Complete Guide to Google My Business for 2019Local Business lead gen
Step by step guide to understanding GMB, helping local business owners generate more leads.
Complete Guide to Google My Business for 2019
Google My Business has quickly become the #1 marketing tool for local businesses, and the best part is it’s 100% free. As businesses scramble to generate leads, GMB gives owners the ability to showcase products, services and display contact information without the user ever having to leave Google.
What does this mean for local businesses? Everything.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably a business owner looking to generate more leads which is the lifeline of any local business. This complete is updated for 2019 and tells you everything you need to know about Google My Business.
Claiming and Optimizing Your Google My Business Page
If you’re a business owner and have been in existence for more than a couple of months, odds are your business page is already listed on Google ready to be claimed. Google auto-creates these listings based on information found throughout the web including your own website.
Why is claiming your page so important?
For local businesses to be ranked in the local pack which is the highly coveted first three listings on any Google search results page, a listing must be optimized. It’s estimated at least 35% of all clicks through to a local business comes from the local pack.
Claiming a GMB listing makes it possible to update contact information, providing a detailed description, adding relevant images and adding store hours. If a listing is not claimed, it cannot be updated, and business owners are missing out on free exposure.
Google is turning their platform into a business owner’s website which appears at the top of search results. Now, users browsing search can see all relevant information about a business including contact information, pictures, stores hours, Google reviews and even Facebook reviews without having to leave the search results page.
This information comes directly from a GMB page, so it’s imperative your listing is always updated. This has been shown to have a significant increase on CTR and customer acquisition, and it’s all free. If you like what you’re reading, feel free to contact us to learn more.
1. Claim and Verify Your GMB Listing
First things first, if you have yet to claim and verify your GMB listing below are the steps to do so:
Search for our business on Google Maps to see if Google’s already created it by searching Google Maps.
- If you see your business listed, the process of claiming and verifying it is simple. Follow the instructions and you will be prompted to either request a postcard, phone call or SMS text via the phone number Google has for your business. Phone and text verification are the fastest and happens instantly, but postcard verification can take up to 2 weeks.
- If your business is not listed, follow the prompts while making sure all information is accurate then choose to verify by the same methods above.
Note. Phone and text verification are not available for all business, so don’t be worried if you only see the postcard option.
Requesting Ownership from Someone Else
Sometimes, a business may have been claimed by someone in the past or maybe it was claimed with an email address you no longer have. This will cause you to go through Google’s steps to request ownership.
If you find your listing and it’s showing already claimed, click on the “Request Ownership” link. It may take a few days, but after you click the link an email will be sent to the email address Google has on file for the business with steps to follow.
The steps can be tedious, but Google did a great job in outlining their steps to Request ownership of a business listing.
Note. Never create a new listing without first checking to see if a listing already exists. This will lead to a duplicate listing causing you to follow the steps listed below.
From time to time, a business may be duplicated by Google if information around the web is not consistent. Therefore, it’s so important to make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is listed exactly the same, in the exact same format throughout the internet. Inconsistencies may literally confuse Google and cause a duplicate listing to be created with slightly different business information.
Upon seeing the duplicate listing, you’ll want to claim it. When this happens, Google will notify you once a duplicate listing is in your account. When this happens…
- Sign in to your Google My Business account
- Click on “Duplicate Locations” under the Account settings tab
- Click on the location in question
- Click “Delete this Listing”
Again, Google did a great job outlining the directions for Remove or report duplicate locations
If you’re unable to claim a duplicate, but you’re able to go through the steps to “Claim Ownership”, delete the listing once it’s in your account. If it’s not possible to delete, report the listing to Google as a duplicate which may take a week or so to go through the entire process.
Note. It’s somewhat a pain in the a**, but believe me, as a business owner you’ll want to do this.
Follow the steps below to report a duplicate:
- Launch Google Maps
- Find the location in question by typing the name or address in the search bar
- Click on the link “Suggest an Edit”
- Mark location as “Permanently Closed”
- Mark reason as “Duplicate Listing”
- Click “Submit”
Or check out Google’s step by step directions on Remove or report duplicate locations
What if I Own a Service Based Business?
When creating or updating a listing, you’ll see the option to either “Show Address” for businesses who interact with customers at a place of business or you can “Hide Address” for service-area businesses. Service area businesses are those who work in a specific geographical area and don’t have an active storefront.
For verifying a GMB, you’ll still need to use a real address which lets Google know you’re a legitimate business, but you don’t have to show it. If you need help with this or any part of Google My Business, Contact Us and let’s talk about it.
