Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Yes, taking 20-30 minutes to fill out or update your Google My Business page the correct way can give you a huge edge over your competition. Many businesses are not sure where they are at with their own Google My Business listing. Here’s a list of potential problems and solutions on how to fix your Google My Business page, formerly known as Google+ page. The 12 steps are listed below. If you have any questions on these, they are covered in depth in this article.
Here’s what you need to do:
- CREATE a business Gmail account (not under your personal Gmail account)
- VERIFY that you are the owner or in charge of the page (google.com/business)
- OPTIMIZE the page (aka fill it out 100%)
- POST 1-2 times per month on the page
12 Steps on How To Fill Out A Google My Business Listing:
- Verify Listing
- Fill out correct business name
- Fill out address
- Fill out main business phone number
- Fill out website address
- Fill out categories
- Fill out hours
- Fill out special hours
- Add Optimized logo, profile pictures, and Cover photo
- Add Optimized photos: 3 Interior photos, 3 exterior photos, 3 photos at work, 3 photos of your team, any additional photos
- Add a description
- Have an authorized Google representative upload your virtual tour
Here’s where many business owners get stuck on Google My Business:
- Not sure if they have a personal profile page or actual Google My Business page
- People can’t find me when they type my address into their GPS on their phone
- Multi-location businesses should all have a separate page under 1 Gmail business account
- Every location needs a different phone number and address (even if all calls forward to the same cell phone number or all mail goes to the same physical location)
- Business owners do not check GYBO.com first and accidentally create a duplicate listing
- A former employee made the username and password and will not give up the account or does not remember
- I don’t have a physical business address or phone number
- A business owner created an account years ago and forgot about it or forgot the username and password
- A competitor somehow got control of the listing
- The listing has the wrong address or inaccurate and old information
- You have more than 1 business and are unsure if you should create separate Gmail accounts for each business or put them all under 1 account
- You don’t want to give your username and password to employees or your SEO (search engine optimization) company but you want them to manage the GMB (Google My Business) account
- When I Google my business, it lists the wrong hours, phone number, or other information
If you are having any issues with the above, an excellent resource is AwesomeDynamic.com’s free webinar on Thursdays where you can ask all of your website and online marketing questions or call directly for a free consultation at 1-800-238-1811.
Resources for Figuring Out Google My Business
- GYBO.com – get started on your listing along with free website hosting and other resources
- Google.com/business – how to access and make changes to your GMBL account
- Google My Business App – Great app for managing your account on the go
- Google Insights – Stats and Analytics specifically on your Google My Business listing
- Google help center – Yes, you can contact a real person at Google here. Make sure to be signed into your business account.
- Guidelines to responding to reviews on your GMB listing:
How to read and reply to reviews
Verify Your Google My Business Page
Select the correct type of listing for your business. Remember, if you do not select a local listing with a physical listing, you will not be listed on Google Maps or the Google local results that often show up above the top 10 organic results.
For verification, Google will not always give you all the choices below. Follow the options they give you. To verify, press the red verification button at the top that says “verify my business” or “verify now”. Major changes cannot be made without verification. After verification, if any major changes occur such as a change of address or phone number, you may be required to re-verify. Note: Each page needs to be verified, even if they are under the same Gmail account.
Verify your Google listing in 1 of the following ways:
- By postcard
- By phone number
- By text message
- By email
- By instant verification
How Do I Know If My Google Listing is Verified?
If you do not know if your listing is verified or not, look for a green or gray checkmark placed on the bottom right corner of your logo while signed into GMB. These buttons are constantly changing so it may vary from above. It may take up to 3-7 days for a verification to go through live and see the checkmark. The same timeframe goes for any changes made after verification.
A postcard will be dispatched from Google to your business address. Google assumes that only authorized persons will be able to receive the postcard. Enter the 5-6 digit code while signed into your GMB account. The postcard typically arrives within 1-2 weeks and is valid for 30 days from the day you requested it, so enter it in immediately. If you miss the date or the postcard does not come, you can request to send another. Tip: This postcard may look like spam so make sure your mail person knows to not throw it out with the junk mail.
