Google My Business Explained
Google My Business is Google’s way of verifying your business and its actual physical address, to ensure that you do operate where you say that you operate. It is very important for local search SEO. Also to help you manage your online presence across Google’s various tools, including Search and Maps and Reviews which are becoming more and more important. These GMB entries also populate Maps and the Knowledge Graph and Local Search Results.
*Take your Google reviews very seriously and start building them up now by asking clients to give you a positive ‘wordy’ review and making it as easy as possible for them to do so. Be sure to thank anyone who gives you a review, right there in GMB. This is just like Trip Advisor for restaurants. It is not a replacement for a business website, but it is important to have for Google search purposes.
Think of it as a FREE website at Google for your business, where you can decide what it says about you in Google and how it looks or portrays your business.
The chances are that there is already an entry of some sort for you which has some information on it, but possibly not what you want to see. Check the information, especially the telephone number, map address, area code and website link, as well as any photos.
Google Reviews – Google planners or lead developers are working on the basis that if you get good independent reviews in your Google My Business entry, you must be good at what you do. But they do make people jump through a few hoops in order to register a review of any sort on your entry. It becomes self regulating, the Community ranking their own verified members.
The logic is good enough, people have to show that they go through some inconvenient steps and want to go to the trouble of doing a review because it matters enough to them, positive or negative. It also stops spammers or manipulators of Google rankings using black hat techniques. What is not to like about this policy? For better or worse someone who wants to log a review has to have their own verified Google account, which identifies them. This is a great way to keep us all honest and help prevent abuse of the system. People trust these independent reviews. Check your Google My Business entry regularly and keep it up to date, answer any questions and respond to any and all reviews. Do say thank you and never get in to a dispute with any reviewers.
Setting up Google My Business
Firstly, do a search in Google for your business, your entity, which should be your own business name, to see if it is already listed. It will appear in the ‘Knowledge Graph’ on the right hand side of the SERPs or results – see image above for our own entry. By all means try searching a few variations of your trading name to double check if there is an entry. If it is appearing, then click on the ‘Claim this Business’ to take control of the entry and populate it with your correct information and good relevant photos.
If it does not appear, register for your own Google My Business entry at https://www.google.com/business/ and ensure you pick the right Category for your business. Note: You must be logged in to your Google account to edit details, use your business gmail account.
By verifying and correcting your business details, you can both help customers and potential customers find you and also tell them about your business, the services you offer. And, where to find you and what existing customers think of your service.
Once you try to register HERE or at https://www.google.com/business/ or verify your business, Google will call you or send you a physical postcard with a verification number to use to confirm that you have received it at a specific physical address – this is the slowest but best option. Include your exact area code or Eircode – find it HERE. Or you may be called at your landline number and an automated voice will call out a verification code to use to confirm your entry. This postcard will take a few days and maybe a few weeks. If you do not receive it, try again until you get it. But do persist as this is very important. Google is effectively creating its own version of the Golden or Yellow pages. You need to appear in it, especially in ‘local’ search.
Google My Business Reviews
Once it is set up, you can proactively ask people to give you a good Google review and yes, you do risk getting bad reviews too. To be honest, you might be better to get a few poorer reviews too as all 5* would look to Google like you orchestrated them, by asking friends to give you a good review. Again, Google has an algorithm to avoid this scenario. You should indeed ask happy clients to do just that for you. Remember to say Thank You in the actual review section. Again use the opportunity to add keywords in your response, such as service or location.
How do I find the URL or link for my Google business page to send to customers when asking for a review?
Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in.
On the right you will see Get More Reviews and Share Review Form – click on that to get a link to send to customers to request a review.
Note: You do not have a way of clients visiting a page on your website to add a testimonial. They add them in your Google My Business entry as an independent review. Ask them to write wordy reviews with good keywords. The you can reply in a wordy way to thank them for their review. This is all good for helping Google understand what you do for clients.
Alternate method – slightly longer, same result.
Click on the “Info” tab in the left menu if you are not already on the info page.
The top right of your info page will have the statement “Your business is live on Google.” …
Click on “View on Search” and a new window will open.
Copy the URL or link from the new window to be used as your own link to send to potential reviewers.
Multiple locations – Get a link to send customers to ask for a review for one of your locations
On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
If you have multiple locations, open the location you want to manage.
In the left menu, click Home.
In the “Get more reviews” card, you can copy your short URL to share with customers.
