With a Google My Business listing, you can make sure that your business is being shown to as many people as possible who are searching for services or products that you offer. Google describe Google My Business (GMB) as a ‘free and easy to use tool for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including search and maps’. By simply verifying and editing your business information with GMB you can help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.

Google My Business is the platform by which consumers can search for businesses and services near them by using Google Search or Google Maps. If you own a business it is essential to create a Google My Business account so that when consumers make these local searches your business can be found and appear in the results.

To put this into context, a survey by Hubspot.com found that 46% of all Google searches made are seeking local information. They also ascertained that 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within 24 hours. Just these statistics alone make creating a Google My Business account a priority, especially for a local business as this can dramatically increase the traffic to your site and numbers through the door.

Do I need a Google My Business listing?

The simple answer is, yes you do! Without one you are simply giving an immediate advantage to other businesses that operate in the same field as you. A well constructed Google My Business listing will let you share important information about your business, for example; its location, opening hours, telephone numbers and other contact Information. You will also be able to add photographs of your business and content about what you are selling or the services you offer. Another feature is the capability to add a questions and answers button so that potential customers can obtain further information. Finally, a very important aspect of your GMB listing will be the reviews section. Having a healthy number of positive reviews will help bring customers to your business over others, and it’s an important ranking factor within Google. So, the more positive reviews you get, the better your chances of getting on the first page of the search engine results will be. 

Related: Google 3-Pack | How to get your business noticed on the map

Who can have a Google My Business listing?

Google is very specific about which businesses can have a Google My Business listing, however, your business will be allowed one as long as you have premises that consumers can visit and are staffed. These are known as physical location businesses and are typically restaurants and bars, shops, salons and those alike. In fact, any business that customers have to visit in order to make a purchase. 

But, GMB is not only available to businesses that are selling goods. Mobile businesses that travel to their customers, such as tradesmen and hairdressers, also fit the criteria as long as they have an office that customers can go to.

Individual practitioners such as lawyers, doctors and accountants are also able to have a GMB listing as long as they have premises that customers visit.

Certain types of business like Ecommerce and online only, will not qualify as they do not fulfil Googles requirements of being able to work face to face with the customer. Co-working spaces can be a special exception and qualify as long as your business rents and occupies office space and someone is physically present during specified opening hours. You must list a phone number that puts customers in contact with someone at your business. 

How do I set up a Google My Business listing?

Setting up a Google My Business listing is a very simple process and you just need to follow the instructions below:

  1. Firstly, do a Google search for Google My Business.
  2. In the top right hand corner click sign in.
  3. Sign into your Google account or create one, then click next.
  4. Enter your business address, click next.
  5. Choose if you want your business to appear on Google Maps (why wouldn’t you?).
  6. Search for and select your business category, click next.
  7. Enter a phone number or URL for your business, click finish.
  8. Select a verification process.

Once your application has been verified you will be able to access your GMB dashboard via the Google My Business Homepage. You will then be able to see how customers are finding your business, be it via a Google search or Google Maps. You will also be able to diagnose what happens to that traffic, whether it results in a purchase, a visit to your business, bookings or a call. This is a good way to see how your listing is performing and to identify any improvements that can be made.

How do I optimise Google My Business listing?

It is not difficult to optimise your GMB listing, follow Google’s guidelines and make sure all the information you input is correct and consistent across all your platforms. You will be entering things like your location, hours of business, telephone numbers and contact information. So it’s essential that this information is accurate. It’s also important to make sure your business is listed in the correct category, if it’s not you will not appear in searches. Resist the temptation to pick broad categories, it is much better to be precise.

Remember that any information you put on your listing; such as a promotion or special events, will only stay live for seven days. Bearing this in mind, it is important to regularly update your listing to keep it relevant and interesting.

Reviews are a very important tool for two reasons, firstly they give you valuable feedback about your business. If you are regularly getting negative reviews, then you know that something is wrong. You should be able to identify what it is if the same complaint keeps popping up in reviews. Conversely, if your reviews are consistently favourable, you know you are getting it right.

The second important role that reviews play is that they are used as a ranking factor by Google. Consistently good reviews will help your business to rise up the Google ranking and hopefully get to the first page.

Related: Search Engine Visibility | Links, Keywords, and Conversions

In Summary

A Google My Business listing is a must for every business be it small or large. Firstly, it is free, all that’s required of you is the time it takes to set it up and maintain it. And the fact is that mobile searches for local businesses are increasing all the time, as are the number of mobile phone users. Can you afford to miss out on the huge benefits of a free service? A recent survey by Moz established that the first page of Google captures 71% of search traffic. So that’s exactly where you need to be. If you value your business and want to be at the cutting edge of current trends then you need to buy (not literally) into GMB to help your business grow.