It’s likely that your business is already listed on Google, but if you haven’t yet ‘verified it’ or updated the information then you could be missing out on traffic to your site, customers to your shop and ultimately sales.
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Google Maps. By verifying your business, you can add your business name, location, and trading hours; you can monitor and reply to customer reviews and add product or location photos. You can also keep your customers informed about your business - so if you’re currently operating a reduced service or are closed due to COVID-19, your GMB profile is the easiest way to keep your customers informed.
Your GMB profile helps to maximise your online presence and serves your business information to the millions of people who are searching for local services and products on a daily basis. Google now gives precedence to local business listings over websites, which makes business listings more important than ever and a key part of the buying journey for your customers.
Tip: If a customer searches for you online your Google My Business profile is often the first thing that they see so it’s important that this is optimised with complete information and good images.
If your business is affected by COVID-19, it’s important that you update your Google My Business profile to provide the most accurate information to your customers. These include:
- Your updated operating hours
- If your business services are experiencing delays
- Additional services that you're providing
- Mark your business 'Temporarily closed' on Google
How to create a Google My Business Listing
Step 1: Log in to the Google Account you want to be associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
Step 2: Go to google.com/business and select “Manage now” in the top right-hand corner.
Step 3: Enter your business name.
Step 4: Enter where you serve your customers (if you have a shopfront). This is optional.
Step 5: Enter the contact details for your business.
Step 6: Confirm your listing
How to Verify Your Business on Google
To complete your profile you will need to verify your GMB listing, this can be done in any of these ways:
- By postcard
- By phone
- By email
Step 1: Sign in to GMB and choose the business you want to verify. If you're already logged in, you will still be at the verification step.
Step 2: Double-check that your business address is correct. Your verification postcard will be sent to this address so add a contact name to ensure it comes through to you.
Step 3: Click "Mail." The postcard should reach you in five days. It’s important not to make any changes to your business category, name, address, or request a new code before it arrives as this will likely cause a delay.
Step 4: When your postcard arrives, log in to Google My Business, select the location you want to verify (if you have multiple businesses). If you only have one, select "Verify now."
Step 5: Enter the five-digit verification code on your postcard. Click "Submit."
Tip: If you lose your verification code, you can request a new one by signing into GMB and clicking the "Request another code" banner at the top of the screen.
Google allows some businesses to verify their location by phone. If you're eligible, you'll see the "Verify by phone" option when you start the verification process.
Step 1: Sign into GMB and select the business you want to verify. (If you're already logged in, you'll be at the verification step.)
Step 2: Make sure your phone number is correct, then choose "Verify by phone."
Step 3: Enter the verification code from the text you receive.
Google allows some businesses to verify their location by phone. If you're eligible, you'll see the "Verify by email" option when you start the verification process.
Step 1: Sign in to GMB and select the business you want to verify. (If you're already logged in, you'll be at the verification step.)
Step 2: Make sure your email address is correct, then choose "Verify by email."
Step 3: Go to your inbox, open the email from Google My Business, and click the verification button in the email.
How to Optimise Your GMB Listing
Now your listing is set up, it’s time to populate your profile with information about your business. The goal is to make your business listing stand out against your competitors
- Showcase great images that will appeal to your potential customers.
- Highlight key information that is relevant and useful
- Respond to and manage your reviews
- Use business posts to keep customers up-to-date on promotions, business updates, product catalogues etc.
Tip: Add as much information to each section as you’re able - don’t forget to regularly update opening hours, promotions, images and respond to reviews.
Add your images
If you want your profile to be seen, it’s important to add images to your listing. Google says that businesses with photos get 35% more clicks to their website than those without, so take the time to add images that best reflect your products/services.
Tip: Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and JPG or PNG files. Videos are a great way to help you stand out, but they’re optional, unlike images.
Your cover photo is key. Google Search and Google Maps will display this image at the top of your listing for most results. It’s a snapshot of what your customers can expect. If you have professional photos of your business, it’s worth using one here. If not, just make sure it best represents your product/service. While you’re uploading your cover photo, also add your logo, and videos and other supporting images.
Tip: You can set your logo, cover, and interior photos by clicking the “Change photo” or “Add photos” buttons.
Google Image Dimensions and Requirements
- Logo Size: Square, 250 x 250 px (min 120 x 120; max 5200 x 5200 px)
- Cover Photo: Landscape, 1080 x 608 pixels (min 480 x 270; max 2120 x 1192 px)
- Acceptable Image Formats: JPG or PNG.
- Sizes: 10KB - 5MB.
- Quality: Google requires decent quality. The image should be well lit and in-focus. Void over-editing or using filters.
Tip: At any point in time, you can edit your business profile by logging into your GMB dashboard, clicking on "Info," clicking the pencil next to the field you'd like to edit, making your change, and then choosing "Apply."
Manage your reviews
Online reviews are digital currency so you need to embrace and trade off them. This means checking them regularly, replying to reviews left by your customers (including negative ones) and using them as a way to build better relationships with your current customers and giving your potential new customers a glance at what kind of customer service they can expect to receive from you.
There are lots of ways to encourage customers to leave reviews for your business.
Tip: You can easily sort reviews by the ones you’ve not yet replied to.
Posts about your business
Keep your customers informed about the latest news from your business by adding events, promotions and products to your listing. The product showcase can be particularly powerful so if you’re selling goods, maximise this function.
Tip: If you add an ‘event’ it will show up below the customer reviews in the Upcoming Events section - they will also show up in Google Maps.
Get the App and engage with your customers
The App for Android and Apple devices enables you to manage your listing on-the-go including uploading pictures, creating posts and events, managing bookings, and responding to reviews. It also allows your customers to message you directly.
Tip: Find out more about Messaging Options from Google
Use social listening to engage with your customers on social
Now’s a great time to review your general online presence. With your GMB listing up and running, it’s worth investing time getting your website updated and your social media accounts looking good. Most businesses benefit from having Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as a minimum, as this combination provides the broadest reach. If you need a little help, there’s plenty of free support for Getting Started on Social and Getting Better on Social.
With your social media profiles looking good, you can monitor who is talking about your business on social media by using a social listening tool like Maybe*. Using the sentiment analysis tool you’ll be able to see who is posting positive comments about you so you can engage with them and encourage them to post a review on your GMB page.
This is equally important for people who are talking negatively about your business, as it’s important that you manage this with care and overcome the issues before they leave you a negative review.
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