Google My Business: The Definitive Guide (for 2019)

Today you’re going to learn how to setup a Google My Business profile.

Step by Step. On your mobile device.

And with profiles in Australia averaging 1000+ views every month,

Google My Business Profiles in Australia

Google My Business is the easiest way to find new customers for your business.

The best part?

It’s free and takes 10 minutes to get started.

And this Definitive Guide to Google My Business will show you how.

Let’s dive right in.

Coming Up

What is a Google My Business Profile?

Google My Business (GMB) is like a mini website that Google displays to their customers when they are searching for products or services.

But unlike a website, it takes just minutes to setup and is easy to manage on the go.

Business owners simply type in a few details like your:

  • Business Name
  • Address (optional)
  • Phone Number (optional)
  • Website (optional)

Then, whenever a customer searches for a business in your industry, your GMB profile then competes with other rivals for Google’s best ranking positions.

Here’s an example:

When I searched for Perth Restaurants in July 2019, Google gave me their Top 3 recommendations.

Google My Business Local 3 Pack

And like most customers, I quickly compared the three businesses, often referred to as the Local 3 Pack, and made a selection.

Then when I clicked on Friends Restaurant, Google opened up another graphic called the Knowledge Panel.

From the Knowledge Panel, I could easily make a phone call, visit their website, read customer reviews or even get driving directions via Google Maps.

Not convinced yet?

What if I said that Google My Business is now the single highest ranking factor for local businesses on Google Search.

Or that around 13 million Australians use Google every single day and that roughly 30% of those customers are searching for local information.

There really is no better way to advertise a business in Australia than by setting up your very own GMB Knowledge Panel.

Knowledge Panel

The Knowledge Panel shows customers all the information a business submits via their Google My Business profile.

And is displayed whenever customers click on a business in Google’s Search results.

Using the above example, let’s take a peek at the Knowledge Panel for the Friends Restaurant in Perth.

The Elements Of A Knowledge Panel?

For easy reference, The Knowledge Panel below has numbers on it to outline what each element does.

Knowledge Panel Graphic

Knowledge Panel by Numbers

  1. Suggest an Edit – Where anyone from the public can suggest an edit.
  2. Cover Photo – The first impression a customer will see of the business.
  3. Business Name – The name of the business.
  4. Review Panel – Current Rating and Number of Reviews.
  5. Primary Category – The main business category of the business.
  6. Trading Status – Displays whether business is currently open or closed.
  7. Logo Photo – Logo Photo of the Business.
  8. Overview – Tab that displays the main screen of the Knowledge Panel.
  9. Updates – Tab that displays current and past Google Posts.
  10. Menu – Tab that shows product or services lists including prices.
  11. Reviews – Tab that provides more details about customer reviews.
  12. Call – Button that allows customer to instantly call the business.
  13. Message – Button where customer can send a message.
  14. Directions – Where customers can get driving directions via Google Maps.
  15. Website – Instantly transfers customer to businesses selected link.
  16. Address – Street Address of the business.
  17. Google Map – Location of business on the Map and link to Google Maps.
  18. Opening Hours – Trading hours of the business for upcoming week.
  19. Send a Message – Another button where customer can send a message.
  20. Menu – Another option to access the Menu tab in Number 10.
  21. Booking Site – Allows customers to book through a 3rd party website.
  22. Phone Number – Another option to make a call to the business.

As you can see customers can easily find enough information to make a purchase directly from the Knowledge Panel.

And There’s Even More…

When you scroll down further there is more details such as.

  • Photo Gallery
  • Questions and Answers
  • Customer Review Summary
  • And a Business Description

All these details serve to help a local business convert Google’s searching customers into sales.

88% of consumer local business searches on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.

SEO Expert Brad

This Definitive Guide was designed to help local businesses create better Knowledge Panels.

Now we know what a Knowledge Panel is, let’s go create one.

Create a Google Account

Before setting up a Google My Business profile you will first need to Login to a Google Account.

If you haven’t got one you can click here to Create Account.

Create Google Account Mobile

A Google Account gives you:

  • A Gmail email address
  • Custom access to Google Maps
  • 15 GB free storage on Google Drive

Plus a whole range of other features. For more about Google Accounts check out this article or click here for a visual guide on Creating an Account.

The other bonus is access to Google Play which is necessary for the next step.

Download the Google My Business App

The easiest way to setup and manage a Google My Business profile is with the Google My Business App.

Google My business App Graphic

Everything in this guide can be done through the App which is available on both Android and Apple devices.

If you prefer to use your desktop, I recommend you use this great article instead.

Here’s how to download the App.

From any mobile device, click on the relevant App store below.

Google-Play-Store-Graphic
Apple-App-Store-GMB

Next, Press the Install Button which in Google Play is green.

Install Google My Business App

When you first open the App, it will ask you to login to your Google account.

Once logged in, move onto the next step which is Claiming Your Business.

