The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business for 2020

How Google My Business can help your small business grow. 

By JD Hilditch

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a FREE platform that allows you to post your business information on Google. It’s this pool of business listings that allows you to show up when people search food near me, insurance near me, parks near me…”, you get the point.

Every local business owner should understand, manage and utilize this tool from Google. The information that you submit and control is used in a variety of ways in the search engine, including the knowledge panel, maps and the local pack. 

Google My Business seems like a great tool, right? To learn how to create your Google Business Account and start using it to it’s full potential – read on. 

How to Create a Google My Business Listing

First, you will be in either one of two camps here. 

  1. There is already a listing out there and you need to claim it. 
  2. There is no current listing and you need to create it. 

Both are surprisingly simple to do and follow the same path of setup. 

1. Claim or Create Your Listing

  • Step 1: Log into the Google account you want to manage your account with. 
  • Step 2: Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click Manage Now
  • Step 3: Click Add Location  (If you currently have a profile, if not, skip to Step 4)
  • Step 4: Enter your business name
  • Step 5: If no one has claimed this business, click Manage Now. If someone has claimed it already, click Request Access.
  • Step 6: Add your services
  • Step 7: Add your business hours

Step 8: Complete your business description. This should be about 2-5 sentences that covers all the bases. 

Step 9: Upload photos! This is an important aspect of the setup. Make sure you have good photos of your company office, at work, team members, etc. 

Step 10: Look over your Google My Business dashboard and follow any remaining steps along the guided setup process. 

How to Verify Your Business on Google My Business

Next up, there are a few ways to verify your business on Google. Some may be or may not be available to you. 

  • Postcard
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Instant Verification
  • Bulk Verification

We’ll focus on the the ones that you will most likely utilize – Phone and Postcard Verification. 

Postcard Verification

When you are logged into your Google My Business account, you will see that some items may be restricted until you verify your claim on the listing. When you click Verify – and select the Postcard by mail method, Google will send a postcard to the address listed on for the business. 

  • Step 1: Verify your mailing address and input your name for the postcard. 
  • Step 2: Click Mail
  • Step 3: Once you get the postcard – log back into Google My Business. Select the location you want to verify and select Verify Now
  • Step 4: In the Code field, type the 5-digit confirmation code and click Submit.

Phone Verification

You may be able to verify your listing by phone. In most cases for our team at Voyage Media Works, the postcard method is the most common; however, there are some cases when phone verification was available to us. 

  • Step 1: Log into your Google My Business Account
  • Step 2: Select the business you want to verify
  • Step 3: Ensure that the phone number on file is correct, then choose Verify by phone
  • Step 4: Enter the verification code you get by either text or phone call from Google. 

Email Verification

If you are eligle, Google may let you verify by email.

  • Step 1: Log into your Google My Business Account
  • Step 2: Select the business you want to verify
  • Step 3: Ensure that the email on file is correct, then choose Verify by email
  • Step 4: Enter the verification code you get via email

Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

After you have finished verifying your business, the full potential of your GMB (Google My Business) page is unlocked. 

Go to your Google My Business account and select the business you want to optimize. 

Fill out any information that needs updated, or filled out. 

  • Example:
    • Set your service area
    • Hours
    • Add Special Hours (Easter, July 4th, etc.)
    • Attributes

You want to add as much information as possible that will describe your business to potential customers. Remember, when someone is searching online – this business listing will be one of the first things they look at before even visiting your website. 

Important Notes

Anyone can suggest edits to your business listing. This is why it is so important to get everything right on the first set up and to stay up to date with the listing as things change. If you modify your hours, the first place you should do so is on your GMB listing. 

Photos in Google My Business

Your listing is a great place to showcase photos that happen within your business. According to Google, business that have photos are more likely to get direction requests, clicks to their website and phone calls from their listing. 

Profile Picture

This photo should be a high quality image of your logo. It helps your customers recognize your instantly on Google and helps build brand recognition. 

Cover Photo

Your cover photo is the top photo on your profile. This should be something that represents your business when your customers first visit your profile. 

Google Reviews

Reviews are the lifeblood of any small business. At a quick glance, potential customers are browsing through several different options at once when deciding where they will go. Having current and on-going reviews helps your business stand out against your competition. Once of the best ways to show your appreciation for customer feedback is by leaving them a response.

Review Responses

How to Generate More Positive Reviews

This is always a question we get at Voyage Media Works that can be tricky to tackle. If you want more positive reviews on Google, you need to start at the bottom. 

  • Create “Leave a Review” cards
    • A little card you have on hand to give to customers after a successful interaction is a must. Have a physical card with a shorted version of your review link.
  • Ask your customers
    • You’d be surprised at how willing people are to leave a review if you ask them. Interacting with your clients and showing them you care about them is a great way to get positive feedback online. 
  • Create a Review Campaign
    • This is a little more complicated than just asking someone to leave a review. You can do this on a personalized individual basis or as a larger bulk email campaign. The key here is to get straight to the point. Common platforms to use here are MailChimp, Sendinblue, or other Reputation Management platforms such as Rocket Referrals.
  • Give Incentive
    • Another good way to increase your positive reviews is to give your customers some incentive to do so! Simply giving them a 10% off coupon, a free appetizer, or any other deal after leaving a 4 or 5 star review can help you push traffic to your online sources and validate your business. Just ask them to show you the review at checkout and apply the discount. 

Download the Google My Business App

Once you are all set with the steps above, you should download the app for your phone. The Google My Business App is available for both iOS and Android. So, you have no excuse not to download it. 

You’re able to use the app to do the following:

  • Reply to reviews
  • Update business hours, location, contact information, etc. 
  • Post new statuses and photos

You cannot do the following:

  • Delete your listing
  • Give ownership or access to another user
  • Change the settings
The Google My Business App is vital so that you can quickly monitor and reply to anyone posting reviews on your listing and make changes on the fly wherever you need to. 

Understanding Google Lingo

Lastly we want to make sure you know what you’re talking about. There are a lot of terms thrown around when talking about Google and online presence. Some of the most confusion is centered around the different names Googles gives it’s platforms. 

  • Google+
    • Google+ WAS a social media platform from Google. Long story short, Google killed it off and it is no longer active. 
  • Google Places
    • This is the old name for Google My Business. These features are now rolled into your Google My Business account. 
  • Google My Business
    • Hopefully, if you are this far in, you know what Google My Business is by now. If not, see above. 
  • Google Maps
    • Google Maps is a Web-based service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world. In addition to conventional road maps, Google Maps offers aerial and satellite views of many places. 

Need Help?

Voyage Media Works offers Digital Marketing services to help businesses stay on top of their online presence.