Google My Business: How do I put my business on Google?
There’s so much buzz these days surrounding the Google My Business listing, what it is and how having one can help you grow your company’s online presence. With the ever-evolving rules of local search and SEO algorithms and rankings, it’s hard to know what the perfect online presence looks like. From what we’ve found though, it starts with a properly-setup and accurate Google My Business listing.
Whether to have a GMB listing or not isn’t the question I pose today (because we already answered that, and essentially we said yes, you should). Here we’ll get into the “Hows” for creating or claiming your GMB listing and optimizing it to help your Google rankings.
HEADS UP: There’s a ton of stuff in here, so we’ve provided a nifty little Table of Contents to help get you where you want to go:
Creating vs. claiming your Google My Business Listing: What’s the difference?
So how do you know if you have a claimed listing or no listing? If you go to Google and search for your business, you’ll either see a Google My Business listing pop up like this:
Or you won’t… If you don’t see one, chances are it doesn’t exist because you haven’t created one yet. If you do see one but you didn’t set it up, either you just need to claim it or someone else set it up and claimed it, so you need to request ownership to edit it.
The CAN Principle
Search Engine Watch drew together a few SEO experts for suggestions on other ways to optimize your local visibility on Google. Raj Nijjer, VP Community at Yext, was called upon for his contribution and offered the CAN principle as a basic approach to creating, maintaining and optimizing your Google presence:
Consistency – having the same NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data on directory sites and search engines
Accuracy – correcting your NAP data across the local ecosystem to make sure it’s consistent. Also, getting rid of duplicate listings which can harm your ranking because it confuses Google
Number – having authoritative citations (listings) across as many sites as possible
Below are arguably the weightiest GMB listing components, meaning they’re the ones you want to get absolutely right.
As you enter your business information on your listing, remember the CAN principle introduced above and pay close attention to these five components to ensure your listing is as accurate as possible:
Business Name No need to overthink things here. Your business name should be whatever your legal business name is. If you have separate locations, DO NOT create separate listings for each with the business location included with your business name. More on that next…
Address You’re required to have a physical business address, or a “real-world” address, meaning it has to be an actual physical location where people exist, not a PO Box or unstaffed virtual office.For multiple locations, you can submit separate landing pages for each to Google My Business or create separate listings all together. This is something you can play with to see what Google prefers for your specific industry. MOZ has a beautiful breakdown of address types as well as instructions for how to format your address(es) properly if you need help.
Phone Number Use a phone number with a local area code if you can help it. It’s Google’s preference, and you know what Google says goes. But Google does support toll free numbers, too, if that’s the number you promote the most. Avoid listing call center numbers, though. Google’s not a fan.
Website URL When setting up your website link, you’re required to link to a website you own rather than a third-party site, social media profile page or anywhere else. If you have multiple locations or departments within your company, the main GMB listing should link to your home page. If you have separate locations for branches or departments, you’ll want to create GMB listings for each and link them to their respective websites or landing pages within your website to help keep those entities clear and separate in Google’s eyes. And if you don’t have a website, you should call us. Cause we’re awesome at designing and building them. [CUE COMMERCIAL] Not sure you have the funds for a slammingly rockin’ website? Find out today with our online website quote generator! Or if you just need something super simple, you can always create one and publish it for free through Google Sites. Google’s thought of everything, haven’t they? Moving on…
Categories We’ll elaborate on these later on, but from a 10,000-foot overview, your categories are what help your customers find specific, accurate results for products and services they’re interested in. When selecting yours for your listing, choose as few specific categories as possible. Again, we’ll dive further into this here in a bit.
picking a picture or logo to help your listing stand out among your competition.
hiring a Google certified photographer for an Indoor Street View tour of your business to show a more personal side of your operation.
Additional media – If you have any other content you can feature on your listing, do it! Videos, menus, flyers, anything to help influence conversions.
Alternate phone numbers – This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
Fax number – Ditto.
Certifications – If you’re in an industry that benefits from or requires certain licensing or certifications, you can highlight your expertise and capabilities by featuring them on your GMB listing.
Brands carried – Run a clothing shop or an eye wear boutique? Here, you’d list all of the designers and brands you carry.
Payment forms accepted – No brainer.
