Google My Business is one of the most powerful tools available to help you rank higher in local search results and reach more customers. But to take full advantage of this opportunity, you must claim and complete your profile and make sure it’s optimized to be found by customers who are searching for businesses like yours. Manta’s 29-point guide provides all the answers you need to build a dynamite Google My Business profile, boost your SEO, add your location to Google Maps and rank higher in local search.
1. What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is Google’s listing platform for companies. Millions of small, medium and large businesses have Google My Business profiles that help them boost search rankings and get in front of local customers.
2. Why Should Your Business Use Its Google My Business Profile?
Setting up a Google My Business profile for your company will help your company show up in Google search engine results, Google local search results and Google Maps results. Use this automatic business listing tool to see how your company appears on Google My Business other online business listing sites.
Listing your company on Google My Business will:
- Help you show up in search results
- Help you show up on map results
- Use your location and potential customers’ locations to help you rank in local searches
- Provide a place where customers can review your business
“Google My Business is a really important tool that more local businesses should take advantage of. It’s critical for helping customers find you easily,” said Brandon Schroth, an SEO strategist for seoWorks. “The best part? When optimized correctly, the page shows up above normal organic search results.”
3. What Do Google My Business Listings Look Like?
This Google My Business listing for Gigi’s Cupcakes shows what a great small business listing looks like:
4. How Much Does Google My Business Cost?
There’s no charge to add your company information to Google My Business. “It’s free to use, and it gives local businesses a way to manage their online presence by verifying and updating important information,” Schroth said.
5. How Does Google My Business Work?
Listing your company on Google ensures that your small business name, address, phone number, hours and description are listed correctly and consistently across all Google internet platforms, including:
- Google search results
- Google’s Local Pack
- Google Maps
- Google reviews
Google My Business allows you to manage your entire Google business profile—including for multiple locations—from one dashboard.
6. What Does Google My Business Do?
Google My Business allows you to control the way your business shows up on Google. Using Google My Business you can correct or adjust your company’s:
- Name, address and phone number (your NAP info)
- Your current business hours
- Geographic information for each of your locations
On top of these basic features, you can add photos to your Google My Business profile and encourage positive customer reviews.
7. Do You Still Need Google+ or Google Places for Business Pages?
You can manage everything you need to right from your small business’ Google My Business dashboard.
The NAP info, photos and any other information you upload to Google My Business will automatically populate across all of Google’s platforms. You can even manage your small business AdWords account from your Google My Business dashboard.
These are Google’s basic guidelines for representing your company on Google My Business:
- Represent your business as it’s consistently represented and recognized in the real world across signage, stationery and other branding.
- Make sure your address is accurate and precise.
- Choose the fewest number of categories it takes to describe your overall core business.
8. Do You Need to Create a Separate Small Business Listing for Google Maps?
Your location information is automatically integrated onto Google Maps from your Google My Business dashboard.
Make sure your business info is correct and updated everywhere it appears. Start with a free report from Manta’s Listing Manager.
9. How Much Can You Manage From the Google My Business Dashboard?
Everything you need to manage for your small business’ appearance on Google you can manage from the Google My Business dashboard.
Here’s what the Google My Business dashboard looks like:
From this dashboard you can:
- Update your business information and have it automatically update in Google search and Google Maps
- Get alerts for and respond to new reviews from customer
- Use Google “insights” feature to see who’s interacting with your business online and learn how they found you
- See how many people click to your website from your Google My Business profile
- See how often people click-to-call your business from your Google My Business profile
- See how often people request driving directions from your Google My Business profile
- See how often people see your business in their Google search results over time
- Use AdWords Express to administer AdWords from your Google My Business profile
10. Is My Company Already Listed on Google My Business or Google Maps?
Begin by searching for your business in the Google My Business search bar.
If your company information is already in Google’s system, it will appear on your screen. Google will ask you to verify the contact email on file for the account.
11. How to Add Your Company to Google My Business
If Google has no information on your business, it will lead you through a series of steps. Follow these prompts to add your business information to the site. You’ll be required to verify your business with Google, which we’ll get to in the next section.
As you wait for the verification process to be completed, you can begin uploading photos, videos and logo into your Google My Business dashboard immediately. These won’t publish online until you’ve completed the verification process.
Watch Google’s step-by-step demo to claim or add your company to Google My Business:
12. How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing
There are two main ways to verify your Google My Business listing: by postcard or by telephone.
“Google wants to understand that you’re the verified representative from the company. That is why they send a postcard to the address that gives a code to input,” said Nathan Barber, digital analyst for the Digital Advertising Works agency. “With the code verified, you are able to have full control over the listing. The verification boosts your chances of ranking for local services that you offer in your business area.”
Follow Google’s prompts to determine the method of verification that’s right for you. Verification by postcard will take between seven and 10 business days.
Watch Google’s step-by-step video to learn how to verify your small business on Google My Business:
13. What if Someone Already Claimed My Business on Google?
An additional step in the process of listing your company will arise if someone has already claimed your listing.
