The Ultimate Guide to Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. This includes adding your business name, location, and hours of operation. You are also allowed to monitor & reply to customer reviews, adding photos even gain insights into where and how people are searching for you online. This even allows customers to make reservations at your location (and get directions and call your locations) and more. Wowser that was a load… The truth is, mastering your Google My Business listing is valuable, and quite easy to do.

Google My Business is important for any business with physical locations. After all, when people search for a product or service near them, they’re usually very close to making a purchase. Stats show that 88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. It’s important the information about your business showing up when people search Google is as accurate, complete, and optimized. 

In this post, we will provide a complete walk-through and Google My Business help for account setup, ensuring your Google Page is optimized for the best results.

Table of Contents

  • Google My Business Account Setup
    • Create a Google My Business Listing
    • Google My Business Categories
    • Google My Business Verification
    • Google My Business – Adding Descriptions
    • Adding Photos and Videos to your Google My Business Listing
  • Optimizing your Google Business Page
    • Adding and how to change business hours on Google
    • Set Business Hour Breaks
    • Special Hours
    • Google My Business Posts
    • Google My Business Booking
    • Turn on Messaging on GMB
      • Messaging via SMS
      • Messaging via Google Allo
  • Google My Business Reviews
    • Why are Google Reviews Important
    • Writing a Google Review
    • How to Generate Google Reviews
    • Google Review Alerts
    • Respond to Reviews on Google
    • Removing Google Reviews
    • My Google Reviews Are Not Showing Up!
Google My Business Account Setup
Create a Google My Business Listing
  • Step 1: Log into the Google Account you want to be associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
  • Step 2: Go to https://business.google.com and select the green “Start now” in the top right-hand corner.
google my business account
  • Step 3: Enter your business name. You can search for a listing by typing the business name and address in the search box. Results will appear in a list as well as on the map.
add a business to google maps
  • Step 4: Google will ask if your business has a physical location.
google my business listing
  • Step 5: Enter your business address. This location will show up on Google Maps and Search when customers are looking for your business.
google my business page
  • Step 6: Choose your Google business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible. you’re essentially telling Google which type of customers should see your business listing. See Google My Business Categories below for more information.
  • Step 7: Add your business phone number or website.
address for google my business listing
  • Choose a verification option. If you’re not ready to verify your business yet, click “Try a different method” → “Later.”

Google My Business Categories

Categories are a brief description of your business which helps customers who are searching for your products or services to find you quickly and easily. For example; if you are listed as a Mexican Restaurant you may not only show up in Google local search listing under “Mexican restaurants” but you may also be found by customers searching for “Restaurants”, “Tex-Mex” or even “tacos”. 

Google has a wide range of categories to choose from Be specific when choosing your primary category. For example, if you operate a hair salon choose “Hair salon” as your primary category rather than “Salon”.

It is also recommended that you choose additional categories to let customers know more about the other services that you offer. For example,  if you operate a computer repair store that also sells computer accessories and offers computer consulting services as well, you should choose “Computer repairs” as your primary category and add “Computer accessories store” and “Computer consultant services” as additional categories.

Add or edit categories

To add or edit categories for your listing:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. Go to the info tab by clicking “Info” on the right.
  4. Click the pencil icon next to your primary category. Edit your primary category, or click Add another category.
  5. Click Apply when you’re done editing.

Please note that you may be asked to verify your business again if you’ve made significant changes.

Google my business categories
 
Google My Business Verification

Verifying your business listing is important. In order to manage your business information, your account needs to be verified. Google does this to verify the accuracy of your business information. Google’s primary method of verification is Postcard by mail. Typically, the verification code will be mailed to you (which could take up to 5 days). Once you’ve entered the verification code into your account, you’ll be able to manage your local business information on Google.

There are other forms of verifications such as email, phone, or Search Console but these are usually not available.

Verification by Mail

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Choose the business you’d like to verify, then click Verify now.
google my business verification
  1. Ensure that your address is displayed correctly on the postcard request screen.  If it isn’t, edit the address before you request your letter. 
  2. Click Mail.
google verification
  1. Most postcards take up to 5 days before they arrive. While you are waiting avoid making any major to your listing such as your business name, address or categories as this may delay the verification process.

