Setting your Google My Business for Success

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What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is one of the first things you see when searching for a local business. It highlights the top three companies that are relevant to your search, with the business info and reviews from past customers.

88% of the people searching for local companies turn to GMB to find the best choice. This is primarily because of the reviews. Google My Business is the number one place people go to read reviews to determine the quality of a business.

The three businesses Google highlights is referred to as the “Local Pack”, however, there’s always the option to view more businesses if the local pack doesn’t meet what you’re looking for. Here’s how it looks on Google:

google local pack results for dentists in Queens NY

How to Claim a Business on Google

Google is a potent tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. One of the best things you can do for your company is to create a Google business page. This opens up an opportunity to connect with your local customers, get a listing on Google Maps, and improve your brand exposure.

Today, you will learn how to create one of these pages and how you verify it. Does your business have a Google My Business, but you forgot the login? We’ll also go over how to claim ownership of this page.

How to create Google My Business page

You’ll be pleased to know that the process of creating one of these pages is incredibly straightforward and can be done in no time at all. In the following section, we’ll provide all the steps you need to follow to achieve this.

  • Step 1: Go to Google My Business and click on the green MANAGE NOW button. (It’s worth noting you need a Google Account to access Google My Business)
  • Step 2: What’s the name of your business? You will be faced with a screen that asks what the name of your business is. Here, you just have to type in the full name of your business. Make sure that it’s consistent with what you call your company on all other platforms. Click on the blue button that says Next.
Enter Google My Business Name
  • Step 3: Where are you located? On this page, you have to provide full details of your business address. You must get everything correct and accurate, as this will primarily determine where you appear on Google Maps. So, double and triple-check that the address is right! Also, if you deliver goods and services to your customers, you need to check the box with a small van symbol next to it. From here, click the blue Next button again.
Where Are You Located Google My Business
  • Step 4: Choose the category that fits your business best. This section is optional, and you can add to it later on. Essentially, you select different categories that your business fits into. This is how Google classifies your company, and it states that it helps customers find you when they’re searching for a business like yours. They’re basically the keywords associated with your company, and you can always add more later on. Click Next to continue.
Choose your Category fro Google My Business
  • Step 5: What contact details do you want to show to customers? Here, you can include as many contact details as you like. Set the phone number if you want people to see it, and you can put the URL to your website there as well. Again, make sure these details are accurate as people will use them to get in touch with you. If you don’t have a website, you can select ‘I don’t need a website’ or ‘Get a free website based on your info.’ Press the blue Next button when you’re ready.
Contact info for Google My Business
  • Step 6: Stay in the know. This screen just asks if you want to receive any communication tips from Google, select either Yes or No.
  • Step 7: Finish and verify this business. This page just tells you to press the blue Finish button and get started verifying your business.
GMB Setup Complete

How to verify Google business page

Once you’ve created your Google My Business page, you will proceed to the verification process. This is Google’s way to verify your company is legit, which will allow it to be viewed on Google Search & Maps. It also lets you promote your business with photos and posts, track analytics, and respond to customer reviews on Google.

There are multiple ways you can verify your business, with the most common one being via postal mail. Google will send out a postcard with a verification code to your address. All you have to do is click Verify Now when you see your page on Google My Business. It may take a few weeks for the postcard to reach you, but you can then click on Verify Location and enter your 5-digit code, then select Submit.

Google My Business Postcard Verification

For some businesses, you may see an option to verify your business by phone or email. This is much faster, so you should do this if the option is prompted. When you initially click Verify Now, you will see options for Verify by phone or Verify by email. Click whichever one you want, then follow the instructions, and the code will be sent to you.

How to claim Google business page

Lastly, you need to know how to claim an existing Google business page that you don’t own. If you’ve been around for a while, you may already have a page made by Google or someone else. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to claim your page.

Simply head to Google My Business, and start the same process you begin when creating a listing. Here, if your business is already there, it will appear when you type in the name. Click on the business, and you’ll see a screen that tells you someone has already claimed and verified this listing. From here, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Click Request Access and fill out the form.
  • Step 2: Select Submit, and your request will be sent to the current listing owner.
  • Step 3: Wait for a response. The listing owner has 7 days to respond, where they will either approve or deny the request. If approved, you can now log into Google My Business and manage the listing. If denied, you can appeal the denied request to try and claim back your rightful ownership. If there’s no response, then you may automatically be allowed to Claim or Verify the listing through your Google My Business dashboard.

