Google My Business is a free online platform for listing business information like your address, contact information, and reviews. When people search for your business, products, or services on Google Search or Google Maps, Google will display the information from your My Business account. This helps businesses increase visibility among local Google users.
For businesses with a limited marketing and advertising budget, a free Google My Business account can be supplemented with affordable ads on the Bing search engine (known as Microsoft Ads). When you advertise on Bing, you enjoy an average $1.54 cost per click (as opposed to Google Ads’ $2.69 average cost per click), helping you to reach more target customers for less. Click here to get started with Microsoft Advertising.
How Google My Business Works
Google My Business (GMB) is a free online business listing platform that allows local businesses to add contact, product, and service information. GMB listings appear in Google search results and on Google Maps when people search for a business. To set up your own, launch a Google My Business account and verify it, then add your business information and maintain it by adding posts, answering customer questions, and monitoring reviews.
When you open your account, Google will require you to verify your business and walk you through how to do it. Once you’ve verified your account, you can add business photos, descriptions, attributes, categories, hours of operation, posts, and website URL from your GMB dashboard. The dashboard is accessible by logging into your Google My Business account. Once you’ve added this information, Google will publish it to your live business listing page.
Once published, keep your page up to date so customers or the general public don’t see information gaps or old information and try to fill them in with incorrect data. Log into your account periodically to ensure your listing’s accuracy. In addition, access your analytics to learn how people interact with your listing, then update your information and posts to meet searchers’ needs. Further, respond to questions and reviews to build positive relationships.
Because Google My Business listings appear both in Google Search and Google Maps, businesses can market their brands, products, or services to users on all devices that use these tools. With a complete and up-to-date Google My Business page, businesses can help potential customers find them and encourage them to buy their products or services.
Who Google My Business Is Right For
Google My Business is best for all businesses wanting to increase exposure in Google search results. However, it’s particularly helpful for local businesses wanting to ensure nearby customers find them via area-specific Google searches. Because Google My Business allows you to add multiple locations you serve, it can also be a good option for franchises or service organizations that travel to meet customers’ needs.
Here are the types of businesses that benefit from setting up a Google My Business page:
- Local brick-and-mortar stores: Google My Business offers features for showcasing a brick-and-mortar business (including location photos, videos, and customer reviews) and showing local customers how they can contact and visit the business (via directions to the business, phone and address information, and hours of operation).
- Franchises: Google My Business allows franchise owners to set up multiple locations for their stores so that, when people within one of their store’s vicinities search for their products, brands, names, or services, the closest business location will be listed.
- Service businesses: Google My Business allows business owners to specify the areas they service by inputting states, cities, and ZIP codes. This allows them to accurately target customer who would benefit from what they offer.
Google My Business listings are available to searchers that are looking for local products or services. As such, it is best for listing businesses that target local customers conducting location-based searches and expecting to be able to visit a store location or request a service provider visit them.
Google My Business Costs
Google My Business is free to use. Features include a place to list business contact information, a business description, and questions and answers surrounding your business and its offerings, as well as a place for customers to post reviews. It also offers analytics showing how people search for and interact with your listing.
How to Set Up a Google My Business Page in 9 Steps
To set up a Google My Business listing, first create a Google My Business account, then verify your account. Once the account is verified, add photos, posts, hours of operation, attributes (like “free Wi-Fi), and a description. Once you’ve built your page, it will automatically be live. From there, encourage and manage reviews, respond to customer questions, and update your profile as needed with new business information and posts.
Here’s how to set up your Google My Business page in nine steps:
1. Create an Account
To create an account, go to the Google My Business website, then follow the prompts to add your business information, including your business contact information, service locations, and category. Finally, verify your business via either email, phone, or mail.
To begin, click “Manage” in the top right-hand corner of the Google My Business homepage. You will be asked the name of your business on the next screen. Enter your business name under the “Business name” tile. When you click “Next,” you will be agreeing to their Terms of Service and Privacy information, so be sure to read those carefully. Then, click “Next.”
