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Digital Marketing

Google My Business: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide (2021)

Google My Business has been a big part of the local business community, used by businesses both big and small. This powerful tool makes it easy to get your business information in front of customers that use Google search to do their product and service research.

The best part? It’s free!

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about Google My Business, like how to:

  • Set up, verify, and claim your listing
  • Optimize your GMB profile
  • Monitor your listing insights
Table Of Contents

What is Google My Business?

Whether you’re a business that sells physical products or one that sells local services, Google My Business (GMB) offers huge benefits to any business that operates locally. In order to qualify, you must have a physical location or deliver services to the surrounding area.

GMB lets you set up a business profile, which appears on the search results page for a specific search term or in the results on Google Maps.

Your GMB listing displays all kinds of business information—your website, location, hours of operation, user reviews, products and services, deals and discounts (if you choose to list those), and more.

Allowing customers to get all this information from a convenient listing when they perform a search is a great way to get their attention and tell them more about your business.

You might already have a profile for your business—Google pulls information from other local directories and just about anyone can create a listing. However, you won’t have the ability to manage that information until you set up a GMB profile, claim the listing, and verify your business, which we’ll cover later in the article.

Why is Google My Business Important for Your Business?

Listing your business or organization on GMB is important (and easy!). 46% of all Google searches are local, so you’re only missing out on free traffic if your business isn’t listed here. The traffic you’ll get is likely to be converted to paid customers or buyers.

Here are just a few of the benefits of having a Google My Business listing:

  • Over 50% of consumers search for local businesses online and 75% of them on Google. If you haven’t verified your GMB listing, there’s a good chance that you’re not showing up when customers are searching for the products and services that you provide.
  • GMB is home to some of the most powerful and free online advertising available. Close to 85% of people trust online reviews as much as they would trust recommendations from friends and family.
  • You might think customers will call you if they need directions to your business. But over 50% of searchers will look you up online or use their smartphones and apps like Google Maps.
  • Gain insights about your customers such as how many people are visiting your site or how many users are finding you on Google.
  • All eyes are on your listing—this eye-tracking data from Moz shows that people tend to look more at listings than they do the regular search results, even when they’re not at the top of the page.

How to Setup Google My Business

1. Create a new Google account

First, you need a Google account. You can simply sign up for a Google account by filling in your basic information which includes your name, username for your email ID, and a password. 

In some cases, you may also be required to give a phone number for verification purposes. You can simply sign up for your Google account by clicking here.

2. Go to business.google.com

After setting up your Google account, you need to go to business.google.com. It will require you to sign in which can be done using your Google account.

3. Enter your business information

After sign-in, it will ask you to fill in the basic information about your business or company which includes business name, location, service area, a category that fits your business, and contact details.

4. Complete your Google My Business verification

After completing your business information, the last step is to complete the Google my business verification.

This usually involves either getting a phone call (if you have a number that Google already associates with your business) or waiting on a postcard in the mail with a verification code. Typically, Google won’t be able to verify with your phone number, especially if you’re a new business or don’t have much of a search presence.

It’s mandatory to complete this step as only legitimate businesses can only do a listing of their business on Google and spam or false information is strictly prohibited. After doing this, you will be able to access Google my business dashboard.

How to Verify Your Google My Business Account

1. Sign in to your Google My Business

For verification purposes, you need to sign into GMB with your Google account. (You’ll need to create one if you haven’t already.)

2. Select the business you want to verify

Choose the business in the GMB dashboard for which you need to do the verification process. Without doing the verification, the business won’t appear in Google including Maps and search engine.

3. Enter your address in the postcard request screen

Next, enter the address in the postcard request screen to receive the code for verification purposes.

4.  Verify your location

Confirm the location where you want to receive the postcard. Double-check the address you entered in the postcard request screen is correct.

5. Enter the 5 digit verification from your postcard

When you receive your postcard at the address you provided, it will contain a 5-digit code for verification. From the menu on your GMB dashboard, click Verify Now and follow the prompt to enter the verification code. After entering the code, the verification is completed.

How to Claim Your Business

1. Open Google Maps

Go to business.google.com and click on the ‘manage now’ button. Then, sign in to your Google account. You’ll be asked to search for your business on the Google map.

2. Search for your business name

Search for your company or the organization name on the Google map. If any of your search choices match your business information, you can easily begin the process of claiming that business by simply clicking on it.

Then, check to see if the business owner link appears. If the link appears, then the business isn’t claimed and you need to claim your business.

3. Claim your business

To claim, you need to first confirm that you’re authorized to manage it and agree to Google My Business terms of service. You will then see the option to request verification. Just like the process for adding a business to Google, if there are any edits you’d like to make to your business information, you need to click the option to continue and verify later.

