When someone googles the name of your firm, the information from your Google My Business (GMB) record is used to tell people where your office is, your phone number, and much more. Google’s two most important records for searches about your firm are generally your GMB listing and your website, in that order.
Google has automatically figured out the name, address, and phone number of many businesses. However, as new businesses are created, or as they add or change locations, Google might not be aware of these developments for a period of time unless you tell Google by updating your GMB record. If your GMB record already exists, you must claim it. If not, you must create it.
Claim or Create Your Listing
If you google the name of your business and see a listing with the question “Own this business?” at the bottom, click on that link and begin to claim that record. If you don’t see that question, it means someone has already claimed this record. Alternatively, if you google “google my business” you should see a link (google.com/business) that will let you locate and claim a listing. Additionally, this is the place where you can create an entirely new business listing from scratch. You must be logged into a Google account to claim or manage any listings.
Google will require you to validate that you are the owner of a GMB listing by entering a code. This code will either be sent to you in the mail (a postcard) or provided over the phone by Google calling the number listed in the GMB record. It is shocking how many GMB records remain unclaimed! Every business should manage their information in GMB. This includes the reviews of your business which are managed on Google My Business.
Manage Your Reviews
Every review deserves a response. Thank any five-star reviewers. Should you receive a dreaded one-star review, take a deep breath, perhaps sleep on it, then calmly and professionally respond. Avoid disputing the review, since opinions are inherently personal. Sometimes a reasonable explanation helps, especially if this can manage expectations of future prospective clients. The shorter the response, the better. A larger volume of positive reviews will offset an occasional negative review. Where appropriate, offer to talk with the reviewer to understand their issue to see if there is anything you might be able to do. Reviewers can change their review if they choose to. Avoid posting personal information and never respond with personal information not already explicitly provided by the reviewer.
Describe Your Business
Google My Business also allows you to describe your business. Businesses should describe their areas of expertise, and highlight what makes your firm different from others. If this information matches your website, this is a strong signal to Google validating what your business is about and you might expect better treatment in Google searches. Many firms leave these fields blank — don’t be one of those companies.
Keep Info Up-to-Date
As I write this article, the entire world is suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have changed your hours of operation in response, please be sure to have this information updated in GMB. Additionally, GMB created a special area for COVID-19 updates. Use this as appropriate. Don’t limit your posting to Facebook and Twitter, post to GMB as well. These posts may be displayed directly within Google maps which can really help prospective clients connect with you. Allocate a little time each month to work on GMB. Even if it’s only 15 minutes or a half-hour once per month, a little effort on GMB goes a long way. Review all the features and ensure that your GMB listing is complete and stands out.
Lastly, there are two sides inherent to the art of “being found” with Google:
- Search Engine Optimization (SE0): This is all the information in GMB, your website, and all the other information about you elsewhere on the internet.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC): This is where you pay Google to show advertisements.
If you really want to be found, pay attention to both sides of the equation. Have an awesome website, a great GMB listing, along with other information on the internet about you (with appropriate links). Boost this with at least a little PPC. GMB gives you a simple and easy way to get started with built-in access to Google Ads Express.
Lastly, regularly review and improve the clarity of your website, your information on GMB, and any advertisements. No matter how clear or fuzzy your message is today, there is always room for improvement. Who is your ideal client and why are you the right person or firm for that ideal client? As your answer to this question gets clearer and clearer, you should be able to run your business better. And it will be easier for the right people to connect with you.
I am scheduled to teach a CLE about Google My Business at the next State Bar of Arizona annual convention which has been postponed due to the pandemic. If you have any questions, consider attending this CLE when it occurs and/or email me at email@example.com.