Google My Business lets business owners create, manage, and optimise their Google Business Profile. It helps businesses attract search and map customers.
Claim and optimise your Google Business Profile for these benefits:
Ranks improved. Google includes Business Profiles in local search results, and well-optimized profiles rank higher.
Visibility. Google shows your Business Profile in local search results when you provide useful and accurate information.
Google My Business optimization:
- Create or claim your Business Profile
- Set your business category
- Choose your business type
- Add business hours
- Set holiday hours
- Add your contact details
- Add photos
- Add products and services
- Get more reviews
- Answer questions
- Post updates
- Set up messages
- Fill everything else in
- Optimize your website
1. Create or claim your Business Profile
Google My Business and Google Business Profiles are different.
Google Business Profile: A business’s local listing. Business Profiles appear in desktop, mobile, and Google Maps searches.
Create or claim your Google Business Profile through Google My Business before optimising. Sign into your Google account here, then click “Manage now.”
You’ll see a management dashboard if you’ve claimed your Google Business Profile.
If not, you can manage your listing. Search for your company. If it’s in the dropdown, claim the profile. Otherwise, create a business with that name.
Your Business Profile should have your actual business name, not a “keyword-optimized” version. Google warns that if you do this, your profile could be suspended.
Your name should match your storefront, website, stationery, and customer-known name. […] Including unnecessary information in your business name can lead to suspension.
2. Set your business category
Categories describe your business’s nature, not what it sells. Choose a category that best describes your business, not its products or services.
It’s easy for most businesses. Plumbers choose “plumber.” Choose “pizza restaurant” if you own one. The best choice isn’t always obvious.
Consider a chartered accountant who runs a firm. Which category to choose?
No definitive answer exists. Three options are valid. According to Google’s advice, ‘chartered accountant’ is the best option here.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it increases your chances of being found. A chartered accountant is relevant for both chartered accountant and accountant searches. An accountant only appears when someone searches for one.
SERPs show this.
Add additional categories if you need to inform customers about products or services outside your primary category. If your primary category is ‘chartered accountant,’ don’t add ‘accountant’ because it’s too similar. Bookkeeping and payroll may be worth adding.
3. Choose your business type
Google divides companies into three categories.
Customers and clients only visit storefront businesses. Salons, cafes, bars, stores, etc.
Service-area businesses visit or deliver to customers and clients, but not from their office. Plumber, mobile hairdresser, etc.
Hybrid businesses visit and deliver to customers from their business address. A photographer who shoots in-studio and on-location, or a restaurant that delivers.
If you’re a location-based business, leave the service area blank. Click Info.
If you have a service area, set it. You can add up to 20, but be precise. Don’t list every place to get more searches. Google says your area shouldn’t be more than 2 hours from your business’s base, so one or two nearby towns or cities is enough. To be more specific, use ZIP/postal codes.
Remove your address.
This hides your business from searchers. Customers can still find you in your service area. Follow the same steps as service-area businesses, but don’t clear your address. Customers visiting your store or office need this.
4. Add business hours
Everyone should list their opening hours. This may seem obvious, but many Business Profiles lack it.
Dashboard > Info > Add Hours
Mark your open days and hours. If you close and reopen later, as is common for lunch and dinner restaurants, click “add hours” to add another row. You can repeat as needed.
5. Set holiday hours
Nobody wants to travel to your business only to find it closed for a holiday. It’s frustrating and can lead to bad reviews that hurt local rankings.
Add’special hours’ to avoid this issue.
Dashboard > Info > Special Hours
“Add hours” lets you add multiple opening and closing times for the same day. You might open Christmas Eve morning and reopen in the evening. Special hours would be:
Even if your holiday hours are the same, confirm them. If you don’t, customers searching on holidays may see a warning.
6. Add your contact details
On the “Info” tab, most businesses will add their website and phone number.
Leave these blank if you don’t have a website or phone number. Add at least one to your Business Profile. Customers can’t reach you otherwise.
7. Add photos
Businesses with photos get 42% more driving directions requests and 35% more website clicks.
Google Business customers can add photos. Adding your own photos helps your listing stand out in search results.
Google’s business photo guidelines are simple:
Clearer logo, better.
Cover photo: Showcase your business’s personality.
Add outside photos. Take photos throughout the day to help customers find your business.
Add interior pictures. Capture your business’s atmosphere to attract customers.
Add 3+ images. Showcase your bestsellers.
3+ “at work” photos. Team members serving customers.
3+ team photos. Showcase your staff’s personalities to humanise your business.
More photos seem better. BrightLocal found businesses with more than 100 photos get 520% more calls, 2,717% more direction requests, and 1,065% more website clicks.
You don’t need hundreds of photos right away. Start with the above guidelines, then add photos.
Just name them properly—bridesmaid-dress.jpg, not IMG 574921.png.
8. Add products and services
Adding products and services to your Google business listing can help it appear in more relevant searches.
