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What is Google My Business?

By December 9, 2019 May 21st, 2020 No Comments
What is Google My Business?

If your business listing appears in Google Search or on Google Maps, you can modify the information on that listing from Google My Business. This article examines the origins, use cases, and benefits of Google My Business. We'll show you how your Google My Business profile appears to customers on Google Search and Google Maps, how you can modify that data and how you can message potential customers directly through Google Maps or Google Search.

What is Google My Business?

Can Your Business Use Google My Business?

How Your Business Appears To Customers

Managing Your Google My Business Profile

Interacting with Customers On Google My Business

The Benefits of Using Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business, known in shorthand as GMB, is a free online platform used by businesses to manage their Google Search and Google Maps listings. Google My Business is the product of over 10 years of development and consolidation of different Google platforms.

Google My Business is the product of 10 years of trial and development of different Google platforms. Today, Google My Business is a popular platform for businesses and a trustworthy information source for customers. Google My Business, also known in shorthand as GMB, is a free online platform used by businesses to manage their Google Search and Google Maps listings.
Google My Business

Those early attempts to create a platform for business listing contributed a raft of valuable features that we know today as Google My Business. To understand what GMB is today, it's important to understand how you got there.

The Evolution of Google My Business

Once upon a time, Google Maps as we know it today didn't exist. Crazy right? What's even crazier is that there it started as two products Google Maps AND Google Local. Plus there were apps like Hotpot, Google Places, Google+, maybe you remember some of these? All of these apps evolved into what we know today as Google Maps & Google My Business.

It all started in 2004, Google Local was released as a better version of Yellow Pages. It displayed the name, address, and phone number of businesses with their maps, directions, and webpages to users.

In February 2005 maps were rolled out into their own product called Google Maps. But in Google's infinite wisdom it had merged maps back into Google Local by October 2005… Then changed the name back to Google Maps in 2006. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Here is a brief summary of how Google My Business came to be. In 2004, Google Local was released as a better solution to the business listing directories of the time, like the Yellow Pages. It combined the name, address, and phone number of a business with maps, directions, and webpages. In February 2005, Google Maps was released. It was a visually-appealing, interactive online map with promising features. In October 2005, Google Maps and Google Local merged under the name Google Local. In 2006, Google decided to change Google Local to Google Maps, which continues to grow in feature offerings and popularity under the same name to this day.
The Evolution of Google Maps

By 2009 the elements of Google My Business started to take shape. Google Places Pages was introduced to allow businesses to manage their own listings.

Seems like we're almost there, but Google managed to fit in at least a half dozen failed products like Hotpot, Google Places, Google Places Pages, Google+ Pages, and Google+ Local. All of which are barely worth mentioning.

By June 2014, Google My Business was launched in the form we know today. A product that allows businesses to manage information in one place for all Google business listings.

Today companies are able to manage their Google My Business profile on both desktop and mobile using both browsers and apps. Before we get into the features, let's see if GMB is right for you.

Can Your Business Use Google My Business?

The short answer is yes. Even if you don't create a Google My Business Profile, there is already user-sourced info about your business anyway. It includes reviews of your business, popular times to visit, photos taken by customers. Your Business Profile is updated when someone takes an action like leaving a review, asking a question or uploading a photo.

Before you even create your Google My Business Profile, there is user-generated information comes from people who use Google services. Google sources a variety of information about companies with a Google My Business listing from its users. This user-generated information includes reviews of your business, popular times to visit, photos taken by customers. Your Business Profile is updated when someone takes an action like leaving a review, asking a question or uploading a photo. Therefore, creating a Google My Business profile and curating the content that appears on your Google My Business listing is important for ensuring that the right information is being shared about your company online.
User Reviews on Google Search

Therefore, taking control of your Google My Business profile and curating the content that appears on your Google My Business listing is important for ensuring that the right information is being shared about your company online.

Are You Eligible For Google My Business?

Google My Business only lists businesses with a physical location that customers can visit. Any online-only businesses or forms of business that involve activity at an address they do not own are not eligible.

This means that rental and for-sale properties, as well as classes and meetings held at locations your company doesn't own, cannot qualify you for a Google My Business listing.

You probably shouldn't break the rules because trying to claim a listing that's not yours or using your GMB profile as a platform for fraudulent or illegal activities will lead to account suspension and removal from Google's search results. Yikes!

