An Introduction to Google My Business
Google’s local listing platform, called “Google My Business” (GMB), is like a modern version of the Yellow Pages. It’s where people turn when they need recommendations for a place to eat, get their car repaired, have their teeth cleaned, and so much more.
GMB listings pop up when you search relevant keywords related to local businesses, such as “restaurant,” “car dealership,” or “pet store.” Listings appear in the “3-pack” under the ad space on the Google search results page. Keep in mind that only the top 3 listings are shown in the 3-pack, so making sure that your listing is complete and accurate is essential to increasing your visibility in search.
These listings are also tied to Google Maps so users can search businesses in their area and get directions without ever leaving the app.
Why Do I Need a GMB Listing?
Claiming and verifying a separate Google My Business listing for each location of your business is the first and most basic step to local search engine optimization (SEO).
Google likes to keep things in-house as much as possible, so it favors its own accurate and current business listings when giving local search results to search users. It rewards accurate and complete listings with higher rankings.
Before ever stepping foot in a physical store, 79% of people start researching their options online. If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, you’re missing out on those potential customers. #MichaelsWilder Click To Tweet
Ranking higher in search means more people will see your business when conducting relevant searches. Claiming a listing is completely free, but it’s an invaluable step toward getting more people in the door to your business. Even if you ignore some of the more advanced features that Google has to offer (stay tuned for more info on these in the coming weeks), just having a listing dramatically increases your online visibility.
Despite the clear benefits, over 50% of local retailers have yet to claim their GMB listing, and that’s a problem. Before ever stepping foot in a physical store, 79% of people start making their purchase decision by researching online. If you don’t have a GMB listing, you’re missing out on the potential customers who are searching for products and services like yours.
So, if you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of local SEO, read on for an easy walk-through to get you started on managing your GMB listing:
Create or Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Sometimes, multiple people from the same organization will create GMB listings without knowing that another one already exists. Sometimes people just forget that they’ve created a listing and sign up again. However it happens, your first step will be to check if there’s already an existing listing for your business.
To check, you can type your address into Google Maps to see if a listing pops up. Alternatively, you can use an online tool to check for duplicate listings (simply Google “My Business duplicate listing tool,” and take your pick).
If your check does not yield any conflicting results, it’s time to get to work on creating your new listing. If, however, there’s already a listing for your business, you’ll need to go through a separate set of steps to claim it. DO NOT create a new listing if one already exists. Duplicate listings will kill your SEO score, and you’ll lose any hope of appearing in the local 3-pack. If you find that there’s more than one listing, you’ll need to have them merged. To do so, you need to call Google’s support line, which, let’s be honest, can be a pain. Trust me, though, when I say it’s well worth the hassle.
Create a New GMB Listing
- Go to google.com/business, and click Start Now at the top right corner.
- You’ll need a Google account to get started, so if you don’t already have one, you can create one now. Otherwise, simply sign in to your account.
- Enter the name of your business, and click Next.
- Enter the exact street address of your business. Note that you may not use a P.O. Box address. If you do not have a physical storefront, you may qualify as a service-area business.
- If you qualify as a service-area business, check the box for “I deliver goods and services to my customers.” You’ll also have the option to hide your address (although you still need to have one registered for verification purposes). After you click next, you’ll also need to specify a service area in which your business operates.
- You may need to place a marker on the map to show the physical location of your business if Google cannot automatically find you.
- Select a business category. Your business category must be one that already exists in Google, so, if you can’t find an exact match, select the term that most closely represents your business. This will be your primary category, but you will be able to add additional ones after your listing is all set-up.
- Enter a phone number or website URL for your business. If you don’t have a website, Google gives you the option to create one for free.
- Next, you’ll need to select a verification option to show that you are legitimately connected to this business. In some rare instances, Google will give you the option to verify over the phone, but this only occurs if you are verifying an existing business. Otherwise, Google will mail a postcard with your verification PIN to the business address you listed earlier. You may also choose to verify later, but you won’t be able to fully manage your listing until you are verified.
- If you see a page that says, “This listing has already been claimed,” it means that there is already a business listing for your address. Click Request Access, and follow the next set of directions to claim your business.
Claim an Existing GMB Listing
The process for claiming an existing listing from the current owner differs depending on whether you own a physical storefront or if you run a service-area business:
Storefront Business Listings
- Go to business.google.com/add
- Enter the name and address of your business in the search bar. Select your business from the results, and click Continue.
- If someone has already verified the listing, you’ll see a message that tells you so. Otherwise, you can claim and verify the listing yourself.
- Click Request Access, and fill out the form.
- Once you hit submit, the current listing owner will receive an email that asks them to get in touch with you, and you’ll receive a confirmation email.
Service-Area Business Listings
- Go to business.google.com/add
- Enter your business information.
- Click Continue.
- Complete the verification process. Verification by postcard takes a few days.
- Once verified, you’ll see an “Owner conflict” dialog indicating that the location is a duplicate.
- Click Request Access, and the current listing owner will receive an email that asks them to get in touch with you, and you’ll receive a confirmation email.
What Happens After I Request Access?
After you’ve requested ownership, the current listing owner will have 7 days to respond. Click the link in your confirmation email or sign in to Google My Business to check on the status of your request. You’ll receive an email after your request is approved or denied.
If your request is approved by the current owner, you’ll not have full access to manage the listing (Woohoo!).
If your request is denied, you can still submit an appeal. Until your appeal is approved, however, you’ll only be able to suggest an edit to the listing.
The current owner has 7 days to respond. If he or she fails to do so, you can claim the listing for yourself. Sign in to Google My Business, and you’ll see a button on your dashboard that either says Claim or Verify. look for a Claim or Verify button on your dashboard. (If you don’t see either of these buttons after 7 days, that could mean that the listing is not eligible to be transferred.)
Start Managing Your Listing
After you’ve created or claimed your listing, you’re free to start adding photos, writing a catchy description, posting updates, and so much more. In the coming weeks, we’ll talk more about all the powerful tools Google has to offer that will make your listing stand head and shoulders above the competition.
And, if you’re ready to really step up your local search efforts, give Michaels Wilder a call, and let our experts take it from here.