One of the first and most important steps in any business’s local SEO strategy is to claim, verify and manage its Google My Business listing. The good news is that this is a relatively simple task that does not require any sort of technical know-how. The even better news is that many business owners are unaware of the advantages Google My Business can bring. That makes it a fast, simple and free way to gain an advantage over the competition in local search.
Claiming, verifying and managing your Google My Business listing can increase your chances of showing up on a range of local search products such as Google Maps, Local Finder and general organic search engine results. As long as you have a business that makes in-person contact with customers during its stated hours, then you can claim your Google My Business listing for free (read more about the eligible businesses). All you need to provide is basic details such as your company name, address, phone number, business hours and the payment types you accept.
So how do you create and manage your Google My Business listing? Here’s our step-by-step guide…
1. Sign up or sign in
If you don’t have a Google account already then you’ll need to create one. Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click ‘Start Now’ to create your business listing. Creating your business listing will allow you to give online browsers information about your business, such as location, phone number and business hours. It will also allow customers to leave ratings and reviews.
If you already have a Google account then simply click ‘Sign in’.
2. Find your business
Once you have created your business listing, you’ll then be asked to ‘Find your business’. Simply typing in your business’s name and address should reveal it. If your business shows up in the results list but you are yet to create a business profile then you’ll have to tick a box to confirm you have the authorization to claim it.
If your business doesn’t show in the results then you’ll have to click ‘None of these match’ and then add your details manually. This includes the business’s location, category and whether or not you deliver to customers.
3. Verify your business
Legally, Google must confirm that you are the legitimate owner of the business. To do this, Google will send you a six-digit code which you can choose to receive by post (which will take 1-2 days) or by phone. Choosing to receive the code by phone is much quicker. Once you have received the code, write it down and enter it into your Google My Business Dashboard by clicking the ‘Enter code’ box at the top of the screen.
4. Set up your business profile
Once you’ve verified your business, the next step is to create and manage your Google My Business profile. Generally speaking, the more information you provide the better. This includes:
- Name, address and phone number (NAP) - These details are very important for local SEO, and it’s vital to keep your business’ NAP consistent across all online listings as Google uses these sources when evaluating the online authority of your business.
- Business category - Be as specific as possible when choosing a category to describe your business. For example, if your business is a pizzeria, your primary category should be “pizza restaurant”. Google may then show your business in local search results to people who search for “Italian restaurants”, “pizza” or “restaurants” in their area. If the category you had in mind doesn’t exist, choose a more general category that still accurately represents your business. If you want to add or edit your category, you may be asked to verify your business again.
- An introduction to your business - This should be well-written, professional and provide some insight into the products and services you offer. Include keywords that are relevant to your business in order to optimize your profile for local search.
- Photos of your business - Pictures play an important part in reassuring and building trust in the customer, so make sure you choose high-quality images that show your business in the very best light. When relevant, include photos of the exterior and interior of your business premises, products and/or services, and staff and employees. 360° view images also give customers insight into what to expect from your business.
- Additional contact details - Provide any additional information that’s relevant to your business and useful to potential customers. This includes alternative contact details such as an email address, as well as opening hours and a link to your website. Include anything that makes it easier for customers to get in contact with you.
5. Update your information regularly
If any of your business information changes then make sure you update it immediately. This includes any temporary changes, such as opening hours during public holidays. Clicking ‘Edit’ on your dashboard will allow you to update your details.
Since 2017, Google has integrated ‘Posts’ into listings with Call to Action buttons (CTAs) to help businesses engage with potential customers. Consider adding timely Posts with information about specific events, products, upcoming sales, or even a recent blog post you’ve published. Include a CTA button such as “learn more”, “reserve” or “get offer” to encourage prospective customers to click through to your website. To ensure that posts are timely, they're removed from the default view after seven days or after the given date of an event has passed. Click ‘Create post’ in the menu to get started.
6. Connect your accounts
The final step in managing Google My Business is to click on the grid of squares in the top-right corner of your dashboard. This will allow you to connect to other accounts you have on YouTube, Analytics and Google+ so you can engage with customers, build your local presence and respond to reviews,.
It is important to request customers to review your business and its specific locations in order to add value to your listings. Don’t forget to respond to them in a timely manner to help keep your listings up to date and to show prospective customers that you are engaged and communicative.
Take your local presence to the next level
If you want to give your business a presence in local search then creating your Google My Business listing is an excellent starting point. The next step is to sync with BRIDGE Online Listings. If you have multiple listings and locations to look after, the BRIDGE platform will help you to easily manage these all from one place. Not only can you update multiple listings in one go, you can also evaluate and compare each listing’s performance. Schedule your demo to see how it works.
Want to learn more about Google My Business? Watch our on-demand webinar!
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