As a part of ongoing SEO strategy, it is imperative to mark your business and verify it on Google so that users can search and check out the services your business offers. Searching for a local brand or business is something a piece of cake on Google now as a user can simply put the name and even an emoji and get the results to choose from. This is possible because of Google My Business (GMB) where the businesses set up their profiles on Google allowing users to search their businesses and there’s literally much more than just a business listing.
Google has been around for more than a decade and has tweaked its search engine to include and several features and add-ons. It introduced GMB a while back and it has literally blasted business that features on the first page with leads and sales that wouldn’t have been possible with the listing on GMB and thus, if you own a business, it is a high time to set the note straight and get your listings on GMB to entice users to convert into passionate customers.
Setting up Google My Business (GMB) account
Setting up a GMB account is crucial and keeping it up to date is imperative too. Almost 56% of retailers in the United States alone haven’t listed their businesses on GMB which translates to collective billions of dollars of lose to these retailers because even if you own a flower shop in a tier III town, you could have a GMB account and attract more customers which means, there’s no limitation as to what you can achieve with it.
First of all, setting up a GMB account, mentioned the basic details known as NAP i.e. business name, address, phone number, etc isn’t enough. This is because more than 50% of users on Google would actually visit a business within a day of search and there are almost 3.5 billion searches made on Google every day which means a massive loss of opportunity if you aren’t someone who keeps its GMB account updated. Here is a list of all the features that Google has been updated to get the best results.
Step 01: Go to Google My Business and tap on ‘Start Now’. Either select ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Sign In’ where the former is for newcomers and the latter is for previous users. Enter the credentials and ‘Submit’/’OK’/’Login’.
Step 02: Enter the Business Name and tap on ‘Next’ button.
Step 03: Enter Country, Address, City, Pin Code, State.
If your firm provides product deliveries, tick on the section marked above and tap on ‘Next’.
Step 04: On a map, choose your exact or approximate location or as per it states.
Step 05: After entering the business name, the next step is to choose the category. You can enter alphabets and the results will be available from where you can choose the one that your firm belongs to.
Step 06: Enter the phone number that you want the customers to see when they check out from business listing on Google. Next, you need to select where you have a website or you’re don’t have or if you want to create a free website.
Step 07: After entering all the details, tap on ‘Finish’ button to finalize the Google My Business (GMB) listing.
Step 08: Next is to verify that you actually own the business. For this, Google will send you a ‘code’ by mail that comes directly by post or courier. You can also select the ‘Verify Later’ option but until then, the listing will not be verified.
1. Suggest an edit
Google has been including various features allowing both businesses and customers to get more information about each other. If you mention only basic details about your business, there is an option called ‘Suggest an edit’ available under business listing on Google Maps that allow users to suggest an edit which is something users could use to provide false information including your rival or competitor. It is thus imperative to keep a tab on updates that users could make which you can check on your GMB dashboard under ‘Google Updates’ in the Dashboard option.
Tip: Notifications for any changes made by you or someone working with you or any other users aren’t sent out always. This means that you must keep a tab on the updates to fix any unrelated, false, or defaming comments and edits that users could have made to defame your business.
2. Questions and Answers
This is basically a new feature wherein Google asks the users about any business with questions like ‘Does this place has wifi?’ or ‘Does this place have a washroom?’, etc. This enables Google to understand your business and user’s need well and provide necessary bumps to your listing on Google local search.
There is a feature on GMB listings ‘Ask a question’ wherein users could ask questions of the businesses such as ‘What are the types of chairs available at XYZ?’ etc. This is a great place to interact with customers wherein you can check out the latest questions asked on GMB that are reflected on the GMB dashboard where you can review it and respond accordingly.
3. Google My Business (GMB) Posts
Posts are snippets of description about your business and what’s exciting that you are offering. These posts act as mini ads since these posts are prominently displayed on phone searchers and as per figures, more than 60% people would use a smartphone to search for business. Thus, posts are essential and must be about the business, what it is offering and you must include a high-resolution photo with it since people tend to follow a business which has a photo on its GMB listing rather than a business where the photos are lacking.
- To upload a post, click on the GMB dashboard.
- Tap on ‘Create Post’ or select ‘Posts’ from the menu given on the left side of the dashboard.
- For post, you can upload a photo and then, write 100 to 300 words under ‘Write Your Post’.
- You can also add the CTA button to enhance analytics, you can add ‘Sign Up’, ‘Book’, ‘Buy’, ‘Learn More’, etc.
To add products or offers under ‘Posts’, follow this procedure –
- First, open the GMB Dashboard.
- Select ‘Create Post’ and select ‘Event’, ‘Product’, ‘Offer’ based on your requirement.
- You need to enter the ‘Details’ between 100 to 300 words.
- Feed in ‘Event Title’, ‘Start Date’ and ‘End Date’, ‘Coupon Code’, ‘Link’, and other terms and conditions.
- You can click on ‘Preview’ button to view it before pressing ‘Publish’.
Further, the posts aren’t going to be displayed forever as these posts have an expiry rate after which, it will not be displayed upfront although the posts will be available in the older posts category. Therefore, you must keep the posts updated. What’s more? You can add posts with buttons such as Learn more, Reserve, Get Offer, Buy, Sign Up, etc which will actually increase the footfall to your business.