Is Google My Business Important For SEO? 

Your Google My Business and website optimization go hand and hand with each other. Believe it or not, your Google My Business optimization is as important than your website’s since the local pack gets more visibility due to the reviews.

The better you rank in the local pack, the more business you will likely get. If you can get the most reviews out of your competitors, customers will be drawn to your business.

How Can Your Google My Business Rank Higher In The Local Pack? 

To get better ranks in Google My Business, the best bet is to follow Google’s recommendations and guidelines. Below are the main steps to follow. Let’s get started.

  1. Make sure your entire GMB is filled out with the correct information.
  2. Start getting consistent reviews.
  3. Stay on top of responding to reviews and questions asked.
  4. Get your business listed in every directory you can with accurate info.
  5. Optimize your website for speed.
  6. Markup your business data with a Schema.
  7. Embed your GMB map on your homepage.
  8. Start generating backlinks.

Filling Your Business Info Out Completely: 

Phone Number

Use a local phone number instead of an 800 number. Try not to use tracking numbers unless you really want to track how many calls are coming from your GMB. The best practice is to match the same phone number you have on your website. This match will help the quality score of your Google My Business page and is essential for NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency (we’ll get into that later).

Website

If your website isn’t already loading on https, you should make that switch as soon as possible. This makes your site secure, and Google likes secured sites. To be secure, you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate from your hosting provider. If you already have one, but your site is still loading on http, try this plugin for WordPress sites.

In your GMB, make sure your website is pointing to your homepage if you’re a single location business. If you have multiple Google My Business pages for different locations, a good practice is sending that location to a location-specific landing page.

Hours

Make sure your GMB hours are the hours your business is open. If you are closed for any holidays or other reasons throughout the year, we recommend updating your hours accordingly.

Description

Your business description is a paragraph describing your business. It can be short and sweet describing your services and your service area. Most businesses use a paragraph from their website.

Categories:

Your business categories are one of the most important parts of your GMB. If you mess this up, you’ll likely never rank for what you want to be ranking for until you fix it. Here’s a list of GMB categories.

Some businesses may only have one relevant category to choose from. Others can have several. For example, attorneys that cover a few areas of law should choose all those they do, Family Law Attorney, Law Firm, Lawyer, Elder Law Attorney, etc.

Make your primary category the one that describes you best and put all other categories as secondary. This will help you rank for all different search queries regarding the category.

Details

Regarding details, you just want to fill out the questions GMB is asking as best as you can. Things like what payments do you take and what was your opening date just further complete your profile. Fill out your business details as best you can to get as close to 100% complete as possible.

Photos

Photos are an underrated part of Google My Business. If you can consistently add fresh photos to your business page, Google will love that. If the pictures are relevant enough to describe your service, the searchers will love it too.

A before and after photo for carpet cleaners is a great idea for new photos.

You should also add your company’s logo and cover photo. Below are the recommended sizes from Google:

  • Profile image – 250 x 250 pixels (minimum 120 x 120; maximum 5200 x 5300) 
  • Cover photo – 1080 x 608 pixels (minimum 480 x 270; maximum 2120 x 1192) 

Verified

If your GMB is unverified, you should verify it as soon as possible. To do this, they usually send a postcard with a verification code to the GMB address to ensure you are really there.

If you don’t have access to your GMB, learn how to get it here.

Reviews

Reviews are the heart and soul of your GMB. Any GMB can be 100% filled out and optimized, leaving reviews to be the only differentiator.

It’s no surprise that people are attracted to the business with the most, and the best reviews. Yet again, there’s a lot of other things that go into the algorithm when using reviews as a ranking signal.

Responding to Reviews

Good or bad, you should be responding to all the customers that take the time to leave you a review. Not only will this send good signs to Google that you’re doing your job, but it will also lead to increased customer retention and winning back customers that voiced their poor experience.

Your response to reviews is also noticed by potential customers which could go a long way.

Here’s how 2 Step Reviews simplifies getting more Google Reviews.

Posts

Google My Business now has the opportunity to post updates from the business. If you have any new products or blogs you want to showcase, here would be the right place. 

We will discuss later how to create a post in your GMB.

Questions & Answers

In the QA sections of your GMB, customers can ask you questions about your business. By staying on top of them and answering questions accordingly, you should be viewed as a more quality business than those who don’t.

