The Ultimate Guide to Set Up & Optimise Your Google My Business Listing in 2021 – Step By Step

Table of Contents

This step-by-step guide is for beginners to get their businesses listed on Google My Business. As a local business owner, having your business listed with Google can drive traffic to the company. It’s allowing your customers to discover your location-based business.

Google My Business puts all kinds of power in business owners hands. GMB helps business owners manage their businesses on the Google Search Engine. Having your business listed on GMB immediately opens you up to new possibilities. Companies with proper GMB optimisation tactics are discoverable by local customers. Did you know 4 in 5 customers use Google search to find local information?

Google prioritises the local business snack (or local pack) pack before any of the organic listings. Local businesses show up to customers using search before anyone else. How powerful is that! 

Here is an example of local packs on the search engine results page:

There are millions of Google Local Searches made daily. With millions of local searches only highlights the importance of having a GMB listing for all kinds of businesses. Without being listed on GMB, you’re already losing a bunch of leads and sales!

Being listed with Google My Business provides a vast amount of information about a business. For example: searching for your local accountant will display the name, address, phone, ratings, reviews and maps about the local accountancy firm. Just like that, customers have the information they want super fast.

As daunting as it may seem, It’s straightforward to set up your business page on Google. This guide will take you through the setup and optimisation tactics you need to rock it up for your business.

So how does Google My Business work?

Like many tools Google offers, it’s completely free! So here goes – in a nutshell:

  1. You need to register your business that has a physical location with Google. 
  2. You’ll need to verify it with a code that Google send to your physical registered address.
  3. Enter this code to activate your Google My Business account, and then you’re active. We’ll run through this set up in-depth in just a moment. Then we’ll optimise your business listing.

How effective is GMB?

In an age where technology dictates your movement to your digital growth, Google My Business boosts credibility. It also allows you to become discoverable in local searches, persuade customers to buy and convince customers from the past to return.

In an article written by Google, they state:

“More than 80% of people search the web to find local information using keywords like “in London” or “near me”.”

Google recommends having a well-filled business listing to increase the chances of customers visiting your store or website. Try adding photos and posts regularly to your business listing. In other words, the more information you can provide to your business listing, the higher your chances are of getting in those customers.

For example: Consider an Indian takeaway in Croydon that has a completed profile could very well show in the local pack when searching for the type “Indian food” or “the best Indian food in Croydon”. Think about your audience a little wider than people living around you. They could be a visitor or seeing a family friend. Either way, having your store listed for local search could reach all kinds of potential customers.

Google My Business has insight features that we will look into in more detail shortly, allowing you to discover more about your customers. For example, you can see from which areas your customers are searching you from, which photos appeal more, most engaging posts. Having this insight helps create effective ad campaigns to target this audience.

Ranking successfully on local Google search

So far, from what we’ve discovered, we understand having a completed profile on Google is essential. Your listing’s success depends on how well your profile is filled out and optimised for your audience. GMB is a free tool, with most free things; humans feel as though it doesn’t matter if they look it later or never again. It’s free. Why does it matter?

Well, you’re here because you know it matters. For something that empowers your business to show up in front of your customers for free, it is worth taking advantage of GMB.

Now without further ado, the moment you have all so patiently been waiting for, let’s set up your Google My Business Listing.

Signing Up To Google My Business

Let’s get started in setting up your GMB listing. You will need a Google account before you can create a listing. If you don’t have one, go ahead and create a Google account here. Create Google Account. Your account doesn’t have to be a business one. It can be a personal one.

Now that you have your Google account created, head over to the menu icon on the top-right near your profile icon. From this list, you’re going to scroll down to ‘My Business’.

Awesome, now we’re ready to enter our business listings information. Google will ask you to type your business name in to check its database of an existing entry. If the entry already exists, you’ll need to request permission from the listing owner if you can have access to it. 

