Local business listing is the first step in any local SEO strategy. Google refers to its local listing as Google My Business. Your business information gets shared on Google Maps, Search Results, and other Google properties when you set up Google My Business account.
You can use GMB for free and manage how your business information appears across Google.
In this post, we will cover 2 important aspects:
Note: If you have already set up Google My Business profile, you can skip to optimizing it.
i. Set up Google My Business Profile
You can set up your account on Google My Business in just 8 simple steps. Follow along:
1. Go to google.com/business and click on Start now.
2. You will be asked to sign in to your Google account. Create a new one if you haven’t already.
3. Next, you will be asked to enter the name of your business.
4. And then, your address. Fill in your complete address carefully. And if you manage a service business, check the box for “I deliver goods and services to my customers”. You will see another box to hide your address, you can select this if you don’t have a store.
5. Then you will also be asked to select the location of your business on a map.
6. You will be asked to select a business category and then select the areas you deliver your goods and services.
7. To complete the process, enter a phone number and website URL for your business. If you don’t have a website simply select “I don’t need a website”.
8. Lastly, you will have to verify your connection to this business. Select the verification option you are comfortable with. You can also select “verify at another time” if you are not authorized to manage the business.
Note: You will get additional tools like Insight and reviews once you verify your account. These tools will help you track your page performance and monitor your customers’ reviews and ratings.
ii. Optimize Google My Business Account
Most of the local businesses often forget about their account after signing up. Not keeping a regular check on your account can have negative effects. Also, it’s not that hard to optimize your account. Let me show you how to do it:
1. Fill in your information
On the left side of your GMB dashboard, you will see an info tab. Once you click on it you will be asked to fill in information about your business. Don’t procrastinate, this information will be very useful. It will help your customers know about your business better.
Also, you may not realize but anyone can suggest a change to your business listing.
Meaning other people can edit your Google My Business listing. And these changes can be made live even without notifying you. So, make sure you keep a regular check on your dashboard.
2. Google Posts
Google post is the content that is displayed in Google search results in your Google My Business listing.
You can edit your post from “Post” option on the left sidebar in your GMB dashboard.
Here you are free to add CTA’s, links to important pages, a short description of your business, your product’s features etc.
3. Questions and Answers
This feature of Google allows people to ask questions about your business and you can directly answer those questions. It helps to directly interact with your customers and solve their queries.
The problem is you don’t get any notification regarding a new question on your GMB dashboard. You will have to install Google Maps to find out these questions. Google does send email notification but not everyone associated with your account will get one. Also, keep in mind that just like “Suggest an Edit” anyone can answer these questions.
Google has always encouraged business owners to ask their customers for reviews. These reviews appear in Google Maps and Google Search Results.
97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day (source)
You can ethically ask for reviews from your customers. Make sure you don’t violate any of the Google’s guidelines for asking reviews.
And always reply to these reviews, it will show your appreciation. If you get a bad review, reply humbly and tell the person you will work on the problem areas. It will make sure you maintain a good reputation online.
Bonus Tip: Install Google My Business App
You can easily install and set up Google My Business account through a mobile app. This app is available for both iOS and Android. You cannot change your business listing and give ownership of the listing to another user. But you can use the app for:
- Updating your contact information like business hours, location, and description.
- Post status and pictures
- View search insights
Don’t confuse Google My Business with Google Place. Google Places used to be Google’s tool for local businesses to manage their online presence, but it was retired in 2014. Now, Google My Business is the new center to manage how your business appears online.
You can easily set up Google My Business account by filling in some information about your business. Just make sure you optimize your account and keep a regular lookout. Because if you won’t, someone else might. Any of your competitors can use “Suggest an Edit” option and create a negative image of your brand.
If you are planning to target local customers, you need a Google My Business account. Once you’re set, you need a good host for your website!