On the next screen, you will be given fields to input your business contact information. This step is very important to get right if you want customers to be able to find you when they search for your business on Google. So, enter the country in which your business resides, as well as your business’ street address, city, state, and ZIP code. Double-check to ensure there are no typos. Then, click “Next.”
This next screen asks, “Do you also serve customers outside this location?” “This location” is referring to the immediate area surrounding the address you provided earlier. If you only serve customers locally, click “No, don’t.” However, if you also serve customers outside your location, you’ll want to specify which ones so people searching for your business in those areas can also find you. To do so, click “Yes I also serve them outside my location,” then click the “Next” button.
This next screen allows you to “Add the areas you serve,” meaning you can specify in what ZIP codes, country(ies) state(s), or major city(ies) you are available to serve customers. Below the “Search and select areas” field label, begin typing the areas in which you serve customers. When the area you specify appears in the pop-up menu, click it to add it to your list of service areas.
If you serve more than one area, repeat the process to add more areas to your list. The updated list will appear below the field you’re typing in. Once you have added all your service locations, click “Next.”
The following screen asks you to choose a business category. A category helps Google know when to present your business in response to a search. For example, if you specify your business as a pizza restaurant, Google is likely to present your business in response to a search for local restaurants. To select a category, type in the kind of business you own, then click the option from the pop-up menu that most closely matches your business. Click “Next.”
On the next screen, Google My Business asks you for more business contact information, including your business phone number and website URL. Input this information so customers will know how to contact you by phone or online. If you don’t have a website, either click “I don’t need a website” or “Get a free website based on your info.”
If you click “Get a free website based on your info,” Google allows you to set up a free, basic website for your business under a subdomain like yourbusiness.business.site. Without a custom business domain, however, your website isn’t likely to be as credible or memorable to customers. So, we recommend choosing “I don’t need a website” and building a website with a proper domain separately. Then, click “Next.”
2. Verify Your Google My Business Listing
The next screen asks you to choose a way to verify your business. Google will present you with the verification options your business is eligible to use. Depending on your business, options include email, phone, or mail. We will show you how to verify your business via mail because all businesses are eligible to verify in this way. To do so, simply request a postcard be sent to your business address, then submit the code on the postcard to Google.
On the first screen, Google will simply explain to you what you will gain by verifying your business. For example, it explains that, once your business has been verified, your Google My Business profile will be searchable on Google Search and Maps and you’ll be able to edit your profile, track your profile’s analytics, and respond to customer reviews. On this screen, simply click “Finish.”
On the next screen, you’ll be asked to “Choose a way to verify” your Google My Business profile. Depending on your business, you can verify it via email, phone, or instantly via the Google search console. While these are the fastest options, they’re not available to all businesses. But, as we mentioned above, all businesses can verify via postcard. To access this option, click “None of these options work for me,” then the “Mail” button that appears next.
You will immediately be taken to a confirmation screen that assures you “a postcard is coming” and you should receive it within five days. Click “Continue.”
Once you receive your postcard in the mail, sign back into your Google My Business account. Click “Verify Location” from the left-hand dashboard menu. In the code field, enter the five-digit verification code from your postcard. Click “Submit.” With this, your account will be verified.
3. Add Photos & Videos
After verifying your account, you can begin uploading content—including media. Google gives users options for including visual elements on their profile, including a logo, videos, a cover photo, and business interior photos, in addition to the default Google Maps 360-degree images. To upload these elements, simply click “Photos” from your right-hand Google My Business dashboard menu, then click “Choose Photo” under the type of photo you’d like to add.
Here are the types of visuals on Google My Business pages and how to add them:
- Logo: Your logo will appear as your identity photo when you post photos or respond to reviews. Click “Choose Photo” in the Logo tile to add your logo.
- Cover: Choose a cover photo that best showcases your business’ unique value. This photo will appear when people search for your business in Google search pages and Google Maps. Click “Choose Photo” in the “Cover” tile to add your cover photo.
- Videos: The video feature allows you to add a short video of up to 30 seconds. Videos are great for showcasing a story of your business that best describes why your business is unique. Videos appear on your listing page.
