The Internet gods have blessed us with many free tools, Google My Business being one of them. The free tool allows you to control what customers see when they search for your businesses online.
Taking and keeping full control of Google My Business might take some patience, however – especially if you don’t have a standard brick and mortar setup or if your business info changes. Here are some tips to make it as painless as possible.
First thing’s first: Make sure that you’ve 1) claimed your business, and 2) gone through the verification process with Google. Verifying your business involves proving to Google that you are the appropriate person to be in charge of the Google My Business listing. There are a variety of ways to verify a business, but not all may be offered to you depending on things like what type of business you have and the consistency of the currently available online data about your business. Some businesses will be able to do the verification process 21st century style – sms/phone, email, or live video – while others might have to resort to the postcard option, which can take up to 14 days to arrive.
Once that is set, you’ll be able to make changes from your Google My Business dashboard by logging in with the relevant email address and going to business.google.com/manage.
The Relatively Easy Stuff
Adding as much information – hours, contact info, website, photos – as you can as soon as you can is a good idea because having all the info already set will discourage other Google users from “suggesting an edit” and potentially getting info wrong. In general, it’s a good practice to regularly check in on your Google My Business listing because if someone does suggest an edit, you may not be notified.
Hot tip: Don’t overlook the photos on your Google My Business page. According to Google, businesses with photos lead to 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to a business’ website than businesses that don’t have photos.
From the My Business Dashboard, you’ll also have limited access to controlling what Google calls “attributes.” These are things that can quickly tell the customers about certain features at your restaurant like “has outdoor seating” or “takes Visa.” When it comes to more subjective attributes, like “Popular with locals,” Google and Google users are in charge, not the Google My Business Manager.
Categories – which are different from attributes – are both important and in your control. Filling out the category – which means naming what you are rather than what you serve – will help users find you and help your placement in local rankings. With categories, try to be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re a pizza restaurant that has takeout, delivery, and a dining-in option, add “pizza takeout,” “pizza delivery,” and “pizza restaurant.”
You’ll also have control over your business description, but not the editorial summary (which is written by Google’s writers) or review snippets (which are quotes picked from Google users’ reviews). While you’ll be able to make edits to this business description in the future, note that any edits are subject to a review process from Google – a process which can take up to 60 days.
The More Difficult Changes
Changing your business address and location might entail more work. In general, if you have more than one location, it would be a good idea to create a Google My Business listing for each. If the address changes for one of these locations, Google recommends editing the location info in Google My Business and not creating a new business listing. However, you might need to go through the re-verification process again if an address is changed.
Name changes will also require going through the verification process again. In other words, Snoop Dogg would still be Snoop Dogg if he had to deal with Google My Business.
The Stuff You Just Can’t Change
At the end of the day, Google My Business is a free service and Google’s priorities are split between business owners and customers. No matter how much you dislike some of the Google user-generated photos or reviews, you will only be able to flag ones that you believe violate Google review policies.
There is also a chance that your business’ social profile information or information from that profile might be automatically linked to your Google My Business profile. If you see anything wrong on this front, your best shot is to report it by using the “Feedback” button in the bottom right corner.
At the end of the day, as time-sucking and frustrating as Google My Business can be, it’s not something to be overlooked. It’s not just any old business listing – it’s the frontline of your establishment’s digital presence.