Ultimate Guide to Google My Business for Local Businesses

You may be wondering how people perceive your local business, but you may better ask yourself: “are people going to find me at the time they need to,” or “how fast can they look for me in the first place?” Google My Business is just one of the wide array of tools provided by the dear we-have-everything-you-need company that can help you with your online presence uncertainties.

To make this an interesting read, we have divided the topic according to the following:

  • What is Google My Business (GMB)

  • Benefits of Doing Your Local Business GMB

  • How to do Your Google My Business Account

    • For Storefront Business-Listing
    • For service-area business listings
    • For bulk-verified accounts
  • How to Optimize Your GMB Account

 

NOW, let’s get started.

What is so special about Google My Business?

Google My Business pages are useful not only to people who need to save more time or on-the-go, but also to businesses constantly eyeing for potential customers.

 

Basically, it is a free tool for both businesses and organizations alike to build their profile on search results – useful for people trying to check out, let’s say, the nearest pizza or coffee shop in town before they head out to a movie theater – especially if they are in a neighborhood completely strange to tourists or would-be visitors. The end product is a search result card that highlights key information like location, what products you offer, and business hours.

As they say, competition favors the fit. While your business information may be fully available online, it doesn’t mean that your competitors would not stand a chance. See for yourself what’s in the box and how you could make sure you’re not going to be out of business by checking our ultimate guide to the world of Google My Business to take a step ahead other local businesses (and maybe even learn how to make your very own, personalized website)!

Benefits of Having a Google My Business Account for Your Local Business

Google My Business Insights Dashboard - ESTRAT X

Here’s what you can get according to Google:

1.) Priority Local Search Visibility

When a prospect client searches the web via mobile, Google will first push content from Google Maps. Verified Google maps listings are Google My Business claimed and verified account and are 26% more likely to be visible on the local search with 60% clickthrough rate when optimized. That is a prime visibility out there to your prospect searchers.

2.) Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy

GMB is a free business listing powered by Google aimed at improving the search for relevance according to intent of the searches. If the GMB is optimized, local businesses are giving prospect customers an inside look of your business (photos, videos), busiest hours, operations time, website, direction how to get there in a click of a button.

3.) Better Reputation for Local Business

Establishments with a verified My Business profile would be perceived by people as reputable, twice as much as their unverified counterparts. The reason? Simple. What’s more reliable than a bunch of information given by Google after a quick search? A page (or small card-like item) of your business is loaded together with other search results in a way that it seems provided by Google in some automatic way. Similar searches may still appear in the standard text form, while others may be in the form of suggestions, photos included. Forbes gives some reminders on how you can improve your image online.

4.) Social and Customer Interaction System

Never did you know that you can add photos, as well as reply to comments (or rants) of your loyal or new customers. You can even get some stars! Read how you can be the master of online public relations here.

5.) Easy to Push Local Business ads

Knowing how your customers found you in the first place could help you make better decisions later on, especially that you can also advertise through AdWords Express.

6.) Higher Conversion from Intent-Based Location Sensitive Search.

According to a May 2014 report by Google, 72% of consumers went to a store near them after searching through a smartphone, and 66% for computers or tablets.

Your address is important

Now, if you have finally claimed and verified your business listing, you can start working on the essentials.

8. Free Search and Local  Insights for Your Business

If you have claimed your account, GMB will provide you a dashboard where you can see your free business performance and insights in search and how you can improve it.

On the sidebar of the dashboard, you will see the SEARCH and MAPS links with their corresponding views in the last 28 days:

Google My Business Search and Maps Links and Views

Lastly You can have AI generated insights on your dashboard sharing to you vital information on how customers are interacting with your Google business listings on how they found you? Where are they coming from? and so on…

9. Free Professional Website For you

If you don’t have any budget to hire and create a new website for your product and service, Google My Business simply gives you the power to do so. Create one with Google My Business free website feature under 10 minutes with the use of your desktop computer or mobile phone.

ESTRAT X - Google My Business Free Website

Step-by-Step Guide in creating your Google My Business account

There are two things that you have to consider before you actually “create” your account:

First, you need to check whether your business is listed in Google Maps. If yes, the second thing you need to work on is ownership.

In case your business is not yet visible on Google Maps, just provide all the relevant information and set a phone call or the postcard option (whichever is applicable or more practical) for verification purposes.

Just in case someone already “owns” your precious business page…

Do not try to compete with the first one by creating your own. You should attempt to get access first through the following ways as advised by Google:

For storefront business listings:

  1. Visit business.google.com add and search for your business by inputting name and address
  2. Select your business and click Continue. You can claim and verify it unless someone already did.
  3. Select Request access and complete the form before hitting submit. The current owner will get an email requesting that they communicate with you.