Phone number verification
Google will call the business phone number listed on your Google My Business listing. A recorded message with a verification code will play and you type that 5-6 digit number in the screen to verify that you are the owner. If you are not there, let the person who answers the phone know that a verification code will be coming and to write it down and let you know the number.
Text message verification
Enter your cell phone number. Google will text you the verification code. Enter in the 5-6 digit code on the screen. This is not often an option because competitors can easily do the same.
This is also a rare option but you will need an official business email address. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org or if it is a government office, then a .gov or .edu email address.
If you attend a local GYBO event or know a trusted Google agency that has been trained by Google for instant verification, you can get your listing verified instantly. By instantly, it means at that moment or up to 3 days.
The 12 Steps To Google My Business Listing
Fill out address
The easiest way to have a consistent address across the internet is to have it match Google Maps or maps.google.com. It has to be an exact match. Just like the business name, an inconsistent address can drop your rankings because it confuses Google. Here are examples of non-exact matches:
- 123 Main St #100
- 123 Main St. #100
- 123 Main Street #100
- 123 Main Street Suite 100
- 123 Main Street Ste 100
- 123 Main St 100
Dropping the Pin
If your address is showing up in the wrong place on Google Maps, you have the power to change it by pressing the edit button (it looks like a pencil) when you are signed into your GMB listing. Simply move the pin point and wait a few days. You may have to re-verify. There are a few other advanced techniques that Awesome Dynamic can show you.
Virtual or Home Businesses
If you have one of these, don’t panic. You can get blacklisted off of Google if you have a P.O. Box or other location that is not a physical one that customers can visit. However, you can rent a desk or office space in a physical location. Home businesses are on the border right now because clients could potentially visit you at your home.
Fill out main business phone number
The number should reach the physical address. If it is your cell phone number, the voice message should say your business name. If you have multiple businesses, you need a separate phone number for each business. You can set up a phone number to forward all to 1 phone.
Fill out website address
Straightforward. Write the whole version with the http://www. In front of it. If you have multi-locations, you have the option of using the same URL for all of them but what would be better is to link to each location’s individual page.
Fill out categories
The first category is the main category that will show up when people search for you on Google. However, you can fill up more categories. I would recommend 5. This is a gray area because Google’s policy is to list the fewest categories that represent your business. However, it is possible you could show up more often if you choose more categories and at this time, there is not too much enforcement on adding more categories that are related to your business.
Fill out Google hours
The official policy is to fill out the hours in which the physical location is open. However, you could show up as “closed” or not show up at all or as high on the local map results because of this. As long as you can answer the phone (by forwarding the calls to your cell phone after hours), it is somewhat safe right now to add in longer hours than you are physically open, although against the policy. The way Google checks if you are open is they call you during those hours.
Fill out special hours
If you have seasonal hours, especially for holiday, there is a section especially for this. However, if it is a regular thing like “By appointment” on Saturdays only, you can write that in your business description.
Add Optimized logo, profile pictures, and Cover photo
A logo’s size should be 250 pixels x 250 pixels. The profile picture can be the same as the logo if you like but it would be better to add more variety with a different picture. The cover photo is the largest and shows up most of the time when people look for you on Google. If you leave it blank, it’s a missed opportunity to build trust and represent your brand. The cover photo should be high quality and large but a small file size (under 100 KB).
Do not use the same photo on your website and GMB listing. You can be flagged for duplicate content. All photos added should have the keyword in your file name and in the alt tag and be very high quality. At this time, Google is looking more that you have pictures filled in rather than the content of the pictures so you can get away with stock photography in some cases as placeholders.