To lock down ownership of your listing, you’ll need to request a transfer of listing ownership or request that person—maybe an employee in charge of managing your digital marketing—add you to the account as a listing manager.
Watch Google’s step-by-step video on what to do if someone already claimed or verified your business:
14. What Should You Include on Your Google My Business Page?
The information you include on your Google My Business profile seems self-explanatory. But there are best practices every business owner should follow in the way their information is presented on Google My Business, said Barber.
He offered the following guidelines on what to include on your Google My Business profile, and how to get it right:
- Consistent Business Name, Address & Phone Number
“You want to make sure that all your business details are consistent with other online listings. Google pulls your NAP from all different sources, but if you can tell them the correct information through a consistent business citation, you will increase your online visibility on search engines on local search,” said Barber.
- Unique Business Description
“Google wants to see that your ‘about’ section is completely unique, and not pasted from your own website. By having a unique description, your targeted keywords and business focus will be more in-tune to become more visible on the search engines. Don’t forget to include a hyperlink right in the description for maximum GMB return,” he said.
- Correct Business Category
“Choosing the correct business category is vital to get found for the correct user’s searcher intent. By pinpointing your correct category (less the better), you will show up for the right types of search traffic. If you are having difficult deciding which category, look at all your competitors and scout out the winning listings and copy their category,” he said.
15. Google My Business for Multiple Locations
You can manage up to 10 business locations from a single Google My Business profile. For more than 10 locations, you’ll need to use the Google My Business Locations dashboard.
16. Are Duplicate Google My Business Listings a Problem?
Duplicate listings for a single business location can undermine the value of your Google My Business listing, said Alicia Glaser, the local search lead for digital marketing agency Pure Visibility.
“It’s important to search for any duplicate pages that might have been created in the past
with old addresses or different versions of your business’ name. Merge or close these locations,” advised Glaser.
“Having multiple Google My Business pages for the same location can harm your chances for ranking locally,” she explained. “Providing old, inaccurate information can also be an issue for the user’s experience.”
17. How to Remove Duplicate Listings
Businesses can contact Google My Business support by phone, by email, by chat, or through Facebook or Twitter to get rid of duplicate listings.
Austin Lund, local SEO specialist for Big Leap digital marketing agency, recommended these steps:
- First, delete the Google+ page of the old listing (if there isone).
- Next, send a message to Google My Business support staff on Facebook or Twitter, or start a chat, request a call or send an email.
- Lund recommends sending the following message:
“Hello, can you please move this old listing [insert Google Maps listing URL of old listing] to the current listing [insert Google Maps listing URL of current listing]? And can you also please transfer the reviews of the old listing to the current listing?”
18. How Do You Edit or Change the Information in Your Google My Business Profile?
You can edit or change information on your profile directly from your Google My Business dashboard.
If you have any difficulty making changes to hours, location or other information, send a message to Google My Business support staff on Facebook or Twitter, or start a chat, request a call, or send an email.
Is your business #1 on Google? Manta can get you there! Find out how to place your ad on top of search results with a Manta membership.
19. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing for Best Results
One of the most important things to keep in mind when optimizing your Google My Business listing is consistency, said David Mulqueen, project manager for digital marketing agency Odd Dog Media.
“You want to make sure that things like your name, imaging, messaging, general info like hours of operation, business category and how people can find you is consistent,” he advised. “If your Google My Business page isn’t consistent, how is Google supposed to trust your business as a credible source of information for its users?”
Nicholas Kinports, executive vice president of strategy for Notice digital advertising agency offered the following tips for optimizing your GMB profile:
- Add Content, Content, Content!
“Add high-resolution images of your business including the interior, along with 360-degree photos and videos if applicable. The more great content you add, the better Google will position your business relative to the competition,” Kinports said. When writing descriptions, “Write in a natural, helpful, and easy to read prose. Google loves a great user experience!”
- Choose Keywords Wisely
Choose the same keywords and phrases you know your customers are looking
for and populating your profile where appropriate. Watch this two-minute video for basic keyword strategies:
20. Adding Photos to Google Maps and Google Search From Google My Business
Adding photos to your Google My Business profile will also add those photos to Google Maps and search results. Remember, customers are visually motivated, and photos of your location and products or services will go a long way towards attracting new business.
“You want to add relevant photos of your company,” recommended Barber of Digital Advertising Works. “This includes the interior, exterior of the building location, employees, past work, logos and other miscellaneous photos. The images supplied will send strong signals to Google that you are indeed a real business. The photos supplied will be more easily found on the ‘image’ section of the Google search engine portion.”
Watch this Google demo for step-by-step instructions on adding photos to your Google My Business profile:
21. What are Google Reviews?
Customers can review your business on Google. This two-minute video explains how Google reviews work for small businesses.
