Google My Business is a useful tool for small business owners to get more visibility and leads for their businesses. It can feel overwhelming, but even without expensive Google My Business Experts, business owners can build the foundation of their footprint in Google Search Results using Google My Business. Here are some steps you can take to build a strong(er) Google My Business without expensive experts:
If You Don’t Already Have One: Build a Google My Business from Scratch
When search for your brand and/or location, if you’re not already in Google Search Results with a “Business Card” on the top right of the results, you either don’t have a Google My Business, or it’s missing information/verification. In order to build one, start one with the following steps:
Visit Google My Business.
Enter your business name & business category – if you don’t already have a listing, you’ll need to create a new business.
Answer some location questions about your business.
- If you have a physical location, Google highly recommends to add this information. This is how you get listed on Google Maps (and Waze, a Google-owned company).
- Enter your business address. NOTE: Google verifies this by sending you a code. Make sure to use a real physical address that can actually receive mail.
- Add your Map Pin. Drag and drop the red pin inside the map window. It is typically placed at or very close to the physical address you entered earlier. NOTE: If you have a parking lot or alternative entry situation, place the pin as close as possible to the entry of your building so Google Maps can instruct visitors accurately on how to access your business.
Answer some operational questions about your business
- Do you offer delivery/home visit services and what towns/cities you’ll deliver to or visit?
- Do you have a primary phone number that you would like to add? (You can skip this if you don’t want to show your phone number publicly as some ecommerce brands choose).
- Do you have a website that you would like to list?
Google will now digitally verify you.
This is not physical address verification which is required by Google to keep a listed location on Google Maps.
Add Business Hours.
This is extremely important for businesses who rely on foot traffic. This setting informs searchers of when you’re open and Google Maps will inform GPS users if their arrival time is close to opening or closing time. As noted in the imagery, you can choose specific hours or publish a 24-hour schedule.
Opt–in or out of messaging.Only opt into messaging if you don’t have someone who handles monitoring messages during (at minimum) operating hours.
Add a Business Description.In 750 Characters or less, explain what you offer, who you offer it to, and any important info about your business, its products, services, or values. This is your “Elevator Pitch” to search prospects.
Google will recommend that you add photos (covered below), recommend starting Google Ads, and sell you the opportunity to buy web domains, but at this point you’ve supplied all the information you need in order to get a listing verified and published via Google My Business.
Accessing Your Profile
Once you’ve completed the above steps, or if you’ve already done this in the past, you can your listing by searching the name of your business on Google and finding the result card that looks something like this on desktop:
When you click “View Profile” you’ll see a dashboard that’s embedded right in a Google Search Results Page, where you can edit your profile, add photos, view performance, and access all of the settings we reviewed in the setup phase. Google uses this space to prompt you on best practices if you haven’t completed your profile with photos, details, etc. This is accessible both on Mobile and Desktop (pictured below is the desktop dashboard).
Add Photos & Videos to Your Profile
Photos are essential to the success of Google My Business listings, especially for businesses who need people to walk through their door to drive success. Restaurants often take photos of their menu items fully plated, hardware stores often take photos of the scope of their product offerings, etc. How you choose to prioritize photos depends very much on your actual business. But there are a few essential photos that every business needs:
- Store Front – If you’re in a physical location, take a photo from directly in front, and from each side of your business. Google provides searchers with “Street View”, but this is often unreliable because the street view vehicles can have limited angles, limited time frames, poor lighting, or outdated surroundings.
- Entrances – If you have alternative entrances, take photos both from outside the entrance and from the first step inside the business. This provides searchers with a comfortable expectation of the experience they’re getting when they arrive, instilling confidence that they’re in the right place.
- Product/Service Offerings – This is where you have complete control. Show searchers what they can expect from you. If you sell niche items, take several high-quality photos of each item and add it to your Google My Business. If you provide services, take photos of the service in action (even if it’s just sitting at a computer with a customer, this shows context to the searcher). If you sell a lot of items, publish several images of the scope of your store. Show aisles, departments, etc. Oversharing in the photo category of Google My Business is an effective strategy to helping searchers understand who you are and what you offer.
