We cover each part of a Google My Business listing that you should be optimising. We also cover parts of a Google My Business page that cant really be ‘optimised’ but your should be aware of and how to get the best results.
If your business does not have a Google My Business listing, then you will need to create and verify your listing in order to take advantage of the product. If you do have a business listing, but this is not verified, you will need to verify your listing to access the page.
Start Here: www.google.co.uk/business/
When creating or claiming your business page, use the same Google Account that you use for your Google Analytics & Google Search Console. If you are running Google Ads then ideally this also should running on the same account. By using one single account, you allow for all the data from different products to be used by each other.
Optimising your Google My Business Listing
To access your new Google My Business listing, log into your account dashboard: https://business.google.com/locations
Click on the business to access the listing and you will be presented with an overview of your current business listings activity, updates and performance. You can navigate via the main left hand menu or individual blocks within the dashboard.
1. Business Category
Select the Info section >> Categories are below the name >> Select the pencil icon to edit.
It is impossible for Google to be able to list every conceivable type of business and service, so the key here is to pick the most relevant category to your business. You can also select sub categories that may better describe the services you offer.
Search for your service and area and see what categories other relevant businesses and competitors have listed for their business.
To see all the categories used by a similar business, you can use this work around:
- Find their page in Google Maps
- Rick click and select view source
- Then select Ctrl-F and search for their category being displayed.
[\”Web Designer\”,\”Advertising\”,\”Business Service\”,\”Design Services\”,\”Services Companies\”]
Don’t panic if Google does not have your specific category available, pick the ones that are most relevant and over time Google’s algorithms machine learn what exactly you offer. They do this based on the information you add to the listing, together with your connected website.
2. Business Address
Your address is central to Google understanding where you are located, this should be your exact address and it should be used in this format across all your online sources (Website, Social Profiles, Business Citations).
If you are in a large building, using Line 2 to add your office number or suite number, this is not a ranking factor but it makes for a better customer experience.
Make sure the PIN marker is as close as possible to your actual location. Switching to satellite view can often help you position the PIN marker closer to the business front door. Again this is not typically a ranking factor, but it is used to display the street view display and if it is not correctly positioned it could end up displaying an alleyway or car park and customers using it for direction will end up being taken to the PIN marker, again not a great experience.
Service Area Businesses
If you serve customers at their address (plumber, window cleaner) then you should hide your address and select service areas that you serve, this is referred to a Service Area Business (SAB).
Points to Note:
If you are positioned almost in the centre of a county (state) and you serve that county then select the county, however if you on the border of one county and possible a second one, then it would be advisable to select both areas, as this will incorporate those adjoining areas. You can also select specific areas, lets say you are based in south London, you can select specific areas within London that you serve.
When selecting areas, bigger is not better. In a normal scenario anything over 50 miles tends to dilute the signals, because of the way Google displays listings in the search results based on IP address or the users mobile phone location, they will not be displaying your business to someone 100 miles away if there are 20 plumbers closer to the user.
Equally if you are a business that can serve anyone in the country (Web Designer, Marketer, Copywriter etc) you should not be selecting the entire country as a service area radius, for the same reason above, you will simply not be recommended to a user searching for a web designer in Glasgow, if you are located in Northamptonshire. In this instance (if you don’t serve customers at your address as it might be a home address) then I would select the town and county in which you serve and use your website to target other areas in organic search.
Be sure to check Google My Business Guidelines before trying to use, mail forwarding addresses or virtual offices.
Make sure to list your businesses opening hours, again make sure that your regular business hours are listed on your other online resources (Website, Social Profiles, Business Citations)
If your business operates by appointment only, then you should contact business support, only they can add this label.
An option is provided for special hours over and above your normal hours like late night shopping on the run up to Christmas or a public holiday that happens to land on mid week. Special hours can be set below primary business hours. If you do not set these hours, Google displays “Hours may be affected” if it is a bank holiday – which is not good, especially when you are open.
4. Website, Appointments, Booking
Make sure you are displaying the correct link to your website. If your website is currently being developed and not currently live then do not add your link until it is ready.
If you have a dedicated booking url for appointments, and restaurants can also add their menu url.
The insights provided on your business listing are not always accurate (server errors, updates etc) so I recommend using a UTM tracking code on your websites link. This allows you to accurately track your visits and where the users went on your website in Google Analytics.
Tracking will help you to make better decisions as to what your users engage with and converts customers.
5. Services Menu & Food Menu
**Note: If you have Product Inventory available in your left hand nav – the services menu will be migrating out of the Info section to a permanent position in navigation.
