March 15, 2019
Heres a stat for you on the power of local search results. A recent study by comScore & Neustar found searchers believed local search results are over 2.5 times more trustworthy as natural and paid search results. Additionally, with the local intent of their search, they found local results 3 times more relevant.
This perception of relevance and trust is a free tool at your disposal. Your business too can display on local search results by setting up a Google My Business page.
What is Google My Business?
Local search results appear based on someone’s intent with a search. For example if someone searches for plumber Austin, they are obviously looking to hire someone local. The paid search results are boxed in green, local in red, and natural search results in blue. Your business can get added visibility on search results by creating a Google My Business page.
Why Do You Need A Google My Business Page?
A Google My Business page gives prospective customers a window into your business so customers can quickly and easily connect with your business. From a mobile phone your business address, phone number, reviews, photos, and website are just a tap away.
It doesn’t cost you anything to have a Google My Business page. Plus you get eyeballs to your website and foot traffic to your business.
Then theres an opportunity to show others why customers love your business. A study from BrightLocal showed 54% of people visit a business website after seeing positive reviews. 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
How to Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Ready to finally setup your Google My Business Page? I thought so!
In order to claim your Google My Business page, go to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in using your Google Account. Preferably, the same account you would use for Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Ads.
If you see your Google My Business profile when you login scroll down to Google My Business Dashboard below.
If you’re just setting up a Google My Business Page for the first time Google will ask “What’s the name of your Business?”. Enter your business name. If you see your business’ name pop up in the drop down select it and double check to make sure the rest of your business information is correct.
It’s important that you use your actual business name. Don’t try to add product or service keywords to trick Google. It’s against their Google My Business Guidelines.
If you don’t see your name proceed with filling out your business name and click Next.
Next enter your country, street address, city, state and zip code.
If your office is in a suite or numbered building make sure to include your number in the street address. If you use a mail box service like UPS don’t use their address. Instead select “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location.” AND “Hide my address (it’s not a store).
If your business has an office or store front that customers can visit AND you serve customers at their home or office than just select “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location.”
If you deliver goods or services you’ll be asked to select your Service Area. You have the option to select a distance around your business or specific areas such as cities or postal codes. If choose a distance around your business location we recommend setting it at a minimum of 10 miles. If you have a customer database or collect zip codes through something like an email list we recommend adding these to postal codes. I
Next you’ll be able to select your Business Category.
It’s important that you select the most accurate category for your business. A quick way to find out which category you belong to is to search for a couple of your competitors and see what they use as their category.
To find their Google My Business Category, look under the company’s name. Following our example above here’s what you should see for our search for “kitchen remodel austin”. The categories are in Red.
Do this for a couple of competitors and youll start to recognize a pattern. Try to use the most frequently used category as your category.
Next up, your business phone number and website.
Try and use a local number for your main business phone number.
Using a local phone number will increase your chances of Google listing your business on the top of the maps section when someone searches for your type of business.
Also, research has show that customers are 3 times more likely to call you if you have local phone number over a 1-800 number.
Enter your website’s URL and click Next.
Here are some of the benefits of Verifying your Google My Business Listing:
Don’t forget to hit Finish. Google will then ask you to confirm your information so they can Verify your Google My Business Listing.
The next step will confirm how Google will verify your Google My Business Listing. More than likely they will offer to send you a postcard to your business address with 5-digit verification code. If you’re one of the lucky ones they will offer to verify by phone where they will call you and give you pin number to verify your listing.
Add the person’s name who will be responsible for verifying your Google My Business page. Click Mail.
Google will then send you a post card with a 5-digit verification code you can use to verify and setup your Google My Business page.
Keep in mind it will take roughly 5 days for your postcard to arrive.
How To Verify Your Google My Business Page – AKA The Dreaded Google My Business Verification Process
Once your postcard arrives:
- Go to https://business.google.com/
- Open the location you’d like to verify.
- Click Verify location in the lower left hand menu.
- Enter your 5-digit verification code.
- Click Verify.
In some situations Google will let you verify your business with your phone. If youre eligible for this verification method, you will see Verify by phone as an option during the verification process. Once youre logged into your Google My Business account, you will want to verify that your phone number is correct. Google will then text you a verification code to enter on your screen when prompted.
Unfortunately, just as with phone verification, only some businesses are eligible for email verification. If your business is one of the chosen few, you will see this option once you start the verification process.
To take advantage of email verification, you will first want to ensure that your email address is correct. Youll then select to Verify by email and Google will send you a verification email. All thats left now is to open your email from Google and click Verify.
If your business has already been verified through Google Search Console, you might be eligible to instantly verify your Google My Business account. You can instantly verify like so:
- Ensure youre signed into Google My Business with the same email you used to verify your Google Search Console account.