To enter the verification code, follow these steps:

  1. After you get your postcard, sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. Click Verify location from the menu, or click the Verify now button.
  4. In the Code field, enter the 5-digit verification code from your postcard.
  5. Click Submit.

Verification by Phone
Phone verification isn’t available for all businesses. If you do qualify for phone verification the “Phone verification” option would be available. To verify by phone follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business. 
  • Step 2: Make sure your phone number is correct, then choose “Verify by phone.”
  • Step 3: Enter the verification code from the text you receive.

Verification by email
Similar to phone verification, email verification isn’t for all businesses. If you do qualify for email verification you’ll see the “Verify by email” option when you start the verification process.

  • Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business. If you have multiple businesses, select the business you would like to verify.
  • Step 2: Make sure your email address is correct, then choose “Verify by email.”
  • Step 3: Go to your inbox, open the email from Google My Business, and click the verification button in the email.

Google My Business – Adding Descriptions

Your Google business description is a short summary of your business that appears when a user searches for your local business. It usually appears just under your online reviews (pictured below). It is important that your description is accurate and punchy in order to lure visitor on to your site. Keep in mind that there is a 750 character limit on descriptions.  

google my business listing updates

Adding your Google business descriptions

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Click on your Info tab on the right.
  3. Click add a business description.
  4. Add your business description then click Apply.

Things to remember:

  • Descriptions may be reviewed for quality and can take up to 3 days to be published.
  • Do not exceed the 750 character limit
  • Do not use HTML code or URLs
  • Be upfront and honest in your description.
Adding Photos and Videos to your Google My Business Listing

Photos and videos play a big role. Studies show that 22.6% of all search traffic happens on Google Images so it is important to have adequate photos and videos on your Google My Business listing to help customers find you. 

To add photos and videos follow these steps.

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Navigate to the Photos tab by clicking Photo from the right menu.
  3. Choose the type of photo or video you’d like to add.
  4. Upload the photo or video from your computer, or choose the one you’ve already uploaded
google listing

Photo and Video guidelines
Photo guidelines

  • Format: JPG or PNG.
  • Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB.
  • Minimum resolution: 720 pixels tall, 720 pixels wide.
  • Quality: The photos should closely represent reality, meaning it should be well lit and have no significant edits.

Video guidelines

  • Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
  • File size: Up to 100 MB
  • Resolution: 720p or higher
Optimizing your Google My Business Page
Adding your Hours of Operation to Google Business

Google My Business lets customers know when your business location is open. To add or change your business hours on Google, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Navigate to the Info tab by clicking on Info in the right menu.
  3. Next, to “Add hours” or your current business hours, click Add hours.
google my business hours
  1. Turn on each day of the week that your business is open.
  2. Next to each day of the week that your business is open, click Opens at, and then select the opening time.
  3. Next to each day of the week that your business is open, click Closes at, and then select the closing time.
google listing customization
  1. After you’re done setting your hours, click Apply.
Set Business Hour Breaks

To better represent your business hours, you can periods in the day that your business would not be opened to customers. One example of that could be lunch breaks. 

For example, if your business is open from 9 AM–2 PM on Mondays, closed from 2 PM–5 PM, then open again from 5 PM–10 PM:

  • Turn on Monday.
  • Next to “Monday,” click Opens at and then 9:00 AM.
  • Next to “Monday, click Closes at and then 2:00 PM.
  • Click Add hours
  • Below the hours you inserted, next to “Monday,” click Opens at and then 5:00 PM.
  • Next to “Monday, click Closes at and then 10:00 PM.
business hours on Google
setting business hours on Google
 
Special Hours
  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
  3. Click the Special hours’ section. (You’ll only see this section if you’ve already provided regular hours.)
special hours on google my business
  1. Click Confirm hours next to an upcoming holiday. Or click Add new date to choose a different date.
  2. Enter the opening and closing times for that day.
  3. Slide the circle to “Closed” to indicate that the location is closed all day.
  4. If you’re open 24 hours, click Opens at and select 24 hours from the dropdown menu that appears.
  5. If you enter closing hours past midnight, make sure to set them properly.
  6. When you’ve finished entering all of your special hours, click Apply. Your special hours will appear to customers on Google only for the designated days.

