Google My Business 101: 8 Tips On How To Create A Badass Listing + What's Hot
Google My Business is a powerful tool that local business owners can use to attract new potential customers. This, however, requires you to set up and optimize your Google My Business listing for search engines and users. If you have no idea what needs to be done in order to achieve that, you have come to the right place.
In this article, you will learn all you need to know about how to create a badass listing and above that, which new features are hot with Google My Business right now and that will help your Google business account to stand out from the crowd.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Google My Business And What Makes It So Important?
- 8 Tips On How To Create A Badass GMB Listing
- What's Hot With Google My Business Right Now?
What Is Google My Business And What Makes It So Important?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool provided by Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence and tell their story across Google.
What's more, in order to rank in Google Maps and the Snack Pack in Google's local search results, it is required for your company to have a free business GMB listing.
In case you've never heard of the Snack Pack before, the screenshot below shows the results that Google came up with for the search query "dentist in atlanta". The box highlighted in red is the Snack Pack - also known as the Local Pack:
As you can see, the box takes up a lot of real estate right at the top of the SERPs, which is why it's key that you claim one of the three available spots inside of it. Beneath the box follow the "regular" organic search results. It won't hurt, if your business website can be found here, however, it does not nearly generate the same amount of clicks as a Snack Pack listing. So again, it's very important that your business shows up in the Snack Pack for relevant search queries.
How do you do that? First and foremost, you need to optimize your GMB listing.
GMB is the interface that allows you to edit your local business listing, which in many cases Google sets up automatically. If that is true for you, all you need to do is claim and verify it.
With Google My Business, the very first step is to set up a Google account, if you haven't done so yet. Then simply search for your business with its name or physical address. If a listing already exists, it'll show up. Go ahead and claim it. If it doesn't, create a new one.
The next step is to verify the listing - usually by postcard. This is why you have to provide a proper business address. Please note that a PO box or virtual office address won't suffice. Some businesses are also eligible for verification by phone or email, and if your business is already registered with the Google Search Console, verification might not be necessary after all.
8 Tips On How To Create A Badass GMB Listing
If you want to stand out from your competition, claiming your GMB listing is a good start, but it's only the beginning. You need to optimize it from (1) a search engine perspective and (2) from a user perspective to be able to attract as many potential customers as possible and increase conversion rates.
Here are 8 tips you can follow that will help you to create a badass GMB listing:
1. Provide As Much Helpful Information As Possible
Generally speaking, the more helpful information you provide, the better. This will not only make it easier for users to find you, it also helps Google to learn more about your company.
When you log into your GMB dashboard for the first time, you will find a convenient step-by-step guide that helps to make sure that all listing elements are fitted with accurate information. Please remember to not skip ahead at this point. A listing that ought to bring results requires 100 percent completeness.
2. Add A Business Description
Google has recently added a new business description feature. Once filled out, the description can show up in the local knowledge panel positioned next to the search results on the right for desktop users and above the organic search results on mobile.
According to Google, "the description is a chance to tell prospective customers your story and what makes your business unique" and that's exactly what you should be using it for. Tell users more about your company and the services and products you offer and provide other useful information that helps people to better understand your business and what sets you apart from the rest.
The description should be brief - no one wants to read a wall of text - and it can't include any URLs or HTML code. For more description guidelines defined by Google, click here.
To add a description to your Google My Business listing, first, click on the button in your dashboard that says "Info", then scroll down to the "Add business description"-section.
3. Choose Categories
GMB allows you to choose one or more categories to define the "kind of business that you run". Categories help users to find you when they search for specific services. If your primary category is "Tax Attorney", Google may show your business for local search queries such as "Tax Attorney near me" or "Tax Law Firm Atlanta".
When it comes to choosing categories, you have to be as specific as possible while not adding multiple categories to describe every single aspect of your business or target certain keywords. Although you can add up to 10 different categories, it's best practice to choose as few as possible. The primary category should be used to describe your business as a whole.
By the way, there currently are almost 4,000 different categories available, however, if you can't find one that perfectly suits your business, just go a little more broad.
To set up one or more categories, click the pencil icon in the top right corner of your GMB dashboard and edit your primary category or add additional secondary ones.
4. NAP Consistency
Apart from Google My Business, there are other directories, such as Yelp and Yellow Pages, that you should register your company with. This will not only increase your chances to be found online, it also allows happy clients to leave a review for your business on their favorite platform.
Every new listing that you create should include the same business information and in the exact same formatting. This is what's called "NAP consistency" (NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number).
If you are not sure what same formatting means, take a look at the following example. Can you see the difference?