- If youre eligible, you will be prompted to verify the listing, if youre not eligible for instant verification you will have to choose one of the other verification methods above.
If you own a chain or franchise (the same business at multiple locations) you might be able to verify your Google My Business accounts in bulk. This does not apply if youre an agency or service verifying a bunch of accounts for different businesses. To bulk verify:
- Login to Google My Business and click Get verified
- Then click Chain and fill out the verification form with your business name, countries where you operate, contact names, contact phone number, business manager email and the email address of your Google Account Manager
- Submit this verification form. You will have to wait up to a week for Google to process your claim.
How to Request Ownership of Claimed Google My Business Page
In some situations you might go to verify your Google My Business page and notice that your page has already been verified, or is Owned by someone else. If this happens to you, the first thing to do is double check that your page wasnt verified by one of your old email addresses. If an old email address isnt the culprit, you will need to attempt to contact the page owner and request access.
If neither of those options resolves your access issue, you might need to request access from Google. To do that:
- Login to your account and find your business on the map in the search bar
- Google will then prompt you to ask for admin access
- You will then be served verification questions that you will need to answer
At this point, Google will contact the current owner of the page and ask that they get in touch with you. If your request is verified you will recieve management access to your listing page. If your request was denied, there is an option to appeal the decision where you will have to give Google more information and go through either the phone or postcard verification mentioned above.
Requesting Ownership of Bulk-Feeds
If youre looking to take over ownership of a Google My Business listing that was verified via the bulk-feed method, you will first have to become a manager of the listing. To become a manager, you simply need to reach out to the current owner of the listing and request to become a manager.
In chains or franchise situations, the current owner is often the corporate office or previous owner, making the process of asking to become a manager of the GMB page a lot easier. Just reach out to your corporate office and they should be able to promptly grant you access.
Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
To access your Dashboard sign up or login to Google My Business Account.
Once in you will see your Google My Business Dashboard which provides important information about your Google My Business Page including:
- Insights into how many views, searches, and activity your Google My Business Page has received
- Reviews for your business
- Google Posts by competitors
- Access to additional things like Google Ads, Messages, Google My Business App and Virtual Tours
You might also notice a progress bar.
This guide will help you completely update your profile. The goal is to keep it 100!
Click on Info in the left hand corner to proceed to editing your profile.
Enter the legal name of your business. I say legal because the Google Cops will come after you if you decide to include keywords with your business name in order to game the system. Dont let your competitors fool you. If you see theyre using keywords in their business name Google will come down on them. Its sorta their thing.
Unacceptable practices within the Business Name field include:
- Trademarks/registered symbols (boo – I dont know why these arent acceptable either)
- Overuse of capitalization
- Hours of operation
- Phone numbers
- Websites URL
- Crazy characters including those that make it look like youre cursing (%&$@/)
- Services/products (only acceptable if its included in your business name i.e. Open Road Automotive & Tire)
- Location (zip code, city, street, or neighborhood) (only acceptable if its the businesses name ie. Quacks 43rd Street Bakery)
I highly recommend checking out what your competitors list themselves as. To check your competitors, do a Google search for their company name. Their Google My Business page should open up on the right hand side. Their category will be below their Business Name, next to their Reviews.
Do this for a couple of competitors and youll start to recognize a pattern. Try to use the most frequently used category as your primary category.
Add your subcategories. Youre limited to 9 so make sure you pick the most relevant categories. Google will decrease the value of each additional category. So it’s important that you prioritize your categories by most important. We recommend sticking to 4 or less.
Enter your complete street address. This should include suite numbers, floors, building and/or numbers/letters. Whatever you do dont make up suite numbers. Youll just confuse the poor mail guy who tries to deliver you your verification postcard.
Do not add your address if youre using a virtual office like Regis or answering service where a receptionist pretends like youre never available. If you use a P.O. Box Im afraid youre up a creek my friend. Google doesnt allow P.O Boxes.
There is an exception, quite a few actually. If you follow all of the guidelines below you may proceed to enter your address:
- You physically occupy the space
- You receive postal mail there
- You or someone from your company is there to greet stopper-bys during business hours (which well get to later)
- Your Company’s Sign is visible from the street
If you deliver goods or services you can add Service Areas. You can add Cities, Postal Codes or Other Areas.
Hours of Operation
Make sure to list the hours someone at your company will be available to help your customers. If for whatever reason you change your hours make sure to log back in and change them.
Nothing is more demoralizing than finding yourself hankering for a burrito at 10 oclock at night and when you show up to the local taco joint and their doors are closed.
Under the Special Hours field, you can also set holiday hours or any other specific times you plan to be closed in advance. Pretty spiffy eh?
