It’s been called Google Local, Google Business, Google Places, and now it’s called Google My Business (and we fully expect this to change at some point too). When it comes to optimizing local rankings for your website, one of the most helpful tools around is Google My Business (or GMB if you get tired of writing out the entire thing). For those of you who may not be aware of GMB or what it does, it is a listing tool provided by Google that allows you to display a well-rounded overview of your business and improve how it exhibits in Google Search and Map results. However, most people don’t realize that your GMB profile needs to be monitored and optimized if it is going to truly provide value to your potential customers and help persuade them to come to your website or contact you. An unattended or unclaimed GMB page can provide incorrect information, inaccurate photos, or unattended reviews. A claimed, well-monitored Google My Business page can drive thousands of customers to your website, allow them to easily call you, or quickly ask for driving directions. Where do you start? Let’s break it down. Here is how to get started with your GMB page and some tips on how to make the most of this tool.
Before we dive in, let’s clear up any confusion around Google My Business and how it affects your website. First off, GMB is a free tool and does not cost anything to use—who wouldn’t want to take advantage of a free, popular listing? Secondly, GMB does not directly impact your website in any way, other than giving customers the option to click through to learn more. By this I mean that there is no code snippet you have to throw on your website for it to track your website—they operate independently of one another, making it easy to get the GMB page up and running. You simply have to provide your GMB page with the proper link to your website and you’re good to go.
Now, what sorts of things can you manage with GMB?
Before you can do anything to your GMB listing, you will have to claim your page. First, you will need to verify that Google knows your business exists. To see if your GMB listing exists in Google’s system, type in your company’s name and see if the search results pull up a Knowledge Panel result for your company. Whether a GMB page does or does not exist for your business location, visit the Google My Business website and hit the “Add Location” button to claim it. It will ask you to put in the name of your business to see if a GMB page already exists. There are two scenarios that can happen from here:
Once your location is claimed, you can update your company information in the “Info” section of the page. Within this view you can adjust your business hours, location, contact information, business category, and add a business description to give people a brief summary of your company. It is extremely important that your location, store hours, and contact information are accurate. This is what people are generally looking for when they find a GMB listing in Search or Map results. Once you’ve claimed your page and entered this information, you’re done with the basic setup of your page so customers can begin to find you on Google.
Customer reviews on Google play an important role in how Google’s algorithm ranks your business. Simply put, good reviews will help boost your local rankings while multiple poor reviews will push your results down a bit. While you can now pay for a higher map listing result, managing your reviews and building them up is critical in making sure that Google organically prioritizes your listing in local results over competitors.
The best way to stay on top of reviews is to set up email alerts for when you receive a review. Whether it’s good or bad, a quicker response time is rewarded by Google for quality customer service. To learn more about setting up automated alerts, Google’s support team has you covered.
You might be concerned that a 1-star review with only a handful reviews on your GMB listing will destroy your ranking. While there is no denying that a negative review can look bad when it’s at the top of your list, how you respond to it can make an even bigger impression through the eyes of both potential customers and Google. Responding in a timely and professional manner will show review readers that you care about the integrity of your company while also showing Google that customer service is important to your business.
The era of technology we live in today has allowed people to form opinions in a matter of seconds. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Image is everything,” it is highly applicable to seeing search results on Google. For example, take a look at your own listing (if you have one). When people see your company’s Google My Business result, what do they see? Thankfully, Google allows businesses to control what images get displayed on your page (for the most part). There are two important things to understand when it comes to photos on your GMB listings.
Just as you are allowed to upload photos to your own business listing, users are given the option to upload a photo of your building, office space, vehicles, services, events, employees in action, or whatever it may be. If something inappropriate or inaccurate is uploaded, you are able to flag it and Google can remove it if they deem necessary.
You can upload as many photos as you please that represent your company. With these photos, you can also choose a profile photo, cover photo, and logo photo that are shown in the search results, but keep in mind that Google reserves the right to select a profile or cover photo on your behalf. Make sure you use high-quality photos within Google’s photo guidelines that accurately represent your business.
Like many businesses, you might have multiple storefronts, offices, or brick and mortar locations. If this is the case, there will be a separate GMB listing for each location, as long as Google is aware of each location. You will need to claim or create each listing in the same manner that we have discussed from above while also providing accurate information for each one. These listings are not tied together in anything other than name; your reviews, contact information, and map result are all separate.
All locations can be managed in your Google My Business Dashboard. The benefit of having separate locations to manage is that you can examine the insights of each and see which locations are getting the most traffic. Within each location there is a tab titled, “Insights,” that gives you highly in-depth data on how users are interacting with your page. You are able to see how many views your business received, if they called your business from Google, if they got directions to your location, and much more.
Now that you have the information and tips to optimize your page, don’t wait to get it done! Depending on your industry, ranking high on a local level can get competitive. The longer you wait, the longer it will take for Google to learn more about your business. What are you waiting for?—It’s free, easy to get started, and drives traffic directly to your business.
Are you having issues with your Google My Business page? Comment your successes or struggles below!