What is Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence in Google’s SERP and Google Maps. GMB lets businesses manage their address, opening hours, phone number and also includes a link to the business website and customer reviews. In recent years Google has continued to update features within the tool, with the inclusion of GMB social posts & videos, business descriptions, and even food menus if you’re a restaurant.
How Google My Business Works
You are able to either claim an existing profile or create a new profile from scratch. You will be required to have a Google associated email address, (this is also required for any GMB review). Every GMB needs to be verified for any changes to go live in the SERP. Previously, verification was only completed via the postcard process, meaning a postcard was sent to a physical address. This process was used to prevent any manipulation or spammer tactics. However, it would normally take anywhere between one to four weeks for the postcard to arrive. The postcard contained a pin code, which the owner would then enter into their GMB account for verification.
Luckily, as Google has grown so too have the methods of verification. Google has added three additional options for verification. You can now verify a business listing by phone, email or potentially online if you have already verified your business’s website with Google Search Console, however, this is not guaranteed.
Despite this, there is currently no way to tell what the criteria is for this type of instant online verification. Based on Google’s collective information from website sources, the criteria tends to be larger scale businesses rather than small local businesses that will receive this type of online verification. Large businesses with more than 10 locations already verified, every GMB profile created thereafter, will be automatically verified, as there is an associated trust with the business.
Important Google My Business Tips
It is important that you create your GMB account with a legacy business email, not an employee email. If that employee leaves the business and doesn’t share the details, it can be a long process to get access to the account again without access to the email and password. Additionally, if the email of the employee is discontinued, Google will pick up that the email no longer exists and will close access to the account.
Keep your naming conventions consistent for each location. If the business name is “Columbus” then that should be the name for the GMB profile, not “Columbus – Sydney” or “Columbus – Melbourne.” Google will show you the nearest location based on your IP address or GPS in your mobile device. However, if you are in Sydney and want the address for Columbus Melbourne, simply search for it and Google will show you the Columbus Melbourne address based on the address entered in the GMB profile.
Finally, create unique landing pages for all your locations. While this is a simple task, it is crucial that the information matches the GMB profile (address, phone number, opening hours etc.)
Google Street View
An additional feature for businesses to take advantage of is Google Street View. By now you’ve most likely seen the Google car driving past, recording images for Google Maps. Now, Google has the same feature set up for your GMB account. Google has a range of Google-trusted professional photographers that can be used to create a 360 video of a business, inside and out. Having this can enhance your Google listing and has the ability to influence potential customers decision making. With your own 360-degree virtual tour, this is also a great opportunity to be creative with your business. It could also be used in a digital PR push, generating online visibility to your business.
There is now also the ability to create a Google Indoor Map making your customer journey even smoother. Indoor Maps allows visitors to spend less time searching for building directories and more time discovering new points of interest. Simply zooming in and out of a building and viewing the location from floor to floor is incredibly useful for customers, especially for large department stores, stadiums, and museums.
Online creativity tends to be hugely rewarded and there have been many examples of this when it comes to 360 views and indoor maps. The movie release of Batman V Superman lead to the interactive 360 view of the Batcave. These efforts can clearly be seen as part of a wider digital PR campaign.
GMB allows for business owners to take charge of what people see when they search for their business. From encouraging customer actions by sharing helpful information to discovering how customers are interacting with your business listing, GMB provides unique and actionable insights to business owners. It’s 2018, users don’t simply look things up on the internet anymore, they Google it. Over 3.5 billion searches are made every day on Google and you want to ensure that your business can be found.