What’s more? The usage of emojis has increased manifolds wherein users could express their feelings using a single or bunch of emojis available. GMB Posts allows businesses to add supportive emojis as well which makes it easier for users to search using emojis. For instance, if you have set a scissor, comb, hair as some of the emojis on your hair saloon’s business and users searches using a ‘scissor’ emoji + near me, he/she will get your listing on Google which is kinda cool.
4. Google My Business (GMB) Reviews
More than 90% of the people depend upon a second opinion before buying a product or booking a service. Thus, reviews become a significant aspect of GMB listings since users would look for reviews before finalizing if they want to buy or not. You can ask your customers to post reviews on Google doesn’t matter if it is negative, positive, or neutral.
- To check out Reviews, go to GMB Dashboard >> Reviews.
- You can check out all the reviews made by visitors and tap on ‘Reply’ button to do the same.
- To edit an already replied review, tap on ‘View and edit’.
- Swipe to ‘Haven’t replied’ section to check out the reviews that you haven’t responded yet.
Note posting a polite reply to people posting negative reviews is a plus point since most of the negative reviewers will try the business again. Further, you can ask users to give your business ratings which actually helps a lot if you see it with the customer’s point of view. I would look for a higher rating which choosing a local business like a restaurant rather than sticking to a business with 1 or 2 stars.
5. Optimizing the messaging feature
Business owners can add phone numbers so that users can call whenever they want. Note that adding a local contact number is preferable since people are searching for a local business. Further, you can add a messaging feature as well wherein people could bypass the call option and instead, use the message feature to contact the business. And do you know? Most people would resort to a messaging feature instead of calling a business.
That’s where Google Allo comes in, it is a great app from Google that allows business owners to receive messages from customers and respond to them. It keeps personal and business messages separated thus eliminating the need to fumble and get confused on it. You can set up the details regarding messaging feature by navigating to the Dashboard >> Messages. You can set up ‘Welcome Messages’ as well.
How to set up Messaging on GMB?
- Open GMB Dashboard and slide into the Messaging section from the menu bar on the left.
- Enter the number associated with the business and then, verify the same by entering the OTP.
- You can set the ‘Business Welcome Message’ that would auto-respond whenever someone messages the business owner.
6. Adding photos and videos
Furnishing more details about your brand or business could help elevate leads as well. From a user’s perspective, he/she would check out if photos and videos are available to check out before calling or connecting with the business. Here’s how you can set up the Photos and Videos on your GMB profile.
- Simply proceed to your GMB Dashboard and select ‘Photos’ from the menu bar on the left.
- Click on ‘Choose Photo’ to upload photos that go well with your brand.
- Click on ‘Add Videos’ to upload videos from services to testimonials, etc.
7. Adding GMB descriptions
This is one of the latest addition to the GMB listings wherein the business owners can write a short 750 characters long description about their business. You can include keywords but stuffing isn’t recommended. You can add details about the business, what it offers, affordability, location, etc. It is much like a promotional overview of the business the user can read before actually visiting the website or contacting the business.
- To add GMB Description, you need to log into your GMB account.
- Since you are already at the HomePage, scroll down and search for the tab ‘Complete your listing’ or tap on ‘Info’ and scroll to find ‘Description’.
- Select ‘Add a description’ and feed in 750 characters of your GMB description which is known to boost local search.
- Finally, click on ‘Apply’.
This particular feature allows users to search specifically for a type of doctor or a restaurant that offers a particular cuisine or a spa that offers a particular type of massage, etc. With more than 2,000 attributes to choose from, you can search for specific terms related to your business such as “SEO, Digital Marketing, Social Media Management, On-page SEO, etc” in case if you have a digital marketing firm or “Indian, Chinese, Malay, Continental, Japanese, etc” to describe the cuisines that your restaurant offers. Similarly, there is a feature where you can include open hours, special hours. Add services with the cost or price so that users can get the needed information even before calling you and much more.
- To edit Services/Menu/Attribute, proceed to the GMB Dashboard and navigate to ‘Info’ from the menu on the left side of the dashboard.
- Scroll down to find ‘Services’ where you add the Section, Item Name, Description, and price.
- You can add several services by adding new sections everytime you want to add new services.
- Next, select ‘Add Attributes’ to add new attributes which are usually suggested by default.
- To add Category, tap just below the business name.
- Here, You need to select the ‘Primary Category’, ‘Additional Categories’ that will help narrow down the specific category that your business belongs.
- Finally, click on Apply and that must be saved.
9. New ‘Follow’ feature
With the exit of Google+, there is a spot on Google My Business listings on Google Maps where the tech giant could do something revolutionary. Just as you were thinking about what could be the next revolutionary feature, Google has introduced yet another feature that will allow the user to ‘Follow’ the business’s posts and information related to it.
This could turn big since Google already has an upper hand in terms of Posts when compared to Facebook Posts or Twitter Posts where the latter two are subjected to stringent regulations while the Google Posts escapes the clutches of Google’s search algorithm to some extent. The feature will allow the people to stay connected to get information about their favorite brands and outlets they have followed in one place.
The feature can prove instrumental for businesses as well as the customers in many ways. But there is a word spreading on the web and that’s what if Google use it as a ‘ranking factor’? Well, it could possibly change the game for sure. The feature isn’t available everywhere just yet but Google will surely update the feature in your region shortly.
This is a guide on how to optimize your Google My Business listings. Note that we keep the post updated so that we can include all the latest additions and updates added by Google in its GMB listings.