- Interior photos: These photos should showcase the inside of your business and the products you sell to tell people, thereby highlighting your business atmosphere and offerings. Like videos, interior photos appear on your listing page.
Google recommends you add photos in JPG or PNG format with a minimum resolution of 720 x 720 pixels and between 10KB and 5MB in size. Videos should be no longer than 30 seconds, have a 720 pixel or higher resolution, and be no bigger than 100MB in size.
4. Add Hours of Operation & Description
Next, add additional company information by inputting hours and a business description. To add hours, visit your dashboard’s home tab and click the pencil next to “Add hours.” To add a business description, click “Add description” under the “Complete Your Listing” option tile. Adding your hours of operation helps people know when they can visit your store or call your business, while the description allows you to introduce people to your brand and products.
Add Hours of Operation
Click the “Add Hours” link from your Google My Business dashboard home tab. Then, use the toggle button next to each weekday to indicate if your business is open or closed. When you toggle the button to “Open,” you will be given lines to input the times you open and close. If you are open during a couple of set times during the days (like 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.), you can click “Add hours” next to each day to add more hours. Once done, click “Apply.”
Add a Business Description
Next, go back to the Home tab on your Google My Business dashboard and click “Add Description” under the “Complete Your Listing” tile. Add a 750-or-fewer-character description that tells why your business is unique and what you have to offer your customers that competitors don’t. Add the most important information first because Google will only display the first 250 characters in search results.
To make your description as effective as possible, you’ll need to incorporate the keywords customers use to find your business or products, and include a unique mission statement as well. To assemble this information, conduct keyword research and identify your business’ unique value proposition (UVP). We offer guidance on how to do this in our SEO audit guide and our marketing plan guide. Use your research to add a business description. Then, click “Apply.”
This business description is reviewed by Google before it is approved and published. To increase your chances of your description being published, follow Google’s best practices when writing it. These include avoiding overly promotional speak, editing for typos or grammatical errors, and excluding any hate or other offensive speech. To learn more about what Google expects, read their description guidelines.
5. Confirm Business Attributes
Attributes describe the key features, characteristics, or offerings of your business. These include options such as Wi-Fi, women-led, and wheelchair-accessible, among others. Based on the category you choose for your business, Google My Business automatically offers attributes for you to confirm. When you do, your business listing includes a badge telling users that attribute applies. Access, review, and confirm these from the “Info” tab on the GMB dashboard.
To add a business attribute to your business listing, simply click the “Info” tab from your Google My Business left-hand menu, then “Attributes.” Click the plus sign next to the already-set attributes you’d like to confirm for your business. Then, click “Apply.”
Once you’ve applied your attributes, they should appear as badges on your Google My Business listing within three days.
6. Add Posts
You can add events, products, and service posts to your Google My Business profiles. However, posts disappear after seven days, so it’s important to post frequently. The content you post will appear alongside your business listing in Google search engine results pages. To add posts, click “Posts” from your dashboard’s right-hand menu, then click on the post type to create one—including update, event, offer, and product posts.
Choose Your Post Type
Start by choosing your post type. Click “Posts” from your Google My Business right-hand dashboard menu. Then, choose your post type by clicking “Create Your Post,” then clicking a post-type from the top of the pop-up screen. You can choose an update (also known as “What’s New”), event, offer, or product post. For example, in the below post, we chose “What’s New,” which is often used to showcase a new product launch.
These are the types of posts you can add to your Google My Business account:
- Update: Update or “What’s New” posts allow you to add a description, a photo or video, a link, and a call to action button. Call to action buttons include “Book,” “Order Online,” “Buy,” “Learn More,” “Sign Up,” and “Call Now.”
- Event: Promote an upcoming event by posting a time, date, photo or video, description, event title, and any of the call to action (CTA) buttons listed above.
- Offer: If you choose the “Offer” post option, you can create a post that includes a photo or video, description of the offer (20% off in-store, for example), start and end date, coupon code (if you have one), link to redeem offer, and a terms-and-conditions link.