Enter the same phone number as the one on your website. Make sure to use a local phone number. People like to talk to local folks. A 1-800 phone number will scare a lot of them away.
I highly recommend using a phone number you can trace back to online. However, do not only use a phone number that redirects. Use a separate line if you have to. If you cant use a tracking number, train whoever picks up the phone for you to start asking how they heard about your business.
To link your Google My Business account to your website enter your websites complete URL. Try not to use a link that redirects to a different page or includes a bunch of keywords. Redirects lead to people just closing your website and moving onto other things.
If your a business like a dentist, hair salon, or day spa you can add an appointment URL.
If youre part of a larger organization (ie. a doctor, financial advisor, insurance agent, lawyer, etc.) link to your profile page on your companys website.
If your business is service based, you should take advantage of GMBs option to list out your menu of services. This option is perfect for hair salons, spas and even restaurants. You can categorize and price your services or food options, so that potential customers can quickly see them.
Make sure that youre listing, organizing and describing your services in a quick, easy-to-understand way for a great user experience.
Attributes share important information about your business. Google will automatically give you some options like veteran-led, outdoor seating, has wi-fi, etc. Google uses customers reviews to suggest attributes. So make sure to check in every once and awhile to see what other attributes you can add.
The description is a great place to introduce people to what your business does, where youre located, and what products/services you offer.
Write 2-3 sentences describing your business. Make sure to list your core products and services. Don’t forget to include which city youre located in.
Do not keyword stuff. For example, if youre a local automotive repair shop located in Austin, Texas you wouldnt want to list one of your services as Austin Automotive Repair. Just Automotive Repair or Google Cops will lay down the hammer.
Lastly, dont forget to mention any awards youve won, associations youre part of, or company milestones.
List your first day of doing business.
Google Assistant Calls (being test for certain businesses)
If this is checked customers can use Google Assistant to call you and book an appointment or confirm your business information like what hours your open.
Google assistant will work your customer to get their information and will call you via their automated call technology Duo which will confirm the booking or information needed.
If you have multiple locations you can add a store code so that you can better manage your Google My Business Pages.
Labels make it easy for you to organize your Google My Business Pages if your business has multiple locations such as a franchise.
Google Ads Location Extension
If you’re using Google Ads you can add a Call Tracking number to your Google My Business Page. If your Google My Business Page is linked to your Google Ads account Google will display the tracking number instead of your regular phone number whenever your ads show up in Google Maps.
Before uploading your photos make sure you follow Googles Best Practices for Photos:
- Format: PNG or JPG
- File Size: 10KB to 5MB
- Min. Resolution: 720 px tall, 720 px wide, smaller than 3000 px by 3000 px
- Quality: Focused, well lit, no excessive filtering or photoshopping. Basically, they should look like the real deal.
Go to your Google My Business Dashboard and click on Photos.
Perhaps the most crucial, as Identity photos help customers recognize your brand across Google Search and Google Maps.
Your cover photo should display your companys personality and help customers get a glimpse into what it would be like working with you! You can also use this opportunity to display your products/services or benefits. For example, if youre running a boutique hotel you could include photos of your staff, rooms, lobby, or facilities.
Minimum Size: 480 X 270 pixels
Recommended Size: 1080 X 608 pixels
Your profile photo is going to be next to your business name whenever your brand comes up in Google maps and Google search results so it should really help convey what your company does. For instance, if youre a Chevrolet Car Dealership you can add a photo of a Z06 Corvette instead of just your logo.
Minimum Size: 150 X 150 pixels
Recommended Size: 250 X 250 pixels
Upload three interior photos. Interior photos should help customers get a feel for what it would be like if they visited you. If youre a local business that sees a lot of foot traffic like a coffee shop you can show photos of your coffee bar, seating area, and baked goods. If youre a services business where youre not seeing a lot of customers stop by like an accountant, show photos of your office, employees working, or waiting room.
If youre in a hard to find location or people often call you for directions after getting lost, customers can use exterior photos as a point of reference to identify your business when they want to drive to your location.
A few tips here:
- Use photos that include your building or suite number
- If possible, try to capture part of a business next door or landmark people from the area might be familiar with
- Use photos taken at different times of the day
- Take photos from different angles of your building
At Work Photos
At Work Photos show customers what your business offers. Upload photos capturing the different services you provide. Customers quickly look at these photos and know in seconds what you do. So for a spa this may be photos of someone getting a massage and another photo of a facial treatment.
Share photos of your team members. Either individually or as a team works. Funny and group photos are encouraged. This is really where you can let your personality stand out!
Adding videos to your Google My Business listing is a fairly new feature, but one that should definitely be taken advantage of by your business. At this time, youre allowed to add videos that are 30-seconds or less and arent larger than 100 MB. We recommend creating videos that introduce and explain your business to viewers, and give in-depth looks at your location and services.