Note: If your business is listed and you do not have access to it, you can always create a new one and report the previous one to Google. They can remove this on your behalf.

Google My Business - Add business name

Got your business name? Now we need to select the correct category for our business. We can only enter a single one and more once the listing is published.

In this example, I’m creating a listing for my cupcake shop called Lakeside Cupcakes. In the dropdown, you may not find one that fits your business directly. If this is the case for your listing, you have to think a little broader about your category.

GMB - Category Suggestion

On Google My Business, listings require an address. Working from a remote area or your home also requires an address. However, you may want to hide your address from the public at this stage if you are listing it as your home. From the options presented by Google, if you say no, then Google respects your privacy and keeps your address hidden.

Google My Business - Adding your business location

Does your business serve customers outside of your location? The way you serve your customers varies depending on the nature of your business. If you’re a service-based business, then sure, you may help the people of Croydon, but you also serve the people of London. However, if I’m a local deli, I may only provide my services to the local people of Croydon. Depending on your answer, you may be able to add more than one area. 

Google My Business - Adding business areas

At this stage, we’re going to enter our business phone number (if you have one) and your website address (if you have one). Design Co has competitive web design solutions for small and medium businesses. Feel free to learn more about our web design services.

Google My Business - Add Phone Number and Web Address

Opening Hours are pretty straightforward. Enter your business working hours here. You have the option to input multiple timing if you’re open from different times in the day. For example, a local cafe may be available from 7 am to 11 am for breakfast and then reopen from 5 pm-11 pm for dinner.

We’re almost at the end of the listing setup. Google gives you the option to enable a messaging service with your listing. Enable this feature. It’s a powerful way for your customers to contact you if they have any questions about your product or services. For you, you can access these messages from your Google My Business dashboard. We’ll get into that in a short while.

Google My Business - Instant messaging

Describing your business is one of the most critical sections. Google reads this description to understand what your company does and then display it on the search engine results page. Describing your business allows you to stand out in front of your customers. There is only a 750-word limit, so type wisely!

Google My Business - Business Description

It’s now the perfect time for showing off your work, food, design work and more by uploading images on your Google My Business page. Your customers will be able to see these photos, ensuring they’re of great value and high-quality can improve the clickthrough rate onto your website, phone number, food menu and more.

Google My Business - Adding photos

We’re finally there. Congratulations on setting up your business listing on Google My Business! Upon verification and approval, your business will be publicly visible.

Verifying Your Google My Business Listing

Google redirects you to your listing dashboard’s home page, where you’ll be able to request a verification code sent to your business address. It takes 3-5 working days to receive this code at your business address. Once received, you’ll need to enter those digits in verify section of your GMB listing.

Optimise Your Google My Business Listing

Now that we have the main bit done, we’re now going to sharpen up our pencils a little more. As part of a Local SEO strategy, optimising your listing can result in better rankings in the local pack and a way for your customers to find you.

Your GMB dashboard should look something like this:

Google My Business - Dashboard

Posts Tab

Creating posts helps stay connected with existing customers and invite new customers to connect with you on Google maps and search. Keeping your posts up to date keeps your audience engaged with your business. Keep your audience engaged with can be offers, announcements, new items and more.

 In addition to promotions and announcements, your business can also share details based on upcoming events too. For example, as a restaurant, you may host a taster night of a new menu you might be looking to create. Posting about this can reach customers who look for your business in between.

Types of posts

Covid-19 Posts

This is a more recent addition to the Google My Business posts section. Of course, in this section, businesses like to update their visitors and customers about how they’re handling the COVID period. Companies tend to post about their opening hours during COVID, about how the business operates. For example, a restaurant may now work solely as a takeaway subject to government guidance, health and safety measures they’re following and more.

Offers

The offers section is a space where you can share promotional content with your visitors. An offer can be sales promotions, for example, 10% off your backpacks.
Images speak many words, sometimes thousands but let’s go with a lot.

