Make sure your Google My Business page checks off all these boxes.
Here, you’ll find:
- What a Google My Business page is
- How to set up your page properly
- The latest Google My Business page updates
- What missteps to avoid on your page
It’s been a whirlwind year so far for brick-and-mortar businesses. With shops shuttering across the globe, those who are able to are working to transition their businesses fully online.
In response, Google has been working to help offset some of this hardship through updates to the Google My Business (GMB) page. This feature can be found on the search engine results page (SERP) when someone searches for a particular business. These updates include a new “temporarily closed” status, a new COVID-19 post type, support and donation links, and more.
Google My Business is a free service for businesses and organizations that helps them manage their online presence on the SERP and Google Maps. It aims to help customers find your business, learn about you, and get more information on things like your location and hours.
In this precarious economic climate, having accurate online visibility is as important as ever to keeping your company afloat. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to set up your GMB page. Optimizing it takes a bit more effort, but it’s well worth it — especially now. Here, we break down five ways to set up and optimize your page for success.
Make sure your Google My Business profile is complete
It may seem basic, but far too many businesses don’t fill out their entire Google My Business profile. This goes beyond just including your address and phone number and making sure you’re listed in the most relevant category.
If you can, also include interior and exterior photos of your business. Exterior photos make it easier for potential customers to find you, while interior photos can be used to showcase your products and team. If you have the means or resources, consider having a professional photographer conduct a shoot. You also want to update photos if anything significant changes, such as new signage or an upgraded office interior.
Your hours of service also need to be accurate. In light of the pandemic, you may find it necessary to have updated or secondary hours (such as a senior-only hour) listed, or an update as to which services people can access at certain times. Google’s recent GMB updates have made this pretty easy to do. Lastly, make sure your address, phone number, email, and website are all accurate.
Pro tip: Avoid adding keywords or location information to your business’ name. Google doesn’t like this and it could get your listing suspended. It’s also not advisable for your website link to go to a Facebook page, which is seen as less trustworthy.
Proofread your description
Here’s another seemingly obvious tip that’s too important to ignore: Your business’ description needs to be proofread. According to Google itself, misspellings in your copy can be enough to get your listing downgraded in the rankings.
Consider getting a professional content marketer to write it for you, whether in-house or as a one-off contract job. Your description can be up to 750 characters long and should be concise, accurate, and provide relevant information to your potential customers. Put the most important information in the first sentence or two, as only 250 characters show before the cut.
Pro tip: Links are not allowed in your GMB description.
Customers who have patronized your business can post their own images to your Google My Business profile. (This is similar to Yelp’s photos that diners upload of restaurant dishes and menus.) Generally, this is a good thing. A photo of one of your products or a happy customer adds legitimacy and can help foster brand trust. Plus, it doesn’t cost you a thing!
On the flip side, you should be monitoring the images uploaded to your GMB page. For example, you’ll want to remove photos that are extremely low quality, posted under the wrong business, or could be offensive. Basically, you can (and should) remove any images you don’t want associated with your business.
Yes, you should respond to your reviews — both good and bad. Positive reviews can be met with something as simple as “Thank you, we love to hear that!” Addressing negative reviews shows that you’re paying attention to what your customers have to say.
When responding to bad reviews, maintaining professionalism is key. Never engage in a fight with customers, use foul language, or respond if you’re fired up about what someone has said.
Unfortunately, you cannot simply delete an inaccurate or malicious review. (Although you can request that a customer edit or remove a bad review once you’ve resolved their perceived issue.) You can, however, flag an inappropriate review. Just don’t bother flagging any and all negative reviews — Google’s moderators will ignore these requests.
Google will remove reviews that:
- Are spammy or clearly posted just to manipulate ratings (this includes duplicate reviews and obviously fake reviews)
- Contain foul or offensive language
- Incite hatred (such as racism and violence)
- You have posted in an attempt to improve ratings
- A competitor has posted to try to bring your ratings down
- Contain harassment or threats
- Are unrelated to your business (such as random comments or political rants)
- A disgruntled former employee who might have quit or been let go has posted
Again, Google will not remove a review that is merely negative — it has to actually violate the terms of service.
Pro tip: Google recently announced the launch of a new Google My Business profile option with a Google Guaranteed badge for $50 per month. This is “available for businesses that pass a Google screening and qualification process through Google Local Services,” according to the search engine.
Take advantage of Google My Business posts
GMB now includes an option to publish posts so you can better connect with your customers and keep them in the loop. You can post announcements, special offers, event info, supply updates, and more. You can also use posts to inform customers of COVID-19 related service alterations or mask policies.
Bear in mind that Google doesn’t allow posts dedicated to certain restricted products, including alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and pharmaceuticals. Posts are also required to be relevant to your business and must be free from offensive language, hateful content, graphic violence, or sexually suggestive content.
Properly setting up your Google My Business benefits your business no matter the economic climate. And right now, making sure your page is accurate and complete is particularly important.
Whether or not you’re currently open for business, you want your customers to have easy access to the latest information and updates. It’s a great way to feel confident that your online presence is thorough, polished, and set up for success.