Need a Google My Business Listing Guide? Look No Further!

The most important step in having your local business appear in the search results is claiming and verifying your Google My Business (GMB) listing. A Google My Business listing increases your chances of showing up in Google Maps, Local Finder, and organic rankings. Most local businesses can take advantage of this free listing, inputting information about their company i.e. address, phone number, hours of operations, and possibly payments accepted. It’s important to keep in mind not all local businesses qualify for a Google My Business account.

Are you ready to claim and verify your Google My Business listing yet? Let’s get started! Visit Google My Business:

How To Optimize Google My Business Listing

Once the Google My Business listing has been created, you’re done, right?

Wrong!

What most small businesses don’t realize there are many features at your disposal to further optimize your GMB listing. And there are many reasons why you should never forget to check up on your business listing. Frequently keeping up with the accuracy of your listing is one of those reasons.

Fill Everything Out Google My Business Asks For

Your Google My Business listing will ask a variety of questions to better understand your business profile. Once it is completed, potential customers will see this information and place more trust in your business. Keep in mind, any missing information can be filled in by an unauthorized entity. Many small business owners fail to realize anyone can suggest a change to your listing – including competitors.

When someone clicks on the “Suggest and edit” button, a competitor can drastically alter your company information. It is best to make it a regular habit of checking your GMB listing for accuracy. When information is changed, you will receive a notification that changes are pending and must be approved before taking effect.

Secondly, Google encourages customers who are familiar with your business to answer questions so Google can learn more about your company. This is done by choosing the “Know this place? Answer quick questions” link.

Some small business owners have claimed competitors with a malicious intent can cause negative impacts on their GMB listings through this feature but not enough research has been done on this claim. Google focuses more on “user-generated content” philosophy, building communities around these small businesses and more. This information is compiled for various experiments, creating new search strategies.

Now your Google My Business listing is verified, what do you do? Make it a habit of regularly checking your listing for accuracy.

Google Posts: Free Advertisements

Google Posts is one of my favorite features from my Google My Business listing. Google Posts are small, digital advertisements that show up in Google search results in your GMB listing, showing in the Knowledge Panel and on Google Maps.

These advertisements can act as an extension of your companies website i.e. adding images, CTA’s (Call-to-Action Buttons), etc… Have a sale going on or releasing a new product? Use Google Posts for these updates with links directly going to the post on your company website or CTA area.

You can also use Google Posts for simple and personable messages such as a warm holiday greeting to spread holiday joy.

Pro Tip: Google Posts remain “live” for only seven days. Once an event is over, the post will “go dark”. You will receive a reminder about creating a new post in order to stay relevant and up-to-date as well. Include an image in your post but not on Google Maps as it will get cut off. Test a few post image sizes and see what fits.

Pro Tip: When adding images, make sure you test them for both desktop and mobile views. Mobile searches have increased and will continue to increase so it’s best to make sure your images are optimized for both views.

Interestingly enough, Google Posts can improve your rankings.

Call-to-Action Buttons Feature

Every business owner, large or small, must realize the power of call-to-actions, especially “booking” CTA buttons. Google’s “Booking” button helps you to accomplish just that. If your business relies on customers making appointments and using scheduling software, you can use this feature to book an appointment directly from your GMB listing. Getting new customers couldn’t be easier!

View Google’s supported scheduling providers for a full list of eligible scheduling software your business can integrate today!

Google Messaging? Allow Customers To Send You Text Messages!

There is no easier way than through Google Messaging for potential customers to directly reach you – the business owner. If you don’t want your personal cell phone number listed, you can download Google’s “Allo” app.

Keep in mind: when you set up your Allo account, it must match the phone number listed on your Google My Business listing. When a potential customer sends you a message, Allo sends a notification instead of the message appearing in your normal SMS provider. This feature, at this time, is only available to mobile web users, not mobile-app or desktop users.

Your Customers Have Questions. Let’s Give Them Answers.

The new Questions & Answers feature is new to Google’s local search but very cool! Like a websites FAQ section, the Q&A feature allows people to ask questions about your business and you can directly answer those questions.

Pro Tip: The Q&A feature is not visible on the mobile Google My Business app. Because of this, you will need to login to the GMB dashboard for pending questions. At this time, only Questions are visible on an Android device.

Pro Tip: The Google Maps app on Android devices will send you a push notification if someone asks your business a question. Answering questions promptly will ensure optimal success for your local business.

Note: If you discover someone is abusing your Google My Business listing’s Questions & Answers feature, you can reach out to the Google My Business Support Forums.

Online Reviews: A Lesson In Ethics

There are many review sites and directories out on the market today but they’re not as well-known as Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, HomeAdvisory, etc… But many, including all listed here with the exception of Google, strongly discourages owners from asking customers for reviews. Out of those sites listed here, Google greatly encourages business owners to ask customers for reviews – ethically. You can learn more about Google’s guidelines for reviews here.

Reviews are a wonderful way to help your business stand out and seem more trustworthy to potential customers. There is an additional benefit to reviews most business owners do not realize: they can impact your search result rankings and click-through rates.

  • In 2017, 97% of users read online reviews – 12% looking for local businesses every day
  • Around 85% of consumers find local businesses with reviews as more trustworthy.
  • 73% of consumers trust a local business more through positive reviews
  • Close to 50% of consumers need a four-star rating at minimum before choosing a business
  • Responding to reviews is more important than ever as it seems more personable and trusting by consumers.
  • Sadly, 79% of consumers have unknowingly read a fake review in the last year.

Only by following Google’s guidelines for GMB reviews can you ask customers for reviews. If you violate any one of the policies listed, your reviews could be removed. More damaging, your GMB profile will be deleted.

Pro Tip: When responding to reviews – good or bad – be professional and neutral. This shows customers you not only appreciate that customers feedback, but also shows potential customers your personable and compassionate side.

Now A Dose Of Reality: What If I Get A Negative Review?

Step one: Don’t freak out. Everyone has bad days and many recognize that. If someone, like a troll, leaves a 1-star rating with a nasty comment, many are able to recognize it for what it is. Don’t worry about it.

Want to learn more about reviews? Check out this awesome article by Moz “How to Implement a Review Acquisition Strategy”.

Conclusion

My hope for you is that you were able to get great value from this article about how to better optimize your Google My Business listing. We hope you enjoy the newfound features if this is your first time setting up an account as well!

Have more questions about optimizing your Google My Business listing? Feel free to let me know in the comments.