How to Claim your Google My Business Profile

Once logged in, you will be asked to enter the name of your business.

Google will then ask a series of questions about your business and then later seek to verify that you are the owner.

Let’s get started.

Business Name

The first question Google will ask is ‘What’s the name of your business?

Google My Business Add Name

Before you submit your Business Name be sure you:

  • Format Correctly: Use A Capital To Start Each Word
  • Don’t include Pty Ltd
  • Try to include one word that describes what you do

If you aren’t sure, take look at a competitive location for your industry and observe the Local 3 Pack.

Here is an example of the Top 3 Hair Salons in a popular suburb of Melbourne.

All three business names are clean, formatted correctly and have at least one keyword that describes what they do.

I would even suggest Aurora and Aria are entitled to add ‘& Beauty Salon’ given their chosen primary category.

One more suggestion on Business Names. If your actual business name has a location in it, put it in. If it doesn’t, don’t.

When you have decided on your name, click on the Next button on the bottom right and move on to the next step.

Address

The next question from Google is: Do you want to add a location customers can visit, like a shop or office?

Google My Business Show Address

Simply put, do you want to be on Google Maps?

There are some great advantages of being on Google Maps such as:

  • Customers can get directions to your store
  • Your rankings are higher when a customer searches nearby
  • Customers can leave reviews directly from Google Maps

Select Yes or No and then press Next. If you choose Yes, you can skip the next section.

If you Selected NO to an Address

For those of you who selected No, the next screen allows you to select all the locations that you send, visit or serve customers with products or services.

Google My Business Service Locations

The advice I give to clients here is to select as many as you can, including the smaller suburbs and towns.

If you Selected YES to an Address

If you selected yes to Google Maps, you will also get the above opportunity after you have filled out the address you want customers to visit.

Google My Business Address Screen

The recommendation here is to use the same address (and format) that you have used anywhere else.

For example, if your website says Street, don’t be lazy and put St.

Sometimes, to confirm your address, Google may ask you to pinpoint your exact address on the Map.

Once you have finished, press Next.

You will now get a chance to add locations that you serve like those who selected No above.

Go back to that section now by clicking here.

Adding locations are ideal for businesses like Pizza shops who offer both takeaway and home delivery services.

Fill out every suburb, even the tiny ones, and then click on Next.

Primary Category

The next screen will ask you to Choose the category that fits your business best.

Google My Business Category Selection

Selecting your Primary Category is one of the most important sections when it comes to ranking your profile on Google.

However, not only can it be changed later on, you can also add up to four more.

Try to choose a category title that your customers would use to describe your type of business.

If you aren’t sure, a quick research of your nearest rivals will usually clear up any confusion.

Once you have selected your Primary Category press Next to move to the next section.

Phone Number

The next screen is considered ‘optional’ but I doubt any business should ignore it.

This is where you can provide a phone number and website link for customers to get in contact with you.

Google My Business Website Phone Contact

Both the Phone Number and Website Link are worthy of some consideration.

For example, Google prefers to see a local phone number here over a mobile and a mobile phone number is better than a toll free number.

Here’s why:

  • Local Phone Number (03 9000 0000) – The ideal phone number as it indicates consistency and a higher chance that a call will be answered.
  • Mobile Phone Number (0400 000 000) – The second best option as there is likely to be only one person who can answer the customers call.
  • Toll Free Number (13 00 00 or variations) – Google’s least preferred as they perceive these numbers as more likely to being associated with spam.

Once you have entered a phone number scroll down to the next part of the screen, Website.

Website or Link

The second section on this screen is for entering a website or link.

Here’s how your website shows up in the Knowledge Panel.

Website Link on Knowledge Panel

Again, it is optional but I highly recommend you give Google’s searchers the chance to learn more about your business.

Note: As a bonus, Google will crawl the website and use the details on it to determine how helpful your business is for their future customers.

And you will want to give Google the correct version, which for this website is https://changingyourbusiness.com.

Unfortunately, you can’t just copy and paste into this section (well I couldn’t) so you will need to manually type it in.

Now, not every business has a website, which is one of the main reasons Google created Google My Business.

Let’s look at some alternative solutions.

If You Don’t Have A Website

If you don’t have a website for your business, rather than leave it blank, add one of these links instead.

  • Facebook Business Page – Definitely the best alternative option for most businesses but be sure your contact details are exactly the same.
  • A Booking Site – Arguably better than Facebook for some industries is a Booking or Menu website that can take orders on your behalf.
  • Free Google My Business Website – Is the last resort option which offers a summary of all the details in your Google My Business profile.
  • If you don’t have any of these, leave it blank.

Clicking on the links above will lead you to an article on how to set these options up.

If you have multiple website links and aren’t sure which one to use, this article should be very helpful.

Once you have entered a Link press Next to move to the next screen.

