What You Need to Know About Google My Business in 2021

google my business guide

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WHAT IS GOOGLE MY BUSINESS?

Google My Business is Google’s directory of local and service area businesses. It’s free to use, and it allows business owners to share valuable information customers may need—hours, telephone number, address, website, etc.—right on the Google platform.  When a user searches for a particular product or service within a location, Google My Business (GMB) listings are what show up in the Maps results. Let’s look at the search term ‘carpet cleaning New York’ for example.

google maps search

When the list of results appears, the searcher can then click on a specific profile to learn more about that particular business or navigate to its website.

google my business search result

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

If you are a home service provider and are not listed on GMB, you could be missing out on serious money for your business. Each day, hundreds of searches take place for services just like yours, and having a presence on Google My Business is the first step to getting those searchers to notice you.

Regardless of the size of your business, a Google My Business (GMB) listing will help you to connect to the local consumers who are looking for your products/services right now, and want to buy from a local, trusted business like yours.

Research suggests that over 50% of consumers visit a store or business the same day that they performed a local search, such as ‘dry cleaners near me’. You need to be seen online at this critical time in the buying process!

DISCOVERY SEARCHES ARE ON THE RISE

Survey data collected by Bright Local found that businesses in the USA that use a (GMB) received 88% of their monthly searches from ‘discovery searches’ (ex. bakery near me), while ‘direct searches’ (Cocoa Bean Bakery) resulted in just 12% of searches each month.

google my business discovery searches

What this tells us is that businesses on GMB make most of their money from new customers simply searching for their product or service, reiterating the importance of having a GMB listing and optimizing it properly for maximum performance. 

A well-managed Google My Business listing allows a local business to maximize their chances of ranking higher for those  local discovery searches.

Here are seven other awesome benefits of building your presence on Google My Business:

1. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS IS FREE​

There are a lot of powerful online business tools available.

It’s just not that often that you find a powerful business tool that is FREE!

2. GMB MAKES YOUR BUSINESS MORE VISIBLE ONLINE

GMB is a tool that puts your business on a global map, literally.

Google is one of the largest search engines in the world. Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day, not to mention Google “near me” searches have increased by 200% over the past year.

Visibility is the Secret to Increasing Your Sales …

About 90% of searchers haven’t made up their mind about a brand before starting their search. This simply means that your business MUST be highly visible in online search to capture their attention and stand out from your competition.

Without Google My Business, you’ll be missing the chance to be visible regardless of how heavily you practice SEO techniques on your website. GMB listings get priority on the first page of local Google searches and Maps queries.

For example, when we searched for “Coffee stores in New York.” You’ll notice that a section of GMB listing appears before ranking websites.

listing on google search
listing on google maps

An active, fully optimized Google My Business profile will increase your chances of being found online,  and will increase your chances of rising up in the overall search engine results.

3. GMB HELPS YOU MAINTAIN UPDATED BUSINESS INFORMATION

As your business grows or undergoes changes, you can keep your customers informed of changes in service, hours, sales and special events.

google my business updated information
Keep your customers in the loop by updating your listing on Google My Business, such as phone numbers, addresses, websites, and social media. So if you ever change your location or you’re using a new number of customers can effortlessly contact and find you. One of the seven things that can make customers hate your business is searching for your contact details and jumping through hoops to find you.

4. ADD IMAGES TO PRESENT A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION

Having a GMB page adds a digitally savvy touch to your online branding because it shows customers that you’re willing to stay updated and modern. Catering to their digital needs so they can quickly call/connect, purchase, and repeat.

maddox shop google my business

Google My Business allows you also to help captivate customers visually by uploading photos and videos of your store or product. You’ll be able to set expectations of what customers can expect from you.

In fact, Search Engine Land found a strong link between Google My Business photo quantity and search performance.