- Product post: This type of post allows you to showcase a product name, type, price, and CTA button, including a “Book,” “Order Online,” “Buy,” “Learn More,” “Sign Up,” and “Call Now” button. You can either set a dollar amount for your price or a price range.
Create Your Post
Once you’ve chosen your post type, simply fill out the subsequent form. For example, if, like we did above, you chose “What’s New,” you will be asked to add a photo, write a description, and add a call to action button.
Begin by adding a photo by clicking the camera with a plus sign in the middle of the large square at the top of the pop-up screen. Then, click “Select photos and videos from your computer” and choose the photo you’d like to add. It’s best to choose an authentic photo of your business products, not a stock image. This ensures you do not mislead customers.
Next, fill out your new product dollar price or price range, a description of your newest product(s), and a call to action button. We chose the “Call Now” button in our example (see screenshot below), and Google My Business automatically filled in the business phone number listed on our Google My Business account.
Remember that all media uploaded to posts must be a minimum of 400 x 300 pixels and 10KB in size, and no more than 10,000 x 10,000 pixels and 25MB in size. Descriptions can have up to 1,500 characters.
When you’ve filled out the form and added your photo (or video) and CTA, click “Preview” to view your post and confirm all the information is correct. Then, click “Publish.”
7. Encourage & Manage Reviews
Once you’ve added all listing content, it’s important to encourage user reviews. According to BrightLocal, 85% of users put as much trust in online reviews as they do in personal recommendations, and 50% consumers require a 4-star or higher rating before buying from a business. While Google doesn’t require you to set up reviews on your page, it’s best to encourage them and respond to them for the benefit of your business.
To encourage reviews, share your review page link with buyers and encourage them to leave a review. Note that businesses cannot solicit Google reviews by offering anything in exchange for them—including goods, services, or monetary incentives. You also can’t offer booths in-store to encourage reviews. Doing so can get your reviews deleted or disabled, or even get your entire account suspended or deleted. Instead, copy your review page link and share it.
To share your review link with customers, simply search your business on Google, then click “Write a Review” once you’ve found it. Copy your review page URL from your browser’s address bar and paste it in copy encouraging reviews, including on your website, in emails, and on social media pages.
Respond to Reviews
To read and reply to your reviews, sign into your Google My Business account and click “Review” from the right-hand menu. For each review, click “Reply” to respond to it. Once you’ve written your response, click “Post reply.” Replying to customer reviews sends a message that your company is attentive to its customers and cares if they are satisfied. Thank positive reviewers and respond to negative reviews with solutions. This will build trust in your brand.
8. Respond to Questions & Post Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Located at the bottom of your business listing in Google results pages, the questions section is basically a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) area. Be sure to answer all questions posted here by customers and post ones you feel are missing. When customers ask questions, you can answer them. You can also delete incorrect answers others have posted. Be sure to check in on these questions often and post, answer, and correct answers to ensure accuracy.
To access the questions surrounding your business, simply search for your business on Google. Find your listing, then scroll down to the bottom of the listing box where you will see the link “See all questions” under “Questions.” Click it to see what questions and answers people have posted. You can comment on or answer questions in the given response boxes, or you can post your own by clicking “Ask a question.”
To delete questions you have posted, click the three dots on the right-hand side of the question on your listing and click “Edit” or “Delete.” If you click “Edit,” simply edit your question or response in the pop-up text box, then click the right-facing arrow next to the text box to repost it.
9. Keep Your Listing Updated
Now that you’ve perfected your listing, check it often to ensure all information is correct and that it is performing well. Keep in mind that Google may change information on your listing that it believes contradicts business details offered elsewhere online, so it’s important to keep your information consistent across all channels. Additionally, ensure you’re making the most of your listing by reviewing Google Insights to learn about customer interaction with your GMB page.
Keep Your Information Up to Date
Many small businesses make the mistake of creating their Google My Business page, then forgetting it. What they don’t realize is that anyone can edit their profile, swapping it out for incorrect or less-favorable information. Even Google will change the information if it discovers conflicting information elsewhere.
