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The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business

Stu Coston

Stu Coston

Co-founder

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. It let’s you maintain accurate business information like your business name, location, and hours. It also lets you monitor and reply to customer reviews, add photos of your business, learn where and how people are searching for you, and more.

With 46% of all Google searches having local intent, your Google My Business listing is a great place to focus your local SEO efforts.

And, since one in two people who conduct a local search (i.e. “restaurants near me”) visit a store that day, it is critical that the information about your business on Google is as accurate, complete, and optimized as possible.

Here are the steps you need to take to start managing your Google My Business listing:

 

  1. Create an account and claim your business
  2. Verify your business
  3. Optimize your listing

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. It let’s you maintain accurate business information like your business name, location, and hours. It also lets you monitor and reply to customer reviews, add photos of your business, learn where and how people are searching for you, and more.

Create A Google My Business Listing 

  • Step 1: Log into the Google Account you want associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
  • Step 2: Go to google.com/business and select “Start now” in the top right-hand corner.
  • Step 3: Enter your business name.
  • Step 4: Enter your business address. 
  • Step 5: Choose if you want your business location to appear on Google Maps.
    • If you serve customers at your business address:
      1. Enter your business address, then click Next.
        Note: If you also serve customers outside your business address, you’ll have the option to list your service areas as well.
    • If you don’t serve customers at your business address:
      1. Enter your business address.
      2. At the bottom, click I deliver goods and services to my customers and then Next.
      3. List your service areas, then click Next.
  • Step 6: Choose your business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible — you’re essentially telling Google which type of customers should see your business listing.
  • Step 7: Add your business phone number or website.
  • Step 8: Choose a verification option. If you’re not ready to verify your business yet, click “Try a different method” → “Later.”

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

Postcard Verification

  • Step 1: Log into Google My Business and choose the business you want to verify.
  • Step 2: Make sure your business address is correct.
    Optional: Add a contact name — that’s who the postcard will be addressed to.
  • Step 3: Click “Mail.” The postcard should reach you in five days — make sure you don’t edit your business name, address, or category (or request a new code) before it comes, because this could delay the process.
  • Step 4: Once you’ve gotten the postcard, log into Google My Business. If you have more than one business location, select the location you want to verify. If you only have one, select “Verify now.”
  • Step 5: In the Code field, enter the five-digit verification code on your postcard. Click “Submit.”
Read about  How to Link Directly to Your Google My Business Review Form

If your postcard never shows up, or you lose it, you can request a new code by signing into Google My Business and clicking the “Request another code” blue banner at the top of the screen.

Phone verification

Google lets some businesses verify their location by phone. If you’re eligible, you’ll see the “Verify by phone” option when you start the verification process.

  • Step 1: If you aren’t already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify. (If you’re already logged in, you’ll be at the verification step.)
  • Step 2: Make sure your phone number is correct, then choose “Verify by phone.”
  • Step 3: Enter the verification code from the text you receive.

Email verification

Google lets some businesses verify their location by email. If you’re eligible, you’ll see the “Verify by email” option when you start the verification process.

  • Step 1: If you aren’t already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify. (If you’re already logged in, you’ll be at the verification step.)
  • Step 2: Make sure your email address is correct, then choose “Verify by email.”
  • Step 3: Go to your inbox, open the email from Google My Business, and click the verification button in the email.

Instant verification

If you’ve already verified your business with Google Search Console (a free tool that lets you manage your website’s search performance and health), you might be able to instantly verify your email.

  • Step 1: Sign into Google My Business with the same account you used to verify your business with Google Search Console. (Some business categories aren’t eligible for instant verification, so if you don’t get a notification asking you to verify the listing, you’ll have to use a different verification method.)

Bulk verification

If you operate more than 10 locations for the same business — and you’re not a service business or an agency managing locations for multiple businesses — you might be eligible for bulk verification.

  • Step 1: If you aren’t already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose a location. Click “Get verified” next to its name.
  • Step 2: Click “Chain.”
  • Step 3: Fill out the verification form with your business name (as well as the parent company, if applicable), country or countries where you operate, all contact names (i.e. everyone who will be using the Google My Business account), contact phone number, business manager email (someone at the business who can verify you’re a representative of that business), and the email address of your Google Account Manager.
  • Step 4: Submit the verification form. It can take up to a week for Google to review and process your claim.

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Once you’ve verified your business, it’s time to complete your profile. Making sure this information is accurate is very important, and keeping it updated with fresh content will ensure that you get the most out of this listing as possible.

Go to the Google My Business dashboard, click the listing you’d like to edit, select “Info” on the left side of the screen, and then choose a section to fill out or update.

Add as much information and media as you can. You should include a business profile photo, all of your service areas (be specific), your hours, attributes (e.g. “wheelchair accessible,” “free wifi”), the day and year you opened, and a public phone number and website URL.

Anyone can “suggest an edit” to your listing, so it’s important to A) get everything right the first time (so you don’t encourage random people to make their own changes) and B) periodically log into your GMB dashboard and make sure all the details look right.

