Google My Business has grown incredibly important for local businesses and it is often the first thing a customer will find when searching for your business. Google My Business (when used correctly) is a great way to stay engaged with your customers, offer details about products or services you provide and provide updates about your business. Whether you’re offering a new service, running a promotion, or changing your hours of operation (let’s be real with COVID-19 happening), updating your Google My Business is the fastest way to let local customers know.
With all that said, it’s crazy to think almost 40% of Google My Business pages go unclaimed! Not claiming or optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page is the biggest local SEO mistake a business can make. Think about it… would you leave it up to Google and random customers to define your business? I know I wouldn’t.
In this guide, you’ll learn the importance of having a GMB page in order to be found on Google, how to set up your page, and most importantly how to optimize it.
How to Set Up Google My Business
- Claim Your Business
- Fill Out Business Information
- Write a Business Description
- Select Business Categories
- Include Links to Your Website
- Upload Photos & Videos
- Add Products & Services
- Review & Publish
1. Claim Your Business
This might sound obvious, but you’re going to want to claim your business if you haven’t already. Perform a quick Google search to find your current profile. Search for your business name or go to Google Maps to find your location.
Once you’ve found your listing on Google Maps, click: Claim this business. That will take you to a screen where you can complete the verification process.
This blog is more about how to optimize your GMB, so if you need help claiming yours, it’s best to start with Google’s Help Center here. If you’ve already claimed yours… perfect! Let’s keep moving.
2. Fill Out Business Information
Next up is making sure your business info is correct. Review the information that Google has pulled for your business name, address, hours, and phone number to make sure they are correct. It’s extremely important for local ranking purposes to have consistent NAP information. That’s Name, Address, Phone … not what time you take your afternoon nap.
This means your GMB page, website, Yelp, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Yellow Pages, BBB, etc. all need to have consistent information. This might sound simple, but if you’ve changed business locations, phone numbers, rebranded your business name, or rely on data aggregators to scrape information, you’ll especially want to make sure all your citations are in order.
Real Quick: If you need to change your business address on Google it’s super easy to do:
- Navigate to the Info section
- Click on the edit button (looks like a pencil)
- Fill in your correct address
- Click Apply
3. Write a Business Description
Your business description is the best place to showcase who you are, what it is that you do, and why you do it. Let your brand voice shine through, and don’t skimp on the opportunity to add lil personality to your descriptions! This is your chance to “wow” readers with your uniqueness.
Here are a few dos and don’ts of writing business descriptions:
- Use high-value keywords (pick your top 1-2)
- Include business history (if relevant)
- Write a unique and accurate description of your business (duh..)
- Follow Google’s Guidelines (always)
- Stuff with keywords (spammy)
- Make this a sales pitch (not the time or place)
- Include URLs or links (double spammy)
- Write anything prohibited by Google (Big Red Flag)
Hint: Google gives you 750 characters for your business description, however, only the first 250 characters will show on your GMB page. The rest gets cut off and is available for users when they click “More.” So be sure to include the important part of your description in those first 250 characters, or just limit the description to 250 characters entirely.
Take your time filling out an awesome business description, and you’ll see the rewards with increased click-through-rates and visibility in the google local pack. Optimizing your business description is the foundation of a solid local SEO strategy.
4. Select Business Categories
Business categories are very important for making sure you show up for all the right search queries.
Used correctly, categories will help you improve your local visibility. The goal is to get in front of the right customers by choosing the right categories. Unfortunately, there are many ways you can choose the wrong categories, but every way is basically you just shooting yourself in the foot.
Here are a few tips for choosing the best business categories (and not shooting yourself in the foot):
- Don’t choose a category if you don’t actually do that thing
- Choose categories that are as specific as possible
- Avoid spammy repetition of categories
- Don’t choose redundant categories
- Don’t choose categories just for keywords
- Choose as few categories as possible
The goal with choosing categories is to choose as few as possible, while still describing the core of your business. Repetitive or redundant categories are frowned upon by Google, so it’s best to choose multiple specific categories that don’t overlap. Here’s an example:
5. Include Links to Your Website
Your website is the face of your business, and at the very minimum needs to be up-to-date, modern, and well designed. You only get one first impression, so make sure it’s a good one. If not, visitors will bounce from your site like a beach ball at a Nickelback concert.
Your Google My Business listing is the best way to direct traffic toward your website. The more links you can include to your website the better. There are 3 options for website links on Google My Business:
- Website – example.com
- Appointment – example.com/contact
- Menu – example.com/menu –OR– example.com/services
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to track your web traffic on a platform like Google Analytics, you can track the visitors arriving to your website from your Google My Business page by adding UTM parameters to the end of the URL.