To avoid this, log into your Google My Business account often to review and edit your information to ensure it’s still correct. In addition, as you create a marketing plan each year or quarter, update your business description and posts to reflect it. Likewise, make sure any changes you make are also updated on your website and other online business pages.
Optimize Listing Based on Google My Business Insights
Google Insights is an overview report showing how people find and interact with your listing. Reports include data like how people find your listings (business name searches or “near me” searches) and their actions (like clicking your website link, requesting directions, or viewing posts or photos). Access these reports by clicking the “Insights” tab, then analyze them to learn about customer preferences. Use these insights to inform your Google My Business updates.
Here are the reports you can find in Google Insights:
- How customers find your listing: This report shows the number of people who found your Google My Business listing by searching for your business name or address (direct searches); searching for a category, product, or service you offer (discover searches); and searching for your brand or a related brand (branded searches). It also shows the total number of searches combined.
- Search queries: The search query report shows you the search terms people used to find your business listing, both on local search and Google Maps. You can see search terms used in the last week, month, or quarter.
- Where customers find you on Google: This report tells you how many customers found your business via Google Search and Google Maps, respectively. This includes your listing’s views on Search and Maps, as well as the total views for Search and Maps combined.
- Customer actions: This report tells you how people interacted with your listing, including how many clicked through to your website, requested directions to your business, clicked your phone number to call you, and the total number of all actions combined.
- Direct requests: Here you can see where customers were when they asked for directions to your business. The map displayed shows your location and the popular places people are when they ask for directions to your location; these are represented by location pins.
- Phone calls: This report indicates how many and how often people called your business through your Google My Business listing. Using the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner, you can also see phone calls placed in the last week, month, or quarter.
- Photos: Photos allows you to see what listing photos people viewed and the total number of photos they viewed. In all, graphs show the total number of owner-posted photos and their views, and the total number of customer-posted photos and their views.
- What your business is known for: This report displays what your business is known for, including commonly used descriptive words of its atmosphere, products, and services based on customer reviews.
3 Pro Tips on Making the Most of Google My Business
Google My Business is a straight-forward business listing platform. However, being successful on the platform involves paying close attention to detail and making sure your information is regularly updated, including updating your posts often and responding to comments and questions as they come in. We talked to the pros for more information about how to run a successful Google My Business page; here’s how they responded.
The top three tips for using Google My Business successfully are:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a business listing platform that allows you to display your business information on Google Search and Google Maps. Listings include a business description, contact information, posts, reviews, and questions and answers. Google My Business Insights, the platform’s built-in analytics tool, shows you how people search for and interact with your business page, giving you information you can use to cater your profile to potential customer needs.
How do I get my business on Google Maps?
You can get your business on Google Maps by creating a Google My Business account and following the prompts to provide your business contact information, including your business address.
After setting up a profile, you will be prompted to verify it; this is required before a business can be featured on Google Maps. The most common way to verify it is to request a postcard that offers you a verification code. Once you receive it, log back into your account and click your business name from the dashboard, then follow the prompts to paste the code where specified. Once verified, your business will appear on Google Maps in addition to Google My Business.
Is Google My Business free?
Yes, Google My Business is a free business listing platform. Using the platform, you can showcase your business description, photos, contact information, reviews, questions and answers, and posts. You also get analytics reports that show you how your customers interact with your listing. All these features are free to set up and use.
Bottom Line: Google Business Page
Google My Business (GMB) is an online platform where companies publish their business information, including a website, address, phone number, hours of operation, description, and even announcements and updates. When people search for the business on Google Search or Google Maps, they will see this GMB business information, encouraging customers to engage and buy available products and services.
For small businesses working on a limited budget, it will likely take more than a free GMB account to grow sales. Consider supplementing your listing page with affordable ads on Bing via Microsoft Advertising. When you advertise on Bing, you enjoy an average $1.54 cost per click (compared to Google’s $2.69 average cost per click), meaning you reach more customers for less. Click here to get started with Microsoft Advertising.