Google My Business Posts

Google My Business posts appear in Google search and Maps and is a powerful tool that allows you to promote your products, event, and special offers. GMB offers a 4 post type; What’s New, Events, Offers, and Products. You can think of them as a “mini-ads”. Google My Business post can contain text, photos, and videos.  Here are the requirements for photos and videos to be used in GMB posts. 

  • Minimum: 400×300 pixels and 10 KB size limit.
  • Maximum: 10000×10000 pixels and 25 MB size limit.

To create a Google My Business post, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Create post, or click Posts from the menu.
  3. The “Create post” screen appears. Choose which type of post you’d like to create from the options given.
  4. Options to add photos, videos, text, events, offers, and a button to your post appear. Click each field and enter any relevant information.
  5. Click Preview to see a preview of your post.
Google my business posts
  1. If you’re happy with your preview, click Publish in the top right corner of the screen. If you’d like to change your post, click Back on the top left of the screen to continue editing your draft until it’s ready to publish.
Google My Business Booking

Google My Business allows visitors to set up an appointment or book a reservation – all right when they find your business online. This feature is exclusive for restaurants, fitness, wellness and beauty businesses in the U.S and requires the use of a third party booking provider.

Here is a list of Google’s booking or scheduling partners:

google my business bookings

To choose a Google My Business provider, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business
  2. From the menu, click Bookings. If you don’t see this tab, then bookings isn’t available for your business category or region.
bookings on Google
  1. Choose and sign up with the provider of your choice.
direct bookings on Google
  1. In order to receive bookings through Google, your scheduling account needs to be linked to Google. This process is done automatically within 7 days. 
Turn on Messaging on Google My Business

Responding to questions in a timely manner from potential customers shows that you are ready to do business. Google My Business makes it easy to respond to questions from customers who found you online. This messaging feature is currently available to select merchant in select countries. You can communicate to customers via SMS and Google Allo. 

Messaging via SMS
To turn on messaging with customers, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Sign in to your Google My Business page. 
  • Step 2: Navigate to the Messaging tab by clicking on “Messaging” on the right of your screen.
Google sms
  • Step 3: Provide a phone number, one that you usually use as your business contact number.
google my business messaging
  • Step 4: Once you have provided your phone number, you will receive a text with a one time password. Enter the password in the field given.
google my business verification code

When using SMS messaging, standard message and data rates may apply.

Messaging via Google Allo
Google’s own smart messaging app, Allo, is a great alternative to SMS. 

 Google Allo can be downloaded from the Android Play Store or iOS App Store. Register Allo with the same number you used to sign up for messaging on Google My Business. Messages will start to appear on Google Allo instead of SMS.

Reviews on Google My Business
Why are Google My Business Reviews important

There is no shortage of review sites out there but studies show that Google is the fastest growing. That is certainly not surprising. Consumers are likely to have user accounts on Google already. That means there’s less friction in leaving reviews of businesses.

online review management platforms

Writing a Google Review

Google also makes writing a Google review is extremely easy, which is why it is such a powerful review platform. Reviewers must be signed into their Google account to write a review, no anonymous reviews are allowed. They type your business name into the google search bar and click on the Google review link Write a Review button in your Google knowledge panel (shown below).

write a Google review
 
How to Generate Google Reviews

Waiting for organic reviews to roll in is not effective. The reality is that when left on their own, your Google My Business page may accumulate customer complaints, rather than get genuine reviews. Generating review requires a proactive approach.

The quickest and most effective method of generating Google my business reviews is using a reputation management platform. While there are a few online review management tools out there, 5StarRocket offers the best value by providing a robust feature set at the most competitive price. 5StarRocket also offers a full 30-day risk-free trial (no credit card required) to ensure that they are the best fit for your business.

Google Review Alerts

Google My Business notifies you of new reviews via email. This is useful as it allows to take swift action in responding to reviews, especially those negative and potentially damaging reviews.  This feature is enabled by default but you can verify that it is set up correctly by following these steps.

