Google My Business Listing: A Step-by-Step Guide for Optimization
Having faced SEO for the first time, many business owners fear that it is something extremely expensive. There is no reason to fret. In SEO, there are plenty of available and simple tools that are able to help you. All you will need is to pay attention and put in some effort. An example of a helpful tool is Google My Business that is particularly useful for local businesses. This is a free tool that manages the display of a company on search systems, maps, and other Google services. It is also possible to tag the location of a company on Google Maps and get feedback from satisfied customers that will influence your search rating in the future.
If you are a local business owner, people can find your company on Google Maps and it will appear in the search results by local requests. You can read more information about the importance of local business in the article Local SEO Checklist 2020.
If a user will search for a tattoo studio in Brooklyn, Google will offer the list of the nearby tattoo parlors.
Drawn upon the rating, customers’ feedback, company information, and other data, users will be able to choose what exactly they need.
Research from the American company Nectafy shows that 88% of users with local search queries choose a company based on Google recommendations and come to make a purchase/order a service on the same day.
That is why the owners of local businesses should work hard to optimize the GMB listing in order to avoid losing potential customers.
Begin with Installation
It is necessary to submit an application and verify Google My Business listing. To do this, open the service webpage and press Start Now in the upper right corner.
Enter all the data Google needs from you such as company name, the field of activity, address, phone number, website, services you provide, and opening hours. Try to provide full and exact data because this will give users the possibility to find you faster.
Pay particular attention to the correct choice of business category. The category helps Google identify which local search requests can be assigned to you. You will have to choose between the categories provided by Google. Unfortunately, there is no option to create one’s own category. If you think that any of the provided categories doesn’t define the specifics of your business, choose the category most related to your field of activity.
The definition of category plays a crucial role in the improvement of results in the SERP. That is why you should be attentive. For example, there is a difference between a clothes store and a kids’ clothes store. Make your choice wisely.
There are several ways of verifying your local business listing. In the majority of cases, this is carried out by mail: you receive the card with verification code to the address you have entered earlier.
Does Google call you about your business listing? Yes, in some cases, verification with the help of the phone, email, or Search Console is expected. You can read more information here.
As a rule, the complete process takes around 14 days, but the card may arrive earlier or later than planned.
Where Will Your Google Business Listing Be Displayed?
At the top of search results, there is the section of business ads by a search request.
Right below this section, there is a Local Pack. This is the first place where you can find your company. In Local Pack, three organizations with the best ratings and feedback are displayed. Your main goal is to be in this trio.
Right below the top three, there is the button labeled More Places. By clicking on it, you will see an expanded list of companies by request. This is the second place where you will most likely find your company.
Under Local Pack, there are organic search results where sites compete for the place in the rating, not on Google lists.
Structure of GMB Page
The toolbar of your page will look as follows:
When a section is highlighted in blue, it means that it is active and you are now viewing it.
Let’s examine every section.
In this tab, there is the view of your page. From here, you can easily switch to other sections and quickly update some functions. It is also possible to create posts and add photos in the Home tab.
We will tell you about the posts’ creation further in the article.
Here it is possible to update and add information about the business. If you add a region/district where your business provides services, this information should be added to Service Areas. Also, in the Info section, the address and category of business are indicated. Here, it is possible to modify opening hours and add the working schedule on holidays.
In this section, there is a survey of analytics for your GMB page. Open this section to check statistics on how users find you: by entering the name of your company or by search request of a good/service they need.
Also, it is possible to check the list of requests that have been used to find your business. This is very important because the knowledge you get can be further used for the formation of keywords and phrases. You can read more information about the matter in the article on How to Do Keyword Research.
The next important function is the division of listings in Google Search and Google Maps where customers’ actions can be traced. Analyze the level of users’ interaction with your page such as messages, calls, and visits to the site. Compare this to the general analytics in order to carry out quality optimization in the future. Read more information in the article Guide to Google Analytics.
In this section, users can leave feedback about their visit to a place and rank. We will talk further in the article about the optimization of this section.
This function allows potential users to contact you directly through a business profile.
In this section, it is possible to upload different types of images from your company. If possible, upload everything recommended by Google.
Depending on what you are doing, Google provides the possibility to choose categories of products or services that you provide.
In the section Services, you can choose the service you provide to customers from the list. If it is not available on the list, you can create your own.
In the section Products, it is possible to add to the collection of certain products and create a section with subcategories such as products. Here, you can also add their brief descriptions and pictures.