Read about  Why Reputation Management Matters to Small Businesses

At any point in time, you can edit your business profile by logging into your GMB dashboard, clicking on “Info,” clicking the pencil next to the field you’d like to edit, making your change, and then choosing “Apply.”

Google My Business Photos

According to Google, businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to their website and 42% higher requests for driving directions in Google Maps.

Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and JPG or PNG files.

Not sure how many pictures to add — or what they should be of?

Cover photo

Your Google My Business cover photo is one of the most important, as it shows up front and center on your listing.

cover-photo.png

Profile photo

Your profile photo is what appears when you upload new photos, videos, or review responses.

photos.png

Along with your profile and cover photos, you can and should upload other pictures to make your listing more informative and engaging.

Your business will look best on Google if you add category-specific photos. These photos spotlight features of your business that your customers use when making purchasing decisions. Photos you add can also help differentiate your business on Google.

Learn more about adding photos to your local business on Google.

Types of Business-Specific Photos

 

  Description Minimum number to add Tips
Exterior photos Exterior photos help customers recognize your business as they approach from different directions. Add at least 3 great exterior photos to help customers recognize your business.

1. Capture a photo from each direction that customers might approach your business.

2. Try uploading photos that show your business at different times of day.

Interior photos Interior photos help your customers get a feel for the ambiance and decor of your business. Add at least 3 great interior photos to show customers what your business feels like inside.

1. Capture photos that truthfully show what it’s like to stand inside your business as a customer.

2. Capture the atmosphere of your business in your photos. 

Product photos Great photos of representative or popular products give customers a better understanding of the kinds of goods you offer. Add at least 3 photos of products that you sell.

1. Showcase the items that are most popular for your business.

2. Try taking evenly lit photos of your products.

Photos at work Photos help customers quickly understand the type of work you do. Add at least 3 photos that are representative of the services you offer.

1. Capture photos of your team providing different types of service to customers.

2. Capture photos of the speciality services you deliver.

Food & drink photos Food & drink photos add color and detail to your menu and help customers plan where to eat. Add at least 3 photos of the food or drinks you serve.

1. Showcase the food items that are most popular for your business.

2. Try taking evenly lit photos of your food items.

Common areas Photos of your common areas help attract customers who are planning business or leisure travel. Add at least 1 photo of each of your common areas.

1. Add at least one photo of each common area (for example, spa, gym, or breakfast room).

2. Capture the atmosphere of the common area in your photos.

Rooms Customers rely heavily on photos of guest rooms when deciding where to book their next hotel for business or leisure. Add at least 3 photos of your most popular guest rooms.

1. Try showcasing all the different types of rooms that you offer to guests.

2. Capture photos that truthfully show what it’s like when you are in the room as a guest.

Team photos Team photos are important to present a more personal side of your establishment. Add at least 3 photos showing your management team and your employees.

1. Show something a little less formal to humanize your business.

2. Show yourself and any staff to highlight your personalities and give potential clients a feel for what you’re like.

Read about  Why Reputation Management Matters to Small Businesses

    Google My Business Videos

    You can also add videos to your Google My Business listing.  You can learn more about videos on your profile directly from Google, but in short videos must be:

        • 30 seconds or shorter
        • 100 MB or smaller
        • 720p resolution or higher

    Videos can add some variety to your profile and make you stand out among other businesses in your category; however, don’t worry if you don’t have any — unlike photos, they’re not a “must have.”

    Google My Business Reviews

    Customer reviews can make or break your online reputation. Google My Business not only lets you get online reviews,  but also respond to them. Did you know that one of the best ways to encourage future customers to leave a positive review is by responding to reviews that are already out there? Not only does a response show the original viewer that you’re thankful for their support, it also makes that positive review stand out and influences other customers to leave their own review.

    Here’s a sample reply to a satisfied customer:

    Thank you for your business, [name]! We’re so glad you enjoyed [product, e.g. “the blueberry pie”] — it’s one of our favorites, as well. Hope to see you back at [business name] soon. 

    You should also respond to negative reviews to show you take them seriously and placate the unhappy buyer. The best way to deflect a bad review is to approach the customer, politely acknowledge their input, and show appreciation for their candor. Timely responses make the customer feel valued, but ignoring it will only alienate your customer more. Responding quickly can turn a negative situation into a positive one. Here’s a sample reply to a negative review:

    Thank you for the feedback, [name], and I’m incredibly sorry [product/experience] did not meet your expectations. [If you’ve made a change, mention it here — e.g., “We’re now double-checking orders to make sure everyone gets exactly what they asked for.”] If you’d like to come back in, we’d be happy to give you [product] on the house. In any case, thanks for your business, and I hope we can do better next time.

    Your customers are busy, just like you so, it’s a good idea to link directly to your Google My Business review form to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave you a review when you request it. 

    Conclusion

    GMB is a free tool, that lets you control how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. It can help your local SEO ranking and allows you to obtain and respond to online reviews. If you operate your business from a physical location, your business is probably already out there and may already have reviews on it. Do you need to claim and verify your business? Yes, otherwise, you have no idea what others may do to your online reputation. 

    If you need any help you can always contact us, or learn more about how we can help with your online reputation management.

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