Are you a local business owner? If so, you really shouldn’t overlook how Google My Business can bring you more customers and make your business stand out from the competition.
Did you know that a full 92% of consumers compare businesses side-by-side online before making a purchase decision? And the vast majority of those customers rely soley on Google for their searches.
This begs the question of how your business can be as visible as possible on Google searches.
A recent study conducted by Moz about Google search ranking factors showed that listing your business on Google My Business is one of the most important ways a local business can succeed with SEO. You’ll get higher visibility on Google Maps and standard Google searches.
Beyond that, it allows customers to reach out to you directly, read customer reviews, plan their visit at the best times, and get directions to your location.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly what to do to get your Google My Business up and running, from creating your listing to posting powerful videos and so much more.
Let’s dive in.
What Exactly Is Google My Business?
Simply stated, it’s an online platform that allows business owners to manage their web presence across the entirety of Google products. Some of these include Google Plus, Google Maps, Google Search and Knowledge Graph.
All of these are managed within your Google My Business portal.
How Much Does Google My Business Cost?
The good news is, it’s absolutely free to get your local business listed on Google My Business. All you’ll need is a free Google account. If you have Gmail, you already have a qualifying Google account.
What Information Can You Add to Your Business Listing?
Google My Business allows you to add a wide array of business information to your listing. Here’s what you’ll be able to include:
- Business name, phone number and address
- Direct link to your business website
- Holidays and open hours
- Business category
- Google map pin on your business location
- Social media accounts
- Photos and 30-second videos
- Links to reservations and online ordering
- WiFi availability, outdoor seating availability and child-friendliness of your location
For a successful listing, it’s best to take advantage of every ounce of information they allow you to add. Pay special attention to adding videos. They don’t have to be professionally done to help you really stand out from your competition! An iPhone or Android will be plenty to produce an engaging video for your customers to watch.
Google Knowledge Panel
The Knowledge Panel is a box that appears on a customer’s search results page. It consists of relevant information that pertains to their query. When someone searches directly for your business, or puts in a query that’s related to your business, the Knowledge Panel displays your address, phone number, peak business times, customer reviews and more.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that your business will be the one that shows up in the search results Knowledge Panel. The algorithm Google employs considers a number of factors, including distance, relevance and how prominent your business is.
However, if you want to give your business the best possible chance to show up in the panel, add as much information as you possibly can into your My Business profile.
Google My Business Features
Google My Business is full of useful features. Like all other products Google manages, it gets new features and updates on a constant basis as they notice areas of potential improvement.
Some of the most useful features are as follows:
Reviews: After you get your business listed, customers with Google accounts (that seems to be nearly everybody) can post reviews about your business directly on the search results page. You can then publicly respond to these reviews for all the world to see. They will appear on your Google Maps lists as well.
Remember that if you have people posting inappropriate reviews or spamming your page, you can flag them for removal.
Post and answer FAQ’s: The platform allows customers who are interested in your business to post business-related questions to your Knowledge Panel. You can answer these questions, or anyone else that knows your business well can answer them as well.
These appear under the “Questions and Answers” section.
In addition, there’s a list of automated questions people can answer such as, “Is this business wheelchair accessible?”, or “Is the location easy to see from the street while driving?”
Additional information: Customers will be able to better plan their visit to your location. The additional information section displays important information such as average visit duration, busy hours and average wait times.
Google generates this information from users who have opted for location history to be aggregated.
Direct Chat: This is one of the best features of Google My Business. It allows you to communicate directly with customers and potential customers with a simple Direct Messaging function. You and your customers can receive these messages on your registered mobile devices or the Allo app.
When enabling this function, all you need to do is add your mobile number. You’ll receive any and all messages on the number you register, so use the one that’s most readily accessible. You can always change the number at a later date if you’d like.
Google posts: With this feature, your business can publish posts that inform the public about upcoming offers, events and more. The posts appear on your Knowledge Panel side-by-side with your business info. This gives your important offers and events more visibility than just posting them on your website page or social media sites.
Learn about your audience: The Google My Business Insights allows you to gain access to off-site data such as website visits, driving direction requests and click to calls.
