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Any business can benefit from improved online marketing. Thankfully, Google My Business streamlines the process, and you don’t need a lot of tech knowledge to reap the rewards.
Solidifying the top rank on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) gives your business a different type of credibility than simple word-of-mouth marketing.
It’s not necessarily about attracting more customers. It’s about bringing in the right customers for your business.
When potential customers can easily find your business’ location and contact information on Google, you’ll attract a better quality customer.
To do that, you need to set up Google My Business properly from the start. Otherwise, you may not get the results you anticipate.
Going through this checklist of 20 easy steps will help you fill out Google My Business information faster
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Google My Business Checklist
1. Make sure you qualify for a listing
Not every business qualifies for Google My Business listings. The long story short is that you need a physical location for your company in order to verify your business on Google My Business.
Mostly, customers need to be able to walk-in or make contact in person. Online businesses like affiliate marketing sites won’t qualify for Google My Business.
There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, Google My Business listings are for traditional, offline businesses.
2. Verify your business's information
One of the next steps when setting up a profile is the Google My Business verification.
Verification means that you sign-off with Google that this is indeed your business.
Verification methods include mail, email, phone number. You can also use the Search Console to verify if you already have a website. Verification via postcard is the most common method to verify your business. You will need a physical location where Google can send the verification letter to.
Don’t confuse the verification address with the location you can add on your Google My Business dashboard.The verification address doesn’t have to match the business location. However, most of the time it does.
3. Add your business name
After the verification process has been finished and you’re ready to start with Google My Business it´s time to think about your business name. It’s essential to add your company’s name as it appears in real life. Don’t try to get creative and type in “Cindy’s hair salon – the best haircuts EVER.”
That’ll get you kicked from Google My Business, meaning this has potential to get your listing suspended. Google usually doesn’t do that manually but the algorithm can detect suspicious activity such as keyword stuffing.
Unfortunately, the business name is a ranking factor and if you want to take advantage of it and stay compliant with Google´s guidelines you might want to consider a business name change. I know, this sounds quite overblown but if Google is your primary source to get business from your local area, it´s an option you shouldn’t ignore.
Instead, represent your company’s name accurately and fairly.
4. Pick the best categories to describe your business
Google My Business lets you pick one primary category and up to nine secondary categories. The idea is to state in the simplest terms of your business’s industry. The primary category directly affects what you’ll rank for on local search.
For instance, the best category for Rudy’s Bar would be under food and beverage. A secondary category might be entertainment if Mr. Rudy chooses to showcase his venue in such a way. Avoid stuffing your profile with irrelevant categories that don’t apply to your business.
Relevance is everything and details matter on Google.
5. Accurately specify your Business location
Only add a business location to your Google My Business listing if you servce your customers at your location or you run a hybrid model that includes both, a service area business and a physical storefront business. Service area businesses don’t need an address as they serve their customers at their location. (ref. #6) Don’t use a general location for your business. Remember to use the full mailing address, even if it doesn’t look too appealing to the eye. Customers need to find you and most of the time they’re quite lazy to search for anything. (We are all customers at some point, aren’t we? 😉 )
It’s not uncommon for businesses to reside in multi-story buildings or strip centers in a major city. Google needs a specific location to draw visitors to the proper SERPs because that increases customer experience.
The key here is accuracy.
6. Pinpoint your service areas
Every business is unique, so you may only provide services at your customers´ locations. A lawn maintenance and landscaping company is one example.
Independent contractors most often run into this problem. You provide services in person but not necessarily in one location.
In this case, it’s better to input a service area and not a direct address. Google doesn’t want your customers to show up at a location where they can’t use your service. Service areas have a direct impact on your customers´experience.
7. State your business hours
You’d think that most business owners would ace this step. Many, unfortunately, don’t.
The thing about Google rankings is that they need regular attention. Some businesses start with ambitious intentions and have extended business hours.
Over time, however, the business may shorten hours for several reasons. What you don’t want is for a great customer to show up when no one is around.
Stating accurate business hours prevents that from happening.
8. Don't forget to add a phone number
Again, you’d think a savvy owner would know this, but time and again, businesses don’t add a phone number.
Sometimes a business will intentionally leave the phone number field blank because they don’t want to interact with the public and answer calls.
Hopefully, you’re smarter, have more business savvy, and understand the importance of a phone number in your listing.
9. Include your website
If you don’t have one, get one.
Google takes into account all sorts of factors to choose the best outcomes for SERPs. Operating a website for your business can benefit your reputation in ways you can’t anticipate. The website is one of the biggest ranking factors on local search.
Don’t rely solely on social media. Get a site, and include it in Google My Business. If you haven’t gotten one yet, you can use Google´s business site feature which can be found inside your Google My Business dashboard on the left sidebar where it says “website”. Add relevant information to this page and go live – it´s free.