If you want to create a site for your company quickly and cost-effectively, Google provides this possibility as well. Of course, it won’t be a full-featured website and you won’t be able to implement your marketing strategies on it. However, this can become a solution for a certain time to ensure your online presence.
Edits and Updates
If a company plans to change an address, specify the zone of servicing, add a service, update the system, or correct the wrong information about the business, it is necessary to use the section Edits and Updates. Depending on the type of changes you make, the process of information update can take from several hours to several days.
Optimize Images: Choose Quality and Attractive Photos in a Good Resolution. Create a Video and 3D Tour
Visual information has always been attractive to users because it is easier perceived and better remembered. Besides, photos give a clear understanding of what to expect from a product or service. Google recommends choosing images that will help users identify your business such as a company logo and a picture of a product/service.
You can invite a professional photographer who will create the company portfolio, take pictures on your own by a smartphone, or ask for a picture of your product/service found by a hashtag on Instagram on an owner’s account.
It is also worth paying attention to all the Google requirements to format and list characteristics of images:
Format: JPG/ PNG.
Size: from 10 KB up to 5 MB.
Recommended resolution: length 720 px, width 720 px.
Minimum resolution: length 250 px, width 250 px.
Quality: an image should be in a good focus, without filters and Photoshop, and be as close to reality as possible.
Read more information in the article SEO Images.
Also, Google provides the possibility to upload a 30-seconds video about the company that can attract users’ attention.
To upload a video, go to Google My Business dashboard. In the graph Overview, press the button Add Video and upload the file. As a rule, it takes several minutes but Google indicates that the waiting time is up to 24 hours.
Pay attention that there are also certain requirements for videos:
Duration: up to 30 seconds
Size: up to 100 MB
Resolution: from 720p
To make a positive impression and interest your potential clients, you can create a 3D-tour over the enterprise.
Check the Correctness of Indicated Information and Its Relevance to the Site Data
As we have mentioned earlier, the exactness of information indicated in a business profile plays a huge role in the exactness of search results. Make sure that data provided on your website, in catalogs, as well as on other resources coincide. Even the slightest details matter such as shortenings and abbreviations. If you use shortening in the address on the site, the same way of writing should be kept any time you mention the address. Enter information about the company in the maximum number of local directories and catalogs. This will improve your positions in the listing.
Use the Landline Phone Number
The company phone number should coincide on every resource where you mention it. Aside from this, we recommend using the landline phone number. This will serve as an additional signal to Google that this company is really representing the local business. Users in your region can also give preference to the landline number.
Pay a Particular Attention to Clients’ Feedback
Another important component of promotion to the top of the GMB listing is feedback. Google defines your rating based on rankings and feedback from users. The number of comments and ratings are located right below the company name. One can read the feedback by clicking on the number of comments.
You can ask your clients to leave comments about your company following the rules stipulated in Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews.
Feedback is also very important for local SEO because it can considerably influence the rating in the search results. According to the research conducted by BrightLocal in 2014, 88% of people trust online feedback and rely on it while making a decision in the same way as they trust recommendations from people around them.
The result of successful work with comments is the building of trust-based relationships between you and your users. It is also based on the company’s trustworthiness in the eyes of the other potential customers. That is why it is so important to pay attention to negative comments.
Any negative comment cannot be left without your attention. Reply to them and try to find out what exactly has spoiled the impression of your company. Try to bounce back in a polite manner if you have been wrong. In other situations, clarify the situation. As an excuse, you can offer a dissatisfied client a pleasant bonus that can make up for the negative experience of interaction with your company. For example, offer a free meal so one can choose the next time this person visits your restaurant. This can be offered if a visitor has complained about a long order wait time.
If a comment is not true-to-life, written by competitors or bots to reduce your rating intentionally (unfortunately, this happens quite often), make a request to Google asking to delete this comment.
You can tag a comment with “the content is inappropriate” in such cases:
- This is spam or comment is written by a fake user.
- The comment is off the topic and has nothing to do with you.
- This comment calls upon terrorist actions, is hostile, can be treated as a threat, or conceals sexual content.
More information can be found here.
It will take some time for Google to consider this request. And if your complaint is rightful, this comment will be deleted.
