Have you ever been curious about what time a particular store closes or what their address is, but you didn’t want to scour their website for this basic information?
You probably did a quick Google search of the business and found a window with that company’s photos and basic information next to the search results. That is a Google My Business listing!
Intro to Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows business owners to control certain aspects of how their business appears on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP). GMB also allows business owners to control the business’s contact information, description, customer reviews, frequently asked questions, upcoming events, even how expensive a product or service is. As the business owner, you can also monitor and reply to customer reviews and questions.
GMB also improves local SEO for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is common for people to include “near me” in their search queries, and you want those customers because it’s likely that they have already made up their minds about purchasing whatever it is that’s associated with the “near me” query.
Secondly, you are providing a business description for your GMB, which means you are giving Google more content to index and then determine how relevant your GMB listing is compared to the search query. With all these factors at play, you can see how important it is for any business owner to have a GMB listing, keep it complete, and keep it up to date. The only caveat to GMB listings is that they are only for businesses that have an actual brick and mortar storefront. Sorry eCommerce websites.
How do I claim a Google My Business Listing?
The first thing you need to do to set up your GMB listing is to log into the Google Account that you want to be associated with your business. Then go to google.com/business, and select “Start now.” From there you simply fill out the questions that GMB prompts you with, starting with “What’s the name of your business?” At the very end of filling out your business’s information, you will be asked to verify your business on Google. You do not have to do this, but you should, and here is why.
According to Google, verifying your business helps Google determine that your business information is accurate and that only you the business owner, or manager has access to it. This is very impactful for SEO because once you verify your business, you now are seen as more legitimate in the eyes of Google, and Google will favor your website over a competitor who has not verified their business.
How do I verify my Google My Business Listing?
There are a few ways to go about doing this. Either by postcard, phone, email, instant verification, or bulk verification. Whichever route you take, Google will send you a 5 digit verification code. Once you have the code log back into Google My Business, select the business that you requested to verify, enter the code, and click on “Verify Now.”
How do I optimize my Google My Business Listing?
Now that you’ve verified your business with Google, you can start optimizing your GMB to deliver the best possible user experience for your potential customers. Staring with Photos!
Photos are a great way to engage people who might not yet know about your product or service but are looking for what you offer. It also helps return customers to verify that you are indeed the establishment they were searching for. That being said, you should be aware of the photo criteria that Google has in place so that you can easily upload photos of your business.
Google My Business photos need to be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high, and formatted as either JPG or PNG. You can (and should) add a cover photo and a profile photo. The cover photo shows up as the largest, so this should be a hero image. The profile photo appears when you upload new photos, video, or review responses. Think of the profile photos as your business’s avatar. When your GMB listing shows up in a search, it will show the cover photo, a secondary photo, and a google map. However, you can upload multiple images and people can scroll through the photos when they click on any of the photo modules (except for the google map, that, of course, brings people to Google Maps).
So now that you know you can upload multiple images, what photos should you upload? Google recommends uploading the following:
- three photos of the exterior of your business
- three photos of the interior of the business
- one photo per product or service you’re offering
- three photos of employees in action
- one photo per common area
- three pictures of different rooms
- three photos of your management and staff altogether.
Granted, not all of these recommendations will work for every business, but do what applies to you.
You can also add videos to your GMB! They add great variety to your profile and are excellent at engaging searchers. And don’t worry, the parameters for videos are much simpler. All videos must be 30 seconds or shorter, 100 MB or smaller, and 720p resolution or higher. And Google has not released any recommendations about how many videos to upload. However, across all marketing platforms, video has proven to be more engaging when compared to photos. So we expect to see more videos in GMB listings in the near future.
If you have determined that you need to claim, verify, or optimize your GMB and need help with any of these steps, a BUZZ Local SEO package can help.