You’re Done Building Your Google My Business - Time to Manage
The Updates feature in Google My Business allows you to keep customers updated on offers, specials, or simply reminders of products or services that haven’t been selling well. Google gives you 1500 characters for each post, but much like other platforms, concise posts are a great way to capture the actions. You’ll also be able to add photos – which for a business like a restaurant is ideal to show the “special” or offering being presented in the post. You can access this tool from the Google My Business Dashboard via the “Add Update” buttons.
Google My Business Updates
The Updates feature in Google My Business allows you to keep customers updated on offers, specials, or simply reminders of products or services that haven’t been selling well. Google gives you 1500 characters for each post, but much like other platforms, being concise is often a great way to capture the actions. You can also add photos – which for a business like a restaurant is ideal to show the “special” or offering presented in the post. You can access this tool from the Google My Business Dashboard via the “Add Update” buttons.
Google My Business Reviews
Also known simply as “Google Reviews,” this tool allows you to respond, address, and collect reviews for your business. This is an essential tool to the success of your Google My Business listing. Many businesses use Google My Business just for the review features. They are extremely important, but still only a piece of the Google My Business puzzle.
Customers can visit your Google listing and leave reviews independently, generating an important metric (scale of 1-5 stars) that can help you stand out against competitors if it’s managed well. One of the best ways to manage this piece is through a tool that allows you to get proactive with customers and request reviews. Traditionally, reviews only come in from people with a terrible experience or an exceptional experience – which can create a warped score, often leaning lower than a business deserves. However, if you ask for reviews from all your customers, you’re more likely to receive 4-5 star reviews regularly. You can do this by using the “Get Reviews” tool (pictured below) inside Google My Business and sharing your link either in follow-up emails with customers, via social networks, or other forms of communication.
Questions & Answers
The Questions & Answers feature in Google My Business allows users to ask questions when they search for your business. While anyone with a Google account can answer these questions including prior customers, it’s important to be ready to answer these questions quickly and accurately when they’re sent by a searcher. These questions can often result in a purchase or lead in the same day if answered quickly.
Particularly impactful for product-based businesses who sell online, product listings allow you to create mini-ecommerce stores inside your profile. This mini store is used by Google’s Shopping tools and can be accessed by users who click on product listings. It isn’t a primary driver of final sales, but you can include links so users can visit your website.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statements
In your profile settings, you’re able to select Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) statements that describe your position on certain social issues. These include claims of minority ownership, wheelchair accessible facilities, gender-neutral facilities, and LGBTQ+ friendly/safe space claims. This helps searchers understand your values but isn’t needed or verified by Google beyond publishing your selected claims.
Measuring Success in Google My Business
Assuming you have each of the following activated, Google My Business allows you to track 5 major metrics. These help define which features produce the most effective results for your business’s goals. This tool is under the “Performance” button on your Google My Business dashboard
- Calls from your listing
- Messages from your listing
- Bookings from your listing
- Directions requested to your location
- Website clicks from your listing
The thing about defining success is, it always depends on what your business’s priorities are. You decide which of the 5 metrics are the most important to measure. If you’re unsure which metrics are most important, start by enabling all the features that make sense to your business.
Generate leads or sales and review the data after a few months. Keep in mind that it takes some time early on for this listing to take any traction. After you have data, define success by reviewing the above metrics and comparing them to results from your business. Did each tool improve the volume or quality of sales, customer service, or overall website performance? If the answer is yes, keep using it! If the answer is no, test deactivating the tool so you can focus more time on the tools that work.
The idea that you must spend thousands of dollars hiring Google Experts to build Google My Business is a myth. The truth is that you don’t have to spend any money to build a strong Google My Business. Start with the tips and strategies outlined in this article and build out your success story from there. Google My Business is a great tool for exposing your business to new customers and generating leads for your business. However, if you don’t want to waste your money, you can successfully build your Google My Business without expensive experts.