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. Navigate to the Settings tab by clicking on the “Settings” to the right of your screen.
  3. Set your preferred language and email address for notifications.
  4. Ensure that the Customer review check box is selected.
google review settings

Respond to Reviews on Google

Reviews are important to any business. They provide valuable feedback and help nudge customers who are on the fence to make a purchasing decision. Replying to reviews can help build your customers’ trust. Google allows you to respond to reviews right from your GMB dashboard. When you reply to a review, your response will appear below your customer’s review on Google Search and Maps under the label “Response from the owner”. People on Google will see both the customer review and your response when they look at your Google My Business reviews.

To respond to a review do the following:

  1. Sign in to your Google My Business page. 
  2. Navigate to the Reviews tab by clicking “Reviews” from the menu to the right of your screen. (Note that your business needs to be verified in order to respond to reviews.)
  3. Click Reply to respond to a customer review.
  4. Write a response and click Post reply.
responding to Google reviews

Removing Google Reviews

Removing Google Reviews isn’t as easy as clicking the delete button (there isn’t a delete button). A review can be flagged as inappropriate and marked for deletion by Google. Keep in mind that a user can’t directly delete a review. Only reviews that violate the Google review policies can be removed from Google My Business listings.

Flag a review in your account
If one of your reviews violates Google review policies, you can flag it for removal. The review will be assessed by Google and possibly removed from your listing.

Follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Google My Business page.
  2. Navigate to the Review tab by clicking on “Reviews” to the right of your screen. 
  3. Find the review you’d like to flag, and then click More -> Flag as inappropriate.

My Google Reviews Are Not Showing Up!

There are a few reasons why your reviews could vanish from your Google My Business Listing. We will take a look at the causes and solutions to getting your reviews back.

Inaccurate Listing Information
Incorrect or inaccurate information can prevent your customers from leaving a review. Ensure that you have the correct and complete address listed. You can do so by:

  • Step 1. Log in to Google My Business.
  • Step 2. Open the Menu tab and click “Info”.
update google my business listing
  • Step 3. Look for the field that allows you to update your location or address on Google Maps, then click. It has a map marker as an icon.
  • Step 4. A popup will appear, allowing you to modify your location or address. Ensure the marker is in the correct location and hit save.
google business location

Wait a few minutes. This should refresh your GMB profile and your reviews should reappear. If the reviews still don’t appear, try clearing your browser’s cache.

Duplicate listings

Ensure that there are not duplicate business listings. You can do so by searching Google Maps for your business’s exact name and address. This might seem like Google removed a review from your listing, but it appears on an alternate listing.

You can remove a duplicate listing by either reporting it to Google via Maps or removing the location through the GMB dashboard.

To remove a listing via GMB dashboard:

  1. Log in to the Google My Business account you would like to delete
  2. Go to the Info tab
  3. Find “Close or remove this listing” to the right of the screen.
google my business listing removal

New Location
If a business changes location but keeps the same name, Google should transfer the reviews to the new location, which is reflected on Google Maps. Relocating usually require re-verification. See Google My Business Verification.

Inactive Listings
A customer would not be able to leave a review if an account is inactive. An account is deemed inactive if the owner fails to log into their Google My Business dashboard or show any activity such as post updates, upload/share photos, respond to reviews, etc after a significant length of time.

Accounts that have not been verified would also be considered inactive.

Google will attempt to contact you via email before it revokes the status to see if there is someone actively managing the listing.

Reviews with Links and URLs
Google can also remove reviews and responses that contain any links or URLs.

New Listings
Google won’t show the full set of reviews until at least five people leave a review or rating of a business. It may be difficult in the early stages of your business to generate reviews. It is recommended that you use an online review management platform, such as 5starRocket to help direct your customers to Google, or any other online review platform, in order to grow your positive reviews.

Conclusion: Google is the most powerful and fastest growing review site. It is essential that you are listed on Google and that your listing is optimized. It is also important that you have meaningful reviews on Google. 5starRocket allows you to do just that by giving your happy customers an opportunity to share their experience with others on the most powerful online review site out there.