10. Point customers to your appointment URL
An appointment URL simply refers to another contact method on Google My Business. It is pubicly visible to your customers who then are able to use any sort of appointment system or leave a simple message via contact form.
11. Include a short name
Next, choose the correct short name. For example, if you named your business, “Rudy’s Most Excellent Bar, Tavern, and Social Club,” use Rudy’s Bar as your short name.
Keep it simple and relevant.
Most likely, your regular customers don’t use the full name of your business in conversation. In the example above, it’s more likely for someone to talk about “Rudy’s bar,” not the long name.
12. Thoroughly describe your company
The most successful business owners can describe their companies backward and forward. Ideally, you should have so much knowledge to share that it feels wrong not to toot your own horn.
The rule of thumb is to keep your description around 700-750 words. Use as much free space as possible.
Be specific and state the qualities of your business plainly. Leave the sales and advertising pitches to other media formats.
All Google cares about is information.
13. State all products and services you offer
It’s a common mistake to input incomplete information in Google My Business. What you want to do is state everything you provide.
Today, Google features products (also via posts) and services (on mobile), which gives you a great way to nudge customers toward your business over competitors.
Make sure to describe your services or products properly so that your customers know exactly what they get when they hire you. Be relevant and don’t add services you don’t actually offer.
14. Decide which Google My Business highlights/Attributes work best
Highlights/Attributes in Google generally refer to amenities, extras, and features that are unique to your business.
For a coffee shop, free WiFi is one example of an attribute. An apartment complex, on the other hand, might select pools instead and a car repair shop can select oil change which then displays on your GMB profile.
15. Fill out menu/Booking items (restaurants, Hotels, Bars, etc.)
This whole checklist has been about accurately describing your business. If you own a restaurant, you want to put as many menu items on Google as possible.
Quick Tip: Take time to create picture-perfect photos of your most popular menu items.
If your customers don’t know everything you have to offer, they won’t come.
16. Take high-resolution photos and videos
First impressions are everything in business.
Uploading high-resolution photos and videos show Google that you care about your business and know how to attract people.
A quick tip: Make sure the logo of the business is prominent in your main cover photo.
One time-honored marketing tactic is to feature smiling, joyful people in photos.
It´s like online dating, your business is only as attractive as its worst photo. So make sure the worst photo looks amazing.
17. Enable the messaging feature
Similar to including your phone number, you want customers to be able to reach you in a variety of ways. The backend of the messaging feature can only be used through the mobile GMB app. By activating the feature you’ll get another “request a quote” button underneath your GMB name.
Don’t make a mistake and disable messaging in Google My Business because you don’t want to handle the “extra” effort.
18. Pay attention to reviews
The SEO power of reviews is certainly neglectable as a bunch of other factors outperforms reviews. That´s a big surprise, isn’t it? However, the major rankings factors proximity and relevance are bigger than prominence which reviews are a part of.
Nevertheless, reviews play a big role in modern local search engine optimization. They are primarily connected to click-through-rates. We all know that. We only want to do business with companies that have a great reputation across our neighborhood and the internet. Great high quality reviews can lead to a higher click-through-rate which automatically means more business.
However, the quantity counts, too! As a matter of fact, you’ll need to get reviews on a regular basis. The more great reviews you have, the less impact can make a bad review. And we know that this will happen at some point so why not act preventively?
When you receive a review, answer it as soon as possible, especially for bad reviews.
Google My Business lets you ask for reviews through a short link. This capability makes it easier for customers to write a review without going through many extra steps.
When you get a bad review, make lemonade out of lemons and respond directly to the reviewer:
- Apologize, apologize, apologize even if your customer is not right
- Take the conversation offline and offer to talk over the phone or in person
- Try to resolve the problem
- Don’t ask to remove the review. Just don’t!
It may surprise you how to effectively turn questionable reviews into good ones.
Another popular marketing tactic is to invite the reviewer back and encourage them to write another review.
19. Write posts and updates regularly
Google My Business now lets you post updates to your profile. Not so long ago, Google didn’t allow such a feature.
Special events, offers, and new product launches are three examples of things that you can write about.
It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but it does have to be free of grammar errors and misspellings.
Clarity is the key. You want your ideas clearly stated without rambling in circles. Show Google that your business is active – Google loves fresh and new stuff. Always use attention-grabbing images or videos in your posts to get a higher engagement rate. Your goal is to build a relationship with your customers, not to sell anything.
Treat this feature as your go-to social media platform and you’ll be just fine.
20. Showcase your opening date
Google works well for any business, but it works wonders for new companies.
Showcase your opening date in your profile to earn a “recently opened” badge next to your listing. You’ll have the tag for 90 days after you open.
Overall, by checking off these 20 items, you can easily set up Google My Business in no time at all.
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