Google My Business – Your Guide To Claiming, Optimising and Using Your Free Google My Business Listing
In the world of local search engine optimisation (SEO), having a Google My Business (GMB) Listing is vital for your success. Many SEO experts claim having an active GMB Listing is just as important as optimising your own website.
The world is going mobile and if you are a local based business, then people are searching for you on their mobile. Google says that 88% of their customers who search for a local business on their mobile will visit or call that business within 24 hours. But sadly, 60% of local business owners don’t know if they have claimed or optimised their Google My Business Listing.
What is a Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a free listing on Google. It’s the way Google manage both their search and map listing. I’m saying this again, for local SEO, claiming and optimising your GMB listing is a non negotiable.
I’m sure you have seen in the Google search results the “map listings”. These are managed by creating and setting up your Google My Business account.
In this search for “ice cream” the top result is a paid Google AdWords, however directly under that are the Google My Business listing.
Remember these are free listing that put your business at the top of Google and basically all you have to do it claim it.
In the fight for search engine rankings a Google My Business listing can provide you the competitive edge you need.
In this guide I’m going to take you through the entire process for claiming (and setting up) verifying and optimising your Google My Business Listing.
Making your NAP Consistent
A very big part of your GMB listing is your NAP information.
NAP is an acronym for name, address and phone number. Ensuring that these are accurate and consistent across ALL of your online profile is essential for Google and ranking for local SEO.
Many suggest that even the smallest inconsistencies can decrease your visibility and reduce the legitimacy of your business. This is based on the Google crawlers.
And I’m talking, small. The difference between street and st.
Bottom line is that you should have accurate information across the board.
Your Google My Business Listing is the most important of these and should have the most accurate information. Next is your own website, social media sites and other online directories. Google your business name and check all listings.
Remembering that the bases of all SEO is user experience and Google wants to ensure that people are getting the information they want when searching.
How to Claim and SetUp Your Google My Business Listing
To complete your set up you will need to have a Google account. My recommendation is to either use a Google account that you already have or if you are creating one (which is free) use an email address that is associated with your business. This means that if down the track if you ever sell your business the new owners can have the access to manage the account from that business email address.
Once you have determined which Google account and/or email address you are going to use, you can follow the instructions below.
Go to www.google.com/business and click on ‘Start Now’. If you aren’t signed into your Google account you will have to do that first.
From the next screen, enter your business name. Recommendation is to enter your business name as your client’s search for it. This isn’t an opportunity to add keywords.
Next you will need to add your location. If you have an office or store, easy right. If not, and you don’t want your home address all over Google you can ask Google to show your listing as only the suburb.
To get this option you need to click on the “I deliver goods and services to my customers” and then you will get the option to hide your address as shown above.
It’s really important for consistency that you make sure the pin on the map matches your actual location. Now is the time to move it to ensure it’s accurate.
Next up is your category and this is important when Google is deciding if they will show your listing when someone searches. For example if your category is pizza restaurant they will still show it when people search for restaurant, Italian or pizza providing the person is within your local area.
You can’t create your own category but rather search from the list provided. Just like your Facebook Page, select the one that is the closest match for your business and try not to overthink it.
Keep completing your details as prompted and at the end you will be asked to verify your listing. The most common methods are either via a recorded phone number or a postcard mailed to the address you provided.
It’s vital that you verify your business listing as this will help increase your ranking and credibility with customers.
Once your account is verified your listing will be live in the Google search.
In the meantime, if you are waiting for a postcard, complete as much information as possible. Your opening hours, photos, etc.
Verifying Your Business
Verifying your business is a quick and simple process. Basically it’s done with a special code provided to you by Google. This is either done via the pre recorded phone call (if you added a phone number) or via a postcard.
When you have your code, click on “manage locations’ and your location will be listed as pending.
Enter your verification code and your listing is verified. Now the goal is to optimise your listing.
Optimising Your Listing
Within your listing you can get a free website from Google, but I don’t recommend it unless you don’t have your own website. And I’m fairly sure if you are reading this then you do, otherwise get in touch and we can help you with a new website.
Let people know when you are open or available. Keep this content accurate and update it when required. I personally use this feature regularly and find it very annoying when the information isn’t correct.
Adding photos is a really important part of your listing. Photos and images attract attention and can provide people insights into your business.
According to Google “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”
At the bare minimum you should add your profile photo and your logo then a few extras. Aim for a total of six photos. Consider photos of the outside of the building, your reception/entry area, your team and images that spotlight your business. Adding product photos is ok as well.
Similar to content that you would share on Facebook or Instagram you can create posts for your Google My Business account.
The added benefit is that this content appears within the Google search results. You could include daily specials, seasonal updates or special offers.
Aim to post at least once per month. Google provide metrics via insights so you can track your results.
Posting content on your listing is very underused, particular in Australia and it can be used to make your listing stand out.
Update it regularly
I know it can be annoying to update yet another profile, however your potential and current customers are relying on the information with your Google My Business profile to let them know about your business.
I know myself when a public holiday rolls around and I’m keen for a coffee or something in particular, I’m on my phone Googling to see what is open. Within your listing you have the option to add special public holiday hours. While you might post on Facebook that you are open or closed, if your map listing comes up and people aren’t sure, chances are they will go to the one with the updated public holiday information.
Many businesses are scared of Google Reviews, however in most cases people only leave positive reviews. Of course negative reviews do occur and it’s how you handle them that matters. I’m sure yourself you have used reviews to make a purchasing decision and the same is true for others. They are apart of marketing your business online.
I would actively encourage your customers to leave you a Google Review. Make it part of your sales process similar to asking for a testimonial.
Once you have set up and verified your Google My Business Listing mark your calendar for once a month. Each month you want to check your listing, post regular content and update any changes to your business hours. Doing this will ensure that both your customers and Google are happy.
If you would like to learn more about search engine optimisation and attracting more love from Google, join the next Free 5 Day SEO Challenge.