How to Use Google My Business

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Amy Geldean

Use Google My Business to Gain More Website Traffic and Generate Sales

No matter how good your product or service is, you’ll never be able to compete if you aren’t found on Google. In this day and age, if you’re not found online, you’re invisible. 

If you have a local store and want to get more customers, you need to be a part of Google My Business. It’s free and will help you so much with traffic that you’ll wonder what you did without it. 

So, what is Google My Business, and how can it help my business?

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free tool that local businesses can use to increase traffic to their store through search queries and Google Maps. It’s similar to business listings in Yelp but is done directly through Google, so there are no third parties to deal with. So, it’s a bit like a business page done through Google.

It is not just a business listing, though. Google My Business has grown into an integral part of local store Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short.

Benefits of Google My Business

So many small and local businesses don’t use Google My Business, either because it seems like a waste of time or they don’t know it exists. Because of that, they’re missing out on so much. 

While it can be a bit complicated to set up, the rewards far outweigh the headaches that setting it up can cause. Your visibility will be higher, and you’ll get more eyes on your store through organic searches and so much more.

Not only that, but the GMB dashboard comes with insights to help you with marketing, such as views, search queries, engagement, audience, and how many clicks you’re getting to your website through Google Maps.

Some benefits of Google My Business:

  • Highly visible
  • Reviews increase sales and improve local SEO
  • More appealing the higher star rating you have
  • The Google My Business tool gives powerful marketing insights

What Do You Need to Qualify for a Google My Business Listing?

You need just a couple of things to claim your store and start getting all the benefits from more eyes on your site. The main one is having an employee able to interact with customers during the regular business hours you will list.

You’ll also require a physical location if you aren’t running a service-based business. A service-based business is a business where the company provides a service, such as plumbers, freelance writers, cleaners, electricians, that sort of thing. If you sell physical products to people, you will need a store location that a customer can visit.

Where Do Online Listings Show Up?

Online listings for Google My Business are primarily in two different places. One is obviously Google Maps. So when a prospective customer Google searches locations or is just scrolling around the Map app looking for something close by, businesses will pop up. Likewise, if you have GMB for your store, it’ll show up there, too.

The other one is the Google Knowledge Panel. On desktops, it’s the extra bit of information on the right-hand side of your screen when the Google search result pages come up. If you’re on mobile, it will be near the top of the screen.

How to Set Up Google My Business

It might seem confusing, but setting up Google My Business isn’t that hard to do. It just takes a bit of time and patience.

1. Create a Google Account

The first thing you want to do is create a Google business account, or log in if you already have one. Once you’ve created your business account, you’ll want to go to your GMB dashboard and set up your business so it gets seen on Google.

2. Enter Your Business Info

GMB will ask you for basic info, such as your business name and your store’s physical location.

You’ll want to check and make sure your business isn’t already in the system by checking your business name against the GMB database. If you share a name with another company, that will pop up, so be aware of that. If nothing comes up, you’ll want to add your business to the database.

You’ll only need to put down a physical location if you interact face-to-face with your customers. Those who do all their business online or have online clients won’t need to put in a physical location.

You’ll then be asked a bit about your business, such as if it’s a service-based business or not, or if you receive customers at your store location.

3. Service Area

If you’re in a service industry or do delivery, you’ll need to specify the area you operate in. It’s preferable to select your service area by region or zip codes rather than a distance around your store location, as Google has been slowly phasing out the distance option.

If you don’t have a service-based business or don’t do delivery, there won’t be any need to put in a service area.

4. Select a Business Category

Your business category is a significant step as it shows up on your Google My Business listing but isn’t permanent, so you can change it up to see if you get more people into your store or not. The downside to changing it up at a later date is that you will have to re-verify again. We’ll talk more about that in just a bit.

Research your competition and look through the entire list, which is almost 3,000 selections long, before selecting the one that’s best for your business now. There are perks for nearly every category to help make getting potential clients and customers.

The food and beverage category allows you to put different URLs for delivery or reservations and add a menu directly to the Google My Business listing. You can add a booking button if you run a service-based business, while hotel listings can list amenities. The list goes on and on.

5. Add Business Phone Number and Website URL

Once you’ve done everything above, you’ll get to add your website URL and business phone number. They aren’t required but are strongly encouraged to gain the most out of Google My Business. In addition, you’ll get call tracking and website click-through insights once you’ve added these to your listing.

If you don’t have a website but want one, you can get a free website designed by Google to act as a stand-in until you get one uniquely your own.

6. Add Your Business Description and Attributes

Your description and attributes are a vital part of your listing. This tells people a quick overview of what your business is all about. It will also help search results if people search for general terms, like a coffee shop in Chicago.

That doesn’t mean you should stuff keywords into your description. In fact, in 2016, Google started using attributes instead to stop this from happening. Instead, you want your description to sound natural and like a real person wrote it instead of some SEO AI.

