Have you ever Googled your business? What do you see?
Do you see information about your business that is rich and enhanced for searchers?
Or do you see just plain text links or possibly even incorrect information about you?
When Google knows more about your business and understands your demographics, it can display enhanced information about your business. It also may show your listings in similar search terms.
This information is obtained by a number of sources. It can be from various local directories or most importantly, submitted directly by you. You submit and manage your businesses information on Googles profile site called Google My Business.
What is Google my Business?
Google my business is Googles place where you, the business owner, can control and submit the correct information about your business to attract customers to you. It is a free profile based entirely on your business.
When people search for your business or a business like yours in a Google search, your business profile appears next to your results.
The results may be in the web search results or on Google Maps if you are a local business.
This ultimate guide covers the following areas:
- How to Create an account and claim your business.
- Verifying your Google My Business Profile
- Optimising your Google My Business Listing
- Using the Google My Business App
A Little More About Google My Business
Google My Business launched in 2014. It was originally called Google Places but evolved a couple of times since. It merged into Google+ (Googles social media platform) but has now been moved to its own place as Google My Business.
When you sign up to get a free Google My Business account, you can create and update the information about your business to not only make you stand out but to attract more customers.
Google my Business also lets you share important or timely information that people may need to know. You can share your latest news, specials, and offers so they know what’s happening. It may be the reason they keep coming back to your website.
You can add photos, custom open hours, and a brief amount of information about your business on your Google my Business profile.
People can also add their own reviews about your business which will get displayed next to your profile when others search for you. Whether you like it or not this information is publicly viewable so you better hope you’re good in your customers eyes.
You will also be able to see some analytical information about your Google My Business profile. This information helps you discover how customers are interacting with your Business Profile and how they are finding you.
Create a Google My Business listing to Claim Your Business
Google may already have information about your business from your own website, online sources like local directory listings and user submitted information.
To start, Google your business name and see if your business has any information in the right hand side panel. If it does, click on the “Own this Business” link. Alternatively, go directly to the Google My Business website and click the “Start Now” button.
Once you have logged in, click on the Add Location dropdown and select either the “Add single location” button or the “Import locations” if you have many locations.
What’s the name of your business?
Enter your businesses name into the field. Google will search the list of registered business profiles and suggest any that already exist. If yours does exist, you can select it and click next otherwise you simply click next.
Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?
Step 2 asks you if you want to add a location that customers can visit. The alternative to that is if you are a service business where you visit your customers or your business may not service customers locally.
If you selected yes, you will need to enter the address in the fields provided. Once you have entered your address, if Google thinks your business might already have a listing on Google Search or Maps, it will ask you to confirm.
You will then be asked if you serve customers outside this location.
If you selected no, you will be asked where you serve your customers (optional). This will help Google determine where to display your listing so that relevant customers find you.
Choose the category that fits your business best
Step 3 will ask you to categorise your company. This provides information about your company that will help customers find you if they are looking for a business like yours
What contact details do you want to show to customers?
Step 4 will ask you to provide contact details about your business. This includes your phone number and website address.
It is important to include this information if you want to be found and you want customers to be able to get in touch with you.
Stay in the know
Step 4.5 will ask you if you would like to receive personalised communications on tips and recommendations to improve your business’s presence on Google?
If you choose yes, you will be periodically notified via email.
Finish and verify your business
The final step is to click the finish button. That is all that is required to setting up your basic Google My Business profile.
To get your Google My Business profile live, you will still need to verify it with Google. This can take up to a week to do as they will send you out a physical letter to verify your location.
Verifying your Google My Business Profile
Verifying your Google My Business profile is a minor inconvenience as it requires manual verification to complete the process.
Google will send out a printed postcard with a verification code on it. This is a unique number that needs to be entered correctly to activate your business. If you get the number wrong to many times, your profile will be declined.
The post card generally takes about a week to arrive by post to your business location. It is important that you verify your profile as soon as you receive the post card as your profile will not be live until you have done so.
The sooner you have a Google My Business listing on Google, the sooner you will be able to rank in search results for your business.
Follow the link on the Google postcard to enter the verification code or go to your Google My Business dashboard and click on the Verify now button. Follow the prompts to complete verification.
Alternative Google My Business Verification Methods
If you are unable to verify your business using the postcard method then you can verify in other ways.
You may be able to verify using phone verification. This option is not available to all businesses and will not be listed to your business if it is unavailable.
Some businesses will be able to verify their Google My Business Listing via email. This option is not available to all businesses and will not be listed as an option if it is unavailable.
If you’ve already verified your business’s website with Google Search Console, you may be able to verify your listing instantly. Simply make sure you are logged into your Google my business with the same email you used to verify your Google Search Console profile.
Some business categories are not able to be instantly verified and you will have to choose another verification method.