Add Optimized photos
All photos on your GMB page need a file name and an alt tag filled out with the keyword in it. For example, if you take a photo on your iPhone, you need to change the file name from IMG04034885 to red-banner-signage-above-parking-garage with “signage” as your keyword. The alt tag needs to be different than the file name but describe the picture and include the keyword in a sentence written for humans. If you don’t do the file name and alt tag, at a bare minimum just add in the photos any way you can so that the space is not blank.
3 Interior photos
Any pictures of the inside of your business. You can have real employees in the pictures but no people can be shown in the virtual tours. Ex: front desk, waiting room, printing backroom, offices, conference rooms, warehouse, etc.
3 exterior photos
Pictures of the outside of your building. Ex: Front view, signage close-ups, trucks parked in front of building, courtyard area, even a picture of the downtown square of the town you’re located in although the guidelines show that it should be pictures of your actual business. Tips: Avoid cloudy days, nighttime, or lots of people and cars parked in front that are not representing your business.
3 photos at work
These are action shots. You at a speaking engagement, helping out a customer at your store, typing something at your desk, or lifting/using equipment in the field.
3 photos of your team
Add photos of you and your team. Group photos at an event or staged in front of your office building or a backdrop that represents your business are the best. Make sure everyone is happy and smiling. This builds trust for your online brand. If you have a service job, make sure everyone is wearing the uniform or appropriate clothing.
Tip: You could use stock photography as placeholders but eventually have your real staff. If it’s just you, then put 3 pictures of you in different parts of the building, out in front or out at events.
Any additional photos
Anything that doesn’t fit into the above categories can go here. There can be some overlap with the above as well. Note: There may be different categories of pictures based on the category dropdown that you chose for your business. Almost all business types have the above 5 categories to fill out for photos.
Add a description
Adding a description is a great opportunity to tell everyone what you’re about. In the knowledge graph, it shows up prominently when someone searches for you online. The description can include extra business hours. It’s also an opportunity to gain a backlink to your site by adding an internal and external link within the description. For example, list all your services in bullet points on the description, then press the link button and link to each individual service page. Your business description can be long. We recommend 300-600 words at a minimum. Note: The description will get cut off when showing up in Google search results so make sure to make the first paragraph count.
Google Virtual Tour
To jump from 90% to 100%, you have to have a virtual tour uploaded to your GMB page. This is not free. You have to contact a Google authorized agency to film the tour then they have to upload it. You cannot simply take a video on your phone and upload it. There are numerous regulations for this tour and these trusted agencies and photographers go through intensive training.
What is a Virtual Tour and Why Is It Important?
Google has created “streetview” in which you can virtually walk down the street anywhere in the world for the most part. Virtual tours are an extension of this where you can now walk into any business that has this.
Google Virtual Tour Benefits Include:
- Possibility of priority of featuring your business in local search results because the GMB page is filled out 100%
- Can help influence your ranking if your competitors do not have a virtual tour
- Shows off your business to potential customers
- Gain higher quality employees by showing off your business online
- Can sell items in your virtual tour right off the shelf
- Another outlet of promotion and an opportunity to make your business unique
Tip: Make sure to clean up every nook and cranny of your physical location before doing the tour because it will pick up every inch from the floor to underneath desks, to clutter and even the ceiling.
Tip: Prices vary by your area and photographer you choose. Get many quotes to find the best deal and ask for references to compare quality.
Beyond Optimizing Google My Business
Don’t set it and forget it. Keep updating or posting new photos, promoting blogs, writing news snippets, adding infographics, or any type of posts at least 1-2 times per month. You don’t want to fill this page out then never touch it again. Why? There is a lot of evidence behind posting on Google My Business page often and seeing better results on Google. A great way to keep up with this is to download the Google My Business app on your phone and simply have someone take a picture of you anytime you go to a networking event and post it with a 1 sentence caption. Or you can have your intern promote a link back to your blog with a quick sentence. Easy and low maintenance to keep up with.
*Note on this article: Google is constantly changing and updating the Google My Business listings. There are frequent policy changes, information changes, and new verification methods. Be sure to follow the most updated items or login at least monthly for changes to ensure your listing is the most accurate.