Tip: Get a link to share with customers to ask for positive reviews. You can log in at https://www.google.com/business/ . Then click on Info on the left and then click on Share Review link on right. You can edit the link to personalise it by inserting it in a word like ‘Click Here to Review our business’. Our shortened personalised link is https://g.page/meanit-web-design-agency?gm
Tips for using Google My Business well
1. Ensure that the listed telephone number on your Google My Business listing is the same as the one on your website or landing page. Ideally use a landline number that is attached to your physical address
2. Ensure that the NAP Name and address and postcode are the same on your listing and on your website, in exactly the same layout or format.
3. Add good images of your premises, 3 inside and 3 outside – you can even get a Google certified photographer to do it. Use your own phone as it will generate geo location tags in the photos.
4. Optimise the photos by giving them good names that explain about your business products or services. Give all photos relevant names with keywords such as ‘website designers’ for us or ‘web design office’
5. Add an accurate description of your business that will get people clicking, explain what you do and again use relevant keywords
6. Make sure the name of the business description is good, like ‘website designers Donegal’
7. Ensure that you are listed in the right Category, we are ‘website designers’
8. Encourage Reviews – have a plan, this is critical. And ask people to mention relevant keywords about the service you delivered, such as SEO services or website design. Include location such as Donegal or Dublin. Get as many well worded 5* reviews as you can on an ongoing basis. People will choose a business with more 5* reviews than others. This ‘Social Validation is very powerful’. It is not a numbers game, so having 1000 reviews will not necessarily impress Google, but it will impress the visitors. Google seems to look at average stars as a ranking factor, rather than just numbers. Again, getting one review a week is better than getting 100 all on the same day. Keep it constant, as Google likes that.
9. Say Thank You – when someone gives you a review, always respond positively, using proper key words.
10. Ask and answer questions in Google My Business in a timely fashion
11. Add the option for people to make an appointment through Google My Business if it suits you.
12. For the more technical or the developers among you, you can also add Mark Up schema to help Google understand what you offer.
13. By all means post articles in GMB, they will disapear or have no relevance after a month, but the activity is good for Google. Use the opportunity to mention your location, such as Dublin 24 or Donegal Town etc.
14. Keep your business hours up to date especially if you have to amend them due to a crisis, Pandemic or a holiday etc.
15. Add a relevant video if you have one or more – optimise them too
16. Add a well optimised photo regularly to show your products or examples of your work, Adding one a week is better than posting 100 at the same time. Do post 100 over time by all means.
17. Allocate 30 or 40 minutes a week to manage your GMB and keep it updated by getting more reviews, posting articles or answering questions.
18. If you have multiple locations, ensure they all appear. And add photos of each premises, inside and out.
19. Ask potential reviewers to include your location in their review – “Best web designers in Donegal” or “Best web designers in Donegal”
20. Ask reviewers to include a photo, an original one, and name it with something relevant. “Bridge Bar best Fish restaurant in Ramelton Co Donegal”. Google Vision is AI or rather machine learning that allows Google see there is a photo and the tagging shows the geo location, as in Ramelton. And it can determine the photo is a building or a plate of food, possibly even that it is a photo of fish.
Google Business Reviews plugin can be installed on your website and license activated. However for it to connect the reviews to the website you need to connect the API to the Google account the Google My Business account is set up on. There are two ways we do this see below:
1. You can send the website developer the login details for the google account the GMB is set up on and they will set it up on that including Google Analytics and Search Console.
2. Or the developer can create a new Google account for you eg: firstname.lastname@example.org and get you to add that account as an owner on the original GMB account. The Developer can set up Google Analytics and Search Console on that account.
The reason for two options is that some clients do not like giving access to their personal google accounts which is understandable.
Social Media feed – Which Social media feed do you want to appear on the website? We recommend https://smashballoon.com/social-wall/ if you want to have all your social feeds appear in the one place, alongside the Google reviews to add more credibility.
Warnings and Updates from Google
Google indicated in July 2016 that businesses who do not log into their “Google My Business” account frequently can risk losing their verification and this would affect businesses adversely. Keep your entry up to date, but do not change it too often as each change affects your standing, even if just temporarily. Google likes to see stability, history and like everybody else, hates or distrusts too much change. For more advice on GMB see Googles own information page HERE.
Note: Google+ Google announced that they have phased out Google+ – so it is defunct