10 Google My Business Best Practices

Google My Business Best PracticesWhether your company is a small local B2C business or a large B2C company, it’s worth paying attention to your Google My Business (GMB) listing.

According to Google, “listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are.”

This means that most businesses can (and probably should) have a GMB listing. A Google My Business listing is a free source that can direct more visitors to a business’s website, almost no matter what type or size of business.

A GMB listing shows in both Google Search and Google Maps.

In many cases, Google automatically creates a GMB listing for a company. Some of these listings go unclaimed by the business. Reviews go unreplied to and photos that represent a business are all auto-harvested by Google.

Here are some best practices to follow for:

  • Claiming your listing if Google created it for you
  • Creating your listing if Google did not create it for you
  • Optimizing your listing to attract web traffic and direct that traffic to your business

Maintain control of your listing’s login information

Sometimes a company loses track of the consumer Gmail account that was used to set up their listing. It is difficult to recover from an orphaned Google My Business listing, but it can be done.

There are three ways to log in to your Google My Business listing in order to claim it.

  • With a consumer Gmail account
  • With a Google account without Gmail
  • With a G Suite account

If your business is a G Suite customer, a best practice is to create a separate account with email address such as marketing@yourdomain.com.

If your business is not a G Suite customer, make sure that the Gmail or Google account credentials are available and there are recovery options if a password is lost.

The first person to log in is the Primary owner. Additional users can be added to a Google My Business account. Available roles for additional users are:

  • Owner
  • Manager
  • Communications Manager

Make sure your NAP information is consistent with other sites

This is a well known local search best practice is for your Name Address and Phone number to be consistent across your website and listing services.

This best practice applies to Google My Business and to all listing sites.

Choose as few Categories as possible

While it’s possible to select many additional categories from the the of pre-determined list of categories, it is important not to select too many categories. If possible, select only a Primary Category.

Define your Service Area

If your company provides on-site services, you can define your service area either by region(s) or by service area radius.

Service Area radius

Service area radius can be defined by number of miles or number of kilometers.

Service Area region criteria


Service area region can be defined using any of the following criteria. The criteria can be mixed and matched.

  • ZIP Codes
  • Postal Codes
  • Counties
  • States
  • Provinces
  • Countries

 

If you choose to hide your business’s address, your service area will be displayed in your public listing as either a polygon or a circle, depending on which Service Area option you use.

GMB Service Area Radius

To hide your business’s address and display your service area in Google Search, uncheck the following checkbox:

GMB Hide Business Address

Photo optimization

Photos are an important component of GMB, even if your business is not local.

Take your own photos

In previous GMB photo guidelines, Google stated that photos should, “represent the real-world business location. Google may choose to favor real-world photos over stock images.” Now Google simply states, “The image should represent reality.”

Either way, it’s best if you use your own photos.

Upload a lot of photos (and videos)

Update: In January 2018, Google added the ability for business owners and customers to upload videos of up to 100 Mb in file size.

In the Insights analytics section of GMB, Google suggests adding more photos whether you are ahead of or behind similar businesses in photo volume.

GMB Post More Photos

GMB Post More Photos

Upload photos (and videos) consistently

Google cares about recency of photos uploaded to Google My Business. So, don’t upload all your photos at once.

GMB Recent Photo Prompt

Add metadata to your photos

It’s possible that Google currently parses photo metadata or will parse photo metadata in the future.

An Exif editor can be used to add the following types of tags to your photos.

  • Longitude
  • Latitude
  • Headline
  • Description
  • Contact
  • City
  • State/Province
  • Country
  • Keywords

Ask customers for reviews

Unlike Yelp, which discourages the solicitation of reviews, Google encourages asking customers for GMB reviews, as long as the reviews meet guidelines. For example, Google does not allow soliciting reviews from customers by offering incentives or setting up review stations at your place of business.

Here is a sample email that could be sent to a customer:

Hi Pete,

Thanks for being a valued customer and for offering to help us build our Google My Business profile.

To leave a star rating and a review, you need to first be logged into a Google account. If you don’t have a Gmail or a G Suite account, you can create a Google account “without email” here.

On our Google Maps page, scroll down the left-hand sidebar and then click on the “WRITE A REVIEW” link in the lower left. Click on your star rating and type in a review. The review can be short and sweet – just something that you like about working with us.

John

 

Google also provides instructions for creating a link that will take customer directly to the review light box.

Respond to your fans and your critics

When you do get reviews that should be responded to, Google recommends responding as quickly as possible.

GMB provides the following best practices checklist within the response dialog:

  • Ignore minor complaints and resolve issues privately if possible
  • Address issues constructively. Don’t use responses to advertise
  • Do not ask users for anything or offer them anything
  • Be professional and polite. The world can see your response

Add an Appointment URL

GMB lets you add an appointment URL, as long the appointment page is part of your website. Uses for this range from allowing a visitor schedule a dental appointment to offering the visitor a free or paid consulting session with an application such as Appointlet.

Make sure to include your appointment application’s embed code on a page on your website.

Create a new Post every week

GMB Create PostPosts is a new feature that was added in June 2017. The jury is out on their clickthrough effectiveness. However, it’s worth testing Posts.

If you do create Posts, plan to create a new one once a week, as each Post (other than Event posts) only has a shelf life of seven days.

Keep in mind that a Post’s call to action button does not have to link to your website. The CTA can link to any content that’s relevant to your audience, including a YouTube video.

Try out GMB messaging (chat)

If you already have someone on staff who is responsible for replying to website chat, this same person could respond to GMB chat.

GMB messaging conversations can be via SMS or via Google Allo (Allo is currently Android dependent). Chat can be manually turned on and off within the GMB admin.

Tip: if your company is a G Suite customer, set up a Google Voice number for the employee who handles chat. That way, the employee can interact with customers and prospects from any desktop browser and from any mobile phone.

Bonus Best Practice – Create a Website

If you do not have a website, you can build a basic site using an option within Google My Business. As of late 2017, there were 900,000 websites built within GMB.

As of January 2018, GMB Posts can appear on GMB websites.


Google My Business gives almost any business an opportunity to increase website traffic as well as phone and chat conversations.

As long as GMB’s guidelines and best practices are followed, there’s no downside to enhancing a GMB profile. There is plenty of potential upside.

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