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How to set up google my business and get found on google maps

Have you taken the one simple first step that unlocks the door to Google's most impactful properties (Maps, the local '3-pack', the knowledge panel)?

If so have you set it up correctly? We go into what content you should add to your profile to get found online.

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Here's what we will cover...

Whether you are looking at your local search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy or starting a new venture, claiming your free Google My Business (GMB) profile gets you on the map and found in search.

If you have claimed your spot, congratulations! You are already in the top 68% of businesses (according to 2018 statistics). But have you set your profile up correctly? Is it optimised? Are you making the most of all the features Google have given to you including the new option to add posts?

Drawing on our experience in all things local SEO, we have taken a deep dive into GMB so we can advise you what content you should add to your profile to get found online.

Adding or claiming your business

First things first: let’s claim your business on GMB.

You will need to have a free Google account to start the process. Then you simply need to access the Google My Business home page and click the ‘Start Now’ button.

The first question Google asks is: ‘What’s the name of your business?’

If Google is already aware of the existence of your business, you should see the name and address automatically appear in the suggestions below as you type.

Otherwise you will see the prompt: ‘Create a business with this name’ under your typed entry. Clicking this will bring you to the place where you can manually add your business address.

If your business is already listed, you should also arrive at the same place, only this time you will only have to edit or confirm the address which will be pre-populated.

But wait! As we will elaborate on in the section on optimising your GMB profile, it is important that the business name and address you enter here is identical – yes, identical – to how you are listed elsewhere. If it isn’t, we recommend changing the details on your other directories to match.

Has a former employee or business partner already claimed your business? If they have, you will get a different message: ‘This listing has already been claimed.’ You will then need to follow the links provided to regain control of your business listing.

Getting on google maps

Before we go through the rest of the claim process, you might be wondering how you can get your business featured on Google Maps so that potential customers in your neck of the woods can discover you. 

The good news is that Google Maps is fully integrated with Google My Business so by going through the claim process, you will soon be seeing your business appearing alongside those of your competitors on Google Maps (and Google Search too!). 

In fact, you can track how your Google presence looks across these platforms via the GMB dashboard. At a glance, you will see how many views your profile has had in the past 28 days, split into Maps and Search. You will also see the percentage change over that period which can help determine whether your GMB content strategy is working.

What’s the process

Once you’ve entered your business name and address you will be prompted to add a primary business category plus optional additional categories. Be warned! This can be a frustrating process and Google really need to think again about this section.

For example, if you are a writer, you won’t find ‘author,’ ‘copywriter’ or even ‘writer’ among GMB’s more than two thousand categories. However, you are sorted if you run a ‘nudist park,’ or ‘nudist club’ as both business categories are listed.

Fortunately, you can also add a 750 word description in which you can wax lyrical about what you actually do (more on that later) but as far as categories go, you might just have to make do.

Google will then ask you: ‘What contact details do you want to show to customers?’

This is where you enter a contact number (ideally a local number) and website URL.

Finally, Google will ask you to confirm you are finished and ready to verify your listing. In most cases, this will involve Google sending you a postcard in the mail. 

It can take a week or two to arrive so ask your team to look out for it. It probably won’t have a picture of Blackpool Tower on it but it will have the all-important code you will need to finally lock together your online and offline presence.

Setup your listing

Once you’re verified you can really get into the meat of your GMB listing and flesh it out with details such as:

  • Hours of operation
  • Holiday closures
  • A short name
  • List of services and prices
  • Business description
  • Original opening date
  • Store codes/labels to help manage multiple listings
  • Photos (see the section on content below)

You will also notice an ‘Attributes’ section which gives businesses the opportunity to enrich their listing with additional information such as whether they have free onsite parking, are disabled friendly or offer a customer toilet. 

You will be given a list of attributes you can edit based on the category your business is in but you can also unlock hidden attributes by answering questions about your business (see the next section in what to optimise in your GMB listing).

