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
- 1 Maintain control of your listing’s login information
- 2 Make sure your NAP information is consistent with other sites
- 3 Choose as few Categories as possible
- 4 Define your Service Area
- 5 Photo optimization
- 6 Ask customers for reviews
- 7 Respond to your fans and your critics
- 8 Add an Appointment URL
- 9 Create a new Post every week
- 10 Try out GMB messaging (chat)
- 11 Bonus Best Practice – Create a Website
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 email@example.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:
- 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
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.
To hide your business’s address and display your service area in Google Search, uncheck the following checkbox:
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.
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.
Add metadata to your photos
It’s possible that Google currently parses photo metadata or will parse photo metadata in the future.
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:
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.
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
Posts 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.