What is Google My Business (GMB)?
Before we get into what the GMB is, let's look at how people search.
Whether you prefer using Google as your primary search engine or something else, the bottom line is that most users use Google. They own 93% of the search market between all their properties. Therefore, since Google owns most of the search market, you have to play in their sandbox and by their rules. This is where Google My Business comes in.
GMB lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps, and it is FREE! Google My Business includes the ability to add your business name, hours, location, ability to monitor and reply to customer reviews. You can also add photos and learn where and how people are searching for you.
According to SMA Marketing, "49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 average Search views of their GMB listing per month, and 33% receive 1,000+ views on (Google) Maps." The Small Business Blog by Google says nearly 4 out of 5 people are turning to search engines to find local information.
Is there any reason why you shouldn't see Google and the GMB as the home page to your business? When people search for a service or product, Google does the best job it can to show the service or product nearest to them. The reason being nearly 50% of all Google searches are looking for local information. And almost 9 times out of 10 searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
Hopefully, it should be evident by now that it's imperative to have the correct information about your business show up when people search Google. Simply making sure it is accurate, complete, and as optimized as possible can go a long way.
Why Google My Business is the keystone
The short answer is Google uses the GMB in its local ranking, including relevance, distance, and prominence. It combines these, and now you have a peek into what makes Google and its algorithms work so well.
Ultimately, Google wants to provide the best answer for the searcher also called searcher intent. For example, You have two competing business, we will call them Grover Near and Monster Far. Google may think that “Monster Far” which is farther a way from you, the searcher, is more likely to have what they are looking for than “Grovers Near” which is much closer. Since Google wants to provide the best local result they will show Monster Far higher in the ranking than Gorovers Near.
How to use GMB as the keystone
There are six things you need to focus on with your Google My Business
- Create an account and claim your business
- Verify your business
- Optimize your listing
- Periodically check your listing
- Check and respond to reviews
- Use Google My Business Posts
Create an account and claim your business
The first thing you need to do is to create your business account and claim the listing. As of this writing, GMB is entirely free to use. The only requirement for using it is that you must have some face-to-face interaction with your customers. Sorry your online Etsy shop doesn’t count.
Be sure to search for your business on Google. There is a high likelihood that there may be a listing already created. Hopefully, it is unclaimed. If the listing is claimed by someone other than you, an authorized employee, or an authorized business helping you to manage your listing, then it can be a little harder. Feel free to reach out to us and see if we can help you!
To register you will need a Gmail account. If you are using G-Suite for Business, then you have an email address you can use already! Alternatively, you will need to set one up. We recommend setting up one that is close to your business name as possible. This isn't a time to get creative and use RememberWalkingInTheSand at gmail.com. Also, Google will sometimes email you about a potential change to your GMB, make sure it is an email you check and not a "burner" address.
Create or Claim a Google My Business Listing
- Step 1: Log into the Google Account you want associated with your business.
- Step 2: Go to google.com/business and select "Start now" in the top right-hand corner.
- Step 3: Enter your business name.
- Step 4: Enter your business address.
- Step 5: If you go to your customers' locations, rather than having them come to you, check the box, "I deliver goods and services to my customers." And if you work out of your house or another address you don't want publicly shown, Check "Hide my address (it's not a store) Only show region." Finally, select your Delivery area.
- Step 6: Choose your business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible -- you're essentially telling Google which type of customers should see your business listing.
- Step 7: Add your business phone number or website.
- Step 8: Choose a verification option. If you're not ready to verify your business yet, click "Try a different method" → "Later."
Verify your business
There are several ways to verify your GMB listing:
- By postcard
- By phone
- By email
- Instant verification
- Step 1: If you aren't already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify.
- Step 2: Make sure your business address is correct.
- Step 3: Click "Mail." The postcard should reach you in three to seven days -- make sure you don't edit your business name, address, or category (or request a new code) before it comes, because this could delay the process.
