Your Guide To Managing Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business – the free search tool for listing both new and established businesses. If you’re not already using GMB to grow your visibility online, you’re almost certainly missing out. Of all the local SEO tips for small businesses, this is arguably one of the most important – and one of the easiest to set up.

Read on to find out how you can use Google My Business to manage your online presence, generate local exposure, and present yourself in the best light to potential customers.

What are we talking about here?

In a nutshell, GMB allows business owners to manage how their business appears in Google search results. This includes map listings, so if you’re based in a specific location, GMB can help people find you. What’s more, businesses verified by Google are more likely to be perceived as trustworthy.

What does this look like? To give an example, here’s what shows up when we type in ‘bakery dublin’.

As a potential customer looking for a bakery, chances are you will choose from one of the top three. Quite possibly Mannings Bakery and Cafe, since it has the highest number of positive reviews – a point we will come to later.

Nowadays, even if you operate offline, maintaining your business presence online is non-negotiable if you want to ensure a steady stream of new customers. If someone was to search for your services on Google right now, what would they find?

GMB for online businesses

According to Shopify, Google My Business is only relevant if you actually meet with your customers in person. So, say you run a pop-up store alongside your online store, GMB would be worth it for your business. But if you operate 100% online, you would be better off focusing your efforts on driving traffic directly to your website.

Setting up your listing

Creating your Google My Business listing is really simple, so it’s crazy to think there are small businesses out there not making the most of this free visibility tool. Start by heading to https://www.google.com/business/ and hitting ‘start now’. You’ll need to sign in with your Google account, or create one if you haven’t got one already.

Follow the process through, adding relevant business information where prompted. If you’re running a brick-and-mortar business, be sure to check your location on the map – this is very important. The next step is verification, which can be done by mail, email, phone call or SMS.

Add as many details as you can to your ‘info’ section, including things like accessibility information, opening hours, and payment methods. On your dashboard, you’ll also see you can post 300-word updates to promote content or upcoming events.

Getting the most out of your GMB listing

As with regular SEO, two of the best tactics to get the most out of your Google My Business listing are to have quality content and a strong backlink profile. GMB is incredibly important for local SEO – without it, you have no chance of appearing in the coveted ‘top three’ search box for relevant local searches.

Here are some pointers:

  • Add plenty of information to improve your click-through rate. Here are some helpful guidelines for representing your business on Google
  • Make sure that the number you’ve listed is a local number and the same as that displayed on your website
  • Be specific with your category choices. Long-tail keywords will be easier to rank for – think ‘vegan restaurant boston’, not just ‘restaurant’
  • Choose appealing, high-quality imagery that will help your listing stand out
  • Make a point of soliciting reviews from your customers, and encourage them to upload photos from their visit
  • Build citations to enhance your profile using local business listing websites
  • Consider using paid advertising methods to drive more traffic during opening hours

Business page photos

Businesses now have much more control over the images that show up in their GMB search results. Choosing the right images to represent your business online is crucial – you’re in direct competition with other local businesses, so you need to look the part. As well as uploading your own photographs, you can also hire a Google Trusted Photographer. This can sometimes work out cheaper than hiring an outside professional.

Your photos can be added directly using the Google My Business app. You’ll want a few different types of image to make your listing visually effective, such as:

  • A profile photo or logo to help customers recognise you
  • A cover photo to give a wider impression of your brand
  • Your ‘first photo’ – the one customers see alongside your name and location in search results (choose this one carefully)
  • Other features, such as product photos, interior and exterior shots, team photos and happy customers

Here’s an example of how a listing might look:

 Reputation management

And finally – reviews. What people are saying about you online. If you have the Google My Business app, you’ll automatically be notified about new reviews, giving you the chance to respond. There are lot of third party apps that can also be helpful when tracking reviews across multiple sites, so do a bit of digging into what software is currently available.

Did you know that 84% of us trust online reviews as much as friends? In a very real way, reviews have the power to influence your future customers’ decisions. In Google My Business, it’s easy to manage reviews using widgets or the review handout generator.

Naturally, you want to accumulate as many glowing reviews as possible to give yourself the best competitive advantage. But dealing with reviews means handling the good and the bad. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself facing a great many negative reviews, but if you do, it’s important to respond. You will want to focus on solutions, keep it brief, and move anything personal off into a private conversation.

So that’s how you create and manage a page on Google My Business. It’s a free and easy way to help your customers find you through online search – so what are you waiting for? We’d love to hear about your experiences and whether GMB proves helpful for you.

Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how companies can improve the way they represent their brand. She is passionate about using her experience to help brands improve their reach.