Adding an attractive photo to your offers post can improve the clickthrough rate (the percentage at which someone clicks on your post) for your promotion.

Add an attractive title, and you only have a few seconds to make the best impression! The internet is full of loads of nifty tips on how to create an excellent post title.

For example, ‘Free Vegan meal giveaway – First come, first serve!’. What this is doing is bringing urgency, getting people into that FOMO (fear of missing out) groove. When people don’t want to miss out, what do they do? ACTION!

Adding a start and end date can spur clicks on your post. Again, adding dates and times can add FOMO to your posts. Attractive titles with short dates can bring in more leads.

Finally, for offers, there’s a section titled ‘Additional information’. Remember, the key is to add as much information as possible. In this section, you can write more about your offer. If you’re targeting a specific keyword, make sure you’ve added this in naturally.

For eCommerce businesses, you can add coupon codes for your sales and weekly offers. Always add links. You want to invoke an action. If you add a link, there will be a ‘View offer’ button that appears on your post. On your Google listing, offers appear at the top of the business profile, search and maps. [Add Image 16.]

Google My Business - Creating offer

Updates

The updates section helps businesses keep their visitors up to date with the latest products or service that they have, something new to look forward to or to make an announcement about a particular line coming soon. There are various calls to actions you can assign with updates, which will depend on your purpose. Let’s take a deeper dive into what you can do with updates.

Assigning photos gives a clear visual to the reader and can capture the visitor’s attention if you have something attractive for them to see. Always add your best work when applying photos to posts. If photos are a challenge for your business or your business is new, there are stock photos you can use to represent your service or product. 

Check out these resources for royalty-free stock photos. Though we do not encourage this, stock photos will get you started, and you can always replace them later.

UnsplashPexelsPixabayCanva

If your visitor opens up your post, you have an excellent opportunity for them to discover the update. The copy you include in your post should be engaging and should resonate with the visitor.

The objective here is to attract more customers and to evoke action. Adding a call to action helps navigate your audience to the section of your website you’d like them to visit. Depending on your goal, the button could add something to your basket, sign up, place an order and more.

Google By Business - Creating an update
Google My Business - Published Update
Google My Business - Adding a call to action to update

Events

Hosting events is a great way to build customer engagement and get your audience involved in more than just sales. At one of my restaurants (Urban Guj), we hosted an event in October 2019 called canapé night. 

We had new people and our existing customers come down one evening and try out all this fresh, delicious food we would be bringing out. There were a limited number of tickets available, and it was a free event. 

It instigated FOMO, and nobody wants to miss an event with free food! The restaurant was busy, and it was indeed a fantastic experience seeing everyone come together, socialise over some excellent food! People love to be social, and Google gives us all the tools to do just that.

We can create an event for our business, and it keeps visitors looking for our company up to date. On Google Maps, by area, you can scroll around to see what is going on in your area. Take your Google Maps for a spin. So what’s required?

    1. A photo of your event can pump things for your visitors, making sure it paints the right picture. If you need to create artwork for your event, try out CanvaCanva is a free powerful design tool that’s perfect for small businesses like yours.
    2. Add an eye-catching event’s title, one that no one can resist! You’d be surprised the distance people are willing to travel for a fantastic event.
    3. Add the event’s date and time. Providing accurate information on your posts can boost your visitors’ credibility and trust.
    4. Add your desired call to action.
Creating an event on GMB
Event Preview on Google My Business

Products

Google enables merchants to list their products online so business owners can build their online presence whilst showcasing their products in front of their customers.

As business owners record their products they would like to showcase, these listings in the Google business profile under the products tab or on maps view when looking for a business.

A great example of this is using a cosmetics store listing their products categorically to help visitors make quick decisions or skim through the product library. 

You do not have to list all of your products here, as many as you like. Our advice? Have as many products as you can with as helpful descriptions as possible. There’s no point writing something like “makes your skin feel fresh” and nothing else. 

