How To Setup and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business is important. Really important.
It is a crucial online, digital tool service from Google that is available to local businesses, true brick and mortar businesses, or service area businesses.
You have to have a business in a location to claim a profile for that location, but when you do, it does unlock some powerful tools.
One of the best things about Google My Business is that it’s free, and it is vital if you want your business to be found online.
If you do work out of your home and you don’t want to put your address in there, you can actually claim a service area of where you go out and serve your clients, but it does have to be in your community.
You can’t be in Hamilton and say, “Well, I’ve got customers in Vancouver. I’d like to actually claim that.” You have to have it in the city where you have your actual business.
If you still haven’t claimed your profile yet, or maybe you, have but need to optimize it, this is what you need to do.
Go to Google and type in the name of your business, not your website, just the name of your business and maybe the city where your business is located.
There is a really good chance that you actually have a Google My Business profile that has been created in your business’s name because Google is constantly looking for information, addresses, phone numbers, things out there to present information when people are searching. So, don’t be surprised if you find one.
Now, also, don’t be surprised if you had nothing to do with setting it up or you set it up five years ago in one of the various ways that Google allowed us to do these things back in the day with Google Places and Google Plus.
Now back to Google My Business – you really want to make sure that you claim your profile and enhance it.
Now let’s talk a little bit about how to do that and the first step really is to then verify that it is your listing.
Now, if you’ve got that listing and you are familiar with this process, let’s talk about how to enhance your profile in ways that your competition isn’t. This will help your business stand out and get seen by your customers.
Claim Your Business
If you just want to start from the very beginning, just go to business.google.com. This is where you’ll find your Google My Business profile if one has already been created or if note, you’ll need to set up a Google My Business profile.
Next you need to see if your business has already been verified. Google will tell you right away. If you find that it’s not been verified, you’re going to have to go through a couple of steps and sometimes these are easier than others.
The first step is if you find your profile and it says, “Is this your business,” that’s a really good sign that it has not been claimed.
Click on yes, this is my business, and you will have a number of processes you might have to go through. They may have to mail you a postcard. You may be able to do it with an email or with a text. It depends on the state of your profile and how sure Google is about the information in that.
Get Rid of Duplicates
Now, here’s another issue that I come across all the time. Don’t be surprised if you actually find duplicate listings, especially if your business has been around a long time at the same location.
This again, goes back to the days when this data was coming from Google Places and from Google Local and then Google Plus and sometimes, people just set up three or four Google Plus accounts because somebody left the organization and they decided they needed one and so they set another one up.
So, don’t be surprised if you find duplicate listings and a lot of times, it might be a variation of the name or a different phone number or maybe you moved your business and so it has a different address.
So, what you want to do is find the one that is incorrect or that is certainly not right (maybe it doesn’t have the full information and so it’s the one you want to get rid of).
Next, on the incorrect profile, look for a tab that says “suggest and edit.”
You want to click on that and you want to mark that location as permanently closed.
I’m finding that Google wants to clean up that information and so if they can verify that that is accurate, they will close it within a week.
If it was set up by somebody who no longer works for you or you don’t even really know who set it up, it’s going to take a little longer because they’re going to actually try to reach out to the email address that they have on file for that and if they don’t get a response, they will go ahead and make that change.
Cleaning up that duplicate may be your first step. We’ll get to the good stuff in a bit, but you need to make sure everything is in order so you can get real results (like the phone ringing off the hook).
Add your Name, Address and Phone Number
Now, let’s go through the profile itself.
The most important information is the name of your business, address, and phone number.
Don’t get cute with this. Some people will try to get “smart” and put keywords at the end of their name and all kinds of goofy things that somebody told them to do so they’d benefit from it. Don’t do it.
Make the business the name of your business as you want your customers to see it, the address, make it consistent with what you have on your website, and the phone number, make it consistent with what you have on your website as well.
Make sure that those things are accurate. This might be a good time to look at your website as well. Have you got that wrong on your website? Don’t laugh. I find it all the time. So, let’s make sure that those are right and the same as your website.
Choose The Right Category
The next really important element is choosing your “category.”
If you have not yet claimed your Google My Business profile, Google will take a guess at what they think it is based on your name, based on a description, based on things they find out there on the web. Don’t take their advice.
Your primary category should be the primary category that you want to rank for when somebody goes out there searching.
If you are, for example, a remodeling contractor, then you don’t want your primary one to be “construction company” and there’s a really good chance it is.
