‘Google My Business’ is a free tool provided by Google. From it, businesses can manage information that appears on Google local searches and Google Maps.
The first place that a Google Business Profile can be seen is within the right-hand sidebar when a Google search is placed. This is known as the Local Panel and it appears when a specific business search is taken out, such as ‘Kaydee Web Oxford’.
I’ve labelled the areas on the image below so you can see where the information is displayed. We discuss all of these areas in detail at the end of the post.
The second place that a Business Profile is displayed is on Google Maps, when a more general local Google search is performed such as “Web design Oxfordshire”.
Notice that the first and most prominent result under the adverts is an interactive Google map, like the result below.
There are up to three (at time of writing) businesses shown on the map that are applicable to the search.
The top result is usually the one that has the most reviews and best reviews.
Often the result with the best reviews is displayed first.
To help a business get priority on the map listing be sure it is verified and that all business information on the Business Profile has been completed.
Google Business Profiles are critical in a business’ visibility online. It is an underused social platform.
Google My Business dashboard
Within the Google My Business dashboard, a business owner can:
- Manage Google Business Profiles (you can manage hundreds from one Google account).
- Verify Business Profiles.
- Add users.
- Share updates – news, events and offers.
- Manage media such as logo, photos and video.
- Answer reviews.
- Add services and products.
- See insights on Google Business Profiles.
- Create a website.
However, to do any of the above, first the business owner (or web master) must claim and verify the business.
Manage Google My Business
‘Google Business Profiles’ are managed under a dashboard called ‘Google My Business‘, found here www.google.com/business.
To start, CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS.
- Do a search on Google for your company name, and the location town on a computer (rather than a phone).
- If you can’t see your listing, click MORE PLACES and continue to look for it.
- Once found, click the listing name. The business information will appear in a window over the top of the Google map on the right hand side.
- There should be a text link ‘Own this business?’ click that and you will be asked to log in to your Google account, or create one.
- If you are already logged in there will be a MANAGE NOW button.
This is the point that you will need to VERIFY your business and you will receive a post card at the business address.
Verify my business on Google
To verify a business on Google, you’ll need access to the post at the brick and mortar address that is registered on Google.
Google sends a post card to that address. The postcard will have a verification code on it.
- Once you have received the code, return to www.google.com/business, where you should see a listing for the business you are trying to claim.
- Click on the name of that LOCATION. There will be an orange circle in the status column, which means PENDING VERIFICATION.
- The area you see in front of you is the edit area for the Google Business Profile. It is quite obvious to click on the ‘Enter verification code’ link.
- Enter your code in the field.
Now you have verified the business, there will be a green badge against the business name.
You can now maintain the Business Profile. Any updates will complete almost instantly when a business has been claimed.
Incorrect business address on Google
Sometimes the business address is incorrect and the postcard can’t be received.
How do you get around this?
Before you claim your business, edit the business.
Instead of the ‘Own this business?’ link, describe above, click the ‘Suggest an edit’ link. Here, you can suggest an edit to the business address.
If Google are happy with the change, they will update the address within a few weeks. You can then go ahead and claim the business.
If not, you will need to contact GOOGLE SUPPORT. The best way I have found to do this is to drop them a message on the Google My Business Facebook page.
It can take a month, but they are good at getting back to you considering they must have millions of requests.
Google Business Profiles info
I’d like to highlight how important it is to keep your Google Business Profile page up to date and the ‘Info’ area is most important.
Google will recognise such things as the business name, contact details, description, logo, business hours for a business across the whole of the internet.
It’s known as NAP consistency (Name Address Phone).
Having out of date information anywhere, especially on a Google Profile, will send negative signals to Google – such as ‘this business does not take care of it’s online existence’ or ‘possibly out of service’.
Out of date information can cause a drop in website rank.
Not to mention that information shows up on Google Maps and other Google properties. It is well worth having correct information dispalyed.
Go to Google My Business, find your profile and hit the Info link on the menu on the left-hand side.
Add and edit business information by clicking the pencil icons.
Reviews on Google Business Profiles
Please do encourage clients to leave reviews for your business on Google.
Having a good selection of reviews will result in your business being listed above competition.
When a business has good reviews it will get priority visibility on the map.
Listing positions are influenced by reviews because (usually) reviews are from real people with traceable background information, so it is a genuine way that Google can judge the business as quality.
Fake Google reviews
It can be heartbreaking when, as a small business owner, you are faced with a fake review, especially if it is bad and brings the star rating down.
My advice is to reply to the review kindly, intelligently and publicly. Let people know you have never done business with this person.
Then message Google on the Google My Business Facebook page to request that they remove the review.
Unfortunately you may be stuck with the fake review for a time.
Google deletes fake accounts over time, so it may suddenly disappear. Crossed fingers.
As a consumer – you can usually spot a fake review. Bad spelling, grammar and little text are big giveaways.
You could also investigate the profile of the person, to see how many other bad reviews they have given. If there are a few, and many of them are similar it is likely to be a troll.
How to handle bad Google reviews
There’s only way to handle a negative Google review, just like a real life complaint. Reply.
You cannot delete or hide a Google review that has been created on someone else’s account. Even if it is about your verified company.
Calmly demonstrate your view point and how you would like to rectify the situation.
What we find is that people hardly take petulant reviews on board. IF they have an understanding answer from the business owner.
To bring your Google STAR rating back up encourage lots more positive reviews from real people.
Running a small business is consuming and unfortunately you can’t please everyone all of the time. Even though we try so hard.
I advise you rectify the situation but then breath, smile and move on.
Google My Business posts and updates
There is a feature on Google My Business that enables the owner to post updates, news and offers. I’ve been using it, and it is nice and easy to use.
When a local search is placed for the business name, posts are included within the listing.
Posts last for seven days and can really make a Business Profile stand out.
Google takes a little time to process the posts, up to 10 minutes, but once they’ve been checked they can really make the Local Panel stand out. Here are two updates posted at a similar time. Two updates tend to look better than one so I’ve been adding two posts each time.
A good size for an image on a Google post is 750 x 750 pixels. That way the image is the correct size when someone clicks on the post. You can see that Google resizes the image on the Local Panel though.
Google My Business app
The Google My Business app is easy to use. Here the profile, posts and photos can all be edited.
Using the app is a great idea for updates on the move, especially if there is a lot going on in the day to day running of the business.
Posts can really help your business to connect with the audience and stand out from the competition. Use them to show behind the scenes images, latest updates and to advertise events, which will last longer than 7 day posts. They’ll stick around until the event runs.
Have you been using Google Business Profile? Are you managing to keep the posts up to date?