My Awesome Business
100 Wall Street
Atlanta, GA 12345
My Awesome Business, LLC
100 Wall St.
Atlanta, GA 12345
Why is NAP consistency important?
Most people might not be aware of this, but there exists a data ecosystem online with information about more or less every single business. This ecosystem is managed by machines. Crawlers browse the web for business listings and compare them to one another.
If two or more listings of the same business differ, there is no guarantee that a machine will recognize that they actually belong to the same entity and therefore might store information incorrectly. This can have a negative impact on search engine rankings.
5. Upload Photos
Photos not only help you to better present the products and services that you offer, they are also something that online users can relate to on a human level when they show members of your team. Check out how a handful of photos (and 1 video marked with red arrow) that we uploaded to the Magnetize.Me GMB listing get displayed on Google Maps:
There are three different types of photos that you can upload:
- Profile photo - which helps users to recognize your business.
- Cover photo - which gets displayed on your Google+ profile among other places and is often the primary image used when your business shows up in search results.
- Additional photos - which can be used to highlight certain aspects of your business. Google recommends you to add additional photos of eight distinct types, such as "Interior photos" that show the inside of your business to convey a certain atmosphere and "Team photos" to give your business a face or faces to show a more personal side. For Google's full list of business-specific photos, click here.
As far as image file size, format, and resolution is concerned, the specifications are:
- File size: 10 KB - 5 MB
- Format: JPG or PNG
- Minimum resolution: 720 x 720 pixels
To add photos to your GMB listing, click on "Photos" in the main menu, choose the type of photo that you want to add, and upload files from your computer or image gallery of your smartphone or tablet.
6. Manage Reviews
Google My Business and local search optimization, in general, is all about collecting lots of positive customer feedback in the form of online reviews. Why? Because for more than 90 percent of users, reading reviews plays a major role in the decision-making process, when searching for a product or service online. Secondly and according to Search Engine Watch, it is estimated that "review signals account for 9.8% of the total ranking factors".
Google reviews are shown next to your GMB listing in the local search results and Maps. Therefore, they are great to catch the users' attention. Dozens of positive reviews convey that your business is reliable and can be trusted. Too many negative reviews have the opposite effect - obviously.
The downside with reviews is that they are only partially managed content, which means that you don't have direct control over them. All you can do is encourage happy customers to leave more positive feedback by asking for it, for example via automatic emails or in face-to-face meetings, and manage negative reviews by responding to them in a timely manner and putting in the effort to solve potential problems.
Not replying to a 1 or 2-star review implies that you don't really care about your customers or that you are overwhelmed by the situation - both of which does not show you in the best light possible.
By the way, when you reply to a person that has criticized your business, make sure to not get personal with your response. Always stay professional and courteous. If you have actually managed to work something out, go ahead and politely ask for a review update or the deletion of the same.
Of course, the best preventive measure against negative ratings is to do everything you can to satisfy every single customer.
7. Add Attributes
I like to think of attributes as a cool feature to summarize and highlight certain aspects of your business. For example: If you run a restaurant, you can specify that you offer outdoor seating. As a hotel owner, you can state dogs allowed. Barbershops can advertise with has Wi-Fi.
Accessibility attributes are important for customers with specific accessibility needs, such as a wheelchair-accessible entrance.
Attributes help you to increase the visibility of your listing, as they also show up in the local search results.
They are categorized by industry. Therefore, not all attributes are available in all business verticals, which only makes sense. As a barbershop, there's no need to add a beer-attribute - or maybe there is actually...
We also need to differentiate between factual attributes, which can be managed by you, and subjective attributes, which depend on what users think about your business.
To add relevant attributes to your GMB listing, click on "Info" in the main menu, scroll down to the attributes-section, and click on the pen icon.
8. Work With URLs
There isn't much to be said about URLs in Google My Business, as their function and implementation are pretty straightforward.
The most important URL that you have to include should be pointing to the homepage of your business website. Above that, you may also include links to specific pages, such as a booking form or a menu page in case you run a restaurant. This, however, depends on your business category.
To add one or more URLs to your listing, click on the "Info"-tab in the main menu and scroll down to the URLs section. Enter URL(s) where appropriate and hit "Apply".
What's Hot With Google My Business Right Now?
New features are added to the Google My Business interface on a regular basis. These updates are a great opportunity for you to promote your business and stand out from the crowd since many competitors need some time to become aware of them.
What's hot with GMB right now?