Attributes – Featuring attributes on your listing essentially lets prospects know as much as possible about your business from right there on your listing.If you’re familiar with AdWords, these are a bit like “call outs” for your business. Say you’re a pizza place open til 3 AM; one of your attributes might be “Late Night Food.” If you want prospects to know your office is easily accessible via wheelchair, you can choose an attribute like “Wheelchair Accessible.” You get the idea…
Start typing your business name. If you see your business name populate automatically in the drop-down, click on it to select it. (Hint: if it doesn’t show up, there’s probably not a listing for your business, and you’ll need to create one.)
Your business information will populate in the remaining fields.
When you hit the “Continue” button at the bottom of the form, you’ll be presented with one of two messages:
So, if you found a listing for your business and were prompted to agree to Google’s terms and conditions in order to manage the listing, go ahead and click the “You better believe I agree!” button. Actually, it doesn’t say that anywhere, so just go ahead and check the “Yes, I Agree” box and click the blue button that moves you to the next step. You can’t miss it.
If you get the message telling you the listing’s been verified and you can guess the partial email address shown AND have the ability to login to said address, just login to GMB using that email address to edit your listing.
If you don’t recognize the email address, click “Request ownership” and follow the prompts provided. Once you’ve crossed all the T’s and dotted the lowercase j’s, and your information is submitted, you’ll receive a confirmation email. The current listing owner will be notified via email as well to reach out to you to get things squared away. And get this, you can track the status of your request using the link provided in your confirmation email. Niiiiice…
Claimed! Now what?
If you’re prompted to verify your listing but need to update your information first, just click to Verify Later and update your information as needed.
Once it’s all good to go, click Done Editing at the bottom of the page and repeat the above steps to move onto the Verification Station!
Verification of your account involves entering a verification pin you can get through a number of methods Google might provide. Your options for how you can verify your listing will appear in the verify prompt as shown above.
Requesting a postcard – Your pin is sent via postcard in the mail. This can take between 5 and 14 days to receive and must be verified within 30 days.
By phone call or text – Get a code through your phone and follow onscreen instructions.
Email – Some businesses are given the choice to get a pin via email. There’s also a “Verify” button in the email you can click.
Instant verification – Who doesn’t love instant gratification? If you’re listing is under an email address used with another Google business activity like Google Search Console, you might be eligible for instant verification. If so, do it!
The very first thing you want to do with your listing once it’s verified is go through the components outlined above to make sure all of your business information is entered accurately.
Some businesses might stop here. Others want to know what else they can do to get the most out of their listing. If you’ve gotten this far, I’d say it’s safe to say you’re one of them. Read on, my friend…
With GMB categories, it’s important to know that selecting as few specific categories as possible can really help your Google rankings.
For example, if you’re an Italian Restaurant, you’d want to select the Italian Restaurant category rather than just Restaurant. Max Holloway, Senior Search Manager at Pi Datametrics, agrees, saying when it comes to making your category selections, you’re far more likely to be found for “Organic butchers” or “Fresh grocery store” than for “Groceries” or “Shop.”
Choose categories that finishes a sentence starting with, “My business IS a…” rather than “My business HAS…”
Don’t use categories as keywords or attributes for your business. Keywords go on your website, attributes go…well, in the Attributes category.
If your business is located inside or close to another business, DO NOT choose categories related to that business. Google doesn’t like to be confused, and neither do your online prospects.Example: Starbucks has many locations inside of Barnes & Nobles, but you don’t see “Book Store” listed as a category for Starbucks, nor do you see “Coffee Shop” listed for Barnes & Noble.
Avoid being redundant with your selections. Again, select as few specific categories as possible.Example: If you’re a Mexican restaurant, avoid choosing both “Restaurant” and “Mexican Restaurant.”
If for any reason you can’t find a specific category for your business, it’s okay to choose a more general one. Just try to keep it as specific as you can.
Moving forward, you can spread your online presence by creating as many additional online business listings as are relevant to your business, consistently using the same accurate information on each. In doing so, you’re sure to be found more online and thus evolve your business into the money-making machine you’ve always envisioned.
More about the Author
Katie is a Designer & Content Developer at MayeCreate Design. Her responsibilities and experience include content development for websites and online marketing, blogging, general website maintenance, graphic design, ad campaign management, project management, office management, bookkeeping, and customer service. As a wife, mom, twin, seasoned karaoke singer and amateur rock climber, she’s seen the world from many perspectives and thrives to bring an open mind and clear vision to her position here at MayeCreate.