This bridalwear company listed wedding dresses as products:
Their listing appears for local queries like “lillian west wedding dress sheffield”
Make sure to include the name, price, category, description, and a link to your product or service page. Copy and paste website descriptions to speed up the process. This won’t cause duplicate content problems.
9. Get more reviews
BrightLocal’s 2020 study found that reviews affect local map-pack rankings. Google also highlights reviews containing keywords from the searcher’s query.
What gets reviews?
Customer-request. Ask face-to-face customers who had a good experience to leave a review.
Link to a review. Customers rarely leave Google reviews. Google knows this, so they give businesses a shareable review link. Google My Business > Home > Reviews.
Create’review’ cards. Send customers thank-you cards and ask for reviews. Include a shortened link or QR code to simplify.
Email signatures should include review links. Emailing customers is a great way to passively earn reviews.
It’s against Google’s terms to offer customers incentives for reviews, so avoid discounts or freebies.
10. Answer questions
Your listing may not answer customers’ questions. Google lets searchers ask about businesses and get answers from owners and the community.
Many businesses don’t answer these questions, leaving it to others. Customers may see misleading or inaccurate information about your business.
Someone asked if they needed to book ahead at a local bar and got contradictory answers.
This is negative. Contradictory answers may deter that person and others from visiting or make them angry if they’re turned away for not booking ahead. They’ll leave bad reviews and hurt your local SEO.
We recommend two ways to be proactive with questions and answers:
Enable question-and-answer alerts. Answer questions about your business as soon as they’re asked. Notifications won’t bother you. Questions are rare unless your business is popular. These alerts are enabled by default, so check the settings.
Pre-fill FAQs. Most websites have a FAQ page. Your Google listing lets you ask and answer these questions. Make sure you’re signed in to the same Google account you use for Google My Business so your answers are tagged.
You can post business updates, offers, and events. Status updates. They’re in a carousel in Google Business.
Google shows relevant posts in’map pack’ results.
Valley Pacific Floral ranks for “woodburn oregon sympathy flowers” Google shows us a post that mentions “sympathy flowers”
It’s unclear if this business would rank regardless of that post. It helps the listing stand out in SERPs and attract more customers.
To create a post, click the Posts tab.
Some posting tips:
Good photos. Clear, well-lit, and well-framed photos are essential.
Make your headline action-oriented. Create attractive offers. Say “50% off everything this weekend” instead of “Sale now on.”
Accurately. Be specific. It’s Happy Hour! 50% off drinks every Saturday from 5-6 p.m.
Punctual Post your candlelit dinner special before Valentine’s Day. Then, plans are made.
Post thoughtfully. Many guides say posting frequently “sends Google positive signals.” Nope. Don’t post without something to say.
Google offers a short guide on writing business posts.
12. Set up messages
Enabling messaging adds a message button to your Google Business listing.
Maps has a “Message” button.
Download Google My Business for iOS or Android to enable this feature. Log into your Google account, click Customers, then Messages, and turn on messaging.
13. Fill everything else in
Most important Google My Business options are complete, but it’s worth finishing up. This varies by business category.
Restaurants can list their menu items, hair salons can use a third-party provider to book appointments, etc.
Don’t “optimise” the remaining fields. Just fill them out as accurately as possible.
14. Optimize your website
Google shows Business Profiles in search results when their website mentions your search.
The company’s profile doesn’t mention dermal fillers. Google picks it up from their website. Therefore, you should mention your website’s products and services.
Most sites do this already. Your site probably says you sell bridesmaid dresses. It’s easy to overlook local products and services. Enter your website’s products and services into Keywords Explorer, then check the Also rank for report. This shows other keywords your top-ranking websites rank for.
This website mentions dermal fillers, emervel fillers, juvederm fillers, radiesse fillers, and lip enhancements.
Let’s check Keywords Explorer’s Also rank for report.
Here, we see cheek fillers, under-eye fillers, lip injections, and jawline fillers. It’s possible the website omits these services because they don’t offer them, but given their other offerings, it’s likely they do. If so, they should post them online.
Let’s say this company offers lip injections but didn’t mention it online.
This keyword search returns a map pack.
The query is local. People who type this into Google are looking for local providers. The company should mention this service on their website.
This isn’t about “sprinkling keywords” in your website copy. Nope. Your website will appear unprofessional. So add products and services to your website logically, like:
Reworking your homepage copy to mention more products and services (keep it natural and readable).
Adding product/service pages.
On a FAQ page, list additional products and services.
Most of the above optimizations should take 30 minutes. You’ll have a well-optimized Business Profile that avoids common mistakes.
To keep your profile accurate, review everything periodically. (Every few months should do)
Your Google Business Profile should appear for local searches. Searches for local businesses, products, and services. Many entrepreneurs misunderstand this. Investing in SEO beyond Google My Business will help people find your business statewide, nationally, or internationally. That means keyword research, on-page SEO, and link building to outrank the competition.
Local SEO guide explains how.