If you were not able to receive your Google post card then another option is to verify by doing a Google Hangouts meeting with a Google employee.
They will ask you a series of questions about your business such as providing proof that your business exists with proper signage, equipment, business cards, car decal etc.
Be prepared to provide the necessary proof as they are strict to not accept just anyone. They will email you before hand the information you will need to provide. You will find out by email if your business has been successfully verified on Google My Business.
Once you have provided the necessary verification to Google My Business, your profile listing will shortly be displayed in Google search results.
Note that if you make big changes to your profile such as address change, you may need to re-verify your listing through the same verification methods above. Smaller changes will not affect your listing but may take 1-3 days to be visible in Google search results.
Optimising Your Google My Business Listing
Once you have been verified on Google My business, you will be able to add information to your Google My Business profile. This information will help fill out your profile and be of assistance to potential customers searching for your business on Google.
That is why it is important to provide as much relevant information as possible to ensure your profile is displayed.
On the Google My business dashboard, you will see a number of different areas. The area we are interested in is the Complete your listing section. You can fill all the missing information in on the info page in the left hand sidebar.
Fill in all the missing information to complete this section. It will improve your local search rankings and help your customers find you.
Fill in the Info Page
The info page is where you can control all the information Google displays about you in search results. It is important to fill in as much information about your business as possible.
Add Service Area
If you have not yet set the service area during setup, type the cities or post codes you will be primarily doing business in. This is to ensure your listing in both search and maps gets displayed for people in your service areas.
Add Operating Hours
The operating hours can be set for any day of the week. You can select the hours your business operates and when it doesn’t. This helps businesses who are searching for your particular business to know if you are open and when you can be contacted.
Add Phone Number
You can add any valid phone number that people will be able to contact you on. This should be your main business phone number as it will display this number in search results.
Add Website Address
Adding your website address to your Google My Business listing is very important. You will be able to get people clicking onto your website from the listings when searching for your products/services.
There will be a “Website” button that when clicked, takes you directly to the website.
Attributes tell customers more about your business and are factual to your business. e.g. “Has Wi-Fi,” “Offers outdoor seating,” etc.
Select all that apply to your business.
Add Business Description
Write a brief description about your business. This description should help sell who you are and what you do to your potential customers.
You should include what you offer, what sets you apart, your history, or anything else that’s helpful for customers to know.
When writing the description, write naturally and dont try and optimise for SEO but rather what people want to know about your business. You should avoid adding time sensitive information such as promotions, prices, or sales. Write as much information as you can about yourself but don’t exceed more than 750 characters.
Add Opening Date
Enter the date you first opened at your address, or will open. This tells customers that you are ready for business or will be ready at the particular date.
If you enter a date that is too far into the future, it wont be displayed on Google search results. Once it reaches within 90 days it will begin to be displayed.
Add Store Code
Skipping over to the right hand side is the store code. This is for your use only. A store code is a unique ID for each Google My Business listing in your account.
They allow you to identify what store you are managing when you have a large list of locations. The store codes are not public but can be seen by anyone that manages that location on Google.
If you do not have a store code then you can simply make one up using a unique set of letters and numbers. A good idea is to use your brand to identify it with sequential numbering per location. e.g. LEMODUS1, LEMODUS2 etc.
Add Photos and Videos
Photos and videos are an important way to showcase your business to perspective customers. There is a whole page dedicated to Photos and Videos in the sidebar.
If you have not uploaded any before then it will prompt you to add them at the bottom of the info page. There are a number of types of photos/videos that you can upload.
Upload photos and videos of your business, products, or offerings for customers to see.
You should upload:
- Your Logo. This will be an image that is used to show your identity when you post a photo or reply to a review. This photo is visible to everyone online so make sure it is of high quality and legible at all screen sizes.
- A Cover Photo. Your cover photo is a large banner image that showcases the personality of your business. It will be shown as the preferred image on your listing in Search and Maps. This could be a picture of you, a photo of your business in action or a display of your products/services.
- A Video. Use video to tell a story that engages people to interact with your business. This video should be short and show why your business is unique.
- Place Shots. Taking a number of photos showing what both the exterior and interior of your business looks like. Exterior photos especially help people identify your business.
- Identity Shots. Finally, if you have people in your business that deal with the public then it may be a good idea to share photos of these people. This can better help people to connect with your business.
Photos and videos are important for your customers to see who you are and what to expect when dealing with you. They are also a good way to show Google that you are active online by regularly sharing new photos/videos.
You can upload your photos at any time but you will need to have a verified business for them to be published in search results.
As far as photos and videos go, there is no set rule but the more the better. 10 photos and videos are a good starting amount.
Encourage your clients to add their review
Making your profile stand out in front of all the other businesses competing with you is key to a good Google My Business search ranking.
