Google My Business is a very useful – and free – tool that helps people find your small business or organisation when they’re searching online across Google Search and Google Maps.
It works for businesses that have a physical location as well as for online only entities that serve businesses owners in person within a specific area, and is really easy to set up and manage. That said, it’s surprisingly underutilised and many business owners don’t realise just how valuable the platform can be when it comes to engaging with customers.
Many people simply enter the name and address of their business into the listing and then forget about it, missing out on a valuable marketing opportunity and the chance to tell – and sell – their story.
Here are some key ways of maximising this great opportunity.
Step one is to set up your Google My Business page at https://www.google.com/business.
You’ll need to be verified as the owner/manager of the business before it will show up on Google Search or Maps. Most local entities are verified by mail (so you need to make sure your postal information is accurate), but there may be other options for receiving the verification code including email, phone and text message.
Fill in all the relevant fields (you can do this before your business is verified but you won’t show up in online searches or maps until you’ve had the tick of approval), making sure you add in as much accurate information as possible. Consistency across all online directories is important for your local SEO, so take the time to check that the formats for your business name, address and contact details are the same everywhere.
For example, if your business address appears on your website as ‘3 Banksia Road’ or ‘3/22 Cleveland Ct’, make sure you use this information consistently across your website, Google My Business and anywhere else you list your business online, We wary of using additional versions of the business name, eg. ‘3 Banksia Rd’ or ‘Unit 3, 22 Cleveland Court’ in Google My Business, consistency is the key here.
If you operate your business from home, you can hide your physical address on the listing (which is recommended).
Another important thing to remember is not to include any additional keywords to your business name. For example, if your business is called Wallaby Motor Repairs, don’t be tempted to add in ‘best car service in Perth’. Google’s terms and conditions prohibit this and you run the risk of your business listing being suspended if a competitor reports you.
Working your way through the listing
Choose your business category carefully. Do your homework by checking Google Maps for businesses similar to yours, see what they chose and then decide which category is most relevant for you. Once you’ve selected the primary category, you can add up to five additional ones.
Once you’ve selected the categories, you’re able to list all of your main products or services under each one. You’re also able to add ‘Custom Services’, save it and then add descriptions.
The beauty about this section is that it features prominently on a mobile phone, so it’s a great opportunity to showcase your product and service information without requiring the viewer to click through to your website.
# 3 Products
If your business sells products online, this section is a MUST.
You can categorise products into various collections and can add images which show prices etc. If someone is using a mobile device when searching for your business name, this section is displayed prominently on the Google My Business platform, so why miss out?
#4 Business Description
This section can serve two purposes. It can be good for your SEO but it must also be useful to the viewer. You can include keywords that you want to rank for but you also need to make sure the information you present is relevant to the reader. Use all the available space by including as many details as possible to describe your products, services, competitive edge etc.
#5 Upload photos
This is where your Google My Business listing can really come to life. You can upload photos, videos, logos etc and categorise them according to their relevance. For example, categories could be ‘At Work’ (a photo of your physical location or the interior of your office or workshop), ‘Meet The Team’ (photos of people so customers know who to look out for), ‘New Products’, ‘Happy Customers’ etc. If you have a cover photo, it needs to be 1080×608 and your logo needs to be 250×250.
These will also be clearly visible on a mobile device, so it’s a great opportunity to attract, engage and communicate with potential buyers by telling a compelling story through images and video. Remember, other people can also upload images to your Google My Business page, so you need to monitor your listing regularly to make sure the content is relevant and appropriate.
#6 Profile Short Name
Adding a short name to your profile is a good way of helping customers find and follow you online. Choose a name that clearly represents your business and which is easy for customers to remember. Once you’ve done this, Google will then provide a link for customers to leave a review.
#7 Additional Business Information
Depending on the nature of your business, you should fill in any other field which is relevant such as Trading Hours, Menu URLs, Opening Date (a good thing to add because it lends credibility to your business) etc. Remember, this listing is important for Google as well as users, so make sure your information is as comprehensive as possible.
#8 Use Google My Business Posts
Posts are a surprisingly underutilised feature on Google My Business given that they can make such a powerful and prominent statement. Posts appear on the front page of Google when someone is searching for your business and can be used to promote anything you want buyers to know about your business such as events, special offers, products, company news etc . Photos and videos can be used for additional impact, but remember that these posts only stay up for a limited time so you need to continually refresh your listing with new ones to maximise the opportunity.
And there you have it!
A little effort goes a long way. Once your Google My Business listing is active, you will have a powerful and dynamic marketing tool in your hands that could well increase your customer base and give you an enviable competitive advantage. Just remember to update your listing regularly and make sure all the information is accurate and consistent.
And you can grow your opportunities even further by submitting your website to relevant online directories in order to increase the likelihood of featuring in a local search or snippet.
About the author
Karen Dauncey has over 17 years of experience as an SEO & Google Ads Specialist. She is the director and founder of Blue Cherry Online Marketing and specialises in helping businesses get found online using Google using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads. She is in the process of writing the The SEO School, an online course to help businesses get found online using Google which will launch later on this year.