What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is the free business listing service from Google. But there’s much more to it than that, as GMB seamlessly integrates with Google Search and Google Maps. It’s functionality has evolved way ahead of the competition, making it an essential component of local SEO.
Where do Google My Business listings appear?
Google search results
You’ll see the GMB listing when you search for a brand on Google, appearing in the panel to the right of the search results:
The listing will display the business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) along with other useful information such as opening hours.
Local Pack and Local Finder
The Local Pack is the map section that appears above the main search results, typically when your search includes the term ‘near me’:
When you click on ‘View all’ this opens the Local Finder where listings will be displayed, usually ten to a page, and the searcher can zoom and scroll their way around the map with the results changing as they do so.
Searches made via Google Maps will also display GMB listings in a results screen similar to the Local Finder:
Are all businesses eligible for Google My Business?
Not every business is eligible for a GMB listing. According to Google’s guidelines:
Business Profiles on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are.
If your business meets these criteria then you can go ahead and set up a Business Profile for your business.
How do I set up a Business Profile?
You probably already have a personal Google account, but it’s a good idea to have a separate standalone account for your business. Once you’ve set this up and logged on, you should navigate your way to Google’s business page.
A wizard will prompt you to enter information about your business, and the questions asked will vary depending upon the nature of your business and the industry you operate in. For instance, if you own a cafe you will be prompted to upload a photo of your menu. If you operate in more than one location then you can also set up a profile for each location so that each one has its own pin on the maps.
You will then be given options on how to verify your business with Google. The most common way of doing this is for Google to send a postcard to your business address containing a verification code that you enter into your GMB dashboard.
How do I optimise my GMB listing?
NAP (Name, Address & Phone number)
It’s super important to Google that your business name, address and phone number are formatted consistently across the web, and failure to do this can result in you being penalised in Google’s rankings.
So if your address is ‘123 High Street’ on GMB then you mustn’t abbreviate this to ‘123 High St’ on your website or in any other directory listings. And if your phone number is displayed as ‘01245 123456’ on GMB then don’t display this as ‘+44 1245 123456’ anywhere else.
You should add your opening hours to your listing so that your customers know when to call or visit you. As with the NAP, it’s important to Google that your opening hours are consistent with those shown on your website and any other directory listing sites that you might use.
Products and services
The Products and Services sections allow you to add additional content to your business listing. Whilst these are helpful for users, the keywords you use don’t help you rank from an SEO standpoint.
One of GMB’s big strengths is that it enables your customers to leave reviews. Online reviews are important because genuine positive reviews enable you to build trust in your brand, and can influence the decisions of potential customers.
Your happy custmers should be encouraged to leave reviews for you on Google, and be sure to reply and thank them when they do. You should also reply to any negative reviews, showing that you take their concerns seriously.
If your business has been set up as a bricks and mortar location rather than a service area, it should be possible to pull the latest Google reviews through to your website and display these to potential customers on your home page, as I have done on mine.
Google posts are like posts you’d make on Facebook, offering another way for you to provide potential customers with information about your business such as forthcoming events, deals and offers.
Photos and videos
Uploading photos and videos to your GMB listing will look appealing to customers, and help increase trust in your business. You can add your business logo, cover photo, relevant videos, and interior photos as well.
GMB has messaging functionality so that your customers can message you from your listing. This is disabled by default, so you’ll need to enable this if you want to use it.
It is a good idea to regularly log into your GMB dashboard to add new posts, reply to any reviews and messages, and generally keep everything up to date.
You should also check out the Insights page to see the in-depth metrics on your listing and how your customers are interacting with it.
Google My Business app
Not surprisingly, GMB is available as an app for both Android and iOS, enabling you to reply to reviews and messages whilst you’re on the move.
If you’re a local business, a GMB listing is a great way to promote your brand locally.
Now that you know what Google My Business is and how it works, you can see that using this free tool is essential for your local SEO and marketing. Once your Google My Business listing up has been set up, you’ll begin appearing in more ‘near me’ searches, and attracting more new customers.