Sep 21 / 2021
Google My Business is one of the best resources in the digital marketing world. When utilised properly, it can build the business’ clientele and boost sales. And the best part – it is completely free.
What is Google My Business and why does your business need it?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free online listing for local businesses. It is similar to online business directories but it is multi-featured. It gets brownie points for being directly available on Google GMB listing and can help businesses gain better visibility and search results on Google maps, Google search, Google Assistant, etc.
Listing your business in Google My Business is not a very hard process. But Google loves its updates and as they are set on improving things continually, sometimes it can be hard for the business owners to catch up. So, if you are new to GMB listing or want to understand the updates quickly, we have created a checklist. This can help you understand the process better and optimise your listing to produce better results.
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Basic steps in optimizing Google My Business listing
Optimizing your GMB listing not only brings you new customers but also makes it easier to retain old ones by creating a good impression and credibility. Here are some of the basic steps that will help you fill the GMB listing faster and better.
1. Check your qualification
Not every business can be listed on Google My Business . Only businesses with physical locations which can be verified qualify for GMB listing. The businesses where the customers have a store to visit or a person to contact about the product during the stated business hours are ideal for listing on Google My Business.
Online only and e-commerce businesses, rental properties and such do not qualify for the listing. The business listed must be open during the time of listing or should be opening within 90 days. Cross-check these points to figure out whether your business qualifies for a listing.
2. Pick a business name
This is a very important step if you do not have a clear name in mind. Usually, people go with the store’s name or business’s name but you are allowed to get creative. Google is the primary source for your business to get customers and the business name is a ranking factor.
Keep this in mind while choosing the business name and when done properly it can boost your visibility. Including keywords in your name can help but make sure not to include too many keywords since it can get your account suspended. If you are changing or modifying your business name in the GMB listing make sure to comply with Google’s guidelines.
3. Claim/ Create your business listing
For the next step, you will have to search for your business in Google along with your city and state/province details. If you don’t find your business on Google then you need to create a new listing. If it is present but unclaimed, you will have to claim the business name for yourself. On the other hand, if there is a listing present but you don’t have ownership of it then request ownership for a listing.
After you claim the listing, you will get access to update and edit the details required, like pictures, business information, reviews, etc. Make sure that you always update these pictures, Never leave the account untouched for a long time. There are different levels of access that can be created for the user like a primary owner, owner, manager and site manager which offers different levels of authority on the listing. This helps businesses that use marketing agencies for the managing of the listing.
Read Also: How to Get the Results You Want through Your Digital Marketing Plan?
4. Verify your listing
This step is for Google to confirm that it is indeed your business. Go to your listing and click “Verify now”. Verification can be done using different methods like postcards, phone, email, Google Search Console, etc. Choose the one that you are comfortable with to verify your business.
Verification via postcard is the most common method of GMB listing verification. Give the precise address. This address does not have to be the same as the one on your GMB listing.
5. Categorize your business carefully
Once you have created a listing you will be adding basic information about your business, like your business location, business hours, services areas, etc. But the most important is the category under which your business is listed. This impacts the search ranking and is also the only one that is visible in your business listing when people search for it.
In GMB, you can pick your primary category and also nine secondary categories. The primary category affects your search results the most, so keep it simple and clear. For example, if you list a bar then your primary category would be food and beverages. You can use additional categories – for example, for the bar, you can add entertainment as the secondary category. Avoid adding it under irrelevant categories or the ones that don’t directly apply to your business.
6. Specify an accurate business location
If you have a storefront business, make sure that you provide an accurate mailing address in the GMB listing for your business. Do not be vague about your location. Use the full address even if it might not look appealing when it is displayed. Your possible customers are not going to research your address since it is easier to find another business that has a clear address displayed.
If you are a service area business then you don’t have to provide an address since you provide services at the customer’s place. But if you are also offering the services at your location, then you can add it to the listing. Accurate locations will give the customers a better experience and also increase your ranking.
7. Pinpoint your service areas
While people with storefront businesses do not have any problem providing a service area, it is not an easy choice for people who provide services at a customer’s location. For example, individual contractors like plumbers and landscaping companies might face this problem.
For these businesses, instead of giving a direct address, it would be better to add a list of areas where you provide services.
8. Mention your business hours
Accurate operating hours, during which you will be available for client’s queries and requests for services, must be mentioned in the listing. Most businesses start with ambitious intentions and thus might have extended working hours.
If you have mentioned these extended hours and have reduced them in later years, ensure that you modify them in the listing. A good business should always be open for service when a customer shows up during the mentioned working hours.
9. Add a phone number
Most business owners add phone numbers to their GMB listing but some may not. It is a smart decision to add a business phone number since customers prefer a direct communication line.
