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How to Set Up & Optimize Google My Business

Google My Business is a free online business listing, making it easier for local businesses to get found on Google.

Google My Business launched in 2014 to deliver more engaging search engine results. Now, when you search for somewhere to eat nearby, the top result is a list of restaurants with their hours, locations, reviews, and price range, instead of a traditional article or website result.

Restuarants near meGOOGLE MY BUSINESS in search results.

Since Google My Business listings are free to create and inexpensive to optimize, the platform gives small- to medium-sized local businesses a chance to compete with large chain businesses.

In this blog post, we will cover what you need to know to get started with Google My Business, including:

Why Should I Use Google My Business?

We recommend Google My Business to all of our clients. It is one of the most important tools for improving your search engine ranking and online lead generation, right behind a well-designed website.

Manage Your Information

When people search for your business, your Google My Business listing can show them basic information about your company before they even click through to your website. You can show them the products or services you offer, as well as your location, hours, and a link to your website. 

Rank with Top Companies

Google My Business ranks its listings based on relevance (how well your listing information matches a user's search query), distance (how far away your location is from the user), and prominence (how popular your business is online and offline).

This ranking system means you are only competing with nearby businesses in your same category, rather than fighting with citation sites and media publications in the traditional results. Without a well-optimized Google My Business page, your business has less of an opportunity to show up on the first page, which is usually populated with nationwide companies and big citation sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Angie's List, and Home Advisor.

Respond to Reviews

The number of reviews and high ratings for a business will positively affect the ranking of your Google My Business listing. Your interaction with reviewers also speaks to your customer service. We recommend responding to all Google reviews—even negative reviews—to build trust with your customers and create a positive experience altogether.

Create Google Posts

You can use Google posts to share news, announce events, promote products, or highlight special offers. Google posts will appear as structured data, often with a call to action button of your choice, and they are removed a week after posting (except for event posts, which are removed after the event date). You can create posts from your Google My Business dashboard. We recommend having one Google post on your listing at a time and keeping your posts informative, timely, and professional.

google-postGOOGLE POSTS can be used to share news, announce events, promote products, or highlight special offers.

Use Insights

Your Google My Business insights show how customers search for your business (Direct or Discovery), where customers view your business on Google (listing in search or on maps), and what actions customers are taking on your Google My Business profile (visiting the website, requesting directions, or calling you). You can event use insights to compare to other businesses like yours.

google-insightsGOOGLE INSIGHTS offers suggestions for improving your Google My Business listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

  1. Visit Google My Business.

  2. Sign in with your Google Account.
    NOTE: We recommend having a Google Account (with a Gmail address) for your business separate from any personal accounts. This way, if an employee leaves the company, the company still has control over the account.

  3. Enter the name of your business, and click Next.
    NOTE: If your Google Business has already been set up by another user, you will receive an error saying "This listing has already been claimed."

    Skip to: How to claim a business that is already set up.
    enter-business-name

  4. Add the location of your business.
    NOTE: If there are multiple businesses at your location, make sure to add the suite.
    Location
  5. If you provide service for a specific area or offer deliveries, follow these additional steps. Otherwise, move on to #6.
    • Check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers.”
    • Click Next.
    • Select a delivery area option, and click Next.

  6. Search for and select a business category, and click Next.
    NOTE: This is how people will find your business in search, so be sure to choose a primary category that describes your most popular source of income. For more instructions on choosing a category or to see examples, visit Google My Business Help and click the “Read More” link under the Categories section.
    Category

  7. Add a phone number and a website URL, and click Next.
    Contact

  8. Finish and verify your business. You can verify by postcard, phone, or email using your official business information.
    Verify

Optimize with Bookings

If you do take reservations, and you book them through a service, consider connecting this service to your Google Business listing. Check out Google's list for current and upcoming reservation integrations to see if yours is listed!

Optimize with Attributes

Include attributes, such as "Veteran-Led" or "Women-Led" to categorize your business further.

Are you a veteran? Call Caitlin, our resident military spouse, at 612-623-8054 or email seo@esultants.com to see if your business is eligible for a “VETERAN OWNED” tag in Google search results. Thank you for your service!

Frequently Asked Questions about Google My Business

Why do I get so many calls claiming to be from Google Business?

Phone calls claiming to be from Google are almost always scams. Remember that Google will never charge for inclusion on Google Business or search results, offer to improve your ranking or profile, or ask for your password or verification code. Be cautious anytime someone asks for your personal information on the phone.

Do I still need a website if I use Google My Business?