Once you have control of your listing you can consider how your listing appears to customers on Google Search and Google Maps.

How Your Business Appears To Customers

Google My Business allows you to manage your presence on Google Search and Google Maps. It's important to know how your business listing looks because many of your customers will find you by searching for your business on one of these Google products.

Your Google My Business Profile helps you manage your presence on Google Search and Google Maps. Customers find your GMB profile by searching for your business using Google Maps or Google Search. To understand how your Google My Business profile appears to customers on Google Search and Google Maps, we've used the Yellow Cup Cafe in Toronto as an example of a local business with a Google My Business profile that appears when 'yellow cup cafe Toronto' is searched for in Google Search and Google Maps on a desktop.
Google My Business Listings Appear On Google Search & Google Maps

To show how your business appears on Google Search and Google Maps, we've used one of our favorite little places, Yellow Cup Cafe, as an example.

How Your Google My Business Profile Appears On Google Search

When you're business comes us on Google Search, users will see it displayed prominently on the right. Your top photos and the name will probably be the first thing people will notice.

Directly beneath your business name, there are three call-to-action buttons; Website, Directions, and Save. Pressing save will add a special pin for your business in Google Maps for that user.

The top features customers see straight away on a GMB profile in Google Search are photos (your cover photo will appear here if you have selected one), your location pin on Google Maps and the name of your business. Directly beneath your business name, there is a row of three call-to-action buttons. These buttons are labeled Website, which takes customers directly to your company website, Directions, which takes users into Google Maps and Save, which allows users to save your business in a list on Google Maps. Your google rating and number of google reviews link to the reviews section further down your profile and appear one line under the row of call-to-action buttons. Reviews from the web is a section that shows your ratings from other websites, such as Facebook for example, which provides a rating based on Facebook votes.
A Google My Business Listing On Google Search

Below that users will see your rating and reviews and your basic business details. In the Reviews from the web section, your ratings from other websites are shown. Facebook for example, provides a rating based on ratings on your Facebook page.

Customers can see a graph showing Popular times, based on when people visit your location, indicating peak hours of business and leading you to the section Plan your visit, where people can see the average time customers spend at your business location. People also search for is a section that appears under Reviews and Profiles. It provides related suggestions for similar businesses. This offers a useful way to identify your main competitors on Google Search.
Google My Business Profile Features On Google Search

If they keep scrolling users can see popular times, based on foot traffic to your location, which indicates peak hours of business. Below this is perhaps the most important section, reviews, where are a few of your top reviews are shown.

Last but not least, there are links to your Social profiles. An opportunity for you to drive some traffic to your pages. Your business listing will look similar on Google Maps, with a few small differences.

How Your Google My Business Profile Appears On Google Maps

There are two types of people in this world, those who search for businesses in Google Search and those who are going to search directly in Google Maps. Instead of your top photos, the user will see your cover photo as well as, your company name, your rating and the number of reviews, and your business category.

The immediate information a customer sees will be your cover picture, your company name, your google rating and number of reviews, and your chosen business category. In a section below there is a row of five call-to-action buttons. These are: Directions - generates directions to the business profile address from your current or chosen location Save - allows you to save the business profile in a Google Maps list Nearby - provides suggestions to help you find other businesses in the area Send to your phone - sends the business profile to you by text or email Share - enables you to send a link of a business profile or embed a map and share it with a contact. There are some differences in the features that appear for Google My Business profiles when opened in Google Maps as opposed to Google Search. When a customer searches for you on Google Maps, your Google My Business profile will appear.
A Google My Business Listing on Google Maps

As on Google Search, there are some call to action buttons below. They are Directions, Save, Nearby, Send to your phone, and Share. Most of these are self-explanatory, except Nearby, which will show businesses nearby.

When your business appears on Google Search and Google Maps, you'll want to make sure that all the information on your profile is correct. To do this you'll need to get control of your Google My Business listing.

Managing Your Google My Business Profile

Adding information and images to your business profile improves your discoverability online and helps your potential customers get the information they need. However, before you can customize your profile, you'll need to claim and verify ownership of your business.