For service-area business listings:

  1. Visit business.google.com add and fill in your business information.
  2. Get verified and wait for the confirmation before signing in to business.google.com.
  3. Choose Request access after you see the “Owner conflict” dialog then check your email.

For bulk-verified accounts:

  1. Claim using the method for storefront business or request ownership by uploading location information via spreadsheet.
  2. Open it in Google My Business.
  3. Choose Request access after you see the “Owner conflict” dialog then check your email.

Now, after being nice to others who “owned” YOUR business listing, they have a week to get back to you. Check the progress of your request by signing in to Google My Business.

If your request was granted, then good for you. If not, you can suggest some changes to the information or make an appeal.

Don’t feel bad if you did not receive any message. You might be able to claim it, that is, if you can see a Claim or Verify button on your Google My Business dashboard.

Duplicates can be seen as forms of reserve but they do not always do good to us for their redundant availability. They may have been created due to good-intentioned sources except that they slightly vary from one another due to spelling, or other information. Don’t worry, you would be notified if such a situation occurs.

To solve your twins/duplicate issues:

  1. Go to your Google My Business account, then select Duplicate locations from your Account Summary.
  2. Select the unverified duplicate locations then choose “Delete this listing.” If you want to eliminate several at once, check the boxes then click Remove from the three dot menu icon.
  3. If you want to report the duplicate locations, find them in Google Maps then choose Suggest an edit, before selecting “Place is permanently closed or has never existed.” Set “Duplicate” as reason before hitting submit.

If you are a service-area business, check “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” under the address section of your Google My Business profile if you want your address hidden but check “I also serve customers at my business address” if you want your address shown.

Your address is important because consumers went to a store near them after searching through a smartphone, and 66% for computers or tablets.

Now, if you have finally claimed and verified your business listing, you can start working on the essentials.

Provide all the information that Google asks from you. No skipping. Information include Categories, Hours, Special Hours, Phone Number, Website, Appointment URL, Services, Attributes, Business Description, Opening Date, and industry specific information.

How to optimize your Google My Business account

You better include this in your checklist now. Right now. No ifs and buts.

You may consider tweaking your name (or your description).

Consider having a rebrand in case you feel the need to do so, when you are just starting your business. Entrepreneur.com says your company name matters. Here’s why.

 

Provide all basic information – and give a little bit of dedicated support.

Make sure that your customers can reach you with what you handed them in the first place. According to a study conducted by Google, consumers have a preference to location-based ads, and that 4 in 5 consumers utilize the internet to find stuff near them. Know more about the study by downloading it here.

Google, in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased, involved a total of 5,153 respondents aged 18 above.

You can also add SMS to your business listing and manage it through Google Allo both on mobile and desktop.

Don’t forget the scheduling option for your customers with the use of a special software. A URL would also do.

People can also ask on your knowledge panel. Make sure that you tend to them.

“Give it a good shot”

It would not hurt your budget to do some photoshoot to get all that high definition image you’ll need. Just remember that the final format for uploading according to Google’s standards must be JPG or PNG with a file size ranging from 10KB to 5MB and a resolution of 72-x72 at the minimum. Keep it real, no unnecessary retouches. Your cover photo will also be the one seen in Google search results.

You can even hire a partner photographer of Google to take have a 360 virtual tour of your place taken.

Your imagination is your limit in photography. Image courtesy of Pexels. 

Spice up with videos up to 30 seconds long, with a resolution of at least 720p, and 100MB max.

Courtesy of Edgy Labs. According to a study by HighQ, all businesses are interested in video marketing. 69 percent of them are already doing so.

Create posts and utilize the different calls to action.

Don’t forget that images would show in a 4:3 ratio. Remember that it’s more cruel than Twitter, because only the first 100 characters would be seen at first glance. They are also available only for 7 days. Events on the other hand expire after their day.

Everything is mobile!

Keep track of all insights by not forgetting to download the Google My Business app here. (link:

 With mobile, you can do everything from arranging orders, doing follow ups, creating content, so on, and so forth. Read why mobile is important for your business.

Manage Online Reviews

In a reputation-based economy, 92% of your prospects customers look at online reviews with 62% looking specifically at Google My Busines reviews.

A leading Local SEO platform Bright Local noticed in their internal-research with clients that

  • 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation; and,
  • seven out of 1o customers will leave a review for a business if asked by the business.

This makes review optimisation an integral part of the GMB strategy mix.

BONUS: Create your own website!

If you are a business owner in this digital age and you still don’t have your website running, your business must be a joke. Friends will laugh at you. =) Yes, you’re right buddy! They’re now dying of laughter.

But you don’t have to suffer. Google My Business offers Free website for you and your business.

If you are planning to professionalize your online store, there are other website hosting providers now available on the internet.