Here are few content ideas for the images you can upload to your GMB listing:

  • Inside your store or manufacturer
  • Your employees or teammates
  • Your local surroundings
  • Your CEO or Managing Director
  • Awards and Events
  • Happy customers or customer testimonials

Try to upload at least 5-10 photos and videos, the more images, the better. No pictures on your Google listing is basically the equivalent of not having a profile image on social media. Help customers to warm up to your Google My Business listing. Adding a picture puts a face or a meaning to your brand.

5. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS IMPROVES YOUR SEO

Your Google My Business is an important part of local SEO. But it’s not enough to add a few contact details. You’ll have to optimize your Google My Business to see the best results.

Here’s a graph showing the list of essential items you should optimize in your Google My Business to help rankings and SEO.

google my business ranking factors

6. CUSTOMER REVIEWS ESTABLISH CONFIDENCE AND TRUST

Would you ever eat at a restaurant with negative reviews, or zero reviews? I wouldn’t and neither would most people. Google My Business allows prospective customers to view ratings, reviews, and images on your listing. All of which builds confidence and trust in your business.

webbes google my business reviews

This is great because happy customers can share their experience with interested and new customers. But it’s also a platform that upset and disgruntled customers can leave bad reviews and images of their experience.

How do you maintain a balance to keep your Google My Business reviews in green?

Always read and respond to your GMB reviews…Good AND Bad!

Each week set aside time (or ask an employee to review) and answer and comment to all your reviews.

With an online profile, you can only go so far to convince your customers that you’re the right choice for them, people can only trust you from face value and what real customers have to say about you. People are more willing to trust customers who have visited your business and have had an interaction with you, over your own company advertising.

  • 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews. Don’t ignore negative reviews, because they can affect your sales.
  • 72% of customers don’t take action until they have read reviews. Customers are searching for reviews before they visit your store or shop with you. What kind of reviews do you want to be waiting for them? Once you know the answer, start working towards it.
  • Businesses who reply to reviews at least 25% of the time have an average of 35% more revenue. Customers are looking for brands to reply to customers (regardless if it’s a good or bad review). When you leave reviews, especially negative reviews unattended, buyers are more hesitant to buy from you because they begin to wonder if their concerns will be ignored (on or offline).

7. GOOGLE IS INCREASINGLY USING YOUR GMB TO EVALUATE YOU

Google is constantly expanding and growing in data and online features for consumers and business. Make Google happy and they will send lots of leads your way. Make Google unhappy and your competitors will get rich.

They’re already a billion dollar giant that has scratched the surface creating online tools to help small and big businesses to increase sales and brand awareness.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start tapping into the power of Google, start by creating a Google My Business and take your steps into the new form of online branding.

SUMMARY

Signing up for Google My Business is an essential step for every business. But with GMB, you can not ‘set it and forget it’. You should optimize and update your GMB listing weekly, monthly or at least, quarterly.

Take care of your Google My Business listing and it will take care of you!

Here’s a quick recap of the seven benefits of using Google My Business:

  • Google My Business is Free
  • GMB Makes Your Business more Visible Online
  • GMB Helps You Maintain Updated Business Information
  • Add Images Images to Present a Great First Impression
  • GMB Improves Your SEO
  • Customer Reviews Establish Confidence and Trust
  • Google is Increasingly Using Your GMB to evaluate You

Complete Google My Business Setup Guide

As you probably understand by now, Google My Business is an absolute powerhouse for attracting new business online—but only if you use it right. Now that we’ve covered the basics of why GMB is so valuable, let’s dive into how you can set it up for yourself to get the leads rolling in.

How Can I Use GMB for My Business?

In order to start using Google My Business and start attracting new customers, you’ll first need to claim your business profile. It’s possible that there is already an existing listing for your business on Google (in which case you can request ownership), but if not, here’s how you can set up a new listing on your own.

Step 1: Get Started

Click the following link to reach the Google My Business homepage. Click ‘Manage now’ to get started. 

Step 2: Add location

Select the Google account you’d like to use and on the page that appears, click ‘Add location’ and then ‘Add single location’. 