Claiming & Verifying Ownership Of Your Business

When you create a new business profile through a Google account, you are claiming your business under the given name and address of your choice. You can select if you want your business location to appear on Google Maps or have it remain private. If your business already has a listing on Google Maps there is an option to Claim this business.

When you create a new business profile through a Google account, you are claiming your business under the given name and address of your choice. You can select if you want your business location to appear on Google Maps or have it remain private. If your business already has a listing on Google Maps there is an option to Claim this business. Once you select a business category and provide a company phone number or website URL, you can proceed to the verification process and start managing your account. Google also requires you to verify your ownership of the business. You must submit a verification form with your business name. It can take up to a week for Google to review and process your request.
Claim Your Business On Google

Once you select a business category and provide a company phone number or website URL, you can proceed to the verification process and start managing your account.

Google also requires you to verify your ownership of the business. You must submit a verification form with your business name. It can take up to a week for Google to review and process your request.

To get started with your Google My Business Profile you'll need to create or log in to a Google account that you will use for your business. Google requires you to claim your business by registering your address. You must submit a verification form with your business name. It can take up to a week for Google to review and process your claim. You need to confirm that you are the rightful owner of your business so that you can manage your Google My Business profile and monitor suggested changes from the public.
The Google My Business Verification Process

After you have confirmed that you are the rightful owner of your business, you can manage your GMB profile and monitor any suggested changes from the public. Remember, anyone can suggest an edit to your listing, so log in to your GMB dashboard regularly.

But before you can get started with monitoring your listing, you should probably make sure that all the key details about your business are correct.

Google My Business Profile Details

The basic profile information consists of business name, description (750 words max) and a business category. You can also edit your basic contact details including your business address, operating hours, website and phone number(s).

Enter your business name as it appears across your branding. If you change your business name after requesting a verification letter, you must verify your business again. Provide a concise description of the products or services that your company offers in 750 characters or less. Choose a category for your business. All locations of your business must share a Primary category. You can only have one primary category and select nin additional categories. Enter the exact address of your business location. If you change your address after you request a verification letter, you have to verify your business again. Add the business hours that your business is open in a typical week. For days when you have unusual hours, like holidays or special events, you can apply special hours. Add your website URL. Depending on your business category, you may see options to add additional links, like online orders, reservations, and appointments. Enter a primary phone number. You can enter up to two more phone numbers, mobile and landline are accepted but not fax. Attributes tell customers additional information about your business, such as if you provide free WiFi or wheelchair access.
Adding Information To Your Google My Business Profile

Something that can make your business stand out is Attributes. Using attributes you can give customers additional information about your business, like if you provide free WiFi or wheelchair access.

Enter your business name as it appears across your branding. If you change your business name after requesting a verification letter, you must verify your business again. Provide a concise description of the products or services that your company offers in 750 characters or less. Choose a category for your business. All locations of your business must share a Primary category. You can only have one primary category and select nin additional categories. Enter the exact address of your business location. If you change your address after you request a verification letter, you have to verify your business again. Add the business hours that your business is open in a typical week. For days when you have unusual hours, like holidays or special events, you can apply special hours. Add your website URL. Depending on your business category, you may see options to add additional links, like online orders, reservations, and appointments. Enter a primary phone number. You can enter up to two more phone numbers, mobile and landline are accepted but not fax. Attributes tell customers additional information about your business, such as if you provide free WiFi or wheelchair access.
Add Attributes To Your Google My Business Profile

Now that your GMB profile has all your key information accurately, you can start with the fun part customizing the look of your profile with eye-catching and engaging media.

Adding Media On Google My Business

Having a good cover photo is key as it appears front and center on your listing. You can also select a profile photo that will appear when you respond to a review or message a customer.

Ideally in the age of Instagram, you'll upload even more images to your profile. Google My Business even allows you to add videos to your profile. They must be 30 seconds or shorter, 100 MB or smaller, and 720p resolution or higher.

Your Google My Business cover photo is significant as it is the image that appears front and center on your GMB listing. You can also select a profile photo for your business. It is the image that will appear when you upload new photos, videos, and when you respond to customer reviews. Along with your profile and cover photos, you can upload other relevant pictures that showcase your business. Google My Business even allows you to add videos to your profile. They must be 30 seconds or shorter, 100 MB or smaller, and 720p resolution or higher. According to Google, businesses with images tend to get 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don't have photos.
Images Can Make Your Google My Business Profile More Popular

According to Google, businesses with images tend to get 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don't have photos.

