Google My Business is an important platform that you should be using to improve your search visibility in Google’s search engine for local terms. It should be part of a local SEO strategy for any business.
This article sets out to provide you with an overview of Google My Business, the benefits of using it as well as giving you a guided tour around the dashboard.
What is Google My Business how does it work with Google Maps?
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.
In Googles SERPs, your business has the potential to be visible in what is called the local pack. A list of three businesses that provide the user with a website link and the option to get directions to the business.
The user is also presented with an interactive map highlighting the locations of the businesses.
If the user clicks on one of the local pack businesses then they are taken to Google Maps and presented with more local business offerings and information.
The position of the local businesses within the local pack and Google Maps list is determined by Google’s algorithms. To encourage Google to rank your business listing highly in these results then you need to make sure that you follow local search engine optimisation best practices.
Tip: Our introductory post to local search engine optimisation (SEO) will set you on the right path.
What are the benefits of Google My Business?
Google My Business is a powerful tool providing a number of benefits to not only the listed businesses but also to potential customers every day. Some of these benefits include:
- Improves local SEO – If you are a small business that serves customers in the surrounding area then this tool offers your business a chance to get seen on Google. Your SEO agency should help you market your presence on GMB.
- Communicates essential business details – Potential customers who view your business listing will be able to quickly and easily see opening hours, address and phone number amongst other useful information. This means it’s important to keep your listing up-to-date and accurate at all times.
- Customer Reviews – Your customers can leave reviews of your business. Take note that reviews can be positive as well as negative therefore you should always respond to your reviews in a proactive manner.
- Google My Business Posts – You can create posts that will appear in mobile search results, increasing your visibility. You can use these posts to communicate important messaging to your customers such as offers or promoting your latest blog post.
- Customer Insights – This is useful as you can build a better picture of who your audience is and what their habits are when it comes to your Google My Business listing.
- And best of all it’s free.
How to Claim or Add your Business
There are some steps that you need to follow to claim or add your business to Google My Business. Whether you use a desktop or mobile device will determine which process you should follow.
Luckily, Google’s support pages provide clear step by steps guides on how to do this.
Exploring the Dashboard
Once you have created an account and claimed and verified your business you will be able to view and manage your business via the website or mobile app which is freely available on various app stores.
The dashboard comprises of the main navigation down the left-hand side and the main dashboard to the right. The area to the right consists of various cards including:
- Creative Tools – Here you can Create Posts, Add Photos and Create Ads (Google Ads).
- Performance – Here you’ll find an overview of stats about your business including Views, Searches and Activity.
- Latest Customer Photos – This card shows the most recently viewed photos, how many views each have had and a link to manage your photos.
- Latest Reviews – This card shows your star rating overview with a link to manage your reviews.
- Your Latest Post – This card shows your latest post including stats on the number of views and clicks it has received.
- Your Business on Google – Here you can view your business on Maps and Search, to see what your listing looks like.
- Businesses like yours are posting! – This card shows what your competitors are posting.
- Complete Your Listing – Here you can see a percentage overview of how complete your Google My Business profile is.
- Learn More About Your Business – This card provides a link to the Insights section of Google My Business.
These dashboard features are the most common ones that you will regularly use. There are other features that some businesses may find useful such as Get Custom Email or the User Management options.
Important Dashboard Sections
Here we will take a closer look at the more popular and most commonly used sections of Google My Business that you need to get to grips with.
Google My Business Posts
This feature allows you to create posts in a similar way that you would create posts for social media, although these posts are more streamlined and without all the bells and whistles of a Facebook or Twitter post.
The types of posts you can create include ‘What’s New’, ‘Event’, ‘Offer’ and ‘Product’, each with their own setting options.
Make sure you write engaging copy and include a high-quality image.
The main purpose of these posts is to get the user to engage with your business. The post creator tool allows you to add a call to action button to your post. To do this you click the ‘Add a button’ dropdown and select one of the following:
- Order Online
- Learn More
- Sign Up
- Call Now
While the ‘Call Now’ button will automatically pull in the phone number you have on your business profile, the other button options require you to provide a relevant link.
This is where you enter your important business information. Make sure you complete as many of the fields that you possibly can. The more information you can provide to the customer, the more chance you have of them engaging with your business.
Be sure to select appropriate services so as to not cause confusion, not only to the customer but also to Google.
If your opening hours change over the Christmas period or over Bank Holidays, then make sure you detail these changes using the ‘special hours’ section.
Another thing to mention is that if your business doesn’t have a physical shop front or office then you can leave your Business Location empty. Just make sure that you include a list of locations in the Service Areas section.
The insights section allows you to view data on how customers found your business. The data is categorised in three ways:
- Direct – The customer was searching directly for your address or business name.
- Discovery – The customer was searching for a category, service or product that you offer.
- Branded – The customer found your listing whilst searching for a brand that is related to your business.
You can also see what search terms customers entered that triggered your business listing to be shown. This will help you to tailor your website and online ad copy to make sure that your assets are optimised to what your customers are looking for.
From the Insights section, you can also see the actions that customers took after viewing your My Business listing, such as visiting your website, requesting directions or calling your business.
This allows you to pick up on any spikes in data such as in the example below. You can then look further into what caused this lift such as a local leaflet drop or online paid ads.
Another feature found in Insights is your phone call data. You can see the number of calls you have received from your My Business listing and on what day customers called your business. This allows you to spot any trends in
Photo views data allows you to see and compare the data from your photos against other competitors within your local area. As you can see in the example below competitor photos are getting a greater amount of views.
Even though over the last quarter you can see a steady increase in photo views for the example business, work is needed to be carried out to improve this area.
This next chart highlights that there needs to be an increase in uploaded photos when compared to competitors.
Reviews are a powerful tool for any business. Positive reviews can influence a customer as to whether they will engage with your business or not. Google My Business reviews can play a major part in the customer’s decision-making process and should not be ignored.
Be aware that fake negative reviews are common across the internet. One of the ways you can try to combat these it to report them to Google by using the Flag as Inappropriate option that is available. However, this does not guarantee the review in question will be removed as they are generally difficult to prove.
If a customer leaves you a review whether it be good or bad then it is recommended that you respond to them to show that you engage with your customers. If a negative review is left on your listing, the best thing you can do is respond to the customer. Reach out to find out if there is anything that you can do to help rectify any problems.
This will be publicly visible for the world to see painting your business in a brighter light and that can only be a good thing.
This section is where you get to manage all of your photos related to your business. You can even turn them into posts to be shared.
You can also add videos of your business. So whether you have a product that you want to show off of a new member of staff that you want to shout about then now you can in video format.
Google My Business allows you to create a simple website for your local business using your listing information. However, if you already have a website then you should use it as the sites created using this tool are not of a high standard.
If your business has multiple locations then here is where you would set each one up. This is much better than having to verify each location as though they were separate businesses.
The Future of Google My Business
Google My Business, like every other Google tool is constantly evolving to offer richer user experiences. New features are added over time while less successful features are removed.
One feature that will be removed in the near future is the Messaging feature. Unfortunately, Google no longer sees this as a useful feature for businesses. This is bad news for a lot of organisations that are heavy users of this service. They now have to find an alternative solution.
There are many features Google My Business has to offer that every business should be taking advantage of to help improve their search presence. So claim your business, complete your profile and start adding photos and sharing posts to compete against other local businesses in your line of work.