Complete Guide to Setting up Your Google My Business Listing
A complete and accurate Google My Business profile can be a powerful marketing tool, more so than many business owners realize.
Google My Business has the obvious benefit of making it easier for customers to find and connect with your business. However, it also gives you a presence on Google Maps, lets you post updates to your business profile and respond directly to Google reviews, and better positions you to generate organic leads.
When you play your cards right, the listing can also give your local SEO a huge boost. In fact, it’s one of the most important tools for companies seeking to improve their local visibility on search engines.
The best part? It’s easy to set up – and FREE. Read on for our guide to setting up your Google My Business profile, including insights into how you can leverage your listing to boost your company in local search results.
Set Up Your Google My Business Profile
Google’s free tool for promoting business listings is called Google My Business. The first step to setting up your listing is to visit the Google My Business sign up page and click the “Manage Now” button:
Create a Google Account
If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to set one up. Click “Create Account” and select the “To manage my business” option.
Enter your contact and other basic account info to get started. This process creates your free Google account, which you will use to manage the listing. You can also add custom Gmail and other free Google services to the account later if you want.
The business profile you set up will appear on both Google Search and Maps. This is important since it gives you control over what customers see when searching for services and products in a local context. Having a complete business profile on Google Maps can provide you with opportunities to boost your SEO and outperform your competition on results pages. As you can imagine, Google tracks searches for businesses completed through Maps, including the number of searches, times of day, and locations from which users choose your location on a map or get directions to it.
Add or Claim Your Business
Once your account is set up, you’ll start by either adding a business or claiming one that’s already listed on Google. If your business doesn’t already have a listing, this is where you’ll enter your business name, address, etc. Be sure to select an accurate business category, as this plays a role in how your business is shown for different types of searches on Google.
If your business has a physical location and you want that address to be listed publicly, be sure to include it. If you work from a home or remote office and have not selected a business category that requires a physical location (i.e. a yoga studio, dental office, etc), it’s perfectly fine to select “No” on the screen below. Choosing not to show a physical location will NOT negatively impact your SEO.
Choose Your Target Markets (Locations)
After adding your address, the form will give you the option to specify any locations outside of your local area that your business serves.
Be thorough when completing this step. You may want to specify the countries you do business in, as well as list the primary local markets you are targeting. You can think of each city you add as a 30-mile wide market you’d ideally like to appear in for search results related to your business.
Add Your Website
Finish up by entering your business’ contact info, including your current website address.
If you don’t currently have a website, you can create a generic landing page with a free tool Google provides by clicking “Get a free website based on your info.” Be aware, this site will be nearly identical to all other businesses using the tool, and it will not provide you with the robust SEO and other advantages of a full website.
Contact us if you’re looking to speak with a local web developer about building a new website or helping you update your current one.
Select whether you want Google to reach out with updates, then click “Finish” to start managing your listing!
Verify Your Google Business Listing
After setting up your listing, you’ll be given an option or two for verifying your business address.
The most common way for Google to do this is by sending a postcard to your address via snail mail, which usually arrives within 5 business days. The post card will contain a confirmation code you will need to enter to finish your business listing. Note that the card can’t be mailed to a PO Box and you must provide a physical street or building address.
Once you receive the postcard in the mail, be sure to log into your Google My Business account and click “Verify My Business” and then enter the code on it. This is extremely important: your business will not appear in Google results until you have verified your business!
Keep your eye out for the postcard Google snail mails you. It might be a good idea to let everyone who checks the mail know you’re expecting it and that any mail mentioning Google over the next week or so is NOT junk mail!
Add Your Business Details
While you’re waiting for the verification card, you can still add information and content so your listing is ready to go. There is some information that’s labelled as optional that you should definitely include on your business profile.
If you don’t add these details using the form during your initial setup of the listing, you can always go back and add the info by signing into Google My Business, then clicking “Info” in the left column. This will bring you to the screen for updating your business hours and other details that you should add:
Add your hours of operation for each day, indicating when you’re closed, and be sure to keep them updated. Google favors current and complete data on Google My Business profiles, and keeps track of things like special hours and whether you are open on specific holidays.
This one is very important. Again, local search is designed to serve the most useful results for a given town or geographic region. When you write your business description, be very specific, use proper grammar and punctuation, and provide details that connect your business to the communities you serve. Keywords are just as important in your business description as they are in any other content you want to rank on search engines.
Photos, Videos & Logo
Adding fresh photos and videos to your listing is strongly recommended, and it can play a significant role in how your business is displayed in search results relative to similar businesses. Adding your logo also provides one more opportunity to communicate your brand and is recommended.
You can add photos and videos by clicking the “Photos” link in the left menu, then clicking the blue “+” icon at the top-right of the screen that opens:
This is an important section where Google will let you select your services from a list or create your own. You begin by adding a Business Category, then either adding services to that category from a pre-established list or by creating new ones.
As with your business description and other details, it’s okay to think of these as keywords. Try to be as accurate and thorough as possible in the services you add:
Proactively Manage Your Listing
Once your account is set up and verified, take a proactive stance on keeping your business info current, posting new content, adding promotions or special offers, and responding to reviews.
Your account contains a load of analytics and other useful tools for understanding and improving user engagement with your brand. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your options, including how to add new users to manage various aspects of the account, how to transfer ownership of the listing, how to mark a business as permanently closed, and how to track data on phone calls and messages received through your listing.
When logged into your account, click “Posts” in the left sidebar. This opens a screen displaying your previous posts.
To add a general post, select “Add Update”. Here you can add content, links, a photo, and add an optional call-to-action from a dropdown that includes “Call Now”, “Buy”, “Book”, “Order Online”, and more. These posts will be visible on your business profile on Google Maps and Search, and can provide an excellent opportunity to stand out against the other businesses displayed.
Special Offers & Promotions
Incentivize customers to pick your business by providing special offers, discounts, and promotions that will appear in your business listing on Google Search and Maps. You can add these on the same page as above by clicking “Offer”.
To create a link for reviews, go to your Google My Business account and scroll to the “Get More Reviews” box. Copy the provided link and paste into your site so people can write reviews and you can respond. When sharing a specific link to your site, just copy and paste the URL code, which will direct people straight to that page.
As you can see, Google provides a lot of bang for your buck. When set up and managed correctly, not only can you utilize those to generate new business, you’ll also be giving your business a significant technical boost with respect to local SEO.
If you have any questions on setting up your Google My Business listing or would like a free assessment of your current local SEO and website, please give us a call today. We help businesses and organizations in Montana and across the country improve their search results and we look forward to serve you as well!