What is Google My Business?
The three local business listings that appear on the first page of a Google search sometimes referred top as Google refers to as “Maps Pack”. You may also hear it referred to as the “3 Pack” or “Snack Pack”.
This is controlled by Google My Business.
When you click on one of these local Business listings, it will bring up the detailed Google Maps listing that is all controlled through Google My Business.
You might hear people refer to both Google Maps and Google My Business, they are the same. All the different placements revolving around the Maps area are controlled by Google My Business.
Building Your Listing
To build a profile, you start by going to business.google.com To do this you’re going to need a Google account set up, so if you have a Gmail account that will work. If you have ever used any other Google platform or tool you most likely will have used a Google account to set that up. So you can use it to set up a new Google account or you can just log in to your existing one.
When you sign in you will be prompted to set up a new business.
The checkbox on this first page, “I deliver goods and services to my customers” is important. You only check this box if you are a service business that wants to show a radius of where you will go to service customers. You do not check this box if you work out of your location and customers visit you there.
Then enter your business information for phone number and website address and hit “Finish”. You will then be prompted to choose a way to verify your business. Within a few days, Google will receive a postcard at your physical address with a code on it. You’re going to have to enter that code to verify your business listing.
If there is already a listing for your business on Google, you will find a link within the listing that reads “Own this business?” Click on this link and it will take you through the same registration process. You have the opportunity to verify or to correct and complete the information already included within that listing.
The verification here may be different. When you click on “Finish” you may get an option to verify your business by phone or text using the number within the listing. If you click to call, within a minute you will receive an automated call with the code to verify the business listing.
Adding More Users
Once your business is verified, if you would like to add more users what you can now do is go to the left-hand side of your Google My Business account and scroll down to “Users” and from here you can add additional users. Enter the email address for the person you want to add to the account. Select a “role” for each user. I would recommend an owner or manager role. The difference between the two is that an owner can add or remove other users and a manager can not. The manager would have the same admin privileges, they would just not be able to add or delete other users. Once you have invited the new user, they will receive an email to that address and all they have to do is accept the invite.
Listing Already Claimed?
What if someone has already claimed your Google Maps listing? this can happen if for a number of reasons. Perhaps you set up the account years ago and no longer have access to the email you used. Maybe a former employee set it up for you and you no longer have contact with that person. If maybe you bought the business and the former owner forgot to give you access to that account.
This happens often and we have successfully accessed dozens of Google Maps listings that were already verified but we had no way of getting in contact with the person that had verified it originally.
Log in to Google My Business, and navigate to the Google My Business help. Navigate down to “Verify your business” and you will find “Troubleshoot verification”. Click on that and you will see a few options. You want the “Request ownership of a business listing”. It will walk you through each scenario, whether you are a storefront, service business,… There are instructions to follow for each.
For example, if it’s a storefront business listing, go to business.google.com/add. Type in the name of your business and select the listing that matches your address. Select it and click next. On the next screen, it will show you the email address that was used to verify the business. If you don’t have access to that email, just click on “request access”. Verify you’re email, the level of access, who you are to the business and your name and phone number. Choose the “owner” so you have full access to add and remove users. Then the person who initially set it up will receive an email. After seven days, the account can then be claimed. You will be able to go back in and go through the process to claim the business listing. You will see a button to add additional locations if you manage other locations.
Rank higher on Google Maps
What’s the secret to mastering Google Maps and showing up in the 3 pack on the first page of Google? Let’s take a look at how to optimize your Google My Business profile and some other techniques that will give you the edge over your competitors. Winning the Google my Business optimization game really comes down to making sure everything on your profile is as complete as possible. Every area has to be completed including adding photos. The more complete your profile, the more of an edge you will have against your competitors. Every little inch here matters with Maps and Google My Business. Any little additional thing you can do, more than competitors will help.
Complete Every Field!
Inside the Google My Business dashboard, navigate to the Info page and the first thing you want to do is confirm that your business category is correct and list additional categories. Do a search using your primary category and see what business is coming up first in the 3 Pack. Look at the categories they’re in. Choose a business from the search result that you want to compete with and make your business searchable for that primary category.
Under your primary category selection, you can add the additional categories to your profile. List them in the order of importance and what you would want to rank the highest for.
