Google has a wide variety of tools that are vital to any B2C or B2B SEO agency strategy: AdWords, Analytics, Tag Manager, and many more. This blog looks at how Google My Business works and how to use it to improve your local SEO.

What is Google My Business?

First announced on June 11th 2014, Google My Business describes itself as “a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses, brands, artists and organisations to manage their online presence across Google”.

It is essentially a place for you to control how people view your business across Google’s search network. This includes your logo, photos of your store or workplace, your opening times, and reviews of your products or services.

How to set up Google My Business

The first thing you need to do to set up your listing is to visit the Google My Business homepage and click “Start Now” to begin the process. Make sure you have all relevant details to hand such as store telephone numbers, opening times, physical and web addresses, and photos.

When you first set up a business at your address, you will need to verify your store location. Google will send you a postcard to the address you provided with a code on it – when you receive this code you need to enter it into your Google My Business account and it will be activated.

You’ll want to make sure your ‘NAP’ – name, address and phone number is correct and identical to the NAP on your website. with your listing, or listings if you have multiple business locations. As long as you have these correct, you’ll be heading in the right direction, and so will your customers!

Google My Business Hacks

While it’s quite easy to understand how Google My Business works once you’ve had a play about with it, there are some things that we’d recommend:

Making it look pretty

No one wants to see a default image when looking for your store on Google. Make sure you add in your logo, an image of your staff, an image of inside your business, and an image of the exterior – this will help improve the click-through-rate (CTR).

Define yourself

Possibly the most important thing to do for your business SEO-wise is to tag your business appropriately. Be as specific as you can when choosing your main business category. You can add up to nine additional categories alongside the main one, though you don’t necessarily want to fill this up.

Holiday opening times

There will be times of the year when your store is closed or has limited opening hours. Google My Business allows you to highlight these dates and add in “Holiday opening hours” so that anyone searching for your business doesn’t get a nasty shock when they turn up and no one’s there!

Reviews, reviews, reviews

There is no greater symbol of trust than the independent review of someone who has used your business. For this reason, always ask your customers to review you on Google – it’s a very simple process and businesses with more reviews tend to rank better than their competitors. E.g. if someone searches for ‘Locksmith London’ the entries that appear in the map deck (see image example below) are more likely to be ones with reviews.

Building citations

A final piece of SEO advice to help your business rank in the map deck is to build as many instances of your NAP across the internet. There are many websites where you can submit your NAP for free. Here are the top directories for building citations to get you started:

  • Yelp
  • Yell
  • Yahoo! Local
  • Facebook
  • ThomsonLocal
  • TouchLocal
  • Scoot
  • Foursquare
  • Factual

If you’re still confused about how Google My Business works, or if you would like some local SEO advice – get in contact!

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