A Google business listing is a company or entity profile which is displayed on the right hand side of the Google search results when visitors search for a particular business or search terms.
Whether you’re starting out or have an established corporation, setting up a Google business listing plays an important role in your online strategy.
By setting it up correctly, users can attain useful information about your company such as contact details (phone, address, website), read reviews, get directions to your location, store hours, bio and more.
The benefits of a Google business listing can boost your companies visibility, branding, credibility and traffic to your website.
Not only will your listing show up for your company name but if optimized correctly, it can also show up for keywords related to your business (see below).
Your business will also be displayed in the Google Local Search results page which display a list of nearby businesses, details and map.
Setting up a Google business listing is easy and it’s free, just follow these steps:
1. Sign up or sign in to your Google account
If you have a Google account already then you can already setup up listing or claim a listing if your business is already displaying a basic listing. Visit https://www.google.com/business/ and either ‘Sign in’ or click ‘Get on Google’.
2. Locate your business
Once you’ve successfully signed in, you’ll be able to ‘Find your business’ by typing in your company name. If it doesn’t show up, no worries as you can just create a new profile. If your business is listed but doesn’t have a profile you’ll have to confirm you own the business to claim it, otherwise choose ‘Add your business’.
3. Verify your business
In order to verify that you are the owner of a business, Google will either send you a postcard to your business location with a code (this normally takes 1-2 weeks) or send you an SMS with the code.
4. Setup your Google business listing profile
Setting up your Google profile is easy! You’ll be able to add company related information such as business hours, bio, contact details and photos.
If you don’t have a physical location then you can create a ‘Brand Page’ by visiting http://business.google.com and selecting ‘Not a local business’. This will allow you to hide your business address but still target a geographic location.
Managing your Google Business Listing
Your listing provides search users a plethora of information on a company and its important to be as detailed as possible when providing relevant information to your profile.
A pencil icon is displayed next to fields which are editable. These fields include:
This should match your business name exactly. Google will correct it if you decide to get spammy and add additional keywords. Make sure it matches all your stationary.
The category type is what industry best describes your business. Google allows you to choose up to 9 categories in order to help understand your company.
Google requires the exact address of your business which includes suite number. As mentioned previously, if you’re a brand page you can specific a geographic area.
Hours of operation
Store hours are extremely useful for visitors to find out when your business is opened and closed. Google will also display ‘Open’ or ‘Closed’ in your profile base don this information based on time of day. You can also specify whether your business is closed for select holidays in the “Special hours” section.
This is one of the best ways for visitors to contact your information. Many search users will often contact a business through their Google business profile rather than visiting their website, especially on mobile devices. This field allows you to add multiple phone numbers including mobile or landline.
If you have a website you can paste the URL into this field. This is important as it can increase traffic to your website if you have one. If you don’t have a website and in need of professional web design services, you can contact NexToronto.
The attributes field allows you specify additional information such as parking, free WI-FI and other additional amenities.
The images you use are extremely important. This can help boost your brand and provide users a previous of your products or services. Be sure to upload images that are high resolution and meet Google guidelines for images. Types of images that can be included in your GMB listing profile are:
- Logo: Upload a logo to help identify your business. Tip: Make sure the image is square-sized.
- Cover image: This is the image that is displayed at the top of your profile page and should have 16:9 aspect ratio.
- Additional photos: These images should showcase your products/services, inside your office and staff images.
Bio or From the Business
In 750 characters you can provide a brief description about your company including history, services and about information. Do not add any promotional information in this field.
This lets people know how long your business has been around. Is it new or has it been a long-time fixture in the community.
If you’re a restaurant, spa or service-based business, this is a great opportunity to list the services your company offers.
If your business has multiple locations can setup multiple locations in their profile. Depending on the geographic location or geographic search term(s) used in search, it can trigger the nearest Google business listing profile.
Tips to Optimize your Google Business Listing
Just like traditional SEO, including keywords in your Google business listing can help search users find your profile. Target keywords can be used in your bio and services fields. If your listing is optimized for keywords your listing might even show up for more than just your business name. See example below for one of our clients who shows up for the term ‘medical courier Toronto’ or ‘courier Toronto’ in addition to their company name ‘R Courier’.
Asking clients to submit reviews for your business is a great way to build credibility and show potential customers the value of your service. If your business falls victim to fake negative reviews, you can flag them for Google support to review. I typically takes 2-3 days for them to be removed.
The main photo of your listing can impact how users perceive your business or brand. You can modify your main image through Google business listing account. Whether you’re a business, brand or geographic location, this is something you want to make sure its something that is good for your reputation.
The Google “Scarborough, Ontario” Incident
The image below is what was previously displayed when users searched ‘Scarborough, Ontario‘ in Google before November 21, 2019.
As you can see the main image is not ideal for the cities profile & reputation.
The image made headlines across major media sources in Ontario, Canada including The Toronto Star, CTV News and Global News. Of course the image was a result from a glitch in Google’s algorithm which was pulling its main image from an old news article published on Global News. This eventually led to furious Scarborough residents, politicians and major media sources showing outrage over social media.
Note: Before the outrage (on November 16th, 2019) I had sent the tweet below tagged with the City of Toronto, the Premiere of Ontario/Doug Ford, the Mayor of Ontario/John Tory and others.
Unfortunately my tweet fell on deaf ears and became a social issue with some politicians demanding an apology from Google. Absurd.
No Google doesn’t need to apologize.
Had the city of Scarborough contacted NexToronto regarding the issue it would have been resolved in 10 minutes.
For issues regarding your Google business listing such as fake negative reviews, duplicate profiles or a poor profile pic (as seen above) you can always contact Google support (1-866-2Google) and choose the option for Google My Business. Their support is pretty responsive and you can expect issues to be fixed within 24-48 hours. Their support usually follows up with customers to make sure that changes were made.