Many of your customers will choose to call, get directions, research your price range, or read reviews directly from your Google My Business listing. However, this doesn't mean you should throw out your website. An official business website provides:

  1. Trust: A professionally designed website shows the world that you are a real business. Online data aggregators consider websites to be the authority on your business name, phone number, and address.
  2. Reach: Without an official website, your business will only show up in Google My Business. Users who want to learn more about you or who prefer browsing traditional Google results will be lost leads. Furthermore, Google does use traditional SEO rankings to help determine the order of Google My Business listings.
  3. Control: You get to determine how your business is presented to potential customers, unlike listing websites which prioritize negative reviews and allow users to recommend changes to business information (like Yelp, Facebook, or Google).

Is Google My Business replacing SEO?

While Google My Business results do typically show up before traditional search results, a GMB listing is still only one piece of SEO, and it's a piece that relies on other search engine ranking factors to influence its algorithm.

We recommend focusing on your website's quality, user-friendliness, and technology in addition to optimizing your Google My Business listing to maximize your search engine results.

Get started with an SEO Report and Site Audit from Esultants.

How do I claim a Google business that someone else has set up?

If your business was set up by a former employee or an agency you no longer use, you can request ownership from the current listing owner.

To request access, navigate to your Google My Business dashboard, and click Add Location. When it asks for the name of your business, type in the name of the business you would like access to and click on it. You will be redirected to a screen saying, “This listing has already been claimed.” Click Request Access.

The owner of the account will receive a notification letting them know you have requested access, which they can approve or deny. If they deny the request, you can still suggest edits to the page or appeal the denied request.

Do not set up a duplicate Google My Business listing for your location. Even if you aren't the admin of the account, you can still request changes, and if the information is accurate, you are getting those leads. Creating a second listing will make your business look unprofessional and create competition with yourself in the rankings.

Do I need a Google My Business listing for each of my locations?

Since Google Business is localized, you should create a Google My Business listing for each of your physical locations. Do not create a duplicate Google My Business listings as doorway pages if you don't have an actual physical office or storefront at that location. Google Business does not accept P.O. Boxes or virtual offices.

Can anybody edit my Google My Business listing?

Anybody can suggest an edit to your Google My Business page. This allows customers to change information on your listing if it's inaccurate.

If a customer suggests an update to your listing, you will see this in your Google My Business dashboard. Click Review updates. You will be brought to your listing information, and any updates will be shown in orange.

updatesGOOGLE BUSINESS changes must be reviewed by the listing admin.

Clicking the pencil icon allows you to approve or edit the updates.

How do I set holiday and seasonal hours on my Google My Business listing?

Setting up holiday and seasonal hours removes any ambiguity for customers trying to contact or visit you.

To modify your hours for holidays, navigate to your Google My Business dashboard and click Add special hours. Confirm hours for national holidays, or click Add New Date to create your own special hours.

If you are only open seasonally, such as a Christmas tree farm, remove your open hours and leave them unset in the off-season. IMPORTANT: Do not mark your business as closed during the off-season; this will display the "Permanently Closed" message on your Google Business profile. 

Can I delete negative Google reviews?

You cannot delete negative Google reviews. The best thing to do is respectfully respond to them.

Say you're sorry, explain what customers usually experience, and offer to take the conversation offline ("If you'd like to talk more, contact us at [phone number / email].").

Conclusion

Google My Business is a powerful tool for marketing your small- to medium-sized business online. In this article, you learned why Google My Business is important and how to set up your listing. We also answered common questions about Google My Business and how to use its features for your specific business.

Creating a Google My Business listing can take less than 15 minutes and will have a noticeable effect on your online marketing.

However, Google My Business is still only one part of the equation. To take your business to the next level in search results, you need a full SEO strategy, including:

  • Educational, informative, and high-quality website content
  • Professionally written page titles and page descriptions
  • High-quality images and alt tags
  • Regular site audits to check and to fix website errors and warnings

At Esultants, we work with our clients one-on-one to develop an SEO and online marketing strategy to meet their business's needs while keeping search engines and their customers happy.

We also believe in providing free resources for business owners, managers, and employees just like you! Once a month, we send our subscribers a No-Panic Guide to Online Marketing Guide, where we break down each online marketing tactic and explain what businesses need it, why it's important, and how your business can get started. You can sign up online today and get immediate access to all past lessons (including one all about SEO).

Keep reading about online marketing:

Are Location Pages Considered Doorway Pages?

Are SEO Audits the Key to Unlocking Your Google Ranking?

How to Localize Social Media to Reach the Right Customers

Why Social Media May NOT Be Right for Your Company

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