Use Google My Business Posts to tell users about new products and services that you offer, or to promote a certain event or sale special. The possibilities are endless! All you need is a bit of creativity to come up with interesting ideas for content that can show up in the knowledge panel and Google Maps.
Remember to include appealing visual media that helps to draw attention as well as a clear Call-to-Action to increase conversions! Once published, a post will either stay 'live' for the next seven days or until the day of an event.
What are the benefits of (weekly) posts?
On the one hand, there seems to be a slight benefit for your local rankings. Considering the small amount of work required, they might be worth looking into because of that. On the other hand, posts on GMB means removing one less stepping stone for potential customers to find and learn more about your business.
If you are looking for the post option in GMB, you can find it on the main menu of your dashboard.
Appointments With Booking Buttons
- Since March 2017, fitness classes offered by U.S. businesses can be directly booked on Google Maps and Google Search.
- In July 2017, Google introduced the same booking feature in business listings for spas and salons.
The newest addition to this is booking buttons for all U.S.-based businesses that use integrated scheduling software to allow customers to make appointments directly from their GMB listing.
These buttons are prominently displayed in the SERPs and can help your business succeed, as they are the most convenient solution for users to schedule an appointment in less than one minute and without the need to visit your website.
To boost conversions with the help of a booking button, you need to sign up with one of the supported scheduling providers. Within the next few days, the button will be automatically added to your Google My Business listing. It doesn't get any simpler than that. Plus you will be able to track all activity within your GMB dashboard!
Since the beginning of this year, you are allowed to upload videos via your GMB dashboard and set them up for users to view. The same applies to your customers. They, too, are encouraged to add videos to your business listing, which appear in a separate customer-tab.
What's exciting about this new feature is that video drives engagement and conversions better than any other medium that we know. More benefits are:
- Video is great to showcase physical products and explain how they work. But it doesn't end there. As a hotel, you can put your beautiful rooms on display. Gyms can show their large cardio area...
- Chances are that video will benefit your rankings.
- A video introducing real people that work at your company helps to build trust.
To get started, you first have to know that only videos with a length of up to 30 seconds are supported. Other requirements are a maximum file size of 100 MB and a minimum resolution of 720p. Once uploaded, it can take up to a full day for a video to show in your business listing.
The video upload function can be found in the "Photos"-tab. Click on "POST VIDEOS" and choose a file from your computer.
Also, if you find a user-uploaded video inappropriate, there is an option in your dashboard to flag it as such.
Chat With Customers Via Messaging
Just like booking buttons, messaging is a cool new feature that's currently only available in select countries. It allows you to receive messages from and send messages to customers that stumbled upon your Google My Business listing.
The feature can be used to provide additional information about your business and, most importantly, to answer any questions that users might have.
Funnily enough, you can't send messages from your GMB dashboard but have to hook up a phone or use Google's in-house Allo app.
Before you accept to receive messages via GMB, though, you should evaluate if you have the resources to respond to inquiries promptly. Because that's what users will expect you to do. They don't want to wait for too long to get a response. A slow response time could easily lead to a negative first impression, which will only harm your business.
What's more, Google has created Chat policies, which cover forbidden behaviors, unacceptable responses, inappropriate content, etc. For more details about Google's Chat policies, visit this page.
To activate messaging, visit the "Messaging"-tab in your GMB dashboard and enter a phone number on the right. In case you prefer to use Allo, simply download the app from the Android Play Store or iOS App Store and register with the same phone number.
If due to lack of time, negative ROI, or any other reason you want to deactivate messaging, re-visit the Messaging-tab and click "Opt out" and then "Turn off".
Remember: Not using this feature at all is a better option than using it inappropriately.
Questions & Answers
It probably doesn't matter how much information you provide about your business, potential customers will always have questions regarding your offers, your location, or a certain event. That's why right around mid-2017, Google came up with another great feature for local businesses called "Questions and Answers".
The idea behind it is that you should be able to receive and answer customer questions in the most convenient way possible. Questions and Answers allow you to add frequently asked questions to your business listing (FAQ), receive notifications each time a user has asked a question so that you can respond immediately, and highlight the most helpful answers contributed by other users.
The latter requires you to monitor what is going on and make sure that all provided information is indeed accurate.
If you want to create a Google My Business listing that generates dozens or even hundreds of new customers for you, there are certain best practices that you should follow. Providing lots of helpful information about your local business is one of them.
With the help of new features that get added to GMB every once in a while, such as Messaging and Booking Buttons, you can set yourself apart from your competition and gain a marketing advantage.
Do you lack the time that is needed to optimize your GMB? Feel free to reach out to us and we will help you to catapult your business online.