You can update your “Service Areas” under the Info tab in the left-hand side bar within your GMB dashboard. Be sure to add all cities and areas you’ll willing to work in. Don’t worry if you forget a city, you can always update this later.
Note. Google requires a real, verifiable address be used. Using a PO box or virtual address are against Google’s TOS and will lead to getting your GMB listing suspended. This is the #1 reason a GMB listing is suspended.
Alright, so now that you have a GMB listing active and verified, let’s move on…
Accurately Update all Business Information
This isn’t exactly the fun part with GMB, but it’s one of the most important. The information you attribute to your business is what your prospective customers will see and accurately describes what your business is all about. Google uses this information to rank your listing in specific categories and pulls keywords from this information which attributes to where your site ranks.
This information includes business description, images, videos, store hours, categories your business represents and contact information.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements…
Self-explanatory, the category is the nature of your business and services you provide. You can use more than one, but make sure the categories you use represent your business and you’re not spamming categories in-hopes of gaming Google.
When listing some categories such as restaurant or hotel, other options may open allowing you to directly link to a menu or booking feature for booking a hotel. This allows your customers to get exactly what their looking for without having to leave your listing.
You can add more than one category, but only the 1st one will be shown on your listing within search results. When you’re typing in your primary category, you will see relevant auto-suggest options which are usually similar. If you don’t see what you’re looking for specifically, type in relevant keywords until results return a relevant category.
Hours and Special Hours
Make sure your store hours and special hours are consistent with your listing and what’s listed on your website. You’ll also want to use the exact same format – if you hours are listed out in military time on your listing, use the same format on your website.
Hours are self-explanatory and special hours relate to holidays. Don’t worry, if you omit special hours at this point, Google will send you a notification prompting you a couple of months before each holiday.
Make sure your website URL is accurate and update it if you ever move your site from one domain to another.
You can use a free tracking URL from Google Campaign URL Builder
This allows you to track link clicks coming from your GMB listing and can easily be setup with Google Analytics under the “Campaigns” tab. This makes it possible to track where clicks to your website are coming from – GMB listing or organic search.
GMB listings integrate with many 3rd party booking and appointment software. If your business relies on setting appointments, you’ll want to add your appointment URL here.
You’re allowed to add up to two phone numbers to your listing. Make sure these numbers are your actual business number and are the same as what’s listed on your website, citations and other places around the net. Google will match this with your NAP, so you always want to make sure it’s consistent.
Shy away from listing a 1-800 number on your listing. Customers tend to notice this, and 800 numbers give the appearance a business is not local.
Not all listings will have the “Services” tab available which is dependent on the category you choose. Most service-based industries like towing and health and beauty have this option, and if you’re one of them it’s wise to use every bit of real estate.
Each part of the service tab including Section Name, Item Name and Item Description allow a certain amount of characters. Use as much as you can for keywords and providing a thorough description for your customers without spamming your own listing.
This is where you put miscellaneous information and is also category dependent. If there’s any relevant information for your business, make sure you update it here. Attributes may include wheelchair accessible, woman-led business, types of payment accepted, language spoken, has Wi-Fi and more.
Google continually updates this section, so be sure to check back regularly.
Self-explanatory, month, day and year your business opened
The business description section has come, gone and come back again in just recently. Spammers were using this section to stuff keywords with hopes of boosting their listing and since it come back, Google is doing a great job monitoring this part of every listing.
You can add up to 750 characters and make sure you’re accurately describing your business while making it look natural. This of this part like an “About Us” page of a website, just tell your story, what you offer and what makes you stand out from all the rest.
The description part has many benefits including helping Google rank your GMB listing and provides an overview for your customers. If you’re finding this part or any other part of your GMB listing tricky, Get in Touch with us and we’ll help you out.
It’s no secret that Google loves images and videos and you’ll want to add as many as you can. Some businesses add more than 100 pictures to their listings and market their products and services using video which can also be added here.
Be creative and ask yourself what your customer would want to see know about your business. As yourself and add relevant pictures…
- Is your business hard to find? By adding pictures of landmarks, would your customers find you easier?
- Do you sell products or services?
- Do your technicians or employees wear specific clothes or colors to distinguish your business from another?
- Do you have visual assets you use for branding?
- What’s the inside of your store look like?
Within the “Add Photos: tab, you’ll find many sub-sections relating to the interior, exterior, showcasing your team at work. There’s even a tab showcasing pictures taken and added to your listing by customers, so make sure your business is always presentable.
One of the best photo options Google recently launched is the 360 Virtual Tour. Google has a team of recommended photographers who will come to your business and take a 360-degree photo and add it to your listing. This works wonders for business who utilize interior space like restaurants, wedding venues, bars, children’s day care, yoga studios and more.
