Your GMB page provides a great way to connect directly with people interested in your business via Messaging. Your customers can send direct messages to your business via this platform, you can respond to their queries and send them updates on offers and deals. Currently, this service is only available in select countries to only certain types of businesses.
To activate this download the GMB app and open it
If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
- Tap Customers.
- Tap Message- Tap Turn on to activate.
Once activated – you can see all messages under Customers > Messages
For more information on this click here.
b. Questions & Answers
Questions & Answers is another great feature on your GMB listing. Q&A allows people to ask questions about your business and you can answer those questions, but so can any other person. Chances are that when the answers are provided by a customer or any other person, the information may be incorrect or incomplete. But ironically, most of these questions are being answered by customers rather than business owners. The simple reason for this is that business owners are unaware that these questions being asked about their establishment. There are no notifications on your Google My Business dashboard or the GMB app letting you know that there are new questions to be answered. However, there are a few ways to find these questions:
- Search for your business on a desktop/ laptop and see if there are new questions.
- Install Google Maps on your phone, log in and check for questions/notifications.
- Search for your business on a mobile browser and check if you have new questions that need to be answered.
A great way to use this feature is to prepare a list of FAQs about your business and add them to your GMB listing- this would help in providing all essential and correct information about your business to your customers.
P.S. Google has recently started sending out email notifications letting you know that a new question has been asked.
c. Booking button feature
Google’s Booking button feature can help your customers book an appointment with your business directly from your Google My Business listing. To enable the booking button, choose and sign up with one of their scheduling providers. You can receive bookings through Google once your scheduling account is linked to your Google My Business account. (This might take a week after you sign-up).
If you already use a scheduling provider, the booking button is automatically updated on your GMB listing. You can see your booking history with that provider under the bookings tab in your Google My Business account.
Another area of concern for businesses is that sometimes a booking or ordering ling appear automatically on their GMB listing in Google search and Google Maps. For instance, if you are a restaurant owner- you would suddenly see a Doordash – link on your profile which you have not added- Here’s what Google has to say about these links:
Why some links appear automatically
d. Manage & Respond to Customer Reviews
Your customers can leave reviews for your business on Google. These appear on your GMB page under the reviews tab. These reviews also appear on the knowledge panel when a customer searches for your business on google or google maps. Most people searching for your business online would go through these reviews before making a decision to purchase from you. So it becomes important to respond to both positive and negative reviews to engage your customers and show them that you value their feedback.
Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews for your business.
e. GMB posts
Google provides you a great opportunity to update your customers with the latest and the greatest at your establishment via GMB posts. Your customers can view your latest posts on the knowledge panel when they search for your business on google. You can create offers, events or general posts showcasing your products.
Here we have rounded up some of the interesting features available to you on your GMB page. Hope you make the most of them.