A critical part of your local SEO strategy is setting up your Google business profile and listing. This should be where you focus your early efforts. Research shows that 70% of consumers will visit a store from information found online, and 62% will disregard a business if they can’t find information about the business online. And a Google business listing usually displays everything a user would need to know at first glance – website, address, operating hours, contact number.

Setting up your Google business profile and listing is completely free and easy. The only requirement is that you should be a brick and mortar business or have some face-to-face interaction with your customers and not be based 100% online. We’re here to help you get it right with this step by step guide! 

Creating your Google business listing

Step 1: Sign up for Google My Business

Sign up with your business email, or log in if you already own a Google My Business account. 

Step 2: Enter your business name

Go to Google My Business and click on ‘Manage Now’ at the top right corner. Enter the name of your business. If it has the same name as another business, it will appear in the drop down list. This is to avoid accidental duplication and it lets you see if a listing under the same business name already exists.

If it does not, then go on to click on ‘Add your business to Google’ and enter your business name.

Step 3: Choose your business category

This helps customers find you if they are looking for a service or product that you are offering. You can also change or add more to this later.

Step 4: Enter your business address or service location

If you have a store or office, you can add an address where customers can find you. Then, you will be asked to place a marker on a map the location of your business, and have the option to select if you visit or deliver goods directly to your customers.

If you do not have a store or office, you will be asked to list your service area and region that your business is based in.

Step 5: Enter your contact details and website

Both details are not compulsory but strongly recommended. If you don’t have a website, Google will even give you an option to create a Google My Business website based on your information provided. 

Step 6: Verify your business on Google

There are several way you can verify your business on Google:

  • Postcard verification. A verification postcard will be sent to your business address which will include a unique verification code. Most postcards will usually arrive within 14 days. Enter the code into your Google My Business to verify your business. 
  • Phone verification. Some businesses will have the option of verifying their business via phone. You’ll know this if you see the ‘Verify by phone’ option. This process will see a verification code sent to your phone, which you will enter into Google My Business
  • Email verification. Like phone verification, the email verification option is only available to some businesses. If you are eligible for this option, a verification email will be sent to your business email address. Simply click on the verification button provided in the email.
  • Instant verification. This is only available if you’ve already verified your business using Google Search Console. Some business categories will not be eligible for this method of verification, so if you don’t receive a notification asking you to verify the business listing, you will have to use one of the other methods of verification.
  • Bulk verification. Bulk verification is only available if you are managing a business with ten or more locations. You will need to fill in a verification form with details of your business, which Google will then review and process.

Optimizing your Google Business Listing

Now that you’re done setting up and verifying your business, it’s time to optimize it.

Filling in business info

Go to your Google My Business dashboard and select ‘Info’. Fill in as many details as you can, such as your operating hours, your attributes (e.g. free wifi, wheelchair accessible, in-store shopping) and even the date your business opened.

Anyone can ‘suggest an edit’ to your listing, so you want to make sure that you get everything right the first time and update your listing regularly if there are any changes.

Add in photos

According to Google, businesses with photos are more likely to receive visits to their websites than businesses that don’t. The two most important ones are your cover photo – which shows up at the very top of your business listing, and your profile photo, which appears when you upload new photos, post statuses and updates, or respond to reviews.

The ideal size for your cover photo should be 1024 x 576 px, and 250 x 250 px for your profile photo. They should be in JPG or PNG format, with a file size of 10 KB to 5 MB. Google guidelines also state that photos should be in focus and well-lit, so don’t use a photo with a heavy filter or one that’s been edited too much. Google wants it to be an accurate representation of reality!

Apart from your cover and profile photo, you can also upload other photos to make your Google business listing more engaging. These can be your shopfront and interior, your products, and areas where your customers may be spending their time in. 

Add in videos

You can also choose to add videos to your Google business listing. They should be less than 30s, not bigger than 100MB, and be at least 720p resolution. Videos are a great way to grab a user’s attention and make yourself stand out. However, they’re not a ‘must’ unlike photos, so don’t worry too much if you don’t have a business video.

Respond to reviews

One of the ways to optimize your Google business listing is not just encouraging customers to leave reviews, but also to respond to them actively and sincerely. Even if it’s just a simple “Thank you for your business, we hope to see you again!” Doing so fosters customer relationship, and encourages other customers to share their experience with you too.

Make sure to respond to negative comments too. Be polite and thank them for their feedback. If possible, offer them a discount code or something on the house to encourage them to give you a second chance. It’s hard receiving negative reviews, but the worst thing you can do is to retaliate and attack them back. It’s not a good look and would just make you look unprofessional!

Setting up and optimizing your Google business listing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your local SEO efforts. To delve further into the topic, make sure to check out some of our other blog posts too!