Boost your Local SEO by Setting up GMB Account the Right Way
Google My Business (GMB) account enables businesses to appear in Google search results, improve their Google Map rankings, communicate with customers, and generate more leads.
It has never been more important for a local business to have high exposure to Google. Additionally, it has been estimated that 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information. And that 4 in 5 customers use search engines to obtain local information, implying that if your business is not showing up, one of your competitors is. Stats like these reveal just how crucial a GMB listing is in today’s competitive environment. At North Star Design Studio, we routinely create Google My Business Accounts for our web development clients. This improves their online visibility as well to set a proper foundation for their future marketing and SEM needs.
GMB can play a very important role in helping potential clients find you. Let me share my personal experience of how GMB helped me choose some great restaurants during my vacation:
When a client asks me, “Is it really important to create a Google account to manage my business?” I ask them to think about their own experiences and how listings impact their purchase decisions every day. Your GMB account is more important than ever. Whether we want to admit it or not, Google is the first place (you and) your customers go to source information about businesses like yours.
Benefits of Google My Business Account
Let’s look at the benefits Google My Business (GMB) offers to local businesses.
- Improved Local Visibility: When you search for anything on Google, it will show you results that are not only relevant to you, but also nearby! Create a Business Google account to rank for local searches and, as a consequence, increase the visibility of your business.
- Competitive Advantage: In the local search environment, an optimized Google My Business page is a ranking factor. Improving your Google My Business page allows you to outrank competitors and get a competitive edge.
- Manage Your Reputation: A GMB account allows business owners to reply to and connect with their existing client base directly. You can reply to reviews (both favorable and bad), answer inquiries, and even allow direct messaging.
Responding promptly to Google reviews can add some serious points to what I like to call your listing's authority juice. Likewise, taking longer than a day to respond to reviews can subtract authority points. Ideally, you want to respond within 1 to 2 hours. Also, don't hesitate to drop in optimized keywords/search terms to your response but stay away from hard upsells… it's best to just be sincere, authentic, and add clarification about the services delivered than to stress about trying to close the deal on future business with the reviewer.
Do I Need to Optimize my GMB Listing?
Which of these two listings would you prefer?
An optimized listing with updated pictures and business information can make a huge difference to your business image. An unclaimed GMB listing with wrong or incomplete business info is like Cinderella’s pumpkin without the magic of the Fairy Godmother (pumpkin= GMB account / Fairy Godmother= Online marketer). If you want to maximize the potential of your GMB account, set it up correctly and optimize it properly.
Adding images to your GMB listing is as simple as drag and drop once the profile is set. A great place to source images is from your own Social Media accounts and from positive client reviews. If both of those wells are empty, grab your smartphone right now and go take a couple of dozen images. As a design studio, I'm fortunate that our work is visual and meant to be shared. I am often able to simply check in on past clients' SM profiles to see what they've been up to and, with their permission, of course, borrow a few images here and there to help promote our own services. You may be able to employ a similar tactic with past satisfied customers. Ex: a salon could reach out to a bride to use wedding photos to promote their bridal party services.
How to Create a Google Business Account from Scratch: A Step-by-Step Procedure
Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business on your computer.
- Click “Manage Now” to begin the automated Google Account set-up process.
- After you click ’manage now’, the next page may prepopulate the last credentials you used to access Google related services. If those are the credentials (email address) you want associated with your GMB account, Click ‘Next”. If not, click “Create account” instead.
#NSDSProTip: Before you get started…
- If you already have a Google Analytics account, you’re going to want your Google My Business page to be in the same account. You can do this by logging into your Google Analytics account and then navigating to Google My Business Set-up. See tip 2 for an important note about login credentials.
- Before attempting to ‘claim’ your business, be sure you have the right login credentials for the Gmail account you want to connect to your business and that it works. You’ll want to sort out password resets before you start the process of claiming your Google My Business Account. Log out of all Google accounts and then login to the main account you want tied to your GMB listing.