Next, you want to take a look at your address. This is where the citation building starts to come into play. The consistency of how you address is represented in all other directories and business pages are crucial. For your Google My Business listing, use the address format that is the most consistent across the web.
Definitely add the business “hours” being specific and again consistent. Add the website URL and if you have a menu or a page on your website that is a menu, link to it.
Every field needs something in it. If there is a field for appointments at the very least link to your contact page.
Business Description is VERY important. You have up to 750 words. this needs to be a very well written description that is SEO optimized, peppered with relevant keywords that you want to rank for in here. That does not mean to stuff a bunch of keywords in here. Take the time to write a well-formatted, optimized description of your business.
Google My Business Photos are Important
Lastly in the information section is photos. This may be the most important part of optimizing your profile. Your photos are what really make or break this. What you want to do is have lots of photos. You want to have enough photos to fill each one of the categories that Google is recommending.
Gather all your photos in one folder and resize them so they all consistent in size. More important than the size is how you name the images. Find your most valued keyword. For local businesses, it’s something like industry or service plus city/state. For example, Image name: “keyword+city+state.jpg” Then after that a description of what the image is. Example: “dentist+city+ state+office.jpg”. This is how I recommend you name your images. Again, every inch counts here with Google Maps and any little edge you can have against your competitors can help and I think this is one of them.
Once you’ve organized, resized and named your images, then start plugging them in. First off, add a logo and the cover image. This is important because it shows up more than anything else. Make sure it’s an image you want to be prominent. Then you’re adding the other category images. Try to get photos that match the category well, but what’s most important is that there is an image within each category.
There is also an option to add a video. If you have any video that you have ever used, put it in there. You want to try to get all the categories filled. The video category is often overlooked because the business may not have one. It’s so simple to create a video with your smartphone, so create one and post it in this spot.
Having a well organized, complete photo gallery is going to give you a really strong edge.
Each set of categories in the “Showcase Your Business” area is a little bit different depending on your business category. For example, a diner will have categories like “food & drink” that a dentist would have services.
Products & Services
The last content section we’re going to cover is to include “products” or “services”. Add photos and complete the descriptions for as many of the products and services you can. Create descriptions that are 250 or more. (no less)
While you may not see everything appear on your page, complete it anyway. Google continues to add things and the trick here is to complete everything. The more complete your profile is the more of an edge you will have against a competitor of showing up within that 3 pack for relevant searches.
Reviews & Citations
Once you have optimized your Google My Business profile, turn your focus to reviews, star ratings, and citations.
- How many reviews do you have over your competitors?
- How are your citations?
If you Google any business in your area what you’ll find most of the time is the business with the highest number of reviews and the highest star rating is the business leading the pack. Its a combination of both and leans more toward more reviews. If you don’t have user reviews or your competitor is beating you with the number of reviews, it will be very difficult to take that top spot. Reviews are critically important to ranking.
In simple SEO terms, a business citation is where your business is mentioned on other websites, online directories, and social platforms. These listings (often referred to as “citations”) are used heavily in helping you to rank in local search results.
The information is your NAP (name, address phone) and usually some other details, logo for example. As a general rule, you want to be listed on at least 50-60 of these online directories. There are hundreds of online directories. Most of the companies that sell the service of getting your business listings, are going to be able to get you on about 50-60. Business citations are literally the yellow pages of today and you want your business to be there because people use them and search engines drive searchers to them.
You want to make sure your business is listed on as many as you can get and the NAP is consistent. If you can master that, the large number and the consistency will impact your Google Maps rankings significantly.
Yext.com has a free scan tool to show if you’re consistent. They will, of course, try to upsell you and I don’t recommend Yext. They have a monthly fee and you can get this done without paying a monthly service.
To recap, Mastering Google Maps comes down to these three things;
- Optimizing your Google My Business listing & profile
- The number of reviews you have
- Your business citations and the consistency of the NAP everywhere it appears.
Google Maps is a moving target that no one has really cracked the code on. Other things to consider that are factors that go into ranking are;
- What device they are searching from
- The physical location they are searching from (their proximity to your business)
- Your physical location as you may have difficulty ranking in an area where you are not physically located. For example, your location is just outside a geographic area for searches you want to appear in.