They actually have categories for “remodeling contractor.” Google even has a category for kitchen remodeling. So, you want to make sure that you get as specific as possible with that primary category.
The good news is you will also get to choose some secondary categories and so I definitely recommend that you do that as well and again, don’t get cute here. Make sure they really are categories related to your business.
Add Some Images
Some of the other information like hours and things are pretty straightforward.
There is an opportunity for you to upload images and this is something that Google tracks in their insights and so I do think it’s a ranking factor.
Also, particularly on a mobile device, it’s a good trust building and content element.
So, upload 8 or 10 photos of your products, of your business, of your people.
It doesn’t really matter what it is, but make sure that you have some pretty good representative images that you upload. So, that’s the setting up of the profile and again, after you claim it and after you do some things to enhance it, there’s really not a whole lot more to that.
Understand Google My Business Attributes
Let’s go over a couple of the attributes of your Google My Business profile that when you sign in to business.google.com, you’ll have these options available and some of them are becoming pretty potent.
Google is really investing in Google My Business and adding some very interesting new features. It’s really a sign that this is a key component for them, which to me marks the reason for actually really getting involved in understanding your Google My Business profile and viewing it frequently rather than just set it and forget it.
When you log in, you will notice “Posts” along the left side panel and this is a new feature you should play around with.
There is some indication that this is actually helping people rank.
So, maybe you have a special coming up or maybe you have a new product or a workshop that you’re holding, it just allows you to put that information in there and you can set when it expires.
People are finding that they are getting traffic from these posts because you can also put a link to your workshop sign up or something like that. So, it’s worth spending a little bit of time to go in and enhance that and add those posts on a routine basis.
Another tool is called Insights and this will give you a little bit of information on how many times your profile is showing up in search or in maps and what people are doing.
Are they calling you? Are they clicking on it? Are they looking for driving directions?
All the things that people can do and do frequently, particularly on mobile devices. It’s not like in analytics where you can compare one quarter to the next quarter or something unless you take that data and put it in a spreadsheet. But it is useful to look at.
This is also a place where you can see not only your reviews but reply to your reviews and you should be replying to every one of your reviews.
Getting reviews, of course, is extremely, extremely important.
Replying to reviews can be very important as well and this is for both good reviews and bad reviews.
Bad reviews, of course, because it gives you an opportunity to tell your side of the story, if you will, or maybe state the facts as only you can, but when you respond to five-star reviews as well, it does a couple of things.
First off, that person that gave you the review is going to get a notice and, quite frankly, probably appreciate that you saw that and replied.
But it’s also another opportunity for you to show a personal side of your business.
I work with a local MediSpa facility and they will frequently get glowing reviews of how well they have helped someone who has had skin problems their whole life.
To have the owner go in there and make a comment or a personal anecdote about that person and something that he remembered I think is tremendous content and over time is really great social proof.
Another element you need to know about is messaging. What they’ll ask you to do is connect a phone that can receive text.
So, it has to be a mobile device that not only can receive text, but does, and that you can respond with. If you’re in the right kind of business, this could be a great leg up because a lot of times when people are searching out there on Google, they are trying to solve something.
They want to hire somebody right now to do something and instead of sending an email or even picking up the phone, because a lot of people don’t like to do that, if they can text right from their browser window and they can get a response from you immediately, you might win the deal.
If you’re the kind of business that books appointments, they’re now actually making that an option right off of your Google My Business page. Again, you have to integrate it with one of the booking kind of services that they work with. There’s about a dozen that are on there currently, so that might be an option if you’re a hair salon or a massage facility or something of that nature.
This isn’t recommended for everyone, but they are actually now adding a platform where you can build a Google website. Essentially, it’ll just be a very simple landing page but they’ve got a couple of tools on there to make it pretty and add photos and drag and drop some things. So, if you’ve been living on your Facebook page and you don’t have a full website, which is something you should look into, it could be an option for you as well.
So that’s it for how to claim, setup and optimize your Google My Business listing.
This is really a key ranking factor for local businesses and it’s probably the primary building block these days for a local business.
For example, when you see those businesses that show up in the maps listing when somebody searches hair salon near me, you can’t show up in that unless you have a profile that you have claimed, that you’ve optimized and obviously, getting things like reviews, and frequently adding posts, and making sure that the information is accurate is how you’re going to show up.
That’s one of the pieces of the puzzle. There are of course many others, but this is a great foundation.