Without detouring too much, think about your visitors and the problems they have before they stumble upon your product. How can you optimise product descriptions whilst thinking about these problems? 

How to add a product using ‘Posts.’

      1. In your Google My Business dashboard, head over to the Products tab on the left-hand side. Note that this could be different depending on your business type. For example, a restaurant wouldn’t have products. Instead, they would have a menu or booking facilities. When choosing your categories during the initial business listing process, Google determines whether your business will require those tabs.
      2. Add an image of your product.
      3. Enter the correct name of your product.
      4. When you have multiple set of products, it’s important to group them properly using categories.
      5. Add your product pricing.
      6. Add a good product description. You have 1000 words to include the right things about your product. Our advice is that you should consist of what the product is and then more about the benefits and how it’s going to help your customer.
      7. Add your call to action. Google provide the options of ‘Order online’, ‘Buy’, ‘Learn More’ and ‘Get offer’. You can update your listing once made.
GMB Product Listing

Info Tab

So far, so good. We’re going to move onto the ‘Info’ tab. The info tab consists of the information you inputted when you were setting up the GMB listing previously. We want to maximise our listing as much as possible, so we will continue providing some more information to our business page.

Products

Just underneath your business name, there will be a category that is listed. We would have selected this category initially during the GMB listing setup. In the previous areas of this post, I mentioned that we would add more category that fit our business listing a little later. Add as many as you can that suits your business. For example, an Indian takeaway can also include under the categories of:

    1. Cafe
    2. Tea House
    3. Meal Delivery
    4. Vegan Restaurant
    5. Vegetarian Restaurant
    6. Indian Restaurant
    7. Vegetarian Cafe and Deli


Google allow us to have a maximum number of 9 categories, use these as close to your business as you can. Do not worry too much about these, and you can always change them later. Whenever you change anything on your Google My Business dashboard, Google will take a few moments to approve the changes. So if you start choosing categories that do not fit your business, you’ll not get verified on it.

GMB - Setting Business Category

Service Areas

Let’s scroll a little further down now to the ‘Service Area’ section. The ‘service area’ section has got to be one of my favourite section, and it gives us the means of allowing people to understand we’re serving them in particular areas.

For example, Design Co is a remote-based business, and we’re moving around all the time. Our offices are in Clapham but a co-working facility. Because we serve companies in multiple areas, my service area listing will look something like this.

In the same context, you can add the areas you serve. For example, if you’re a plumber and offer your services across multiple locations, you either add the town names or add postcodes. Google allow a maximum of 20 areas to be listed.

Special Business Hours

Besides your regular working hours, you can add your holiday hours in advance. If you’re closed on Christmas, you can add 25th December 2021 to your special hours. Adjusting your business hours will let your customers know in advance closer to the time that you will be away for the holidays.

Profile Short Name

Giving your profile a short name is like giving it an identity. Your profile name should reflect your business; avoid writing something arbitrary. A profile short name allows your visitors to easily find you with a name, connect them to your location, and provide reviews for your business. For example, Design Co’s link would look something like this.

https://g.page/design-co-seo?we

Using this link is a great way to promote your page. Include this on your social media, business cards and thank you cards.

Appointment Links / Menu Links

If your business works with appointments or wants your potential clients to book an appointment, inserting a link to your bookings page would be perfect for this section. Nowadays, there are tonnes of free booking apps that businesses are using. For example, CalendlyHubSpot Meeting SchedularSimplyBook and there are loads more out there too.

Google My Business - Appointment Links

For restaurants, you’ll have options like ‘Menu Link’ and ‘Order Ahead’ links. You can use your OpenTable links here or the click and collect links you have for your customers. Given how tough times have been for restaurants and takeaways, my restaurant (Urban Guj) adapted to a click and collect platform called Mobi2Go. We use this to allow customers to order a click and collect meal and do it in advance. If you’re a restaurant owner, feel free to check it out here. 