Once customers are engaging with your multimedia profile how about adding a direct way for customers to message you? Google is working on a new messaging API feature and we've got that information coming up.

Interacting with Customers On Google My Business

There are four key ways you can manage customer engagement for your Google My Business profile. Customer reviews and the Questions and Answers feature are two forms of public customer feedback that appear on your GMB profile.

Messaging is a private way to chat directly with customers and the Insights panel inside your GMB account dashboard provides private company data collected by Google. These insights show trends in how customers engage with and search for your listing.

Messaging On Google My Business

To get started with Messaging, log in to your GMB dashboard and click on the Messaging panel. Select the business number you want to verify.

Customers can now send text messages to companies through Google My Business. This is a great way to connect directly with people interested in what your business has to offer. To get started with Messaging, log in to your GMB dashboard and click on the Messaging panel and select the business number you would like to verify.
Verify A Number For Messaging On Google My Business

Once you turn on messaging, customers will see a Message button on your Google My Business listing, and be able to message you at any time. Messages will appear in the Google My Business app, and you’ll receive notifications for incoming messages.

Google does require businesses to reply to messages within 24 hours and can deactivate messaging for your business if you don’t respond within the time frame. A helpful feature for this is a Business Welcome Message, a customized message you can create that customers will automatically receive when they first message you.

Once your number is verified you can set up a Business Welcome Message. This is a custom welcome message that customers will receive once they message you. You can turn messaging and GMB app notifications on or off at any time in your account settings. You can block a conversation if you no longer want to receive messages from a customer. You can also delete a conversation from your device but note that it will not be deleted from the customer's device. To support timely responses, each time you receive a new message, you must reply within 24 hours. Google has set a response time requirement and may deactivate messaging for your business if you don’t respond within the time frame. Businesses can find and track their average response time in the app. You can get insights if you have messaging turned on in your Google My Business app. These insights will display the average wait time for a message response using the last 28 days of data. Your customers will find their expected wait time on your Google Business Profile. Currently, this messaging feature is only available to mobile web users and not on the GMB mobile app or desktop. People also won’t see the Messaging option in the Knowledge Panel or on Google Maps.
Create A Welcome Message For Google My Business Messaging

If needed, you can turn off messaging and GMB app notifications at any time in your account settings. You can also block a conversation, or even delete a conversation from your device but note that it will not be deleted from the customer's device.

You can manage and respond to messages directly through the GMB app on mobile. However, while messaging can offer private feedback for companies customer reviews are public. We explore how to manage your reviews next.

Customer Reviews on Google My Business

Since the launch of Google My Business, online reviews have emerged as one of the key signals for Google to raise your business ranking. In addition, reviews of your business create a great opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing online.

Google My Business allows you to reply to reviews and show customers that you value their feedback. Positive feedback from others helps to convince prospective customers to trust your business and most of all to go there.

Since Google My Business launched in 2014, online reviews have emerged as one of the biggest trending signals for Google My Business listings. Your business listing allows customers to post public reviews of your business, creating an opportunity for great word-of-mouth marketing when customers leave positive reviews and ratings. You can reply to reviews and show potential and existing customers that you value their business and feedback. Good reviews help to convince prospective customers to trust your business, as they will see positive feedback from others and a high google rating. Google uses a five-star rating scale to rank businesses based on performance, with a grade from one star (poor performance) to five stars (excellent service).
Customer Reviews on Google My Business

Google uses a five-star rating scale to rank businesses based on performance, with a grade from one star (poor performance) to five stars (excellent service). All the reviews you receive are averaged to create this rating.

Questions & Answers on Google My Business

In 2018, Google added a Questions and Answers feature to Google Maps. This feature allows users to ask direct questions and get answers from you. It is visible on Google Search for on desktop and mobile devices as well as on Google Maps.