Stop your drama, say “hey, Google” (or hey Siri) if you happen to be on mobile and say or hit the following: H-O-W (space) T-O (space) M-A-K-E (space) M-Y (space) O-W-N (space) W-E-B-S-I-T-E and you might get some 3.85 billion results.

Need not numb your fingers, we’re giving you some tips and compiled some of the best for you.

Online marketing is one of the time-tested tools used by businesses to promote their products and services. Image courtesy of Pexels/Pixabay.

 

Step 1: Decide on your domain name.

Domain names virtually serve as a versatile tool for every business and organization.

The usual mistake being done by website creators is to fill in every single character of their business name without even thinking if their clients would get to spell it our correctly or if it can even be remembered in the first place. Keep your domain name short and easy to remember.

If you are ambitious enough, you might as well check if your name means a little bit off in other languages.

Step 2: Find a reliable website hosting service provider and decide whether you’ll be going with DIY depending on your talent.

Check for yourself. You were allotted 2 fingers to do so.

Note: you can purchase a domain name directly from a domain name seller, a website hosting service provider, or the brands that offer setting up your website seamlessly.

You can also avail of the free services that would allow you, but in a limited way, to showcase your local business. These usually comes in the form of subdomains riding along the domain names of the hosting service providers.

 

Image courtesy of Domain.me

How to make your local business website with a limited budget

You have no budget. You have no resources. You only have your product and some skills (or your friend-who-sidelines-writing-articles) or some elementary knowledge. Grab a cheap web hosting service out there (but be prepared for possible consequences).

Hostinger

An affordable yet reliable one is Hostinger.

WordPress

Now, utilize the power of WordPress. It allows you to use its wide range of templates you can choose from. Just follow the specific instructions that comes depending on your hosting service provider. 

If you are a truly rich one, then consider paying up for quality and easier management

Here are some of the best from which you can pick (in no particular order) with information taken from their About section (something anything online is supposed to have):

Wix

Wix allows you to “Create your own website for free – exactly the way you want.” They are serving over 110 million users.

“Our powerful technology makes it easy for everyone to get online with a stunning, professional and functional web presence. No creative limits, no coding – just complete freedom to express yourself and manage your entire business online. Our global user base, open SDK, and unparalleled design capabilities create a unique ecosystem. Partners, developers, web designers, and other online professionals can effectively market their Apps and services to millions through Wix.”

WordPress

“At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Open source WordPress is the most popular online publishing platform, currently powering more than 28% of the web. We wanted to bring the WordPress experience to an even larger audience, so in 2005 we created WordPress.com.”

Squarespace

Squarespace.com“Squarespace makes beautiful products to help people with creative ideas succeed. Our platform empowers millions of people — from individuals and local artists to entrepreneurs shaping the world’s most iconic businesses — to share their stories and create an impactful, stylish, and easy-to-manage online presence.”

Weebly

Weebly.com“Founded in 2007, Weebly is a complete platform that allows anyone to start and grow an online business with curated website templates, powerful ecommerce and integrated marketing. Designed for any entrepreneur who wants to reach a global audience, Weebly gives everyone the freedom to create a high ­quality site and store that works brilliantly across any device.”

Godaddy

Godaddy.com powers the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures. With 17.5M+ customers worldwide and 76M+ domain names under management, GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers and manage their work.”

Hostgator

Hostgator.com“HostGator is a global provider of web hosting and related services. Founded in a dorm room at Florida Atlantic University by Brent Oxley, HostGator has grown into a leading provider of Shared, Reseller, VPS, and Dedicated web hosting. HostGator is headquartered in Houston and Austin, Texas, with several international offices throughout the globe.”

Bluehost

Bluehost.com“Bluehost is a leading web hosting solutions company. Since our founding in 2003, Bluehost has continually innovated new ways to deliver on our mission: to empower people to fully harness the web. Based in Orem, Utah, we provide comprehensive tools to millions of users throughout the world so anyone, novice or pro, can get on the web and thrive with our web hosting packages.”

All of the above service providers come with their own editors but just in case you may check one, read this article by PCMag.

Step 3: Fill it with all the relevant content you can think of.

It’s the ultimate reason why you have created your website, and not just because you want to have a single page website. It’s totally nonsensical. Don’t forget that you can set a section for everything, but planning is a must.

Having finally made your dream website, make sure you’ll update your Google My Business profile to include your painstakingly-made website.

In Closing…

Your chances of attracting people to avail of your products or services increases as long as you are being responsive and keeps on updating content, as needed. The more information you provide and upload in your Google My Business account, the better would be your local online presence.

About the author

Ruben Licera

ESTRAT X's Chief ESTRATegy Officer (CEO) Ruben Licera Jr empowers businesses by providing them actionable digital marketing strategies. Know more about him via his personal website or here.


>