These 2 steps will help ensure you don’t accidentally claim a business listing under someone else’s Google account. We don’t want your company to suddenly become the property of your 4th grader who used your laptop last!
- If you’re creating a new account, you’ll be prompted to create your credentials on the next screen. Once you’ve completed those fields, click ‘Next.’
- The next page will provide prompts to add a confirmation code that will have been sent to the email address used on the previous screen. Enter that code and click ‘Verify’.
- Once you’ve verified the email address, you’ll be forwarded to a new screen that asks you to submit some ‘personal’ details. These are used to help validate ownership and assist in account recovery down the road. You can read more about this here. Click Next when you’ve completed this step.
- The next screen asks you to confirm your telephone number in the same way you confirmed your email address. You can skip this part if you like and confirm your telephone number later.
- The next screens will prompt you to agree to Google’s Privacy and Terms. Once you’ve accepted their terms/conditions, your account is all set and you can begin to create your Business’s Profile.
Step 2: Find Your Business or Add Your Business To Google
There’s a chance your business already has a Google Profile. Once your Google Account is created, Google will prompt you to try and search for your business’ profile in case it already exists. This is often the case for established businesses that are more than a couple of years old. It’s much better to Claim the existing page than it is to create a new one. An existing page is likely to already have reviews, photos and key business information populated making it a lot less work to set-up.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll assume you need to ‘add’ your business to Google vs ‘claim’ an existing page.
To begin, click “Add your business to Google” and follow the prompts to build your Business’ Google Profile.
If you receive an on-screen notification indicating that someone else has confirmed your business, request ownership of the Business Profile.
Here’s a step-by-step procedure of doing it:
- Click “Request Access” and fill out the form.
- Click submit.
The current profile owner will get an email that asks them to contact you. If your request is approved, you will receive an email and will be able to manage your Business Profile in Google My Business.
- If your request is denied, you will be notified via email and can still suggest changes to the profile. You may also be able to appeal the denied request.
- If you haven't heard back after three days, you may be able to claim the profile yourself.
Step 3: Create Your Business Profile
This portion of the set-up process includes several windows that ask key information about your business, do your best to answer those questions as accurately as possible but don’t stress, you can update any of the information later.
You may also be asked to place a marker on a map indicating your business location. If your company does not have a physical location, you can mention the service area instead.
It’s helpful to know what information you’ll be asked to provide ahead of time. Here of questions you’ll be prompted to answer:
- Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a store or office?
- Where do you serve your customers? (optional)
- What region is your business based in?
- What contact details do you want to show to customers?
- Want updates and recommendations for your business on Google?
Step 6: Verify – Choose a Verification Method
Choose a verification method. A few businesses can verify their GMB account instantly through a phone call, or by sending a postcard to your address, which can take up to 4 days. It is recommended that you double-check your information before requesting verification.
How to Claim Your Company on Google Maps
You can claim a GMB account in just a few simple steps if it’s already listed on Google Maps:
- Open Google Maps and search for your company name and select the relevant business name by clicking on it.
- Click the option “Claim this business first”, then “Manage today”.
- Click “I own or manage another business” to select a different business.
- Choose a verification method and follow the on-screen instructions.
Yes, you will have to put your address into the GMB listing even if you only have a home office. But it will only be shown to the public if you told Google you have a physical location, customers should come to. And yes, Google is going to send you a snail mail postcard with the code… this is their way of ensuring that Oz is really behind the curtain (you = Oz, the business = curtain).
An unclaimed and unoptimized GMB listing is like a vacant billboard on Madison Avenue. Don’t waste that important real estate. If you own a local business, you simply cannot afford to overlook the advantages that Google My Business may provide.
Be the company with an active, bustling, 5-star profile that makes competitors wish theirs looked as good!
Interested in learning more about basic and technical SEO? And how we can boost your business’s online presence to attract new (and better) customers? Contact us today to get started in the right direction.
Not sure whether you need a GMB account? Read this complete guide to understand how a GMB account can help you to attract more customers.