Optimizing Your Website For Google My Business:

Normal SEO practices are favorable to rank better in the local pack. Some of the things to pay attention to are: 

  1. Keywords
  2. Embed a map
  3. Mobile Responsiveness
  4. Local Business Schema
  5. Niche-Specific Pages
  6. Location Specific Pages
  7. Website Speed

Let’s break all of them down.

Keywords

Keywords are important to have on your website. Your best keyword is probably “[niche] + [location]”. For example, carpet cleaner Tampa, Florida.

Having this keyword on your site along with other supporting keywords will help your organic rankings as well as GMB rankings. Here’s a guide on using keywords correctly.

Embed a map

Having a map embedded of your Google My Business page will help with sending signals to Google that you’re located where you say you are. Placing this in the sidebar or footer of your website is an excellent idea to get more local relevance.

Mobile Responsive

If your site isn’t mobile responsive, it may be time to change it. More than half of your website traffic is probably coming from mobile devices, and that number is only expected to rise. It’s no surprise that Google rewards mobile responsive websites over those that aren’t.

Local Business Schema

Schema is a code embedded in the head or footer of your website. It basically marks the information shown on your site to tell Google, “This is our company name, this is our phone number, this is our address, these are our reviews” and more. Google likes schema markups, so having them will further your efforts in ranking locally.

Here’s a guide on marking up your data.

Niche Specific Pages

Having supporting pages with your sub-niches will help rank for those searches. For example, if you’re a pest control provider, you should have a page about bed bugs, fleas, and other pests that you help exterminate. These will help you when people search for “bed bug exterminator near me”.

On top of that, it’s a good idea to have a blog, and write about different topics involving the niche. How Do I Get Rid Of Bed Bugs? Can I Get Sick From Bed Bugs? How Do I Know If I Have Bed Bugs?

When Google indexes these pages, it will think OK – this site is definitely a bed bug extermination company.

Website Speed

The speed of your website is vital for all ranking desires and conversion purposes. Customers expect websites to load fast, so Google focuses on speed as a ranking factor. It may be worth the investment to hire a professional that can get your website to top speed. You can check how fast your site is on Pingdom.

Off-Page tactics to help rank your GMB higher

Local Listings

As a local service provider, you want your business to be listed in every online directory as possible. This is important not only to be found by potential customers who are using these directories to find a business but also to help your GMB rankings.

Each listing you’re in sends a link back to your website, which will help with GMB rankings as well as overall organic rankings.

Consistent NAP

To influence your rankings more with local listings, you want every data to have accurate information across the board. The most important things are your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP).

The more consistent these are, the more Google will trust your site. There have been many correlations between NAP consistency and increases in rankings. If there’s one thing you take from this post, this should be it.

Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the fundamentals of SEO. You want to generate a variety of backlinks to relevant pages on your website to increase the overall authority of your website. You can either buy backlinks from a provider or manually reach out to sites that have content that can link to your page. 

For more info on getting backlinks, check out this article on banklinko.com.

Behavioral Signals

Click-throughs become vital once you gain some traction in the local rankings. A low bounce rate combined with a high click-through rate reassures Google that your website is worthy of being one of the three local businesses featured in the local pack. Mobile also has an influence here, with features like ‘clicks-to-call’ playing a key role.

If a user takes this sort of action, it tells Google that they like what they see when they land on your website. This is why it is critical that you have marked up your content correctly so that your phone number is not static text and can instead be clicked on in order to make a call quickly and conveniently.

Creating a Google My Business Post

We discussed how GMB posts could play a role in how you rank on the local pack. Thankfully Google has made it simple to make a post. See below a step by step guide.

create a gmb post
  • Look at the left-hand side of your My Business account. You should see the “Posts” tab.
  • Click on Posts, then select the type of post you wish to use:
    • Product – Showcase a product you want people to know about
    • What’s New – Share a blog, fact, or any other simple post
    • Event – Promote an upcoming event
    • Offer – Show off a promotion you have going on
gmb post types
  • Use a high-quality image that grabs the attention of users. Google Posts image size is 750×750.
gmb post
  • Write a compelling 100-300 word description.

In this regard, writing a My Business post is just like posting on any other social feed. However, as we’ll discuss later, My Business Posts have several distinct advantages.