If someone has already claimed and verified your business, you’ll receive a pop-up notification asking you to request management rights.

4. Verify your business ownership 

Once completed, you have successfully claimed your business on Google My Business. Please remember to sign in with all of your different Google accounts to see if any of them are the business owner on Google. 

Each business can only have one owner per location, so you won’t be able to duplicate your business if someone else has already verified it.

Complete guide on how to use google my business. Learn how to set up and create a Google My Business page for your company or business.

How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

It’s important to optimize your listing if you want to appear higher in the search results. Your business profile on Google My Business helps you connect and engage with potential new customers. 

Here are a few tips for making the most of your listing.

1. Provide information as much as possible in your Google My Business profile.

Once you create and verify your profile on Google My Business, it’s important to provide current and accurate information. This includes name, logo, address, phone number, and other business details

You’ll also want to provide photos and hours of operation. Having complete and accurate information makes it easy for potential customers to learn more about your business.

The most important part of your GMB listing is how it categorizes your business. You’ll want to make sure that the first category you select is the most accurate because this drastically affects your ranking.

You’ll also want to choose the most specific category for your primary category. For instance, a full-service salon can choose “salon,” but if you only offer nail services, you’ll want to choose “nail salon.” (This can be changed if you decide to expand your offerings later!)

You can add up to three categories to describe your business, but the first is the most important. If you have other things that describe your business beyond that first category, you’ll want to make use of the other two.

Adding products and services can also help you appear in the search results when customers are looking for specific products and services. Make sure to keep this up to date when you expand your offerings.

2. Make it easy for customers to reach you.

In addition to having up-to-date contact information, you also have the option to activate instant messaging for Google My Business. This allows customers to message you right from the search results page. You can respond to these messages from a convenient mobile app.

3. Regularly update and improve your profile.

Adding eye-catching images to your business profile can help grab the attention of online customers. You can add photos yourself, but you’ll also want to encourage customers to add their own photos. (This works particularly well with restaurants and cafes!)

Make it a point to keep customers updated by creating posts on your GMB profile. These could be about recent updates, deals, or even giving your customers a look at things behind the scenes.

Always keep up with your hours—one of the most frustrating things for customers is being misled by out-of-date hours. We’ve all been there: you show up to a business after looking up their hours on Google, only to find that they’re closed.

4. Make full use of specific features under various categories.

Remember how we talked about the importance of choosing a specific primary category?

Not only does it impact your ranking, but it gives you access to specific features. For instance, restaurants have the option to add menus or a link to place a delivery order. Other businesses have the option to add booking buttons to their profile.

(Note: We commonly get questions about restaurant reservations. This isn’t a GMB feature, but a service Google offers through partners that can appear on your GMB. More information on that here.)

5. Encourage customer reviews for specific services.

It’s important to encourage customers to leave reviews for your business, especially if you’re looking to focus on featured products and services. This way, people searching for specific services will be able to find relevant reviews that tell them more about exactly what they’re looking for.

Don’t forget to respond! Whether reviews are positive or negative, you’ll want to let customers know you’re listening to them. If a review is negative, you’ll want to see if it’s something you can address. With a little work, you can turn negative reviews into positive customer experiences (and hopefully, a higher rating).

Monitoring Your Google My Business Insights

Monitoring trends of your customers through GMB insights can help you make decisions based on your customers’ actions. You can monitor insights like:

  • Metrics regarding the direct vs discovery searches. You can tell how many customers were able to land on your profile directly or found you organically through Google search.
  • Search vs map views, and historical searches/views by date
  • Comparisons of recent trends with previous periods so that you can monitor for major changes or events within your marketplace
  • Measures of customer engagements such as website clicks, requests for directions, and phone calls
  • Phone call tracking by date or hour to optimize future campaigns and identify rank gains or loss in Google maps

Summary

Getting started with Google My Business can be a little overwhelming with all the features and optimizations you need to make. But once you get to know this powerful tool a little better, you can use it to drive targeted foot traffic or get more phone calls, bookings, and other reservations.

In general, this free tool has become the most widely used listing for businesses. It continues to deliver amazing value at no cost, save for a little time to set up and maintain.

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you below. Let us know about your favorite GMB features if you’re a regular user, or ask your questions if you want to know more about its features!

By Kevin Frei

Kevin Frei is an entrepreneur, paid media specialist, and intermittent nomad from Arizona. Ethical Digital is his third startup after GoMusicals.com and an online traffic school company. An avid traveler and economics hobbyist, Kevin's goal is to revolutionize the way service companies are organized so that more people can achieve the dream of professional (and locational) independence.

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