Google My Business is one of the many tools we use at WSI Connect to increase traffic and generate leads for our clients.
It is especially powerful for businesses that deliver local products or services. By using the features outlined in this guide, we were able to increase engagement in just one month for our client in the example below,
Inside this post
- What is Google My Business (GMB) and Why is it important?
- Getting Started with Google My Business
- Completing Basic Information in GMB
- Optimizing GMB
- Analyzing GMB
What is Google My Business and Why is it important?
A Google My Business (GMB) account lets you claim and manage how your business is viewed in Google Search (knowledge panel), Google Maps and Local Finder.
Your listing (see example below) displays key business information before a user clicks through to your website, provides a simple method for contact and increases traffic to your website, social channels and business.
Getting Started with Google My Business (GMB)
1. Claim your business
The first step is to claim your business. Do a search for your business and check if it already has a Google My Business listing. If it does, then click the ‘Own this business’ button as seen below:
Otherwise visit https://www.google.com/business and follow the steps to register your business. Listings on GMB can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location or travel to customers for service.
2. Verify your business
Once you have claimed your business, it is important to verify it. Verification entails requesting and receiving a verification postcard from Google that contains a PIN #. The pin number is then entered into your account for verification. Once verified you can further edit your business information.
Complete basic information in GMB
Try to complete as much information as you can for your Google My Business listing. Keep in mind that some information is limited based on the category you choose for your business. Some keys areas are highlighted:
Choose a relevant category for your business. You can choose up to 9 categories and your first choice will be the primary one. Try to choose categories as specific to your business as possible.
ii. Name, Address, Phone (NAP)
Verify this information is accurate and up to date. It should match the information on your website and in local directories. Also, make sure that it’s a local number. If you have an 800 number, consider acquiring a local number.
iii. Service Area
The service area feature is for businesses who visit or deliver to local customers. An example would be a florist shop that delivers to customers locally. If your business serves customers within a specific local area, then it is helpful to list your service area by city, postal code or area.
iv. Hours of operation
Input your normal operating hours. Many businesses change their hours throughout the year so update this as needed. Make sure you adjust your hours for holidays or special occasions. Google My Business has a specific section where you can add ‘special hours’.
v. Business Description
When writing your business description ensure it is rich with relevant keywords about your product and services but don’t go overboard! It can be up to 750 characters however only the first 250 characters are visible in the knowledge panel before it’s truncated. With this in mind, make sure your business description has the most important keywords near the top of the description. On a desktop computer, the business description appears in the knowledge panel towards the bottom, below your reviews. On a mobile device, you can see the business description if you click on the About tab.
“Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”– Google
Photos are the first impression of your business and should be professional looking. The options include:
- Profile Image
- Cover Photo
- Additional Images
Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall, and either a JPG or PNG. Try to have the highest resolution possible.
Here are some suggestions on what pictures to upload for your business:
- Exterior photos (minimum of 3)
- Interior photos (minimum of 3)
- Product or service photos (one photo per product or service)
- Team photos (minimum 3 showing management team and your employees)
- Office rooms
- Event photos
GMB is not the place for stock photos. Focus on images related to the business location.
PRO TIP: Naming your images with keywords related to your business will have a positive impact on your SEO efforts.
Videos are a great way to highlight key information visually. These are the specific requirements to keep in mind when posting videos:
- Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
- File size: Up to 100 MB
- Resolution: 720p or higher
Here are some Google My Business video ideas:
- Product demo
- Highlight an employee
- Interview employees – ask them an interesting question
- Tour your office
- Showcase how one of your products is made
Once you have two or more videos on your GMB listing, a video tab will appear on your mobile device listing.
PRO TIPs: Most searchers have a short attention span – so keep videos short. You can also add videos to Google Posts.
Input your main website URL. You may also have the ability to input your specific URL for your menu, reservations or appointments. These options are available depending on the category initially chosen for your Google My Business listing.
Attributes are additional information about your business that you can choose to include. They can range from: “woman-led business”, “wheelchair accessible entrance” to “has Wi-Fi”, “patio seating” and “languages spoken”, etc. Your business category determines the attributes available for your business.
This feature is only available for food and drink, beauty, and other services businesses. It allows you to categorize and list out all your services, food items or products along with prices and descriptions. Potential customers can easily see what you have to offer before navigating to your website. It is available to view on mobile devices only.
Double check your location on the map and ensure the marker is in the right place. If it’s not in the correct location, log into your Google My Business Account and navigate to the ‘info’ menu. Click the address field and verify your map marker location. If the location is incorrect, drag the red marker to the correct location. Changing the location does not update your address information.