- Step 4: Watch for the "postcard." I often tell clients that it may look like junk mail, and will have the tear-offs like a mailed check. For some clients, I have had to resend the postcard three times because they thought it was junk mail. Be diligent on watching for it!
- Step 4.5: Once you've gotten the postcard, log into Google My Business, and select "Verify now." If you have more than one business location, contact us, and we will be glad to help you.
- Step 5: In the Code field, enter the five-digit verification code on your postcard. Click "Submit."
Google lets some businesses verify their location by phone, email, or instantly. Personally, I wouldn’t hold my breath for any of these options.
Optimize your listing
Now that your business has been verified, you can finish up the profile.
You will need to go to the Google My Business dashboard, click the listing you'd like to work on, select "Info," and then choose a section to fill out or update.
You will want to add as much information as you can here, including a profile photo. This should be your business logo, not your personal profile picture from Facebook or Linked In unless you are a personal trainer, its best to keep the beach bod to your own profiles.
You also want to add as much information as you can about the business itself, such as the areas you serve, phone numbers, and website address.
Remember, this is the keystone to the gateway to your business, take the time to make sure it is 100% correct.
Periodically check your listing
It is also a good idea to regularly check that everything is correct. Google will sometimes email you about a potential change. Be sure to check those if you get them.
Remember that disgruntled employee you had 5 years ago, well they can "suggest an edit" to your listing. Actually, anyone can suggest one, therefore it is essential to get everything right the first time. you will also want to log into your account and check the GMB dashboard to be sure everything looks correct.
Check and respond to reviews
One of the most significant benefits of the GMB other than it contains all the basic information is the ability for users to see social proof (reviews) about your business. According to Bright Local, "90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business."
If you want to encourage people to visit your business or use your services, then the best thing you can do is respond to both positive and negative reviews.
One of the best ways to encourage future customers to leave positive reviews? Respond to current ones. You may say, but I already got a positive review. Why should I respond?
For one, many business owners don't respond to reviews. By merely responding, you are already doing more than most, score 1 for you! Besides responding to reviews, the review itself becomes an excellent opportunity to engage with your clientele.
A study by Harvard Business School found that responding to reviews correlated with a higher overall star rating. People appreciate engagement, and we all know a simple "thank you," "your welcome" or "my pleasure" can go a long way.
Google has even confirmed that responding to reviews helps your business's search ranking. They also tell you on the support page for Google My Business to "interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business."
Responding to reviews shouldn't be a difficult task for most small businesses. However, you shouldn't think you can just block out a Friday to respond to all the reviews you got that week. Birdeye says, "most customers expect customers to respond to reviews within 24 hours." If that review happens to be negative, then you lost your window to turn the negative into a positive.
Also, your prospects care about the number of reviews you have, more than you may think. The average consumer reads ten online reviews before making a purchase decision. And nearly 3 out of 5 consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating. Purchase likelihood peaks when the average star rating of a product is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars on a 5-star scale. From Reviews to Revenue: How Star Ratings and Review Content Influence Purchase.
If you need some help with responding to reviews, Adam has a great post about it here. We also offer this as part of our services, contact us to see if it's a good fit for your business.
Use Google My Business Posts
A Google Post of GB Post is similar to what you may be more accustomed to on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. It merely is content that promotes your business, such as an announcement, offer, event, or product update. Depending on the nature of your customers' search query and your content, your Google Post will either show up on Google's search or map results.
To make sure your business is publishing content often as there is a seven-day life span on each of your posts.
If you would like some tips and tricks on how to craft your Google Posts, then Hubspot has a great post on the topic.
Hopefully, this helps you break through the noise and distractions and ultimately better understand what Google My Business is and how it is truly the keystone to your online presence and may even be the first gate to your brick and mortar business.
If you find yourself being overwhelmed and in need of help, feel free to contact us and we will be glad to help you better understand your content strategy and how Google My Business is the keystone to everything on the world wide web.