Housing Professional’s Guide to Creating and Optimizing a Google My Business Listing

Google My Business is a free account that businesses can use to promote themselves in Google Search and Google Maps. It allows you to connect with customers and leads by providing valuable business information, and that information is used by Google to enhance your online presence when someone searches for a business like yours.

Getting a Google My Business listing is easy. In this article, you’ll learn how to set up your listing, and optimize it to improve your local search visibility helping you attract, engage, and convert customers.

How to create a google my business listing

You can create your Google My Business listing in 8 easy steps:

1. Set up a Google account

Keep in mind you want a Google account specifically to manage your business, separate from your personal account. If you don’t have a business account you can create one here. Click on “To manage a business” as your account type and follow the prompts.

2. Go to google.com/business

To manage your account you’ll go to google.com/business and click on ‘manage now’ to get started. Bookmark this page – you’ll use it each time you need to access your Google My Business listing.

3. Enter the name of your business

Type your business name in the search bar to make sure you don’t have the same name as another business in your area and to double-check your business listing doesn’t already exist. If your business name doesn’t pop up you’ll be prompted to ‘create a business with this name’. Make sure your business name is spelled correctly and uses title casing.

If you already have a business listing on Google and opened a new location, search for your business and click on it to manage your locations.

4. Choose a primary business category

Your business category directly influences how you show up in search results and displays in your Google business listing. You can test different categories (with re-verification, discussed in step number eight), but it’s recommended to do some competitor research and see how yours categorize themselves.

Also, think about how your customers might be searching for your business. Doing well in Google’s search algorithm is all about relevance.

5. Enter your business address

The next step is to enter your main business location where customers can visit you. For homebuilders and remodelers, this might be your construction office or showroom. If you’re a building product manufacturer you may not have a business for customers to visit and would click ‘No’ to adding a location.

If you specify you want to add a location, you’ll be directed to a page to enter your business address.

If you don’t add an address, you’ll be directed to another page asking WHERE you service customers. You can add as many cities as you want. 

6. Specify areas your service

If you choose to include a business location, you’ll be asked if you serve customers outside of that location.

If you’re a homebuilder or remodeler and you service customers outside of your city, you would click ‘Yes, I also serve them outside of my location’ and add each area you build or renovate.

7. Add a website and contact number

The next step is to add your website link and a contact number for your business. Have you ever searched for a place on Google only to find there is no website link or no phone number? Kind of frustrating and seemingly unprofessional right? You want potential customers to visit your website and contact you without hassle.

Google My Business also tracks website clicks and phone calls, which helps you assess how your business is doing in Google search and attracting leads.

8. Verify your business

After you completed your profile, you’ll need to verify your business to prove it’s legitimate. Most local businesses verify my mail with a postcard, but service area businesses can verify by email, phone, or Google Search Console

How to optimize your Google My Business

Now your Google My Business listing is ready to go, but wait! There are a few things we recommend doing to ensure it’s optimized. Optimization is about enhancing your local search presence and giving Google everything it needs to list your business correctly. Here’s what to do:

Double-check your NAP matches other business citations

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. The most important part of checking these are accurate, is making sure they match your other business citations like the information on your website, social media accounts, and local directories. If the NAP in your Google My Business listing doesn’t match your other local citations you can hurt your ability to show up in local search results because Google won’t have the right signals to rank you well.

Google relies on a large number of signals to rank businesses for local search and citations happen to be number six on that list, according to BrightLocal’s study on Local SEO Ranking Factors 2020. It’s also important for your NAP to be consistent for a better user journey.

Claim your short name

A short name is a shortened or custom name for your business that makes it easier for users to find it in local search. You can share this name with customers, allowing them to find your business page directly by searching “g.page/[yourcustomname]”. The most simple way to create a short name is to add your business name and location together. For example: “Diva Homes Madison”. Short names work great for housing professionals with multiple locations customers can visit or contact.

Add an engaging business description

A business description not only tells potential customers more about you right on your Google My Business listing, but it also helps your SEO which is another critical part of local search ranking. To make it engaging, focus on your mission, values, story, and services you provide. Put yourself in the user’s shoes – If you were a customer looking for a business like yours, what would grab your attention? You can edit this description as often as you want, so there’s no pressure to have it perfect on the first try.

Choose additional subcategories

You’ve already chosen your primary category, now you can add additional subcategories that further describe your business. If you’re a homebuilder and you offer customer builds, your primary category would be ‘Home builder’ and your subcategory ‘Customer Home Builder’. Google allows businesses to select up to 10 categories. It doesn’t matter how many you have, as long as they are specific to your business and services.

When someone searches for your business they may see links to your social media profiles in the knowledge panel (where all your business information displays) if you’ve added them to your business listing. To make sure your links appear, your social profile names should match your Google listing, verify your social media accounts to tell Google your profile is real and connected to your business, and identify which social profiles you’d like to be displayed.

Upload photos that showcase your business and services

When a user makes a local Google search and clicks on your business listing, three types of photos can be displayed: business logo, cover photo, and additional photos to highlight your business. Adding a picture of your storefront can help customers recognize you, while pictures of your services or products can help attract leads to your website.

Building product manufacturers can probably upload just a logo and cover photo, but homebuilders and remodelers should upload additional pictures showcasing model homes, custom builds, or before and afters. Make sure you follow Google’s guidelines for picture-perfect snapshots of your business.

Manage your customer reviews

Generating, monitoring, and responding to your Google reviews is an important part of optimizing your business listing for several reasons:

  • Reviews are ranked as number two for local pack and number six for local organic in search ranking factors*
  • 82% of customers read online reviews for local businesses
  • 48% of consumers only read reviews left in the last two weeks
  • Consumers need to read an average of ten reviews before they can trust a local business
  • A product with just five reviews has a 270% greater purchase likelihood than one with zero
  • Businesses ranking in local search positions one-three have an average of 47 reviews

*Local pack is a group of three local business listings that appear when someone makes a relevant search and comes from the Google My Business directory. Local organic results come from Google’s website indexing.

There are many studies about the impact of reviews on Google ranking, but it’s clear that keeping up with your reviews is a huge part.

Some customers will leave reviews without being asked, but one of the most effective ways to get more reviews is to send out customer satisfaction surveys. You can also reach out to satisfied customers and ask them directly to leave a review for you. In fact, almost 70% of customers will leave a review if asked. Make sure the process is simple too!

Most importantly, make sure you reply to every single review. Google has specifically stated that replying to all reviews impacts your local search ranking. If you need some tips on how to respond to negative reviews check out this article.

Read More: How Reviews Affect Google Ranking for Homebuilders

Take advantage of Google Posts

Google Posts are like blog posts for your business listing. When someone searches for your business or finds you in local search and clicks on your profile, they will see your posts in the knowledge panel. Post types include business updates, hour changes, details about an event, showcase a new product, and even display an offer (which you can’t do in your business description). “Offer” posts are also now being given more prominence and appear above even reviews in mobile view.

Utilize Google Q&A

This question and answer feature allows customers to ask questions for a business to answer. Business owners can also ask and answer questions themselves, providing visitors with tons of additional information about the business. Think about common questions you get from potential customers and offer useful accurate responses. Only ask and answer relevant questions and be sure not to keyword stuff. Answers should be authentic and conversational, free of sales or marketing speech.

To keep your Google My Business profile optimized make sure you stay on top of updates, as Google routinely makes changes to its tools and features.

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