In mobile these appear within the navigation menu which users can view and in desktop they can be triggered as an answer box, by searching “menu business name”. Who would search menu for a businesses services (virtually no one) but I guess Google developers have not quite finished polishing up the product yet.
This quirk aside, by using this option you are providing Google with further more detailed information about your business (remember machine learning).
More importantly users can view what services you actually provide.
If you have a set price for a service you can add this in, or leave it blank.
6. Business Description
Your business description appears within the knowledge panel, when it comes to adding your businesses description make sure you describe the business and the services you offer, and why you are great at what you do.
Don’t be tempted to:
- Stuff in Keywords
- Add Links
- Shout at customers with CAPS.
This is your chance to shine and show case your business.
7. Short Name
The short name feature allows you to create a branded short name to share on site or to customers looking for business.
On the back of this, it also crates a short name link for reviews that you can incorporate into your customer interactions and emails.
I recommend claiming yours as soon as possible, especially if your business name is quite common.
If your business is brand new, you may not have any options available to add any attributes. Make a regular check (or notifications) to see if any new attributes are available.
Attributes helps Google to provide more accurate results to searches.
Google Posts deserves it own article, but I would encourage all business to start making the most of Google Posts to engage with and influence customer conversions.
Google Posts also appear within the knowledge panel and in mobile display. It surprises me how much time small business spend posting in social media, when they have an opportunity to engage with customers direct in the search results and also adding semantic understanding to Google’s algorithms about your business.
Types of posts available:
- Announcement (Whats New)
- Event – Date and Time
- Offer – Vouchers Available
- Product – Pricing Available
A Google Post lasts for 7 days in search results, whilst an even will remain in search up until the end time and date specified.
Some simple rules to get the best out of Google Posts:
- Use High quality images (800 x 600), you can also use video
- Create a great title (headline) and include your target keyword in title. Include enough information for a user to make a decision and perform an action (click to learn more, call you, sign up, book)
Photos are not ranking factors, but crucially they are converting factors. You only have to look at your insights to see how many users view images, you have probably done this yourself before making a final decision.
Add great photos to your business listing, it helps to convert customers and creates a connection with users.
I would recommend that all businesses regularly monitor your customer added photos. These can often be very poor images and / or completely incorrect images. This is because when a user takes an image on their phone the Google Maps app prompts them to add the image to the business and it may have selected the incorrect business to add them to.
This goes back to making sure your PIN marker is correctly placed in the first instance.
If an incorrect image is added, you can report it from the image in the Maps display.
You can also add video in the photo section.
Product Inventory has its own section within the GMB dashboard navigation, however the steps to adding are the same as services / menu layout.
This allows small businesses to be able to add products manually to their business listing and is visible in mobile search. This allows the small businesses that do not have the ability to integrate product feeds via Google merchant and or use Pointy, that automatically integrates and updates product inventory via api.
Create a Category, then products within the category.
Image, Product Name, Price and Product Description
If you don’t have product inventory available because of your category, you can use the Google Post for Product and its displays as a product within mobile knowledge panel.
Questions & Answers
Question and Answers do not appear within your listings dashboard because they were implemented via Google Maps platform and are often missed by businesses. One way to keep informed of any questions or answers posted to your business is to have the Google Maps app enabled on your phone and you can answer this immediately.
Don’t want to use the Maps app, then make sure that you have enabled notifications for this in account settings – this will be an email notification.
Users do misunderstand the nature of this feature and often think this is some form of chat feature asking for immediate information. I recommend that you pre-populate this feature with FAQs that you encounter on a daily basis in the business.
Ranking signals based on reviews have been reduced over the past few years because this is just to easy to game, so quality over quantity is the messaging here.
Listings with review stars showing stand out on the page and in heat map studies, users tend to view listing with reviews before other listings.
Build in asking for reviews within your customer journey and monitor your reviews for any problems in customer services. Business also tend to panic over a less then 5 star review, however customers expect to see a range of reviews for a business, what they are looking to see is how the business reacted to the review, what will happen if I happen to have a bad experience, will the business take me seriously.
You can also send the short name direct link to send to customers when asking for them to leave a review.
Enable notifications when a customer leaves a review, if you happen to get a negative review, take a deep breath and reply in a professional manner. You can also report inappropriate reviews.
Incorporate Into Your Local SEO
Now that you have taken the time to optimise your Google My Business listing, Its time to work on your website and your locals SEO to get the best results from your website in organic search results.
See: Optimise your Websites Local SEO
Online Ownership provides a Google My Business Consulting Service, if you don’t have the time or inclination to optimise your listing, or you have multiple listings to manage. Drop us an email for a no obligation chat.