Services

Services is an excellent way for your customers to find you. When they use keywords such as “no heating, emergency plumber in Croydon”, your business has the potential to come up provided you’ve stated the service you offer in your company. Remember, the more detail you go into, the better. When adding a service, you can add the following information:

  1. Service Name
  2. Service Pricing
    1. Free
    2. Fixed – Use if your pricing stays the same
    3. From – Use if your pricing varies. Varied pricing could be dependant on the work required, the time needed and so forth.
  3. Service Description

Attributes

Attributes are a great way to let customers know more about your business. These attributes, once applied, show up in your Google Maps listing and your search. Customers are always looking out for crucial attributes to businesses. For example, they might be looking for restaurants that provide Wifi and are friendly towards children. They could also be looking for wheelchair accessibility. What attributes do is give customers quick information that is important to their business decision.

Google My Business Insights

I’ve worked with a bunch of businesses who indeed neglect their Google My Business listing. There is so much information that can help build on your local small business. Google provides a tab called ‘Insights’, as you can expect with a flashy name like ‘Insights’ because all the data collected for your GMB listing is displayed here.

Getting in Google Reviews

Grabbing reviews is hyper-crucial to any local small business. We depend on them to keep growing. The more detailed the reviews about your business, the better. Why? Because Google reads the text written in those reviews and ranks your position on the local pack accordingly. We should appreciate all reviews and feedback provided, but reviews without feedback don’t help other customers learn more about your business.

For example, restaurants depend on customers saying what they tried, how their experience went and ultimately concluding whether they’ll be back for seconds or not. For any local service-based business, your customers will always come at the heart of your business. It depends on them, and you’re there to serve your customers.

Some examples of getting reviews on Google

You can use several techniques to get reviews from customers. You could provide a QR code on your receipts, and you could give a thank you card. At the end of each month, you could also send thank you emails to those you have served.

Replying to Google Reviews

Responding to your customers on their review and comments builds for better relationships. Customers notice that businesses respond to their feedback, and business owners consider what they have to say.

Google explicitly state that reviews written by customers should be unbiased and written with truthfulness. What is the best way to gather reviews for your business then? Well, quite simply, you ask the customers to leave you a review based on their experiences and how they found working with your company.

Your FREE Google My Business Marketing Kit

When you’re a business with a million and one things to do, marketing is usually the first thing that takes a hit. People don’t have the time to get into it, let alone understand it. Social media accounts are created and turned dry; there’s no customer engagement online; people forget you exist. – This is just sad.

Google has this excellent hidden tool to connect your Google My Business account and create many nifty marketing assets! These assets save you time and give you some content to post on your social media. For example, this could be reviews, business cards, postcards, stickers and more! And it’s all free, thanks to Google!

Messages

Give your customers the best experience with your business by enabling the ‘Messages’ feature. It works just like instant messaging. Enabling messaging allows you to communicate with your customers effectively, answer any questions, share promotions and more.

As business owners, download the Google My Business mobile app to your phones. The app will send notifications to your phone when a message comes into your GMB dashboard. Messaging your customers gives you the advantage to be expressive and relay your business tone across.

A study conducted by YouGov demonstrates that 69% of customers prefer communicating with a business via text messages rather than phone calls.

Adding Photos To Your GMB Account

There are three types of photos you can add to your GMB listing account.

  1. Your business logo. Aim to have your business logo at 800px x 800px. You can create this using Canva.
  2. Cover photo. Your cover photo an image that will represent your business on the Search and Maps. When your customers are searching for your business, this is the photo that will show up.

Adding Products

Products are an excellent way for businesses in retail to show off their product catalogue to their customers. Having a list of your products on your GMB listing helps customers understand what you sell and to discover something they may want to purchase. Also, you make use of the product description section and optimise your products to your target keywords.

