Google My Business is essential for restaurant businesses to get noticed in Google searches — here is a guide to help you set up and control your My Google Business listing.
The Internet gods have blessed us with many free tools, Google My Business being one of them. The free tool, which replaced Google Places, allows businesses to take control of what customers see when they search for businesses online.
Taking and keeping full control 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 added or claimed your business, and 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. If this is the case, it’s pertinent to not make any changes to your business profile in that time frame to avoid delaying the process.
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.
Relatively Easy Google My Business Maintenance
Add as much information – hours, contact info, website, photos – as you can as soon as you can, because having all the information 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 more requests for driving directions and more click-thrus 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 of your restaurant like, “woman-led,” “has outdoor seating,” or “takes Visa.” Adding attributes is important, because it could cause your business to pull up when people search for businesses with those attributes. When it comes to more subjective attributes, like “Popular with locals,” Google and Google users are in charge, not the Google My Business Manager. To add or edit an attribute, log into your My Business account. Click open the Info panel and scroll down to the section, “From the Business.” You can then edit or add an attribute to your business.
Categories – which are different from attributes – are both important and in your control. With Google My Business, you will need to choose one primary category that’s specific to describing your main business. You then have the option to select up to 9 other categories. 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 can add or update your categories from the Business Information section when editing your My Business profile.
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 – typically taking only 48 hours, but in some instances could take up to 60 days.
More Difficult Google My Business Maintenance
Changing your business name or address 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. If the system doesn’t recognize your address, a map will appear with a pin that you can move to the correct location. Google may review your address changes which typically take 24-48 hours, but sometimes longer.
Mainly, changing your business name or location can be more of a hassle because it could require a review process and a re-verification step — adding more time to your Google Maps results updating.
The Stuff that’s out of your control
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.
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.