Google reviews play an important role in making your business look like a trustworthy source of information, both in the eyes of Google and your consumers.
Google My Business is a free tool that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. The only requirement for using it is that you must have some face-to-face interaction with your customers — in other words, you can’t operate 100% online.
If you’re just getting started with local SEO, your Google My Business listing is a great place to focus your early efforts.
Create an Account and Claim Your Business
- Step 1: Log into the Google Account you want associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
- Step 2: Go to google.com/business and select “Start now” in the top right-hand corner.
- Step 3: Enter your business name.
- Step 4: Enter your business address.
- Step 5: Choose your business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible — you’re essentially telling Google which type of customers should see your business listing.
- Step 6: If you go to your customers’ locations, rather than having them come to you, check the box “I deliver goods and services to my customers.” And if you work out of your house or another address you don’t want publicly shown, Check “Hide my address (it’s not a store) Only show region.” Finally, select your Delivery area.
- Step 7: Add your business phone number or website.
- Step 8: Choose a verification option. If you’re not ready to verify your business yet, click “Try a different method” → “Later.”
How to Verify Your Business on Google
There are several ways to verify your Google My Business listing:
- By postcard
- By phone
- By email
- Instant verification
- Bulk verification
- Step 1: If you aren’t already logged into Google My Business, sign in now and choose the business you want to verify. (If you’re already logged in, you’ll be at the verification step.)
- Step 2: Make sure your business address is correct. Optional: Add a contact name — that’s who the postcard will be addressed to.
- Step 3: Click “Mail.” The postcard should reach you in five days — make sure you don’t edit your business name, address, or category (or request a new code) before it comes, because this could delay the process.
- Step 4: Once you’ve gotten the postcard, log into Google My Business. If you have more than one business location, select the location you want to verify. If you only have one, select “Verify now.”
- Step 5: In the Code field, enter the five-digit verification code on your postcard. Click “Submit.”
Optimize Your Listing
Once you’ve verified your business, it’s time to finish fleshing out your profile.
Go to the Google My Business dashboard, click the listing you’d like to work on, select “Info,” and then choose a section to fill out or update.
Add as much information and media as you can, including a business profile photo, the area you serve, your hours, attributes (e.g. “wheelchair accessible,” “free wifi”), the day and year you opened, and a public phone number and website URL.
Anyone can “suggest an edit” to your listing, so it’s important to 1) get everything right the first time (so you don’t encourage random people to make their own changes) and 2) periodically log into your Google My Business dashboard and make sure all the details look right.
At any point in time, you can edit your business profile by logging into your Google My Business dashboard, clicking on “Info,” clicking the pencil next to the field you’d like to edit, making your change, and then choosing “Apply.”
Google My Business Photos
According to Google, businesses with photos see 35% more clicks to their website and 42% higher requests for driving directions in Google Maps.
Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and JPG or PNG files.
Not sure how many pictures to add — or what they should be of?
Your Google My Business cover photo is one of the most important, as it shows up front and center on your listing.
Your profile photo is what appears when you upload new photos, videos, or review responses.
Along with your profile and cover photos, you can and should upload other pictures to make your listing more informative and engaging.
Google My Business Videos
You can also add videos. Videos must be:
- 30 seconds or shorter
- 100 MB or smaller
- 720p resolution or higher
Videos can add some variety to your profile and make you stand out among other businesses in your category; however, don’t worry if you don’t have any — unlike photos, they’re not a “must have.”
Download the Google My Business app
- Manage how your local business appears on Google Search and Maps.
- Edit your business information (e.g. address, phone number, and hours).
- Respond to reviews, questions, and messages from customers.
- Share new photos and post updates on special offers and events.
- See how customers find and interact with your business on Google.
Mobile and computer feature differences
The Google My Business mobile app lets you manage and edit your business information on Google. However, you may have access to different information on the mobile app compared to desktop.
- Some features are only available on mobile, like being able to see your followers.
- Some features aren’t available on mobile yet, like being able to remove a listing or transfer ownership.
Start Asking for Google Reviews
Now that your Google My Business account is set up, create a link and share it with your clients or customers.
Create a short name
Your selected short name should be associated with your business name or the name by which people commonly refer to your business.
Keep your short name simple so you can easily promote it, and customers can remember it. If you have a short name, you’ll get a short URL to request reviews from your customers. Learn more about short URLs for reviews.
- On your computer, sign in to Google My Business.
- Open the location you want to create a short name for.
- From the menu, click Info Add short name.
- Enter your short name. You can enter up to 32 characters.
- If your name isn’t available, you’ll receive an error message and have to choose a different name. Try abbreviating your name or adding other descriptions, like your location. You can also pick another word that describes your business or brand.
- Short names cannot contain Chinese, Japanese, or Korean characters.
- Click Apply. Your short name will show as pending, and when it’s ready, it’ll show on your Business Profile.
Share your short URL with customers for reviews
- Sign in to Google My Business.
- If you have multiple locations, open the location you’d like to manage.
- In the menu on the left, click Home.
- In the “Get more reviews” card, you can copy your short URL to share with customers.
- On your mobile device, open the Google My Business app.
- Tap Customers Reviews.
- In the top right, tap Share .
- If your short name is not created, you will be prompted to create one.
- Copy your short URL to share with customers.
Alternatively. you could direct people to your business on Google and ask them to click on the “Write a Review” button.
If your clients are accustomed to writing Google reviews, no further explanation will be needed. But why leave it to chance? I prefer to send a link.