What to optimise

To become visible to the local online community, you need to do a lot more than just claim your GMB listing. To master local SEO, you will need to continually monitor and optimise your GMB listing.

Even a simple omission like closing an hour earlier on a Friday and forgetting to update your GMB opening hours can have negative consequences if a customer relies on the information and turns up at your locked door.

While keeping factual information up to date is basic housekeeping, optimisation is fine-tuning your GMB listing to help you climb the local SEO ranking.

How can you best do this?

One habit you must get into is ensuring your business name, full postal address and phone number (your so-called ‘NAP’ profile’) is consistent across directories. Google relies on this data to establish you as a real business entity and even a digit out of place on a directory listing can lead to their programs discounting the local signal from that directory.

Your business description can also be optimised for local SEO by including one or two location-specific keywords in addition to your industry keywords. You have 750 words to play with and we suggest you use them all.

When you visit your Google Search knowledge panel (click ‘View on Search’ from your dashboard), you should see a prompt: ‘Know this place?’ followed by a link: ‘Answer quick questions.’ 

By clicking the link you will get the opportunity to add relevant attributes to your listing. Customers can also answer these questions.

Finally, you should check out your Insights page, accessed from the main GMB dashboard menu. This contains a wealth of information including:

  • The proportion of your customers who found your site directly versus discovering it through search.
  • The actual search queries used to find your website.
  • How many customers found you via Google Maps versus Google Search.
  • Whether those customers visited your website, requested directions or called you.
  • Where customers travelled from.
  • How many phone calls you received and when.
  • How many times your photographs were viewed compared with your competitors.
  • How the quantity of photographs on your website compares with competitors.

As you can imagine, this information is a real help with optimisation. It can help you decide which keywords to include in your GMB description, where to target your advertising and whether you need to add more photographs to your profile.

Role of reviews

A 2017 study found that a whopping 85% of consumers trusted online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Another study discovered that around a third of customers had judged a company based on their responses to feedback with 73% trusting the company more if their response to feedback was positive. Meanwhile, 68% of customers left feedback for a GMB listed business when asked to do so.

Add these stats together and the take home message is clear: asking for, monitoring and responding to Google reviews is good for business.

What content should I add

So your listing is bang up to date, your NAP profile is cloned across the web, you’ve optimised your business description and responded positively to all reviews.

Don’t let up! You can still do more.

Recent research has shown that adding photographs and taking advantage of GMB’s post feature are well worth the effort.

How important are photographs to your GMB listing? Here are some eye-opening stats!

A Synup study concluded that:

  • Businesses featuring photographs on their GMB profiles were deemed twice as reputable as those without any.
  • Businesses with photographs attracted 42% more requests for driving directions than those without.
  • Businesses with photographs were clicked on 35% more times than those without.

When uploading photography, we recommend high resolution JPEG files measuring 400×300 pixels. You can also choose to use customer-tagged photographs of your business for your cover image.

Posts on GMB are like a cross between an online ad and a blog post. You can upload images and add up to 300 words of text followed by a CTA in the form of a button. Posts are live for just 7 days so you need to keep on top of them. Engagement rates are high so it is well worth making the effort.

Google also enables you to upload short videos to go with your posts or photograph stream.

In conclusion then…

As a free service, there really is no downside to claiming your place on GMB. The real question then is how much time and value to allocate to keeping up to date and adding and editing the content on your profile.

This poses its own unique question to your business, what results do you want and what are you doing regarding Search Engine Optimisation to help your visibility online?  If you aren’t sure then the answer may be that you need further education, our upcoming SEO Training Course will help give you a deeper understanding of SEO and how GMB and Google Maps sit within a robust local SEO strategy.

Contact us today to book your place on the course.

SEO Training Course

Want to go into more depth on Google My Business & local SEO?

Our upcoming course may be just the ticket. Get advice relevant for your business from a genuine SEO expert.

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