Chances are, sometime within your life you’ve searched for a business on Google. Think about the last time you searched Google for a restaurant, a salon, or even a doctor’s office. What helped you make your decision about where you were going to eat or where you were going to get your hair cut?
Was it the business’s location? Or maybe the hours they were open? Perhaps you even made your choice based on their reviews.
And guess what — you probably utilized Google My Business and didn’t even know it.
GMB is a free tool created by Google to help businesses have a professional listing with at-a-glance information for anyone searching. This listing features photos of your business, hours of operation, phone numbers, reviews, products and services, and more. Therefore, it’s so important to make sure your business has a Google listing claimed and that all of the proper information is displayed. We wouldn’t want a customer upset because Google says you’re open on New Year’s Day when you’re actually not! But don’t fret — it’s super quick and easy to take control of your listing and help the people searching for your business find exactly the right information. So, let’s help your business get the attention it deserves on Google, shall we?
Today we’ll cover:
- How to Claim Your Business Listing
- Filling Out Your Profile
- Viewing Your Listing on Google
1. How to Claim Your Business Listing
A. Sometimes, if a business gets a lot of reviews or searches, Google automatically creates a business listing and tries to guess what information to display. Which is super smart of Google, but that means this listing is not “claimed” and no one owns the rights to it. It just kind of goes into the ether of the internet, which could potentially be bad for your business if someone else claims the rights to it before you do. So how do you make sure you have the rights to it?
Well, first, Google your business!
If Google has automatically created a listing for you, you’ll see it on the right hand side of the search results page (or at the top if you’re searching on a mobile device). This is called the knowledge panel (pictured above), where all the information about a business is displayed. Within the knowledge panel, you should look for a link that says “Own this business?”. Google will want you to prove this is actually your business and gives you a method of your choice to grant you full access to the listing. You can either choose to have Google call the phone number on your business listing or they will mail a postcard to the address provided on the listing. Either way, you’ll receive a verification code. You’ll visit https://business.google.com and enter your code to verify your listing. And voila, the listing is all yours!
B. So, maybe you Googled your business, and your business information didn’t display in the Google knowledge panel or “Own this business?” wasn’t an option in the knowledge panel. No worries. This either means Google hasn’t automatically created a listing for your business or someone else has already claimed it. For either of these reasons, we’ll start by going to https://business.google.com and choose “Manage Now”. Google will now ask you for basic information about your business.
If Google recognizes your business as a listing someone else already owns, it assumes you’re trying to gain request access and sends a notification to the Primary Owner of that business listing. It gives you a hint as to who that person is with a sneak peak of their email, such as rac….@roseandpixel.com, so you will have some clue as to who owns the listing. If you know them, it doesn’t hurt to get in contact and give them a heads up to grant you access. Otherwise, it’s a waiting game. If the owner doesn’t grant nor deny your request within a certain amount of time, Google will automatically override the listing and grant you pending ownership, asking you for a verification code the same way we previous discussed.
If Google doesn’t see that anyone else owns the listing and you’re creating it from scratch, Google will ask you to verify your business by — you guessed it — a verification code. Once verified, you’ll have complete freedom from the start of what information to provide and you’ll become the Primary Owner of your business listing.
2. Filling Out Your Profile
Once you’ve officially verified your business listing, you’re free to add and edit any information necessary. To do so, visit https://business.google.com to view your listing’s dashboard.
A. General Information
Here you can view statistics and update general information like your business’s name, hours of operation, address, and phone number. Google My Business also allows you to add special hours to your listing and even reminds you to do so for upcoming holidays. And don’t forget about photos! Add photos to your listing to showcase what your business offers and who it helps. When adding your address, Google My Business gives you two options for address types: Physical Address and Service Area. If your business has a physical location where customers are welcome to visit, like a restaurant or doctor’s office, you’ll choose to enter your Physical Address. If your business does not have a location where customers can visit, like an air condition repair man traveling to service his clients, you’ll choose the area you serve within Service Area. Notice the difference between how a physical address and service area address will appear on Google:
B. Products and Services
C. Messaging and Reviews
D. User and Location Management
Google My Business also allows access to manage other users and other listings. If your business has multiple locations, you can house them all within one account and even make bulk changes if necessary. Additionally, Google My Business lets owners grant different levels of access to each individual location. This can help you as a business owner handle your users and locations all under one dashboard.