In 2018, Google added a Questions and Answers feature. This feature is a great resource for potential customers who are gathering information about your business. It offers them the ability to ask questions and get answers directly from your Google listing. The Questions and Answers feature is displayed on your Google My Business listing and visible on Google Search for both desktop and mobile devices. This feature is also available on Google Maps for android mobile devices only. Any questions that have already been asked about your business will continue to appear on your Google profile. It is important to manage your Questions and Answers section as anyone can submit a question or answer on your business listing. Companies should proactively fill out some frequently asked questions and answers when completing their GMB profile. If any incorrect answers about your company are submitted, you will be notified in your account and can correct them swiftly.
Questions & Answers On Google Search

Any questions asked will appear on your listing, so it is important to answers questions. You should even consider proactively filling out some frequently asked questions and answers when completing your GMB profile. When users answer questions about your company you will be notified, so you can answer with a correction if necessary.

Analytics on Google My Business

The Insights panel on your Google My Business dashboard provides data about the traffic and behavior of users interacting with your listing. This includes simple metrics like impressions or clicks on Google Search or Google Maps. The metrics also go deeper like the number of clicks for driving directions after finding you on Search or Maps.

There is an Insights panel in Google My Business on your account dashboard. It provides useful insights about traffic and customer behavior when users find your Google My Business profile. Some key analytics your Google My Business account tracks are the number of times people saw your business information on Google Maps and Search, and the number of clicks for driving directions to your business from a local search result in Google Maps and Search. You can also find out how many customers found you by direct search, meaning they searched for your business name or address, and discovery search, where they searched for a category, product, or service that you offer, and your listing appeared. Three main sections within Insights to monitor regularly are: The Visibility section - shows the number of views that your profile, posts, and photos are getting. The Engagement section - shows how your audience is interacting with your posts. The Audience section - shows the breakdown of the people following you in groups such as age group, gender, and country.
Analytics on Google My Business

The three main sections of the insights panel are:

  • Visibility: the number of views that your profile, posts, and photos are getting.
  • Engagement: how your audience is interacting with your posts.
  • Audience: a demographic breakdown of users visiting your profile

Aside from analytics, Google My Business has tons of benefits for your company. We've created a short summary of those benefits below.

The Benefits of Using Google My Business

With all the features that Google My Business offers for free, GMB is a logical choice for any eligible company. It increases your chances of being found on Google Search and Google Maps and can generate more targeted traffic to your website and most importantly to your physical location.

To become listed on Google My Business and appear in local searches you need to pass the verification process. This security measure creates a trustworthy environment that users can rely on. A verified GMB listing with accurate information and images gains the trust of customers and optimizes your company's searchability on Google search engine. Once your Google My Business profile appears to customers, they access the rest of your online content directly, such as your website, through a simple click on one of the call-to-action buttons on your profile. Your Google My Business account can be easily managed with the Google My Business App too. You can receive alerts when customers leave reviews and respond instantly. Communicating with customers directly is also a great way to learn about their preferences. With Google My Business, companies have the opportunity to turn customers into advocates, by engaging with them through the new Messaging API feature and by encouraging them to share positive reviews. As discussed, the Insights tab in your GMB dashboard provides valuable analytics, showing the traffic garnered on your Google My Business profile. You can pick statistics that you want to compare and adjust your settings to see your data in custom charts. Companies are accountable to their customers through Google ratings and reviews, which are public on all GMB profiles. A high Google rating and positive customer reviews boost company reputations and are an effective way to gain an edge over competitors. With all the features that Google My Business offers for free, GMB is a logical choice for any eligible company. It increases your chances of being found on Google Search and Google Maps and can generate more targeted traffic to your website and physical stores.
Benefits of Google My Business For Your Company

Leveraging Google My Business will help you to be rewarded for your amazing service and attention to detail. A high rating and positive customer reviews will boost the company reputations and help you gain an edge over competitors.

Answering questions and reviews will help you build a relationship with customers quickly. While messaging can be used to diffuse a difficult situation or a complex question. You can easily answer with the Google My Business App too.

The platform also provides valuable user data, such as the type of people visiting your profile. You'll receive alerts when customers leave reviews and you can respond instantly.

Overall, between the above benefits and the fact that Google My Business is free, why not take charge of your Google My Business profile today? You can even share a link to your GMB listing in our comments section. We look forward to checking them out.

Further Reading

You've done it! You've finished this introductory article into the world of Google My Business. If you're interested in further reading we recommend the following articles:

Jacky

Jacky

Jacky is a Content Writer at Respond.io. Her previous roles include positions at Standard Chartered, PARKLU, and ThirtyThree.

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