Step 3: Name

Click ‘Add your business to Google’ and then type in your legal business name.

google my business name

Step 4: Category

Start typing in your business type and use the drop down menu to select the most relevant Category for your business. If you offer multiple different groups of services, you also have the option to create secondary categories to supplement the main one.

google my business main category

Step 5: Services

Select your business services. You can use Google’s suggestions by clicking the boxes, or make your own by clicking ‘Add custom service.’

google my business services

Step 6: Address

Now it’s time to tell Google your location. If you have an office space, building, or some other place where customers can visit, select ‘Yes’ to add to the address. If you run your service-based business out of your home or some other address you don’t want to be displayed publicly, select ‘No’ to skip this step.

google my business locations

Step 7: Service areas

This part is super important for your local SEO efforts. Ideally, you don’t only want to show up for your product or service in the exact town you’re located in—you want to be attracting business from the neighboring areas as well. This is where Service areas come in. What are all the towns and cities you’ll drive to for appointments? Think about the largest areas where you make most of your money first, and work your way down. If your radius is smaller, you can get specific and include multiple zip codes for an individual town. Google allows you to add up to 20 service areas to your listing, and to outperform your competitors, we recommend using them all. 

google my business service areas

One of the reasons Service areas can be so powerful is because most businesses don’t use them to their fullest extent.

Step 8: Contact Details

Let customers know how they can get in touch with you to get more information. Add your phone number and your website, if you have one. 

If there’s not already a website set up for your business, our recommendation is to choose ‘Get a free website based on your info’ to have Google create a basic site for you (we’ll discuss how to optimize it later). A free site from Google won’t have all the SEO value or robust features of a normal website, but it will give you some space to include more information about your business and its offerings if customers are interested. 

google my business contact details
**PRO TIP

Before proceeding to the final step, look over all of your business information and make sure it’s consistent with what you have on other platforms. For example, if your business name is “John’s Quality Plumbing,” don’t put “John’s Quality Plumbing Co.” on GMB. Google dislikes inconsistencies, so even small mistakes like this can hurt your local SEO. Check to verify that your business name, phone number, address, and even your zip code match what is published elsewhere. It seems small, but it matters!

Step 9: Verification

The final step in your journey to getting seen on Google is to verify your listing. You won’t be able to fully use the platform or show up in search results until you’re verified, so it’s important to complete this step. 

A verification postcard will be mailed to the address on your listing. You’ll be prompted to enter the name of a contact person that the postcard is intended for. Once you have entered this, click ‘Mail,’ and Google will take care of the rest! In most cases, postcards arrive within five business days.

Your postcard will contain a unique 5-digit code that will be used to verify your business. When you receive it, log back into your account and click ‘Enter verification code,’ then type in your code to finalize your listing.

After Verification

So, your Google My Business listing is finally verified! Now what? From this point, optimizing and adding content to your GMB is going to be the name of the game. Let’s go over the different parts of your GMB listing that you can optimize once you’re verified. 

Info Section

Hours

Let people know when you’re open! Include your opening and closing times Monday through Sunday.

Special Hours

 Just like the standard hours section, except this one is for holidays. Special hours are important so that Google can provide accurate information to customers on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day and more. If your business is still open or has the same hours as usual on a particular holiday, still add that in so your customers can be sure. Here is a list of holidays you should consider adding special hours for:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • President’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Indigenous People’s Day (Columbus Day)
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday)
  • Christmas Day

Short Name

In Google My Business, a Short Name is a “nickname” that customers can type directly into their browsers to find you on Google. Try to make your Short Name as close to your actual business name as possible.

Ex.: John’s HVAC

Short Name: @johns-hvac-washington

Links

Where can your customers find out more? Include a main website and an appointment link.