Note: Before youll be able to see and reply to customer reviews placed on Google, your business needs to be verified.
To read reviews, log into your Google My Business Account and select Reviews from the left hand navigation.
We recommend replying to every review. Customers like to see that others comments were handled with care no matter how flattering or critical they may be.
To reply, select a specific review reply by clicking Reply. Google has general guidelines on responding to customer reviews you can apply like thanking your customers, keeping replies short, and avoid sounding salesy.
Got a review that is inappropriate based on Googles review content policies? Simply click the three dots next to the review and Flag it as inappropriate. Google takes reviews very seriously and will have someone manually review it. If they deem it appropriate they’ll take it down.
Google My Business Posts
Another newer feature of Google My Business profiles are posts. Posts are similar to typical social media posts in that they can be used to advertise special deals, products or events you have going on.
To add a post, login to your GMB dashboard and you will see the option to create a post in the upper left hand corner. Posts will live on your Google My Business listing (specifically in Google Maps and the Knowledge Panel).
When creating a post, follow these best practices:
- Include a photo! Obviously, photos can be used to make your post stand out, just be careful youre choosing the right size so it doesnt get strangely cropped.
- Try adding emojis! Not only will emojis draw a viewers eye to your post, but theyre actually starting to become indexable by Google and you can never have enough positive SEO signals.
Because posts are so new, theyre not widely used yet, so take the time to set a few up and stand out in search results. Take note that your posts will expire after seven days, so try to always keep fresh post content available.
At this time, the messaging features is only available on mobile, but with it customers can actually text you directly from your local business panel.
To enable it:
- Download the Google My Business App
- Login to your account and click Messages
- Turn on Messages
- Craft an welcome message that people will receive when they message you. You will want to include someone along the lines of Text us to find out about pricing and schedule an estimate. We will get back with you as soon as possible.
Messaging is just one other way Google makes it easier for you to connect with potential customers!
Do customers need to make an appointment before stopping by your business? If so, you should be taking advantage of GMBs booking feature. This feature works by integrating with supported third-party software, so chances are it will work with the scheduling software youre already using!
When you implement the bookings feature, customers are able to book directly to your usual schedule, just through Google My Business as opposed to going directly to your website. This is great for user experience because they dont have to leave Google to become one of your customers.
There is no need to setup bookings; if youre already working with one of Googles supported scheduling providers, the booking button will be automatically added to your GMB listing.
Questions & Answers
People have questions and Google My Business gives you the space to publicly answer them. The questions will appear in your Google Knowledge Graph and Google Maps, on both mobile and desktop.
To get notified of new questions go to your settings and check the option to receive email alerts for Q&A’s.
Unfortunately, you cannot answer questions through the Google My Business App. Instead you have to login to your account on your iPhone or Android device, search for your business in your browser or Google Maps, select your profile and answer your questions from there.
Of course, there are best practices when it comes to Questions and Answers.
- Create a FAQs section, to prevent getting asked the same questions over and over again.
- Try to quickly respond to questions! Anyone can answer a question, so make sure youre responding before someone else can.
- If someone else does respond to your question before you do, ensure that their answer is accurate so that false information is not spread around.
- People can upvote questions, so if you really like a question, upvote it to increase its chance of being at the top of your list of questions and answers.
- If you get complaints, address them and try to solve their problems in this public forum. This will ensure that other viewers see your responsiveness.
Insights is GMBs native tool for tracking your listings metrics and exploring how people are finding your page.
With Insights, you will be able to answer these questions:
- How people are finding your page? (Search or Maps)
- How many people have requested directions?
- How many phone calls have I received through my GMB listing?
- How many people have used GMB’s message feature to message you?
- Where are my customers located?
Google My Business sorts the traffic your listing receives by direct and discovery. Direct refers to people who searched for you specific business name, whereas discovery refers to the traffic where users were looking for your type of business or service, and they found your listing organically. Its important that you explore and understand your Insights so you are able to optimize your page and continue to gain more traffic.
Google My Business App
To make managing your Google My Business profile easier and more convenient, GMB released their very own app. Similarly to how you check Facebook on your phone and see if anyone has messaged you, you can start checking and interacting with your GMB account.
After you download the app, you will be able to post pictures and videos and create posts. You can also edit your business information and monitor your insights using the GMB app. For admin features, like deleting your page or managing users, you will still need to visit the browser version.
It may sound like a lot of steps, (and it is) but you now have a quick and easy way for new customers to see what your business does, when youre open, and how to reach you. At The Kaanen Group we provide local SEO services that include optimizing your Google My Business listing. If you need help setting up a Google My Business Page get in touch with us today.