Attributes will be things like your hours, your menu if you own a restaurant, your website, things like that.

7. Verify Your Business

The next step is to verify that your business is where you say it is. For new GMB listings, you have three options for verification.

Postcard Verification

This is the one used the most and is available for all stores and businesses. Google will send you a postcard to the address you gave Google My Business. It should arrive within five days. All you need to do once it gets to you is enter the code that’s on the postcard into the GMB dashboard to verify your business. 

If you don’t receive your postcard within five business days, go ahead and request a new one.

Phone Verification

Phone verifications aren’t as typical, but you’ll see the phone verification method listed at the beginning of the verification process if you qualify for it. Much like the postcard, but more instantaneous, you’ll be given a code from an automated system to plug into your GMB dashboard.

Email Verification

This one is also only available for some businesses and works just like the phone verification method, except with email. Make sure you have access to the business email you entered before proceeding with this option.

Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing

Now that the basics are all set up and you’re almost officially out on the web, if you’re still waiting for postcard verification, it’s time to optimize your content through natural-looking digital marketing. Of course, you want to reach as many people as possible to make that money. This is where all the fine-tuning comes into play.

Pictures

A picture says a thousand words. In fact, it says so much that photos can double the number of people that consider your business reputable. Those businesses that are considered more reputable will obviously get more clicks, views, and visits.

Google My Business gives you three different places you can use visuals to attract others. Your profile pic, cover photo, and video of your store are the perfect places to highlight everything you love about your business.

You can even use photos that other people take of your business by tagging them as part of your store. If you keep letting your customers know that you’d love them taking pictures of your store, you’ll soon have a gallery full of photos people took.

The inside of your store is a great start when taking photos, but there are other picture opportunities that you won’t want to miss.

  • Exterior photos
  • Product photos
  • Photos of you or your employees working
  • Team photos
  • Pictures of happy customers – with their consent

Reviews

Asking for reviews and then responding to them is an excellent way for Google’s algorithm to take notice and increase your local SEO ranking. It also increases your online presence and shows that you’re active within your community.

A good Google review can also equal more sales, and the more good reviews you have, the better your local business will be. Everybody loves a second opinion, and if you have a ton of good second opinions, people are more likely to become a customer.

That’s not to say bad reviews are this awful, horrible thing that you should try to sweep under the rug. On the contrary, bad reviews are a great opportunity to show you reaching out and trying to correct the situation. It shows you’re willing to listen and change things to make it a better place for potential customers.

It’s also encouraged that you ask for an online review from your customers so you can respond to them. If you have their email, just send a quick email with your GMB profile in it and ask for reviews.

Once they start coming in, you need to respond to all of them. No matter the content, you need to have something to say to every review, even if it’s thanks for stopping by.

Share Business Updates Through Online Posts

You can share a mini Google post between 100 and 300 words just to let people know what’s going on with your business. Of course, you’ll have to wait until after you’re verified to start writing posts, but nothing says you can’t be ahead of the curve and have something ready to go after you get verified.

These mini-posts also allow you to add another photo to your business profile, gaining you more traction. This can be anything that has to do with your business, from announcements and updates to just awesome stuff you’ve managed to catch going on in your business.

Along with photos, you can add a button to solidify your call-to-action or CTA, and this can be things like learn more, buy now, get your offer and similar things of that nature.

If you use a button, only the first 60 to 70 characters of your post will show up, so make them count.

When creating posts for your GMB account, always speak directly to your audience in plain language. If an 11-year-old has to ask you to explain things to them, you’re using too much jargon. If you don’t have a kid around, the Hemingway App can help you make sure you’re hitting that 5th or 6th-grade reading level.

Use Google My Business Insights to Track Your Funnel

If you know anything about business online, through social media, or your website, you’ll know that it is vital to your digital marketing strategy to know where your views and clicks are coming from.

Equally as important is knowing where people tend to stop or get stuck when it comes to turning a potential customer into a buyer.

Google My Business Insights can show you:

  • If you’re being found directly or through discovery searches – Starbucks vs. coffee shops
  • If your customers are finding you in search results or via Google Maps
  • If your customers are clicking on your website, browsing your gallery, or even calling you
  • Where your customer lives in a general sense

All this info can help you understand your customers’ sales path and provides an in-depth understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes before they reach your website. It will also help you optimize that path to guide them into becoming your customer or client.

Wrapping it Up

Creating a Google Business profile is essential if you are a business owner with a local brick-and-mortar store. It not only helps get in more customers, but it also helps you plan your marketing path when it comes to online growth as well. No matter what, if you have a business location, you should have Google My Business.

Need Help in Optimizing your Google My Business Profile?

We are here to help. Call us at (760) 814-1001 or schedule a time to talk. We offer free consultations. We can go over how your Google My Business profile fits into your overall marketing strategy.

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