Free website creation: With Google My Business, you can create a free business website that’s 100% optimized for mobile devices. In fact, it sets up your site automatically using photos and information from your Google My Business listing.
Your free website will update automatically when you add new photos, videos or change business information details. If desired, you can even make changes to the site manually.
Highlight business attributes: You’ll be able to showcase certain business attributes that customers regularly search for. You do this based on the category of your business.
For example, if you’re running a local restaurant, you can highlight attributes such as outdoor seating, child-friendliness, disabled-friendliness, vegetarian, vegan or senior discounts.
Setting Up Google My Business
This is a pretty simple process that we’ll walk you through. Here are the steps to take:
1.) Go to the business creation page and log in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account yet, you can create one here.
2.) Simply put in your business name. In a case where your business is already on the list, you’ll need to claim ownership of it (more on that later). Avoid duplicate listings, as they hurt your SEO.
3.) Enter your business details including business name, business type, phone number, Google Map location, URL, delivery mode, etc.
4.) review your details and hit “Continue.”
5.) You’ll be taken to the “Choose a way to verify” page where you can select how to receive the required verification code. We suggest completing your listing first, then verifying later.
6.) You’ll be directed to the dashboard to complete your business listing by adding work hours, additional contact info, locations, photos and videos, new users and other business-related attributes.
Review everything you’ve plugged in, then click on the “verify now” button.
After this, you’ll be directed back to the “Choose a way to verify” page. The majority of businesses registering will need to go with “postcard by mail” to complete verification. A select few will be given the option to verify by phone or email.
When you’re done, review your business mailing address, add in your contact name and click “Mail.” You’ll get your PIN postcard within 3-5 business days. When it arrives, all you need to do is sign in to your account, go to your Google My Business profile, hit “Enter Code,” enter your 5-digit PIN and click on “Submit.”
Avoid editing your business listing after you request the postcard. If you make any edits during this time period, they are considered invalid. You’ll be forced to do the entire process all over again.
Claiming Your Business Listing
If you notice that your business is already listed, you’ll need to claim ownership. If you don’t, you’ll have no control over how your listing appears on the Google platform.
To claim your listing and take ownership of it, log in using your Google business account. Under the field “What’s the name of your business,” enter your business name. If there’s already a listing, it’ll show up directly below your query. Select it.
Next, enter details such as region, country, address and postal code. Then click on “Continue.”
You’ll notice an immediate pop-up on your screen that informs you that your business is currently verified by another user. To claim it for yourself, click on the “Request ownership” link. This takes you to the Request Admin Rights menu. Here, you’ll need to enter specific details such as what level of access you’re requesting, share info with current owner and more.
Once you’re done, click on “Submit.”
Immediately, the current owner of the listing will receive the request. Once the owner approves the change, you’ll get full admin privileges. If the request is rejected by the current listing owner, you’ll need to appeal. If they ignore the request, get in touch with Google My Business support.
How Can I Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews?
To rank as highly as possible on local search rankings, positive Google Reviews are your best bet. Not to mention, when a prospective customer sees that your business is reviewed well by other customers, they’re much more likely to visit.
To get reviews, simply ask for them. As soon as you get your listing verified, start sending your customers review requests. Unlike many other online platforms, Google actually encourages businesses to request reviews from customers.
Here’s how to do it:
- Do a Google search for your business
- Go to the Knowledge Panel and click on “Write a Review”
- When the pop-up appears, copy the URL
- Use bit.ly or another link shortener to streamline the link
- Send review requests via SMS, email and social media DMs. Include the shortened URL link and instructions on leaving reviews
- Check reviews daily. Reply to both good and bad reviews as they come in
Remember to not be overly eager to ask for reviews from new customers. Give them enough time to understand your product and use it to its potential.
Starting off Is Only the Beginning
Launching your Google My Business listing is only the start of the process. If you want to maximize the potential of this platform, optimize it every chance you get.
Keep collecting reviews, add new attributes when relevant, ask more customers to answer questions, and stay on top of your listing when there are changes to be made. A stale listing is a dead listing in the eyes of Google and your customers.
Remember to keep an eye out for new features that get released on a regular basis.
Have fun with your listing and watch how much it can do for your business!