June 11, 2020 – Written by Shannon Kurban
How to Create, Verify, and Optimize your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business (GMB) is something you have seen many times before whether you realized it or not. It’s how business listings show up on Google Maps with images, reviews, and other information. It’s also what you see when you Google something like “tacos near me” and a small map pops up with a few businesses listed below the map. To business owners and marketers, it’s a free tool that allows a business to provide consumers with access to information on Google. For consumers, they are able to find a business’s contact information, location, driving directions, reviews, hours of operation and more. Google users can even message the business, ask public questions, and get timely offers and updates, all through GMB. For business owners, they can manage their listing, upload photos, and engage with their audience. So, why is this important?
97% of people look a business up online to find out more information. GMB helps organize a company’s information into one place for easy access to people searching on Google. The main objective is to get found, gain exposure, and expand a business’s customer base. For owners that are just starting out, GMB is a great first step to using local SEO. Google loves a listing that is complete, fully optimized, and updated frequently – this is the type of listing you’ll see in the Map Pack. Now, let’s learn how your business can show up there too…
How to Claim an Existing GMB Listing
If a business exists, but hasn’t yet been listed on Google My Business, any Google user can add the business as a listing on Google. Google can also create a listing on its own with information it finds on the internet. This creates a very basic listing. Business owners are wise to claim the listing for their business if it happens to exist. To check to see if a listing already exists for your business, type your business name into Google and look and scroll down to see, “Claim this business.” Click that, and from there you can confirm your company’s details, and then move to the verification step.
How to Create your Google My Business Listing
If you have a new business or a business that doesn’t yet have a GMB listing, you can follow these steps to get set up and verified on Google.
- To start, go to google.com/business and click “Manage now”.
- Type in your business name. Make sure you start by searching, rather than immediately clicking on “Add your business to Google.” This will avoid adding duplicate listings, which could end up causing confusion or even penalizing your listing.
- Enter in your company name, or verify if it’s already listed.
- Choose the category that fits your business best. You can always change this later, so think in general when deciding.
- Add your physical location if you have a store, office or anything where you can serve customers or have customers visit you. If your business doesn’t have a physical location, click “No,” then add the service area in which you do business instead.
- Enter in your contact phone number and website URL if you have a website. If you don’t have a website, you can opt to create a simple and free website right within GMB.
- Click “Finish.” You have now successfully created your Google My Business listing! Now, it is time to get verified.
How to Verify Your Listing on Google My Business
There are many different ways to verify your GMB listing, and not all businesses are given the same options. It all depends on your company, it’s location, and it’s category. Most of the time, Google will have you verify by mail. If you recently added your business to GMB, you should immediately have seen the option to verify. If your listing was created previously, find the link that says “Own this business?” or “Claim this business” on your listing, or, you can log into your Google My Business dashboard.
Here are a few possible ways to verify your Google my Business listing:
- Verify by mail:
This is the most common way for businesses to become verified, though it does take the longest. Verify that your business address is correct, select “Continue” and don’t change anything in your listing until your account is verified. It can end up making your verification take longer. This includes changing the name, phone number, or category.Once you request the pin number, it can take up to two weeks to receive it in the mail. Once you get Google’s postcard with a code on it, sign in to Google My Business and type in the pin number. You are now verified.
- Verify by Email:
If applicable, you will be able to verify your business through email, selecting “Verify by Email.” Double-check that your email address is correct, and select “Verify Now.” From there, sign in to the correct email, find the verification email and click the link to activate.
- Verify by phone:
You are able to choose between an automated phone call or a text message. You will then be given your 5 digit pin to enter into Google My Business. Always be aware of unsolicited calls. Google offers information on protecting against fraudulent calls.
How to Optimize your Google My Business Listing
Once you have claimed and verified your listing, it’s time to make sure it’s optimized. From here, you will be able to make any necessary changes to your listing, including the category, your service areas, and much more. These following are all good steps to take, but they don’t need to be completed in any particular order.
- Start by adding a description and a profile short name to your listing. Include your services offered and category in the description. Your profile short name should be similar to a Twitter or Instagram handle.
- Fill out as much information as you can in your GMB dashboard. This will help to complete your listing and hopefully rank higher to be in the Map Pack or show up more often for different keyword searches. When editing service areas, include surrounding areas around major cities. This will help increase the times your business shows up when people search with “near me.” When listing your services, be specific. Understand who exactly your customer is, what they’re looking for, and what services you provide that can help them.
- Upload high-quality photos. Businesses that have high-resolution pictures that are relevant to the industry will get more views and clicks. Uploading pictures regularly and responding to user-uploaded photos are great ways to gain visibility in Google.
- Go back and verify that you chose the optimal category for your business. From here, you can add more categories that describe your business, which will help teach Google what your business offers, and who you can cater to. Categories are essentially just like “keywords”, which we will explain in more detail below.
The debate on whether keywords in GMB descriptions help the algorithm is still around. In February, Google came out with a statement saying keywords do help descriptions, but later backtracked that statement. There is one aspect of keywords that is certain- do not add them to your business title. When adding your business name, you should only add your business name. Adding any relevant keywords here will negatively impact your rankings on Google.
Keywords in the description won’t hurt your rankings, but the jury is still out on whether they help. Check out our local SEO guide to see how keywords on your website can improve your search engine rankings.
How to Create a Bing Places Listing
Steps for creating a Bing Places listing are similar to Google My Business. You create or claim an existing listing, add all relevant information, and then verify your account. Bing allows businesses to choose from 3 options- “Small or medium business,” “Chain business,” and “Online Business.” For any online-only businesses, Bing will direct you to their Webmaster tools, as Bing Places is only for businesses with physical locations.
Because Google is dominating the local search industry, Bing wisely makes it very convenient for business owners to import their business listing information from GMB to Bing. We recommend using this feature to both save time and make sure the info is consistent in both places.
If you choose to create a new listing, Bing will have you search for your business, and enter in all contact and business information, similar to GMB. The steps for verification are similar to GMB as well, it can be done by a phone call, text message, email, or postcard. Once you receive your PIN number, enter it into Bing’s Dashboard. Once completed, your business will begin to appear in Bing’s search results
How to Add your Business to Apple Maps
Adding your business to Apple Maps is quite simple, and faster than Google My Business. This is beneficial for anyone with physical business locations. To add your business, check out this step-by-step guide here.