Google My Business is a free tool for local businesses to manage their presence on popular Google products like Search and Google Maps. It allows businesses to easily add, remove and make changes to their contact information, photos, and more, as well as receive customer reviews.
When you search for a local pizza parlour and see a business profile pop up – you’re looking at a listing that can be managed with Google My Business. If you own and/or operate a brick-and-mortar business that’s open to the public or delivers goods or services to the customer, you should take advantage of this free functionality.
Google My Business is still a lesser-known marketing tool than, say, a Facebook business page. While a lot of my clients are at least somewhat aware of local SEO and local marketing, GMB proves enough of a mystery to raise a lot of questions. Let’s address some of them below!
Is Google My Business free?
Yes. It’s completely free to create, claim and verify a Google My Business profile. As long as your business fits the eligibility criteria, there is no financial barrier to using it to your advantage.
How does Google My Business work?
Think of it as an online business profile similar to Yelp or Foursquare, except prioritized to look good across the Google family of products. A Google My Business listing may appear on Google Maps, in the search results and more.
Can I use Google My Business without a physical address?
It depends. If you want to keep your business address private and not show it on your Google My Business profile, you can. If you have no physical address to provide when registering your business on Google, you may still create a listing if you specify that you deliver goods or services to your customers.
You may, however, run into difficulty when trying to verify your listing as a physical address is required in a lot of cases. That said, if you fit the eligibility criteria, you may try to proceed without an address and use alternative verification methods.
Google My Business verification
Going through the verification allows you more flexibility and control over your listing information, including faster implementation of changes and more posting capability. There are several verification options:
- A snail mail postcard to your business address 🐌
- A phone call to your business number ☎️
- Via email (no details provided by Google) 📧
- Instant verification with Google Search Console 🌐
Google doesn’t actually specify what businesses are eligible for what methods, so I cannot get any more specific either. The mail verification with a postcard is always available, so if you have a business address, you should be patient and use that one. If you don’t, and there are no other verification methods available to you, it’s possible that your business isn’t eligible for a listing.
The Nitty Gritty
Google My Business posts
One of the most valuable functionalities available on Google My Business is posts. Posting allows you to keep a mini-blog to immediately communicate updates, offers or changes to your customers on the platform. Each post is visible on your profile for 7 days so it’s good to get in the habit of making a new one at least weekly.
Where do Google My Business posts appear?
Google My Business posts appear on Google Maps, on Google Search whenever your listing is visible, as well as accessible directly from your listing profile. Handy!
Google My Business info, products/services, photos
Of course, GMB also hosts a wide variety of useful information about your business that may help your customers find you and buy from you. I recommend filling out as much of it as possible:
- business hours
- appointment booking links
- products and services
- photos of your business
- team photos
- and more!
The more information you provide, the richer the experience of someone looking at your profile and the higher the probability of them contacting you.
Google My Business reviews
The first thing a customer sees on your Google My Business listing is the aggregate rating of your business, based on the user reviews. If you do not have any, it’s fine, but a 4.5-5-star rating goes far to persuade a potential customer to give you their business.
Once you register and claim your business, start accumulating reviews as soon as you can. You can respond to each one you receive straight from the profile—Google highly recommends you do!
The difference between Google My Business and Google Maps
It’s quite simple: Google My Business listings may appear within Google Maps. They pop up whenever users are searching for relevant businesses or are simply browsing the area in which your business is located.
Your listing may be previewed on Google Maps so that you can see exactly how it appears to your customers.
What is a Google My Business Website?
GMB listings have an option for business owners to create a mobile-optimized mini-website hosted by Google (for free) and updated automatically with the information from Google My Business. These websites are lightly customizable and offer an optimal viewing experience regardless of the device your customers are visiting it on.
By default, the free hosted Google My Business website has the URL of “yourcompanyname.business.site“. If you want to use a custom domain like “example.com” to point to the Google My Business site you create, you can, but you will have to buy it either from Google or from a domain registrar of choice.
The Advanced Stuff
Can you schedule Google My Business posts?
Apparently, yes. There are several tools that allow you to do this, although the choice is much narrower than for social media scheduling in general.
Google My Business for ecommerce
Should you create a Google My Business profile for your ecommerce business? It depends.
On its marketing page, Google states that [w]hether you’re a home-based business or a service-area business, you can list your business details to appear on Google with or without a physical address.
In the GMB service guidelines, however, the wording changes. Listings on Google My Business can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit, or that travel to visit customers where they are.
Depending on how you interpret “travelling to visit customers” you may or may not be eligible for a listing. However, if you have an office and/or an official business address, you should try.
Google My Business for agencies
It makes total sense to create a GMB listing for your services agency, especially if you have an office. If you and your team work from home, it still makes sense. Potential clients may discover you on Google Maps even if they can’t visit in person!
I view my Google My Business listing as a storefront of valuable client reviews. The rating itself is lovely too (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ #humblebrag), but it’s the client testimonials that are the best feature. I couldn’t come up with reviews this glowing even if I tried!
Google My Business with multiple locations
The ability to manage chains and multiple business locations is built into Google My Business. Read Google’s guide here. There is no difference between managing one location and several, as all features available to you are the same. You will have to verify each location individually to get the most out of each listing.
If you operate ten or more locations, you have the option of verifying them all in bulk. The fairly complex guidelines for that are spelled out here.
Why is my Google My Business post rejected?
It’s probably a technical issue but it doesn’t hurt to look critically at what you’ve written. Check if the post you wrote is in line with Posts content policy. If you see where you erred, fix it and try again.
If the post doesn’t violate guidelines, it could be a temporary issue or a glitch. Wait a couple of minutes to refresh the page and check if the post has uploaded. If not, try again a little later.
Does Google My Business help SEO?
I know what you’re asking, but in the strictest sense—does having a Google My Business listing help your search engine rankings?—the answer is no, not really. However, it does help your visibility across Google, which is what you’re ultimately after.
Your potential customers or clients see a beautifully optimized listing rather than a mere snippet of text in the search results. They immediately have access to your contact information, which is a win. They might click through to your website. So Google My Business does help SEO. Indirectly.
The Existential Questions 💭
The questions below are also common but difficult to answer without context. I’m offering my thoughts on each which hopefully will help guide you in the right direction.
Is Google My Business worth it?
Google My Business is worth the time investment if your business is the type to benefit from a Google Maps listing and good Google reviews.
Just like any other marketing tool, it will give as much as you put into it. It’s not a magical pill that you swallow and wait for hordes of customers to show up at your doorstep (what social media was believed to be 10 years ago).
If you’re adding Google My Business to your marketing arsenal, it’s worth doing well and nurturing it carefully.
Does Google My Business work?
Google My Business works to connect your customers to you, whether they are searching for you specifically or are browsing for services or goods that your business offers. It works for what it’s supposed to do. The rest—updated information, fresh photos, regular posts—is up to you!
Why is Google My Business listing important?
Google My Business is part of the Google ecosystem which is increasingly an important aspect of our lives, whether we like it or not. Harnessing its capabilities to help your business’ bottom line is not a bad thing. Even if you are anti-Google, the vast majority of your customers aren’t. Meeting them where they are is Business Marketing 101. Go for it!