How to Get the Most from Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a free business listing from Google that can help you reach searchers who are looking for your products or services in your geographic area. You may have noticed that some businesses show up as a “dot on a local map” whenever you’ve done an online search for say, “dentist in San Rafael” or “Italian restaurants near me.” Google will show a “local pack” of three locations for these types of businesses searches. The businesses that appear in the local pack have a Google My Business (GMB) listing.
Another great advantage of having a Google My Business listing is that, whenever someone searches for your business by name (Website Wordsmith, for example), Google shows your GMB listing, along with your website and your other online listings. If you have optimized your GMB listing with photos of your business and have positive reviews, it’s a great way to draw clicks to your website. Online searchers can also quickly see your business hours, phone number, address and more.
This blog post is about how to set up and optimize your GMB listing so that it is as helpful to online searchers as possible, and it has the best opportunity to land in Google’s local three pack. Hint: you may already have a Google My Business listing that was set up by Google by using information that it gathered from the Internet. Google’s information about your business could be inaccurate, but you can change it by claiming your listing.
Here are some best practices for setting up or claiming your Google Business Listing:
- Get started by logging into Google My Business. You will need to sign into your Gmail account. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you can create one.
- Enter your business name, phone number, address, email and website.
- If you don’t want to show your physical address on your listing (say, you work from home), you can check the box that says “I deliver goods and services to my customers.”
- Pick a business category, or several categories. There are hundreds of business categories to choose from. For best results, use just 2-3 categories and make sure they are as accurate as possible. For example, don’t use “takeout restaurant” if you have a restaurant, where most customers dine in. You may not find a category that exactly matches your business, but you may find one that is close. For instance, I use Internet Marketing Service because there’s no Google category for SEO writer.
- Google will want you to verify your business by postcard. The postcard usually arrives within 4-5 business days with a verification code that you can then enter into your GMB dashboard. None of the information you have entered in your Google My Business listing will appear online, until you verify your business.
- Add the hours that you are open – this will show up to online searchers.
- Add nice photos that represent your business (your location, your products, your staff) and/or examples of your work. Add a profile photo too! Photos help lend credibility to your business and invite clicks to your listing and website. Be sure to strategically name them so that they can show up in Google images. For example, if you are a dentist in San Rafael who offers same day crowns, you could name a photo: San-Rafael-dentist-same-day-crowns.jpg.
- Add a short but comprehensive business description and list of services. Let Google know if you are a women-led or veteran-led business in the highlights section.
After your GMB listing is live, optimize it for best results:
- Customer reviews are a great way to get more attention for your business. According to industry publications, Google gives more credibility to GMB listings with reviews that have responses. And, Google is now the biggest review site, beating out even Yelp! At least 5 reviews are a good start. You will also want to look at what your competitors are doing. If you are in a business where they have dozens or hundreds of reviews (back to our Italian restaurant example), you will want to get a lot of reviews too! Then, always respond, whether the review is positive or negative.
- Create posts to be shown on your GMB listing. On your GMB dashboard, click on the “Create Post” link. Write an informative post about an industry trend, or a product or service you provide. Add an eye-catching photo to make your post stand out.
- Periodically check how your GMB listing is doing – On your GMB dashboard, click on the “View Insights” tab. Your insights tab will tell you the most popular queries used to bring up your GMB listing, how many people clicked through to your website from your listing, which of your photos are the most popular, and other relevant information.
- If you would like potential customers to book appointments directly with you from your GMB listing you can do that by clicking on its “Add Appointment Link.”
By setting up an informative Google My Business listing and optimizing it, you will create the best opportunity possible for your business to land in Google’s local three pack. If you or someone you know could use additional concrete tips on how to get more business online, I offer a free 30-minute website review. Please contact me to set up a time at: 415-250-1347.
Your Google My Business listing should look something like this:
Carolyn Kohler is an SEO writer who specializes in helping businesses get found online. Her company is Website Wordsmith, and she is located in the San Francisco Bay Area