22. Do Customer Reviews Show Up on Your Google My Business Listing?
Yes, customer reviews show up on your Google My Business profile. The one- to five-star rating at the top of your Google My Business listing as it appears in search results and on Google Maps is determined by the number of positive ratings you receive from customer reviews.
Google reviews are important for potential customers who are still in the “research phase” of making a purchase, said Mulqueen of Odd Dog Media. People who see great reviews are more likely to try your company instead of your competitors. And those Google star ratings are “the most crucial ones,” he said.
Begin by requesting reviews from “existing happy customers who have been so thrilled with their services in the past that they’d be more than willing to leave a review,” recommended Mulqueen. “These are a guaranteed way to build some momentum in getting more and more reviews on Google.”
23. How Can You Get Good Reviews on Google?
“The way to get good reviews on Google is to simply ask for them,” said John Nesler, lead writer and researcher for Post Modern Marketing. Customers don’t think about leaving an online reviews, even when they have really good experiences.
“In fact, they’re usually most inspired to go to the bother of writing a review when they have a bad experience,” he said. That makes it doubly important to ask happy customers to leave a review.
“When you have an interaction with a customer that just feels really solid and good, and they strike you as someone who is well-spoken, simply ask them, ‘Hey, would you be willing to take a couple minutes to review us on Google?'” More often than not they’ll be happy to help you out, said Nesler.
You might also consider handing out a flyer with a link to your Google My Business page and a request for a review, recommended Jim Lastinger, CEO of digital marketing firm Deep Field.
“However, you only want to give the flyer to customers that are clearly satisfied and most likely to leave a positive review,” Lastinger cautioned.
24. Should You Pay People to Leave Positive Google Reviews?
No. Never, not under any circumstances, should you pay someone to leave good reviews on Google.
“It’s a violation of Google’s terms of service with regard to reviews (as is the case with Yelp),” said Nesler.
If a happy customer is reluctant to leave a positive review out of the kindness of their own heart, you might “offer them a small discount on their next purchase,” he advised.
“Don’t publicize this offer or make it part of your marketing approach,” said Nesler. “But you’re asking a customer to spend their time on your behalf, so sometimes it’s appropriate to do
something nice for them.”
25. How to Respond to Good Google Reviews
Be sure to respond to all of your good reviews through your Google My Business profile, recommends Nesler. And don’t just write “Thank you!”
“Write a detailed, thoughtful response in which you address the person by their first name, thank them for being a customer and writing the review, and adding any salient points about your interaction with the customer that you think might put you in a good light,” said Nesler.
26. How to Respond to Bad Reviews on Google My Business
The downside to positive Google reviews from your happy customers are the occasional bad review every business is likely to receive.
“Never leave a bad review unanswered,” said Nesler. “It’s easy to do more harm than good if you aren’t careful in your response.”
Here are the rules of thumb that Nesler follows—and that he gives to clients—when it comes to responding to a bad review:
- Be calm and courteous. Don’t write a response when you’re frustrated and angry. You need to be firmly in control of your emotions. Find your happy place.
- Don’t debate the person in public. A he-said she-said situation is Get the interaction away from prying eyes. Lead off with a courteous, “I’m very sorry that you had an unsatisfactory experience with our business.” Then provide contact details where they can get a hold of you directly.
- You need to be in full-blown A+ customer-service mode. That doesn’t mean that you should be self-deprecating orapologize a million times. Rather, make it clear how your customers’ experiences should play out. What they should experience. What will happen when they walk through your door.
27. How to Use Google My Business to Place Better in Local Search Results
Google My Business’ really important function is that is uses your small business’ location (or locations) to determine your placement in local search rankings. Local search results show businesses in the vicinity of the customer doing the Google search based on your physical location and theirs.
The top three businesses returned in local search results show up in Google’s Local Three Pack. The local pack is a box that appears at the top of location-based Google search results.
Google’s location-based local search results are “critical for helping customers find you easily,” said Schroth of prWorks. Competition for Google’s Local Three Pack is heavy, he said, and it gets harder every day for small businesses to earn that special place at the top of local Google searches.
“Invest the time into creating and maintaining a Google My Business listing as well as the supporting local elements, and you’ll reap the benefits of higher placement and greater visibility” for your small business, said Schroth.
28. How Can You Compete for a Place in Google’s Local Three Pack?
You can see how your company measures up on Google My Business by conducting a “near me” search. Near me searches use an internet user’s location to suggest businesses nearby.
“To understand the local competitive landscape for your business, search for your business’ category with the phrase ‘near me’ in Google to see what type of accounts are showing up in Google Maps and the Knowledge Graph,” recommended Glaser of Pure Visibility.
“You will more than likely see that listings with reviews show up first organically,” added Glaser. She suggested clicking on those top businesses to see what they’re doing differently and what you might do to improve your own near-me ranking.
29. Can You Manage Your Google My Business Profile from a Smartphone?
Yes, you can!
Download the Google My Business app for Android here.
Download the Google My Business app for iPhone here.