The most important online listing for all businesses now is Google My Business. It makes your business appear on Google Maps, and it provides an overview of your business right on the search results page. The listing acts as a guide for customers—at a quick glance, they can easily determine where your business is on a map, and whether it’s the right fit for their needs. The steps in this list seem obvious, because you’re prompted to do these things when creating your business listing. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do them.
1. Enter your business name.
Your business name must be the same as it is on marketing materials and legal documents. Logo consistency is important across all platforms, so naturally, the business name should be consistent too.
2. Choose your business category.
You’re not limited to choosing broad umbrella categories, so don’t be afraid to be specific. There is an extensive range of category choices allowing you to do so:
Pick the most appropriate primary business category—even if other categories are highly relevant, the primary one is the only one people see. For instance, if you own a restaurant that serves pizza, you could choose “restaurant,” but “Italian restaurant” and “pizza restaurant” are other available options.
3. Enter accurate business hours.
If your Google listing says your business is open, people expect to be able to contact you. This is an opportunity to say whether or not you’ll be open on holidays, and it’s especially important for seasonal businesses.
4. Verify your listing.
You can verify your GMB listing by email, phone, email, or by instant verification if your business is already verified with Google Search Console.
5. Write your business description.
Write a detailed business description, but make sure the most important information is in the beginning because visitors will only see the first 244 characters. If they want to read the rest, they have to click “more.”
6. Link to your website.
The URL entered should be your website’s homepage, not a social media account or any other page. Restaurants, for example, can link to their menu, but the menu has to exist on their website. It can’t be a PDF file, and it shouldn’t link to a menu on their Facebook page. This is what it would look like if you add a “menu” section:
A salon or similar business that offers appointments can link to an online booking platform:
7. Add photos!
Choose photos that best represent your business—not stock photos or promotional photos. Show the interior and exterior of your business. Include candid photos of management and employees. Include photos depicting the services your business offers and/or photos interacting with customers. The cover photo, not the logo photo, is the preferred photo and the one visitors are most likely to see first. Visitors will be prompted to respond to questions about whether or not particular photos are a good representation of your business.
If you have a good quality video that represents your business, upload that to your GMB listing too. Most businesses don’t have videos within their listing yet, so it will help yours stand out.
8. Respond to reviews. Respond to questions.
Google My Business is a platform to listen to and communicate with customers. Responding to negative reviews is just as important as responding to positive ones!
9. Post articles, news, promotions, and events.
Posting within your GMB listing shows that your business is active and up to date before users even seek this information. Posts will appear on your listing below the reviews and Q&A sections. Keep posts between 150-300 characters even though you’re allowed 1,500. Again, photos are important. Events and promotions especially, but posts too, should always include a photo.
When these steps are complete, GMB provides you with several detailed (and free!) insights about your business:
- The search queries people use most often to find your business
- Whether they’re finding your business on a map or via search
- What happens when people view your listing—whether they visit your website, request directions, or call
- A comparison of how many people view your photos compared to similar businesses’ photos
- The number of post views and how many people clicked on your posts
- Performance stats over the past 28 days
These insights serve as guide to where you’re succeeding and where you can improve. Optimizing your Google My Business listing is very important for your SEO and especially for where you stand in local searches compared to competitors. Although this is your most important online listing, creating one doesn’t mean you don’t need a website or a social media presence. It’s a detailed and comprehensive snapshot of your business, but it’s supposed to be a place to direct potential customers to the full picture.