One of the most important and and well-loved features of Google My Business is the amazing insights it provides. Within the Insights tab in your Google My Business dashboard, you can see how customers are discovering your business, what important keywords are returning your business in search results, and how many customers are taking action by visiting your website, getting directions, or calling you directly.
And I know what you’re thinking: Insights? Statistics? Sounds wayyyy to boring and complicated. But it’s not! Google makes it so simple to find all of this data at a glance.
A. How Customers Search for Your Business
There are three different kinds of traffic your Google business listing can receive:
- Direct – These people are searching for your business directly by name or address. This means people know who you are and they’re looking directly for YOU! (For example, searching “Chick Fil A near me”)
- Discovery – These people searched for a product or service you off. This traffic is great because it’s the most competitive! Including keywords in your Google listing and on your website help you get Discover traffic. (For example, Chick Fil A appearing in search results for “chicken sandwich near me”)
- Branded – These customers found your listing by searching for a different brand. This means your listing was chosen over a competitor’s! (For example, Chick Fil A’s listing appearing when searching for “McDonald’s near me”)
B. Queries Used to Find Your Business
Within the insights tab, you can track common search terms and phrases customers use to find your business. These are important words to keep in mind because they give insight as to how your customers think and search. Use a variation of these words in your marketing across your website, advertising, and promotional materials to appeal to ideal audience.
C. Customer Actions
Now that you know how many people searched for your business, it’s important to know if they took any action to contact your business and actually converted from a searcher to a customer.
Your Google My Business insights show exactly how many people took action, when they took action, and how they took action directly through your Google listing. There are 3 ways a customer can take action: visiting your website, getting directions via Google Maps, and calling your business. (Keep in mind, if you have a service area business like discussed previously, you will not be able to view insights for directions.) This shows you just where the traffic you’re getting from Google is leading to.
So, if receiving calls is your most popular traffic avenue, make sure you’re answering the phone in a timely and professional manner. If website views is your most popular traffic avenue, make sure your website is in tip top shape. And so forth.
4. View Your Listing on Google
Okay, you’ve put in all the work now from claiming your listing, assuring your information is correct, and making your biz look totally professional online. Now it’s time to let your listing shine on Google! It may take up to 3 days for certain edits to appear in search results, but give it a whirl, and…Google. Your. Business!
You may notice your business appears in two different formats. This brings me to my next and final point. Google My Business gives two different layout views to it’s listings:
- The Knowledge Panel – This is the default view for Google listings. It gives an overview of all information provided and only shows your business.
- The “Snack Pack” – This view typically appears when people search for generic terms, such as “chicken sandwich near me” instead of a brand-specific “Chic Fil A”. Google tries to guess what the searcher is looking for and gives options of three listings relating to “chicken sandwich near me”. These results are ranked based on the searcher’s location in relation to the business’s location, the number and overall ratings of reviews, and keywords that appear within reviews. This layout is very competitive as it puts your business right next to your competitors, but if you appear within those top three results, this can help drive so much traffic to your business!
Keep in mind, Google My Business is known as a local SEO tool. This means your listing appears based on where the person searching is located in relation to where your business address is located. So if someone is searching for a pet groomer in Houston, Texas, it’s more than likely that your pet grooming business in Hammond, Louisiana won’t appear in search results because that location isn’t the most convenient for the searcher.
And there you have it! Your business listing is polished and ready to convert those Google searchers into your customers. I hoped this helped demystify how to get your business to appear in local Google searches and have control over what business information people see when they’re searching. Don’t forget to monitor search keywords in the Insights tabs, respond to all f your reviews and messages, and always make sure your information is correct and up to date. Best of luck to you!