Image Cover Photo
This is the image attached to your listing and displays on search results. A business can only have one cover photo, so make sure it stands out, is high-quality and tells your story.
If it’s not here already it’s coming. Video is becoming more important than written words and it’s only a matter of time before audio becomes more important for local businesses than videos. If you have professional quality videos, that’s great. But even if you don’t, using the video on your phone you can do a walkthrough of your business interior or showcase a service you provide.
Google does have a few video requirements including:
- Duration: Max 30 seconds long
- Size: Up to 100 MB
- Resolution: At least 720p
Creating posts are the best way to engage with your customers, promote blog posts, improve CTR and showcase offers and events. Virtually anything can be turned into a post and gives you free exposure while attaching video and pictures to the post itself. You can even add call to actions like adding a “Call Now” link or “Book Now” which is proven attracts more leads.
Things to Consider About Posts
- Make your characters count, only the first 100 show up on your listing on the search results page
- Events and offers do not expire, but all other posts expire in 7 days. When creating an event or offer, you’ll have to set an expiration date which is the same date your post will expire. Be creative, if you have an on-going promotion such as a “Free 30-Day Trial”, set the expiration well into the future so you don’t have to create a new promo.
- Posts are displayed in a carousel format. You can have up to 10 posts at one time, but only the two most recent will be visible in the carousel
Commonly Asked Questions
Customers can ask questions right on your listing, and you as the business owner probably already know what many of those questions will be. You can be attentive to this by posting your own questions and answers before they’re asked which things customers are look for.
Things to Consider About Commonly Asked Questions
Ask yourself some of the most commonly asked questions relating to your business and…
- Post these questions from a different Gmail account and answer them from your primary account
- Answer all questions thoroughly with good etiquette
- Be attentive to notifications. Google will send you a notification to the manager and owner when a question is posted, so be sure to login and answer as soon as you can. Remember, customers want answers yesterday, so having them wait is poor customer service.
- Report inappropriate comments. From time to time, some people or even competitors have been known to leave questions, comments or answers to questions others have asked. If this happens, these can be flagged for Google to review and remove any they deem as inappropriate.
Taking the time to manage your GMB listing allows you to stay up to date with one of the most important resources for any local business. Both an owner and manager can manage an account which consists of updating, answering questions and adding posts, but only an owner can open and close a listing.
For many small business owners, managing their GMB listing can become too much and takes them away from their primary business goals – running their business. With our GMB management services, we provide coaching, we’ll setup your listing or we’ll fully manage your listing for you allowing you to run your business.
If this is something that interests you, Get in Touch and let’s talk about it.
Now that all the boring stuff is done, it’s time to promote your listing and start engaging with your new leads. What good is spending hours on creating an amazing listing, curating your own content, picking out perfect images and spending a Sunday afternoon videoing the inside of your business if nobody’s going to see it?
Naturally, if your listing was done right your organic rankings will increase naturally, but there are other things you can do to promote your listings. Below are some basic and advanced strategies:
- Share on social media
- Tell friends and family and ask them to share
- Email new offers and promotions to previous customers
- Create business social media accounts including a YouTube channel
- Research and create niche relevant, local backlinks
- Research and create niche relevant, local citations
- Conduct data and keyword analysis to continually improve organic growth
- Run paid ads using Google Adwords or Facebook (can be expensive for most industries)
Google launched a free resource allowing business owners to create posters, banners and other marketing materials and can easily be shared on social media, emails or on your website. For more info, check out Small Thanks with Google
Analyzing data is something that takes a great deal of time if you’re hoping to extract everything’s that’s relevant. Problem is, it can be very time consuming and confusing for many business owners and it’s not exactly the most fun thing to do.
Google provides some good data points within the Google My Business dashboard, and it’s self-explanatory. Some of what you’ll see includes:
- How people find your listing – through direct search, business name, product or service, or image
- Customer interaction – Did the customer click thru to your website, call, request directions or start a Chat
- Number of times pictures viewed
- Number of photos you have versus your competitors
- Queries – What customers are typing in the search bar to find your listing
The dashboard only shows you a limited view of your data, but you can go as far back as 18 months. To do so, click on “Download Insights” and following the directions.
This is as thorough Google My Business Guide you’ll find anywhere. Over 3,000 words of highly researched insights that took years for marketers to fully understand. Now, you know what we know and if you follow this guide from A to Z you’re well on your way to creating an amazing local business asset that’s sure to generate you more leads.
If you appreciated this article and have more questions relating to Google My Business or local SEO in general, feel free to Contact Us for more info.