Google My Business Updates
This post goes through frequent updates to reflect the most recent changes in Google My Business (GMB). I find that many local shops, business owners are unaware that there is a no-cost digital marketing tool at their fingertips that helps increase local search visibility, list their products and services, manage customer reviews and grow their business.
How to update your Google My Business profile directly from search
August 17-2020 update
Google My Business is making it easier for small business owners to edit different sections of their profile directly from search, saving you time from logging in to the GMB dashboard. It is now possible to edit your store hours, business profile, add photos, view customer insights, create posts and more. This update was rolled out in mid-August 2020 and there will be additional shortcuts coming in the next few months. According to 9 to 5 Google, both Google Maps and Google My Business will have improved performance pages that will put more data in the hands of business owners. To be able to access edits to GMB profile directly from search, you can use the term “my business” or your business name to search on Google on desktop or mobile devices. It is important to note that you must be logged in to your Google account in order to see your business listing on the search results.
Here is a short video I recorded explaining how to access GMB profile editing tools directly from search
How can my local business benefit from Google My Business profile?
So, for those unfamiliar with GMB, it allows you to created your business profile so your local customers can find you online. If your business has a physical presence, if you offer a service type business where you visit clients at their location, you can’t afford to set up your Google My Business profile and make sure is well optimized. More on how to properly optimize your GMB profile below..
Google My Business profile is the panel that appears on the right-hand side of your screen if you are on a desktop computer when someone searches by your business name. It allows you to list important information about your business such as a link to your website, add a contact us button, enable customers to book appointments, leave reviews, ask questions and much more. As you can see it can be quite powerful for your local business.
Fill out the business information correctly
If you don’t have an account, you must create one, so after clicking sign in, choose Create Account button. See image on the left.
You will be taken to the next screen where you need to fill out your information including country, address, city, zip, postal or country code depending on your region.
One important thing to remember here is the ‘I deliver goods and services check box‘. If you have a physical address, leave this box unchecked. If you provide a service type business, then you need to check the box and move on to the next step.
Choosing the correct business category is an important step in the setup process. You are somehow limited to Google’s predefined list of categories so choose carefully.
If you currently do not have a website, you should select that option as shown in the image below. Most likely you know the importance of having your own website so if you need guidance on planning or help to design a website, feel free to drop us a message.
Once all the contact information is filled out correctly, click Next, then you will be asked to confirm your name so Google will mail you a postcard with a unique code that serves to verify your business. The postcard takes about 7-10 days to arrive. As soon as you receive it, log back into your Google account and from the ellipsis menu (the vertically stacked 9 dots in a grey circle) which appears on the top right corner of your screen on the desktop, and click on the My Business icon. See the image on the right
Now, at this point, you have created a very basic Google My Business account.
Let’s jump right into it…
How to optimize your Google My Business profile
Once you click on the My Business icon, you’re in the GMB dashboard. There are quite a few sections here which will cover one by one on how to optimize them. Let’s start with the Info section. See image below.
Choose a business category
Choosing a business category is the first step in optimizing your profile and it is an important one. Why? It helps your business get found when people search on mobile browsers using Google discover.
About 84% of all GMB profile views come from people searching on mobile, so this definitely can’t be ignored. It becomes even more important if your business name is different from the services you offer. Google does allow you to choose more than one category if your business falls under more than one, however it is important to remember here that choosing too many categories goes against Google’s guidelines.
Maintaining the consistency in your NAP can positively impact your local rankings
On the left hand of your screen, you will see listed the sections that make up different pieces of information on GMB profile. Clicking on the Info tab enables you to make changes to your address, business hours, add service areas, business description, products or services etc..
Starting with your address, this is what is called NAP (name, address, phone number). The important thing to remember here is, to enter the address exactly as it appears in your physical location. Pay very close attention to details like the spelling of the word Street or Road vs. St. or Rd. If you spell out the name Street here, you must keep it consistent in all other local directory listings or citations so your customers can easily find you on Google Maps. Check out a blog post I wrote on local citations and the importance of a full citation audit
Moving on to adding the service hours your business is open and close, again make sure those hours match the hours displayed on your physical store. Google recently introduced another option called More Hours which allows you to add specific drive-through, delivery, senior, or access hours depending on the type of business you run. Google is making it easier for businesses here to be as informative as they can with their customers so it filling out as much information as possible it ensures you have a well-optimized GMB profile.
The next step is to enter your business description which appears under the reviews in your business profile. Google does allow you 750 characters for the description so be concise and provide as much detail as possible.
Google My Business Photo Section
Moving on to the photo section, here is where you can upload photos of your business, staff photos, product photos. Remember, people are visual and they connect better through photos. You want to make sure photos are of good quality and clearly reflect your business. Copying photos from other websites is illegal and could cause you to be penalized.
So, no matter the type of business, photographer, fashion, restaurant, designer, photos enhance your profile and help boost your local rankings.
With images and visual search becoming increasingly important in 2020 and beyond, Google will love you more if you make it a routine to upload photos on a weekly basis. You can go even further by adding a geo-tag to your photos.
Google My Business Posts Section
Google My Business dashboard also offers the Posts section, accessible by clicking on the Posts tab on the left-hand menu. Posts are a great way to keep your customers updated with the latest on your local business. Let’s say you have an event coming up at your location, an announcement about expanding the business to another location or a special offer you want your customers to know about, create a short post and keep your customers informed. You can also add an image to your posts to make them more engaging.
Here are a few ways GMB posts can help your brand get noticed:
- By engaging potential customers with your brand and inviting them to act on event posts, special offers increase traffic to your physical store or your website
- When you post with a certain frequency in GMB, Google considers it as a positive ranking signal
- More customers can follow your brand and stay up to date with your business
Google My Business Messaging Section
The messaging section of GMB is quite important because once you set it up properly it enables your customers to reach out to you directly from mobile or desktop. More than 50% of people searching for a local business use a mobile device, therefore for the customer to be able to contact your business by text in real-time, is convenient and puts them in touch faster.
Relevant Detailed Reviews are positive ranking signals
Reviews can be a clear indicator of what to expect from a business in terms of services, professionalism, staff friendliness and much more. Reviews influence buying behaviours and impact your local rankings.
I’ve made it a habit now, every time I am looking to visit a new place I do business with, the first thing I do is check the online reviews. It could be a hotel, restaurant, pet store, plumber or electrician. In addition to reading positive reviews, I pay special attention to how the business responds to the ‘Not so positive‘ reviews. There is room for improvement in every business, so that tells me a lot about how responsive a business is and how much they care about their customers.
Why am I saying all this? Because being proactive in Google My Business, asking customers for reviews and especially responding to reviews and interacting with customers are all positive signals to Google. Also, the depth of each review matters to Google rankings.
Google has made it quite easy for customers to leave a review in your business profile, by simply searching or your business name and clicking the Leave a Review button. You can also email your customers a short link that takes them directly to the review section of your business profile, where they can leave a review.
Being able to consistently update your Google My Business listing requires continuous effort in order to leverage the full benefits of it. There is a list of tasks each local business should be doing:
- Updating your business hours
- Adding special events, posts and special offers
- Publishing new photos and geotagging them
- Responding to reviews
- Keeping up with Google’s new features in the GMB dashboard so you keep your profile always stays optimized.
Have a plan in place to update your Google My Business profile and focus on providing value to customers.