How to Use Google My Business
When was the last time you Googled something? Google processes about 40,000 searches every second, so chances are pretty good you’ve googled at least one thing today. From the phone number for the nearest physical therapist to reviews for the newest restaurant in town, chances are good that your customers are using Google too. So why not leverage Google as a tool to improve your online reputation?
To make sure your customers can quickly and easily find accurate contact information, hours, and reviews it’s important to take advantage of Google My Business. In just a few steps, you can get started and take advantage of this easy-to-use tool, which makes responding to online reviews easy.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool that allows business owners to manage their presence across Google domains, from Search to Maps. It helps your customers easily find your phone number, directions to your location, business hours, website, and more.
Google My Business also gives customers the opportunity to leave reviews and allows businesses with verified accounts to respond to reviews. In addition, businesses should also take advantage of Attributes, the Q&A section, and Knowledge Panels.
How to Create a Google My Business Listing
You can create a Google My Business listing in four easy steps:
- Sign into or create a Google Account for your business.
- Visit google.com/business and click “start now.”
- Provide some simple information, such as:
- The name of your business
- The location of your business
- The business’s category
- Your business’s phone number
- The website of your business
Choose a method to verify your Google My Business listing. You can choose to verify your account by postcard, phone, email, instant verification (available if you have already verified your business via Google Search Console), or bulk verification (if you have 10+ locations).
It’s important to verify your Google My Business listing because it proves your ownership of the business website. Verification gives you access to private search data and raises your rank in organic search. It can take several days for Google to review and verify your business.
You also have the ability to share the responsibility for managing your Google My Business account with your employees and contractors. Google will let you have three different types of users:
- Owners, who have full privileges and access, including the ability to add additional owners or managers
- Managers, who have all the privileges and access of owners except for the ability to add or remove users and to remove business profiles
- Site managers, who have some limited editing ability, the ability the respond to reviews, and the ability to view reports.
How to Optimize Your Business on Google
It is easy to customize the information your customers can find on your Google My Business listing. By adding details such as photos and hours of operation, you can help your customers choose your business.
While logged into your Google My Business dashboard, select “info” on your listing, and add additional information, such as whether or not you offer free wi-fi, the year your business was established, and more.
Keep Your NAPUCHD up to Date
NAPUCHD is an acronym for the most basic and important components of your Google My Business listing. You must be careful to keep this info up to date in the face of any changes.
- Name – Be sure your business name is correct, accurate, and complete. Resist the urge to add keywords to rank for other terms.
- Address – Address accuracy is vital. If you have multiple locations or several service areas, Google My Business allows you to add this information to rank for other service areas.
- Phone – Make sure the phone number connects precisely with the location.
- URL – Use a location-specific URL.
- Categories – Show what your business does, rather than what your business offers. For example, if you are an apartment building, you should not add “gym” as a category despite offering it as an amenity. This will confuse the search engine and prospective visitors.
- Hours – Especially around the holidays, show extra hours, as well as days you will be closed.
- Description – This field is a space to offer detail, preferably locally-focused. Leave URLs out of this section.
Photos and Videos
The easiest way to optimize your listing is to add photos. Search Engine Land, businesses with over 100 images receive 520% more calls, 2717% more direction requests, and 1065% more website clicks than the average business. Those with just one image get 71% few calls, 75% fewer direction requests, and 1065% fewer website clicks.
At a minimum, add a profile and cover photo of at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall in either JPG or PNG format. Google also recommends optimizing your profile with interior, exterior, product, and team photos.
An exterior photo is important, both for “curb appeal” – presenting an attractive first impression – and for guiding first-time visitors to your location. Interior photos help prospective visitor see what they will encounter on their visit. Add images that are welcoming, evocative, and accurate.
Consumers may also post photos of your location as long as they are deemed useful and not offensive. Google’s photo ranking algorithm delivers what it calculates to be the most relevant images.
If you see an image that shouldn’t appear in your photos, communicate with Google to report the image, especially if it violates their terms. You may be able to have it removed or suppressed. This can take some time, so be patient, and make sure you and your staff DO NOT click on the image in the meanwhile. Doing so will unintentionally make the photo seem more relevant to Google.
Videos require more time and resources, but present an incredible opportunity to tell your story, and show off your wares, your service, and your interior and staff.
Reviews and Responses
Google My Business also allows your customers to leave reviews. These reviews can serve as an online version of word-of-mouth marketing, helping new customers find you.
When you post replies to these reviews publicly as your business, it helps build trust with new customers by showing that you value your existing customers. Your business needs to be verified to be able to respond to customer reviews.
Google created attributes to help businesses communicate updates to services and offerings. Depending on your business’s primary category, you’ll have the option to set yourself apart with category-specific attributes.
Some of these attributes display on your local listings, while others may only display on mobile on the ‘About’ tab. Display locations will vary by industry and country.
For marketers, attributes are necessary to inform consumers and build brand authority.
The Q&A tool within Google My Business allows you to answer frequently asked questions. It’s featured prominently on Google My Business profiles, and factors into search engine visibility.
However, it’s important to note that anyone can post questions and answers for your business. Fortunately, Google makes it clear who is posting the information, so it’s important for business owners to monitor and respond to questions. Stop false information by stepping into your role as the ultimate source of truth regarding your business.
Google’s Knowledge Panel allows users to quickly digest information directly from a search result instead of having to go to a website for answers. It shows specific information about a business, person, or other types of subject matter.
There is no guarantee your business will get a knowledge panel result, but there are some things you can do to increase your odds. Start by claiming and verifying your Google My Business account and listing as much information as possible.
You should also make sure your site is verified on Search Console. Additionally, we recommend you add the structured data markup for your business, especially if you work in a specialized field that requires its own schema.
How Does Google My Business Affect My Online Reputation?
A verified, optimized Google My Business listing can elevate your organic search ranking. By having clear, easy-to-find information in Google Search, more customers will be able to find your business.
However, it is still important to monitor your Google My Business dashboard from time to time. Anyone can “suggest an edit” to your business’s information, creating the possibility that someone could add incorrect information.
If you have optimized your Google My Business listing by responding to your customer’s online reviews, it can serve as a basic version of online reputation management, allowing new customers to see the customer service offered by your business.
Managing your online reputation doesn’t have to be complicated. Take your online reputation management to the next level with Binary Fountain’s single integrated platform that makes it easy to manage your online reputation.
Want to learn more about how Binary Fountain can help you manage your Google My Business listings?
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