With Google My Business, you have the option of adding the call tracking number of a local phone number. If you are thinking of adding a call tracking number then add it to the “Primary Phone” field. Your local phone number can be added to the “Additional Phone” field.
If you do not use a call tracking phone number then add your local phone number in the “Primary Phone” field and your toll-free or secondary phone number to the “Additional Phone” field.
10. Provide a website
84% of American customers find a business with a website to be more credible than the ones with only a social media page. Thus, adding a website to your GMB listing is crucial to gain customers.
If you do not have a website, then make sure to create one immediately. A good business website will bring the best outcomes for SERPs and will also help build your reputation.
11. Add the URLs
When adding the website URL, consider the type of your business. If you operate in a single location then use the homepage of your website for URL. But if you own a multi-location business then add URLs to the specific landing pages of each location.
An Appointment URL is a contact method for your potential customer to use the appointment system or leave a message using a contact form. Link your contact page or online appointment system with this URL.
Businesses like restaurants use a special URL that links to their menu. These menu URLs can link to a page on your website but would not work for linking to PDFs. Instead, you can add your menu directly to the GMB listing.
12. Add business information and be thorough
Google My Business description has a maximum limit of 750 characters and only 244 characters display automatically on your listing unless the visitors click “more”. Utilize the character limit effectively since it is responsible for creating the first impression about your business.
Think about what your customers will want to know about your business. Be specific while describing your business and do not stuff it with keywords. Google and your potential customers need accurate information, so leave the sales and advertising ideas to your other campaigns.
13. Include services/products that you offer
While entering the services or products that you offer, start with the most important products and categories. If you are a multi-faceted business, it might not be practical to enter all products or services that you offer. But for small businesses, it is recommended to enter all the services you provide in terms of priority.
Make sure that you list only the services and products that you actually provide. It might be tempting to add more to your portfolio but it is important to be accurate and relevant.
14. Include business attributes
Business attributes help your business stand out from the rest. So, think about it carefully before you add it. The business attributes can be unique according to the type of business. You need to find one that will work for you.
There are a lot of business attributes like wheelchair accessible, women-owned, outdoor seating, etc. Choose all the attributes that apply to your business. Look at it from a customer’s perspective and list the most appealing ones at the top.
15. Advanced or specific information
Some businesses, like restaurants and hotels, might need extra information for the GMB listing to be complete. When adding menus, create separate collections. The description for each collection can have up to 1000 characters. Make sure that you add rich keywords.
You can also add individual products under each category. For better customer experience, add product names with their prices. Be accurate and clear about the information you provide.
16. Get a high-quality camera
The power of visually appealing photos can aid your business a great deal. Make sure that the pictures and videos you upload are in high resolution.
Add a clear picture of your business’s logo and keep this image constant throughout your website and social media pages too. It will help your customers to easily identify your business on all platforms. A virtual tour of your business location would also be great as it will provide a great impression about your business for your potential customers and encourage them to contact you for the job.
17. Enable the messaging feature
GMB listing has a messaging feature that can only be used through the mobile GMB app. If you activate this feature, you’ll get a “request a quote” button below your GMB business name.
Enable the messaging feature when you have added your phone number since you need more than one way for the customer to reach you. Remember, extra effort brings extra returns.
18. Check your reviews regularly
Reviews play a major role in gaining new customers and building brand credibility. Great reviews can increase your click-through rates, and consequently, generate more business.
Both quantity and quality of the reviews matter. Regularly check your reviews and if possible, reply to them immediately. If you get a bad review, do not remove it. Instead, reply at once and either politely apologize for it and try to explain the situation or ensure to resolve it. In the latter case, once you resolve it, you could request the customer to add an updated review.
A short link is available in Google My Business which helps you to ask for reviews. This will also encourage customers to add reviews without going through extra steps.
19. Keep updating content
One new feature that has been added to Google My Business is a feature to allow the business owner to post updates to the profile. You can update on special events, new products, discounts, clearance sales and news, in the listing.
Make sure that the updates are free of grammar or spelling errors. Keep the content accurate and precise. The goal of these updates is to inform your customers (and Google) that the business is up and running.
20. Showcase your opening date
People have different preferences. Some like new businesses and some like experienced ones. Add your opening date to the GMB listing and leave the rest to the customers.
If you have opened a new business then you will get the “recently opened” badge next to your listing that will be present for 90 days since your opening date. Never let your customers wonder about any data. Be clear with the information.
So, take your time in filling out your business’s GMB listing with appropriate and relevant content. Hope our checklist helps your GMB listing give your business a robust online presence and thus benefit your sales.