Attributes

‘Attributes’ is a very important, but widely overlooked area of the GMB profile. Attributes are highlighted near the top of your listing in search results, so they can help you stand out from your competitors. 

google my business attributes

You’ll have several different categories of attributes to choose from:

Highlights

  • Black-owned
  • Veteran-Led
  • Woman-Led

Health & safety

  • Appointment required
  • Mask required
  • Staff get temperature checks
  • Staff required to disinfect surfaces between visits
  • Staff wear masks
  • Temperature check required

Service Options

  • Online estimates
  • Onsite services

Check off the ones that apply to your business and highlight them on your profile to stand out from the crowd!

google my business attributes list

Description

Here’s where you get to share what makes your business shine. Follow the Template below to write a winning description that tells your customers what you do, where you do it, and why they should choose you. We made an easy outline you can follow:

“[business] provides exceptional [service 1], [service 2], and [service 3] to the [location] area. We proudly serve [location 2], [location 3], [location 4] and beyond, and provide free in-home estimates [ # ] days a week. Reach out to us for fast, professional service and a satisfaction guarantee.”

Feel free to add, omit, or change anything you’d like in this template. In GMB, you’ll have a total of 750 characters to share important things specific to your business, so use them to say whatever else you want your customers to know!

Posts

Give customers updates about what’s new at your business using posts. With posts, you can include text, a photo or video, and even a website link or other call-to-action (CTA) button. 

google my business post
google my business post

We recommend posting at least once a week to keep your content fresh and relevant. Talk about your services, before and after photos, or even special promotions you currently have going on. 

Reviews

Reviews are a big part of your profile on Google My Business. Customers want to know that your business is one that their peers like and trust, so having a high volume of good reviews will help you book more jobs. We recommend sending a text or email to customers you’ve completed work for with a link to leave you a review on Google (you can copy this link from your GMB dashboard). When a customer does leave you a review—positive or negative—make sure to give a polite, professional response.

Messages

Messaging is an optional feature in Google My Business that allows customers to chat directly with business owners and request quotes, all within the Google interface. We recommend turning this feature on as you’re setting up your listing, because it gives customers an easy way to contact you if they’re not in the time or place to make a call right away. You’ll be notified immediately in the Google My Business app when you receive a message.

Photos

Make a great first impression with a great selection of photos. Data from Google shows that GMB listings with photos get 35% more click-throughs to their websites than those without, so definitely don’t overlook this section. Your photos can be of completed projects, technicians at work, or even products you sell—anything that gives customers and inside look at what you do.

As an added measure, we also recommend posting new photos regularly to give Google a steady flow of fresh content. Try to take photos on jobs often so you don’t run out of new things to post. And if you already have a large library of photos, consider publishing them in chunks rather than all at once. 

Google Guaranteed

There is an additional way to boost your online presence using Google My Business. Introducing: the Google Guaranteed certification. 

With this relatively new feature, you can get an enhanced GMB listing that features a green check mark and a badge that reads ‘Google Guaranteed’.  

Google guaranteed badge

For just $50 per month, the Google Guarantee boosts credibility by giving customers all the information they need to make a confident buying decision, all in one convenient place. In other words, it is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competition.

google guaranteed badge

In order to get a Google Guaranteed badge, you will first need to go through a series of screening procedures including background, insurance and licensure checks. You will become eligible to sign up for the program once this process is complete.  For businesses backed by the Guarantee, Google will refund unsatisfactory work booked through Google Local Services up to a $2,000 upper limit. 

Learn more information about the Google Guaranteed program and its benefits at: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7549288?hl=en.

COVID-19 Update

For the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to keep your customers in the loop about if, and how, your service offerings have changed. We recommend something like the following:

“[business] is open and ready to serve you. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently taking precautions including [precaution 1], [precaution 2], and [precaution 3]. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.”

Summary

There you have it! Everything you, as a service-based business owner, need to know about Google My Business. We have spelled out the what, why, and how of GMB, so now it’s your turn to get to work and make the magic happen. We’re firm believers in the power of this tool and we hope that you’ll use it to its fullest potential throughout the rest of your business journey. Best of luck!

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