Remember, applying keywords doesn’t mean writing it as many times as possible in the text. Google looks for how useful and practical it is before displaying it. On a side note: Google penalises posts and other forms of description that stuff keywords.

GMB Website Builder

If your business is getting started and you need a simple website to get you going, GMB is there for you.

  1. Login to your Google My Business Account.
  2. From your dashboard, navigate to your menu.
  3. Find ‘Website’ from your menu list.

Voila! You’re now in the Google My Business website builder. In the next blog, we’ll go deeper into building your website using Google My Business. If you’re curious and want to take a play around, go ahead. They’ve made it simple to navigate and edit your website.

The contents of your website come together from the information you’ve been filling in on GMB. So how does this help with ranking and being found by your customers? You need a website that they can visit that hosts your services, what you do and more. If your business does not have a website, we live in a time it could be considered untrustworthy.

Here are three other ways you can get your website built:

  1. Use Wix Website Builder
  2. Try WordPress for your website, and you can check out this nifty guide that can help develop a WordPress website. It is a little more technically involved, so I’d recommend embarking on this if you have the time and patience.
  3. Appoint a freelancer or an agency that can help. Consider Design Co.

And this sums up our comprehensive guide on creating your Google My Business listing. We’ve been through a tonne of techniques that can help you improve and develop your listings. We’ve been from the setup process to the optimisation process of creating a listing, and if done correctly, you should start seeing results pretty quickly. Be sure to keep an eye on the ‘Insight’ section of your dashboard. From this data, you can learn to make changes and adapt to what and where your customers want.

Final Tips

Here are some final tips that can help improve your listing and rank you better on Google for Local Search. We’re going to very quickly explore the concept of Citations and NAP.

Citations

Citations are the number of listings that exist on the web with your business credentials. For example, other than Google, you may also list your business with Yell or Yelp. Your directory listing includes local business directories too.

NAP – Name, Address, Phone Number

Short for Name, Address, Phone Number. They’re to your citations. When Google explores the search engine, it looks for your NAP; this way, it learns that your business is credible. Having your business listed on multiple reliable directories allows Google to know about your credible business.

It’s essential to make any directory, business partner, affiliate or more listing your credentials to keep them up to date. If Google comes to learn of inconsistencies or feels your NAP doesn’t align, it affects your ranking.

FAQ

  1. Sign in to your Google account.
  2. Head over to the menu icon on the top-right of your window.
  3. Scroll further down until you see ‘My Business’.
  4. You’re now on your Google My Business Dashboard.

 

Google My Business is free for any business. You simply need to register your business, and you’re ready to go. If your company has multiple locations, you can create a group and host all of those locations under 1 section on Google My Business.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide on how to add multiple locations to your Google My Business.

  1. Head over to your Google My Business dashboard
  2. Scroll down on the menu on the left till you see ‘Businesses’
  3. You’ll now see all of your businesses with locations listed in this section.
  4. At the top of the ‘Businesses’ page, you will see a button that says ‘Create group’. 
  5. A pop modal will show up on your screen; this is where you will add a group name for your multiple-location businesses. You can name a group by area, by business name.
  6. Once you’ve created a group, you can add your locations to this group.

100%. Google My Business is the lifeblood of small local businesses. We heavily rely on people finding us on Google these days. If it’s not apparent already, it’s a digital concept of the Yellow Pages back in those days. Your GMB listing brings your business potential for new and more customers, providing quick information to your customers about your business.

No, you do not necessarily need a website to have Google My Business. I do recommend that you do have a website for your business generally. You can also give this a go from your Google My Business Website Builder tool in your dashboard. To build, it is Free but to host is £10.00 per year.

No, you do not need a physical location for your business; however, Google My Business’s idea is for local companies. If you live in a particular area and run your business from home, you can register your business on GMB to receive a verification code. You’ll essentially register in the area your verification code is delivered to; you must activate your listing with this code.

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Ultimate Google My Business Guide - Step-By-Step