Uses for Google My Business Posts

There are many reasons why you might want to use My Business Posts. You can use them to draw attention to a limited time offer or sale that you’re throwing. You can use them to promote events. You can use them to showcase new products or introduce new members of your team. The possibilities are limitless. 

It shows a proactive attitude and readiness to embrace the new

Consumers don’t want to do business with brands that are set in their ways or seem resistant to change. Becoming an early adopter (even if you’re not entirely sure of your strategy yet) of My Business Posts demonstrates to consumers that you’re keen to embrace the new and take a proactive approach when it comes to engaging with your target market.

This can position you ahead of competitors who haven’t even heard of My Business Posts.

Create authentic engagement with users

Like any social platform, GMB posts give you the chance to engage meaningfully with your target audience and add a face and sense of personality to your brand. The design of posts allows for the kind of relaxed and friendly engagement that resonates with consumers and creates potentially long-lasting business relationships.

Improve SEO and drive organic traffic

Because GMB posts are relatively new, they represent a far less crowded playing field in which you can interact with consumers. This can help to drive more quality organic traffic to your website whenever you backlink through your posts. 

This, in turn, can be highly advantageous for your SEO. GMP posts can drive the kind of genuine traffic that Google values and while it won’t necessarily send your SEO skyrocketing overnight, it can definitely be a boon to your existing SEO strategy.

Helps Google to get to know your business better

Google’s practices will always be enshrouded in a certain amount of mystery. Nonetheless, the search giant seems increasingly interested in gaining a comprehensive overview of sites that its algorithms are recommending to users. 

GMB posts can afford you an opportunity to improve Google’s perception of your brand.

It can help your business to stay agile

As a new platform, GMB Posts can serve as an interesting microcosm for how users are interacting with and experiencing your brand. Because it is less crowded than other platforms, you can quickly gain a clear idea of which kinds of posts are gaining traction with users and which are not. This means that you can respond in a faster and more agile way to maximize user engagement and remove barriers between the consumer and your brand.

Consumers trust Google

Because Google is Google, there’s a degree of trust inherent in GMB Posts which you can piggyback upon. It provides users with a known, reliable means through which they can have a meaningful relationship with your brand, even if they’re not interacting with you on other platforms.

With all this in mind, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start experimenting with Google My Business Posts. They’re quick and easy to post and you can start formulating and implementing a strategy right now.

What Is NAP?

As discussed above, NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Having few errors in your business’s NAP across the web will help you establish trust from Google.

These three pieces of information are essential to companies of all sizes, though a lot of business owners don’t realize quite how important these areas are on the web.

NAP for SEO

When your name, address, and phone number are displayed correctly across all your business listings and website, it establishes trust from Google.

Maintaining trust with Google and not coming across as spammy is what gets you rewarded with higher rankings.

Why is NAP Important to Google?

Name

A business name is vital for many reasons. For one, it helps customers to share information about you, giving them the chance to identify you accurately. Along with this, it also enables people to make sure that they are reading the right information when they’re trying to get in contact, as people are far better at remembering names than addresses or phone numbers.

This is something that needs to remain consistent across all of the platforms you appear on, with a company called “Big Star Citytown,” for example, shooting themselves in the foot if they use their full name on social media but call themselves BSC on Google.

Address

While an address is already essential for a business, giving them the chance to direct the customer to the right place, it is also crucial when you’re targeting local users. This is the first piece of information that will be used to help you rank locally.

Nowadays, whenever you’re adding an address to a website, you will usually have a Google Maps form to fill in to make it automatic. If you fail to include your business name in the address, it won’t show up, and this is an easy way to find yourself struggling in searches.

Phone Number

While emails have been around for a very long time, customers will still prefer to talk to businesses by phone. The approach you take with this has to be balanced with the company you run.

For example, if you are operating purely locally, having a local phone number will make a lot of sense, and you can use the one which is tied to your building.

Alternatively, you could consider the idea of a business phone number if you’d prefer to reach out to the customers who are both local and further away. Failing to keep this piece of information up to date can lead to customers trying to call the wrong line.

There are a lot of important reasons to keep online information regarding your business up to date. It’s easy to overlook this area, though, especially when you have a lot of work on your hands, and a lot of companies struggle here.

There are several services around the web which can search around for you, finding mismatches which could be causing issues.

Imagine receiving poor reviews because you’ve kept your company’s old address and customers think that you’re the one who has taken over the building. This sort of issue is entirely avoidable.

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