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Google My Business is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears across Google Search and Maps. As well as letting potential customers know the physical location of your business, a Google My Business listing will increase your visibility online. When customers search for your business on Google, information shows in a box that appears in their search results, known as a Knowledge Graph. This includes your business name, location, business hours and customer reviews. This article will explain the benefits of Google My Business and how to create an account. 

Why you need a Google My Business account

Getting started with Google My Business is straightforward, but you may be wondering why you need this service. 

Appear on Google Search and help customers find your business location  

When prospective customers are looking for local businesses like yours on Google, they are generally ready to make a purchase. This means that it is imperative your business appears in their search results with an accurate location and other info. According to Hubspot, 50% of people who conduct a local search, for example ‘seafood restaurant near me’, make a visit to a business that day. Google also revealed that ‘near me’ searches increased by 150% in 2018. 

Google My Business improves your SEO 

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of boosting your website’s position in search engine results pages with organic web traffic and other ranking factors. Having a Google My Business listing is one of the main drivers of local SEO success, helping customers not only to find your physical location but discover your website too. Put simply, Google My Business will help your website’s visibility. 

You can update useful information  

Your Google My Business listing is a place where potential customers can find out important information about your business. This includes contact details, opening hours and your web address. It is important to keep all this data up to date through your Google My Business dashboard. 

You can post photos and videos that represent your business  

Your listing includes the option to post photos of your business, and even video. According to Google, businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to their website than those without. You can upload a profile picture, a cover photo and various other shots of your business to make your listing as engaging as possible. Short videos can also increase engagement and make your profile stand out. 

Users can post reviews  

Google My Business can help you manage your reputation by letting you invite and respond to reviews. Unbiased reviews by the public can give potential new customers a valuable insight into your business. Responding to each review you receive is crucial as this will encourage others to post reviews as well as demonstrating your commitment to good service. 

Booking functionality  

You can add a booking service to your Knowledge Graph – this useful action button allows you to take bookings, appointments or reservations. Working with Google’s partners, you can now have your product booked directly from the Knowledge Graph. 

Creating a Google My Business account

A man works on his smartphone at The Gleneagles Hotel

Setting up your Google My Business account is free, quick and easy. 

Step 1: Navigate to the Google My Business homepage and sign in with your Google account. 

Step 2: Add your business name. 

Step 3: Enter your business address so people know where to find you. 

Step 4: Choose your business category; this tells Google which type of customers should be seeing your business listing. 

Step 5: Add your business phone number and website. 

Step 6: Verify your business. 

For further information check out these guidelines for representing your business on Google. 

How to verify your business on Google  

In order for your listing to be seen by customers on Google you need to verify your business. Verification is also necessary to manage your business information in Search, Maps and other Google properties. The verification process helps Google make sure your business information is accurate and that only you, the business owner, has access to the listing.  

There are several ways to verify:

  1. 1

    By post

    Sign in and choose the business you want to verify, make sure the business address is right and add a contact name. When you are ready, click ‘Mail’, and your postcard should arrive within five days. Once the postcard has arrived, log back in to Google My Business and enter the five-digit verification code. 

  2. 2

    By phone

    Some businesses are eligible to verify by phone. You’ll know that you’re eligible if you see the ‘Verify by phone’ option when you begin the process. You will receive your verification code by text. 

  3. 3

    By website

    Just like the phone option, some businesses may be able to verify by email. If you are eligible, you will see the "verify by email" button. Once you have requested verification there will be an email in your inbox, click the button within and you are ready to go. 

Optimising your Google My Business profile

Man taking photo of Gleneagles Hotel 

Once you have created and verified your Google My Business profile, it’s important to make sure that you are making the most of it. This means adding as much relevant info as you can, including pictures and video. Here are a few rules for optimising your Google My Business listing.

Complete all the information Google asks for  

It might sound obvious, but it’s important to fill in all of the information Google asks for. This includes the area you serve, your hours, a public phone number and URL and any other information such as free WiFi, or wheelchair accessibility. Not only will this provide your customers with any information they might need, it will also stop others from making edits on your page. Anyone can suggest an edit to a business listing, so you’ll want to make sure that you, the owner, have everything correct. Check in to your dashboard regularly to ensure that no unwanted edits have been suggested. 

Add photos and video to your profile  

Great imagery can help your profile stand out in the search engine results pages, so make sure to add a few different pictures. According to Google, businesses with photos receive 35% more clicks through to their website than those without. Remember to add a logo to help customers recognise your business, cover photo to show your personality as a business, and any additional photos that put the spotlight on your products or services. You can also add short videos to your profile. 

Photo guidelines 

Your photos will look best on Google if they meet the following standards: 

  • Format: JPG or PNG. 

  • Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB. 

  • Minimum resolution: 720 pixels tall, 720 pixels wide. 

  • Quality: The photo should be in focus, well lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. 

Video guidelines 

Make sure your videos meet the following requirements: 

  • Duration: Up to 30 seconds long 

  • File size: Up to 100 MB 

  • Resolution: 720 pixels or higher 

Reply to reviews  

One of the best ways to keep your Google My Business listing optimised and up-to-date is to reply to customer reviews. When you respond to reviews you show existing and potential customers that you value their business. Reviews appear publicly so remember to be professional and courteous. 

Google My Business app 

To ensure your Google My Business profile is working for you, it’s a good idea to download the Google My Business app. This gives you the ability to update your information and pictures as well as respond to reviews via your mobile device. It gives regular insights on people who find you through Maps and Search, those who have phoned, got directions or visited your website from the Knowledge Graph. It also highlights the number of unresponded reviews which can be answered directly from the app. 

For more information on getting started with Google My Business check out Google’s help centre

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