RELATED: The Shelf Life of a Website
6. Upload Photos & Videos
Perhaps the biggest influence on engagement with your GMB listing is your photos and videos. Depending on your industry, these are super important as more and more searchers are interacting with businesses with high-quality photos.
Taking your own quality photos and videos are essential to controlling the online image of your business, and preventing unflattering customer photos from rising to the top.
For example, here is a photo that was taken by a business owner for their trucking business:
And this is an actual customer photo uploaded to that same business:
[Insert facepalm emoji here]
Not exactly the image you want for your trucking business… You can see how an unclaimed, unoptimized Google My Business listing can really do some damage to your online image.
- Don’t use stock photos! Users can smell these a mile away.
- 360 degree photos are great for customers to view the inside of your restaurant or retail space. Invest in getting these photos done at least once, and then every time your interior changes.
- Upload new photos regularly, at least once a month if you’re a business that relies heavily on images.
7. Add Products & Services
Filling out the products and services section for your business is a great way to tell customers exactly what you offer.
These are very easy to add to your business’s profile. If you have lots of different products, use the categories feature to group them into relevant categories. Each product will need to have:
- Product Name
- Price (Fixed or Price Range)
- Product Description
- Link to Buy
- Product Photo
On your GMB page, your products will be displayed in a carousel-like section. It’s important to use high-quality images to showcase your product and keep your product titles to under 58 characters.
Make sure you write up an accurate and compelling product description to entice users to click. Also, don’t forget a link to your website or users will have no way to buy your product!
For service businesses, this section is great for explaining the range of services you offer to your customers and clients. For example, a digital marketing agency can list all the different types of services it provides and go into detail about each:
The service details also offer you the ability to add a price for your services if you wish. Some businesses may choose to leave this blank as the cost of services depends on a case by case basis. Others with fixed pricing can include that here, along with a 300 character description of your service.
8. Review & Publish
Once you’re done, review all your edits and updates to make sure they are correct, then go ahead and publish! Check your business details one final time, make sure your business description is all set, make sure you’ve included photos (including a business logo), and make sure your products and services are all polished.
It’s important to note that you can change, edit, or update any aspects of your business GMB profile at any time. In fact, regular updates to store hours for holidays, photos, google posts, and review responses are all a part of GMB best practices.
Advanced Google My Business Features
Now that you’ve got your GMB page all set up with the basics, you can start utilizing some of the more advanced features like Google Posts, Review Replies, and Insights to monitor your listing performance.
Google My Business Posts
GMB posts are an excellent way to keep your customers informed about business updates, run promotions, create product offerings, and set up events. Google posts appear in small featured snippets at the bottom of your GMB listing and include:
- Short Description (only 80 characters will be displayed)
- Link to your website
Google Posts are a fantastic way to take a branded search and turn it into commercial intent. For example, if a customer is searching for your business by name, and sees you running a sale, event, or other offerings, it can incentivize that customer to take action.
COVID-19 Tip: If your business is impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, write up a Google Post to announce to customers how your business hours have changed, what safety measures you are taking, or anything else worth mentioning.
Customer Review Replies
Reviews are an extremely important aspect of a healthy GMB listing. Reviews are the number one factor in a searcher’s decision whether or not to interact and ultimately buy from your business. For this reason, having an active reputation management system in place to request reviews from customers is essential.
A steady stream of new reviews that include details of their purchase and their customer experience is a plus. Reviews from “Local Guides” tend to carry more weight and rise to the top of the reviews pile on your listing. Of course, star rating matters as well, but when low star ratings come in (which they almost certainly will), the key is to respond to these customers in a timely and professional manner.
Part of a successful reputation management campaign includes not only bringing in new reviews, but responding to customers as they leave reviews, to show searchers that you are actively engaged with customers, and care what people have to say about your business.
COVID-19 Tip: GMB has temporarily limited functionality due to the coronavirus. As such, review replies have temporarily stopped. You can learn more about GMB’s limited functionality here.
Google My Business Insights
The “Insights” section of Google My Business is where you can really find some good information and data as to how your listing is performing, what keywords you are appearing for, and levels of engagement your page has in terms of phone calls, direction requests, website clicks, etc.
Knowing how to read and interpret this information is key to getting the most out of your GMB listing and improving your local search rankings.
Setting up your Google My Business isn’t enough… Consistent updates and optimizations are key to improving your local rankings
Setting up and optimizing your Google My Business listing is the first step to improving your local search performance, but it’s not the last. Continuous monitoring of rankings, queries, and performance takes time and an active local SEO strategy to see improvements.
At Intuitive Digital, we specialize in local SEO for small and medium-sized businesses. If you’re looking to improve your local search performance, or for an experienced SEO agency, let’s talk. If you have additional questions about optimizing your GMB page, drop them in the comments below, or send us a message.