Part of this is by showing strong social proofing through good customer reviews. Customer reviews are a good way for people that do not personally know you to tell if your business is good or not. This is because your rating is determined by each individual user.
If they have a bad interaction with your business then they will be sure to let others know about it too.
A good way to get a high star rating is to ask your best customers what they think about your business. If they have nothing but positive to say about you then you can ask them to leave a nice review on your Google My Business listing.
To make it as easy as possible for people to do this, you will want to share with them your personal Google My Business reviews link.
How to Create a link for customers to write reviews
By sharing a link to your Google My Business reviews page, it takes the resistance away from people having to find the link you are talking about when requesting they write you a nice review.
To find your Google My Business Review link:
- Go to Google and search for your business e.g. https://google.com/search?q=Lemodus
- Once you have found your listing, click the Write a Review button.
- Copy the URL you see in your address bar. This is the URL you share.
If the above steps do not work for you then you will need to create the link using the PlaceID Lookup Tool.
Because the link is long and not easy to type, a quick tip is to shorten the URL using a URL shortener like the Bitly URL shortener tool. It will be short and easy to relay to your customers.
By the way, if you’re feeling generous, please add a nice review for Lemodus.
Using the Google My Business App
You can manage your Google My Business listing on the go with the Google My Business App for iOS and Android. The app allows you to update and post new information about your business.
Download the Apps on your device in the App store or use the following links:
Once you have installed the app, signed in to your Google account and accepted the apps terms. You will then be on the home dashboard of your Google My Business profile.
App Home/Dashboard Screen
The home screen is the quick screen where you can access the most important functions of the app as well as gaining quick insights into how your website is progressing
The Home dashboard shows you quick information about your listing including views, searches and activity over the past 28 days.
Create a Post
You can create a new post about your business for the latest events, offers, photos and updates.
You can manage all the reviews that have been left on your Google My Business profile.
Try Google Ads
There is a Google ads banner if you would like to try and run Google Ads on your own.
App Customers Screen
The Customers screen is where you go to manage your interactions with your customers.
There are 3 tabs available:
- Reviews. You can view and respond to each of the Google Reviews that people have provided to your business.
- Messages. Messages can be enabled to allow customers viewing your listing to message you directly. You can respond to questions, share information and quickly connect with them. Once you have enabled messages, you can create an automatic greeting for customers that message you.
- Followers. People can follow your business to stay updated on your offerings. This feature is only available to users on the Google Maps for Android app and only in some countries.
App Profile Screen
The app profile screen is where you can go to edit the details about your business on Google My Business.
You can add, remove or update these details on this page.
There is also the Posts tab which allows you to add a new post or manage your existing ones.
Excite your customers by sharing photos, offers and announcements about your business.
App More Screen
The app more screen is the final menu item at the bottom that allows you to manage your Google My Business profile. Gain quick access to settings and accounts that you need to manage your Google My Business account.
When you tap the more button, a slide up menu appears with more options:
- Switch accounts. If you are logged in to multiple Google accounts, you can switch between them by selecting the one you want in the dropdown.
- Notifications. You can view your profiles notifications for any information that may be sent to you.
- Photos. Takes you to the Photos page. View all the photos you have uploaded and modify them if required. You can also add more.
- Posts. Takes you to the Posts page. You can view all your previously posted posts and add a new one from here.
- Insights. Insights are the analytics Google has about your Google My Businesses profile performance in search results. Learn a number of important details such as
- How customers search for your business.
- Where customers view your business.
- Customer actions including business direction requests, phone calls and photo views.
- Website. A place where you can publish your own basic website through Google my business. Personally I would not recommend worrying about this unless you absolutely know you will not be having your own website. If you have your own website then it is a way more efficient use of your time to focus on building that one instead.
- Manage Users. Add or remove people to help manage your Google My business listings.
Google My Business is an effective way to gain a brand presence in Google search results. Because it requires time and effort to validate your business, it has value in building a strong search brand online.
Once you have set up your Google My Business profile, the next step is to ensure that you continue to share posts and photos/videos as time goes by.
This does not need to be every day but should be when required. Say for example you have an event that generally happens every 3 months, you should add the post to ensure that people who may be attending your event knows the correct information when searching for it.
It is also a good idea to schedule in time e.g. once a month to share information about your business or post a photo of your business. This is to not only show your customers you are active but to also show Google.
Every little bit helps to ensure you rank as highly as you can and to help protect your rankings.
Congratulations! Your Google My Business profile should now be active.
Don’t forget that if your business moves locations or change contact details that you need to update this information too.
Was this ultimate guide to setting up Google My Business useful to you? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Joseph Chesterton
Joseph is the founder of Lemodus. He's obsessed with building businesses that help businesses grow. He founded Lemodus to introduce better processes and automation to the community. Lemodus is the number one tool to get your business under control.