4. Optimize your Google My Business Listing
Once you have the basic information for your business input into Google My Business, it’s time to move on to optimizing your listing for better results.
i. Booking Button Feature
If your business depends on customers making appointments, this feature is very convenient. Potential customers can book an appointment with your business directly from your Google My Business listing.
Having an account with one of Google’s supported scheduling providers places the booking button automatically on your Google My Business listing.
Within one week, your scheduling account is automatically linked to your Google My Business account.
ii. Google Posts
Posts are a great way to encourage searchers to click through to your website or encourage searchers to take other actions. Google Posts appear more prominently on mobile and will become increasingly important for your local search strategy.
The calls to action include, “Book,” “Order Online,” “Buy,” “Learn More,” “Sign-Up,” “Get Offer” and “Call Now.”
Things to keep in mind with Google Posts:
- Images appear in 4:3 ratios. Focus on having your most important information centered in the image.
- Minimum image/video width is 400 x 300px
- The first 100 characters of your description will display in the knowledge panel. You do have 1,500 characters available for your post.
- You can have up to 10 posts at once, but only the most recent two will be shown, and the following will be available in a carousel format.
- Posts last for seven days. However, if you’ve created an event or dated a post, then the post will “expire” when the offer or event ends.
- Post suggestions: Event post about a special sale, seminar with link to registration; holiday message, latest blog post, feature a new product, make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about the latest offers.
PRO TIP: Google Posts are an underrated yet valuable feature for your Google My Business listing. Integrate it into your content calendar and implement these tactics to optimize your posts.
iii. Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section of your knowledge panel allows anyone to ask specific questions about your business. It is a great opportunity for owners to interact directly with customers and also provides valuable information to potential customers.
Be sure to answer any questions promptly and concisely.
PRO TIP: Ask and answer your own questions. Think of it like a FAQ section. Post common questions people ask and answer them from your business account. Also, be sure to upvote any important or relevant questions as this can make the question more visible.
Unfortunately you can’t see ‘Ask a question’ thru the Google My Business app and notifications are unreliable at this point as mentioned in this thread so definitely check this section periodically in your knowledge panel.
iv. Know this place?
Google encourages people who know your business to answer questions about it. This helps Google learn more about your business and provide more information about what you offer.
This feature allows customers who find your business listing on Google to message you directly thru SMS. Add your phone number and turn messaging on to start this feature.
Google is also integrating messaging thru the Google My Business app. This allows you to view your messages thru the app and receive a notification once a message is received.
As with most sites, reviews can greatly influence the reputation and visibility of your business. Online reviews appear next to your listing in Google Maps and your business knowledge panel in search results. Reviews can have solid impact on search result rankings. It’s important to respond to both positive and negative reviews to showcase engagement and also let your customers know you are actively responding to their concerns.
5. Insights – Analyze your progress
Google Insights provides a snapshot of some important statistics on how your information is being seen in your knowledge panel and on Google maps. A few key metrics include:
- How customers find your business (direct, discovery and branded searches).
Discovery searches are people searching generic categories (doctor office, car wash near me. These impressions are most likely connected to your SEO efforts.
- Where on Google your customers are finding or viewing your listing (Search vs. Maps). High traffic from Google Maps means that customers are most likely looking for your business on their mobile device. Views are similar to impressions. They are not clicks and they are also not unique. To better understand these numbers you can toggle on and off each box to see the graphs separately.
PRO TIP: High traffic from Google Maps could mean customers are looking for your business on their mobile device. Consider having a Voice Engine Optimization (VEO) strategy if you have a high number of map impressions.
“Mobile voice-related searches are 3x more likely to be local-based than text-related searches” – Marketing Profs
- The actions your customers are taking on your listing (visiting your site, clicking on directions, calling you).
PRO TIP: Your prospects are able to contact you directly via phone or messaging from your Google My Business listing. They may never visit your website so tracking these metrics is essential for understanding your overall marketing ROI.
- Areas that your customers are living (based on direction queries)
The requests are divided by zip code, city and state. This information can be helpful in determining where to target your ads.
- Total phone calls and time when customers are calling.
This graph also identifies when customers are viewing your listing most. It’s a great opportunity to target customers with ads or Google Posts.
- The number of times your photos have been viewed (impressions), compared to other businesses.
The data does not go past 90 days and some insights are limited to just one month. Google does have a Google My Business API available for developers to obtain 18 months worth of data.
An easy way to monitor the progress and information on your listing is to download the Google My Business app. It is a quick and easy way to update your contact information, upload images or videos, create a Google post and review your insights.
The dashboard is also where notifications will be located if the algorithm found new information or a use made an edit to your page. So check often.
The more interaction and engagement, the better your chances of ranking higher in local search and organic rankings in general.