One of the easiest ways to do this, which is possible for all businesses, is to claim and manage your business listing on Google My Business. A free Google My Business profile lets you manage how your business appears in Google search results and Google Maps and connect with your customers on those platforms. You can also get valuable insight into how your customers are interacting with your business on Google with a monthly report. Best of all - claiming your Google My Business listing is free and simple to do.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a platform which enables businesses to add information about themselves which will show prominently in Google searches which have a local element to them.
Local searches are defined those which include a geographic location as part of the search term, like ‘Hairdresser Tiverton’, searches performed where the user is situated in the local area, like ‘Hairdresser near me’ or, if the user is signed in to Google at the time of searching, just a search for ‘Hairdresser’ will likely produce a result which includes local businesses in the Google My Business ‘3 pack’ of results (as shown in the image below). People also searching for your business by name will be shown results which include your Google My Business listing.
If you are looking to have your business shown prominently in local searches, managing your Google My Business listing is a no-brainer. It is surprising then that there are still a large number of businesses who have not done so.
Why is Google My Business Important?
According to stats from Google, 46% of all Google searches are local, while the GMB ‘three pack’ of results appear in 93% of all local searches.
These stats are backed up by a 2018 survey from Uberall, which found that ‘near me’ searches – those with local intent, were used by 83% of smartphone shoppers.
The research shows which kind of businesses tend to benefit from this kind of local search, with a breakdown below showing the percentage of those individuals who had performed a ‘near me’ search for the categories listed.
- 84% had performed a near me search related to food
- 56% had performed a near me search related to entertainment
- 50% had performed a near me search related to banking
- 41% had performed a near me search related to clothing
- 38% had performed a near me search related to personal care
The survey also found that 60% of those people who were searching on a mobile phone were ‘very likely’ to click on the first two or three results they saw. This is significant when you look at how the Google My Business results appear on mobile with the ‘three pack’ dominating the screen on a mobile phone.
If you want to improve your chances in local search results, then a Google My Business listing is the key.
How to claim you listing?
Claiming your GMB listing is a fairly simple process. The steps are outlined below:
The easiest way to claim your listing is to visit the Google My Business website , make sure you are signed into your google account and click on the manage now button to get started.
You can then use the search box (shown below) to start typing the name of your business. If your business is already known on Google, you should be able to select by business name. If Google can’t find your business, you can click on the blue ‘Add your business to Google’ link below the box to manually add your business details. Do this by completing the information requested and following the prompts which will include adding your business address and contact details.
* Service area business? If you don’t serve your customers from your business address, select the option for a service area business – you will then be asked if you would like your business address to show on Google maps. If you have no physical shopfront/office you should select no. You will then be able to select the geographical area you serve instead of your address.
Click 'Continue' to finish creating your profile and then move onto the verification step.
Be careful to make sure the contact information you enter here is accurate as Google will use the information to verify your listing.
It is important for Google to make sure that the individual who is claiming the business listing is the business owner or representative who has the authority to manage the listing. For this reason, verification is a two-step process. Your listing will not be live and you will not be able to add any posts or photos until the verification step has been completed. There are different verification methods – as follows:
Verify by postcard
If you choose this option you will receive a postcard from Google with a 5 digit code. Make sure that the address you have added is the correct place for the postcard to be sent before choosing the verify now or send postcard option. There is also the option to add a contact name. You need to allow up to 14 days for the postcard to arrive, although it is usually much quicker than this.
Once you receive the card you will need to sign back in to Google My Business and submit your verification code. Once you have done this you will be able to add images and posts to your listing as well as respond to reviews which have been left on Google.
Verify by email
It may be possible for your business to verify by email – if this option is available to you it will be shown when you click on ‘verify now’ If you are able to choose this option, you will receive an email and can then click on the verify now link in the message or go back to Google My Business and enter the code from the email.
If no email option is displayed, this option is not available to your business and you will have to select from those presented.
Verify by phone
You may also be given the option to verify by phone. If you choose this option you will need to be able to access the phone number you have used in your listing as soon as you have requested verification. If you choose the phone method of verification, you will receive an automated call with a code which you will be able to submit in the Google My Business website, as before.
Make the most of your listing
Once you have completed your chosen verification link you will be able to finish populating your Google My Business listing with other information, images and updates. You will be able to respond to reviews which are left for your business as well as add small image posts which will show up in your listing. Posts are a great way of getting attention and adding interest to your listing. They also offer a ‘one click’ option for promoting certain offers or call-to-action points such as call now, book or learn more. For more information on posts, including tips for writing them, have a look at the Google My Business Help page on posts.
Review stars in your listing are also a great way of making sure your information stands out in the three pack – as well as providing potential customers with more information. As a verified business, you can use Google My Business to show your customers you value their reviews by responding to them. For more information on reviews and why they matter – read our blog on Social Proof.
A managed Google My Business profile is one of a number of things which can help your business get noticed in local search – read our blog ‘SEO and local search – why it matters’ for more information and actionable advice on local search optimisation. If you would like more information or to book a free SEO consultation, visit our marketing resources page.