Optimize Descriptions with the Use of Keywords
The next method of supporting and improving the company pages is the optimization of descriptions of all the sections with the use of trending and thematic keywords and phrases. Check the section Info and others that contain information about your company. Check the presence and correctness of keywords embedding. Do not forget about the necessity to optimize the Title and Description meta tags on your site. Among the other factors, they influence the position in the search results. You can find more information on the matter in the article about How to Create Search Engine Friendly Title Tags and How to Build a Nice Meta Description.
Use Google My Business Posts
This is a relatively new tool that appeared in 2016 presented by Google. It gives the possibility to publish your posts directly from the GMB dashboard. Google Post comprises the text (up to 300 symbols), an image, and a call-to-action button. Due to such posts, you can directly engage the audience, and Google will connect your company with the semantics you are interested in.
On the dashboard, section Posts is located in the upper left corner. Create posts related to a certain event: a party in your establishment, the launch of the new product line, starting of home delivery service, and the availability of special offers. Use beautiful and attractive photos and do not forget that every post can be finished with a call-to-action button.
After you press Create Post, Google will suggest different post categories to you. There are four in total:
What’s New: This category is suitable for absolutely all the news related to the recent company events. Probably, you want to tell users about a new employee, make plans for the nearest future, or share changes in the working schedule.
Event: This category is intended for information about a planned event. If you are going to throw a party in the near future, why not tell this to potential guests?
Offer: Post information about special discounts, promotions, and profitable offers.
Product: In this category, it is necessary to post information about the cost of your products.
Posts exist for seven days, or they can vanish after an event/promotion is over. Google will notify you that it is time to create a new post.
Set the Button of Preliminary Reservation
The booking button in the GMB profile will facilitate your and your clients’ lives if your business requires preliminary reservation/booking. If you have an account in applications and are keeping customers’ records supported by Google, the reservation button will be automatically integrated (you can check the list of partners here).
Set Communication with Potential Clients
Potential or already existing customers can get in touch with you directly with the help of the Messaging function. This is a perfect way to create a direct interaction with people who have come to your resource from a local listing.
To configure this function, open the GMB toolbar. On the list on the left, you will see Messaging, click it.
Here, it is possible to create a message that will be received by a user trying to get in touch with you and to indicate preliminary response waiting time. You can also mention the phone number that can be called to get a consultation or to solve any questions.
Questions & Answers as an Additional Tool for Local Search
Questions & Answers is a great and accessible tool for local search. Interested users ask questions and you can reply to them. This gives users the possibility to get information straight from the source.
The research of Get Five Stars shows that a quarter of all the companies on Google Maps are questioned by users.
There are several peculiarities that should be known about Questions & Answers:
- To ask a question and answer it on mobile devices, you need to use Google Maps. This application should be installed.
- Notifications about new questions are not received by the application. You will once again need to use the application to check new questions.
- Google sends you notifications about new questions by email, but it is better to check notifications on your own in the application.
- It is better to create the list of frequently asked questions beforehand in order to avoid making users wait for responses for a long time.
Study Google’s Guidelines for GMB Listings and Pay Attention to Mistakes That Should be Avoided
Google provides its guidelines with the main requirements for Google My Business Listing. You can read it here to avoid the most common mistakes and properly carry out the optimization.
How to Delete Google Business Listing and How Long Does It Take for a Google Business Listing to Be Removed
We have already figured out the rules of how to edit Google Business Listing, but what should be done if you want to delete it for any reason.
Your Company is Closed for Good or Moves
If your business has terminated its operation in the form and manner that have been stipulated in the listing, fulfill the following actions:
- Open your GMB account.
- In the left column, find the button Manage Locations.
- Check a listing that requires changes.
- In the right corner, press the button Actions and choose Closed forever.
- Then open Info.
- In the top right corner, press Close or remove this listing.
Instead of tagging a listing as closed forever, you can simply delete this listing. Make sure you know that deleting a location won’t delete a listing. The deletion foresees that this listing will disappear from your profile.
To delete a duplicate listing, it is necessary to:
- Open your GMB account.
- In your Account Summary, press Duplicate locations.
- Click on the location you would like to delete.
- Choose Delete this listing.
How Long Does It Take for a Google Business Listing to Be Removed?
The introduction of modifications and deletion of information take up to 14 days.
Google My Business is the Google place for business where you can attract potential clients and interact with them. The GMB listing opens a lot of new possibilities for you. Their implementation directly depends on the effort invested in optimization. This is a starting point of the search for information about your company, which enables you not to get lost in the huge market of similar offers of products and services.