The one time I would suggest leaving the Website Link blank is if your super nice website is currently in development.
It would then actually become an advantage.
When you add a Link to a Google My Business profile, Google immediately crawls the associated website and updates its index.
So when your website is ready, come back and add the link to help speed up the re-indexing phase.

How to Verify your Google My Business Profile

The next two screens are about how to verify your business and prove that you are the owner or an authorised representative of the business.

The first of these screens covers a list of things you can’t do until you have completed the verification process.

Google My Business Verify

The second screen completes the initial profile setup and kicks off the verification profile.

Start Google My Business Verification

There are a variety of verification methods but here I will cover the most common.

Postal confirmation.

This is where Google will send you a postcard with a code in it so they can confirm that you are the business owner.

All you have to do is Add a Contact name as seen below.

Google My Business Verify

And then click on Post to have Google send you a postcard that contains your unique Verification Code.

Google My Business Postcard

For businesses in Australia, the verification postcard is sent from Vietnam and can take up to two weeks.

This next part is for when your verfication card arrives so you can skip to the next section by clicking here.

Complete Google My Business Verification

When your postcard arrives, go back into your Google My Business App.

Then click on the Verification notification which will remain until you enter your code, which looks like this.

Google My Business Verify Code

Then enter the 5 digit code to complete Google’s Verification process which will confirm your business listing.

Google’s Verification process, though a little annoying, is beneficial to the integrity of all Google My Business profiles.
Many profiles are unclaimed yet or they have been randomly created by the general public.
The postal address verification method ensures that no one can add duplicate profiles of your business later.

Once you have clicked to have your postcard sent, you will be taken to the home screen in the Google My Business App for the first time.

There is still plenty of your profile you can complete while waiting for the postcard.

Or you can choose to come back later.

Edit Business Info

To begin filling out the rest of your Knowledge Panel, click on the Profile button at the bottom of the screen.

Profile Screen for Editing Knowledge Panel

Then click on the little pencil that floats on the right side of the screen as you scroll.

Google My Business Edit Profile Button

This brings you to the Edit Business Info screen.

Here is where you can view and edit most of the business information that will populate in your Knowledge Panel.

Some of these details were filled in during the steps completed in previous chapters.

But now we are going to complete the rest our profile.

Starting with Opening Hours.

Add Opening Hours

Your Opening Hours are one of the more important pieces of information that you can share with potential new customers.

Google states that on average,
businesses who display their Hours receive
13% for more driving requests and 42%
more clicks to their websites.

Opening hours are often displayed in search results when comparing your business with local rivals in the same industry.

In the example below, three hairdressers in Subiaco, WA are all competing for the same local customers.

Google My Business Opening Hours

One hair salon is opening soon, another is opening later but Siimon’s hasn’t provided any opening hours.

Rightly or wrongly, potential customers could assume Siimon’s is no longer in business.

Even though the other two salons are not open yet, at least customers can assume that they are trading.

To add your Opening Hours scroll down to the small blue clock and click on the pencil on the right hand side.

Google My Business Opening Hours

In the edit panel you can choose your hours in 30 minute intervals as seen below.

Opening Hours

Go through and fill in your Opening Hours for all 7 days and then press Apply to save them.

The App will then take you back to the Edit business info screen.

Now let’s add in some Public Holidays, and there’s a little trick here.

Add Public Holidays

Here’s a step that many business owners ignore.

The same owners might pay their staff penalty rates on public holidays but appear to be closed to their customers on days they are more likely to be checking.

Or may appear to be open when they are actually closed.

Here’s how you can Add Public Holidays on the GMB App.

First, click on the pencil opposite the icon that looks like a blue calendar. You will arrive at a screen called Special hours.

Google My Business Public Holidays

And here’s the little trick: Press the Add new date button three or four times before you start selecting dates.

Google My Business Calendar

For some mobile devices, it’s impossible to select the calendar month without adding a few dates first.

Now you can easily click on the last Select date and use the calendar to choose the date you wish to add.

If you prefer typing it Google uses the US format: MM/DD/YYYY.

Next, specify the hours you are open for or closed.

Note: Only add the days where the hours are different to your normal trading hours.

Google My Business Public Holidays

To finish off and save, press Apply in the top right corner.

I understand if you wish to skip this section for now but be sure to come back to it later.

If you aren’t sure about all the Public Holidays in your state or territory you can check out this website.

Now let’s go add some Services to our profile.

Services

The Services section allows you to add some products and services to give customers a better understanding of what you offer, before they call.

After Google approves them they appear in the Knowledge Panel under the Services tab.

Here’s how you can add them.

Start by clicking on the word Services as it doesn’t have a pencil to the right like all the other options.

Google My Business Services

Then click on Add section, which represents a group of individual items, kind of like a category.

Give the section a name and then fill out the details for the product or service as seen in the image below.

Google My Business Services

Then, click on the blue Add button below to save the item.

Repeat the process to add more products or services.

This section is not available to all business categories but if it is, take full advantage and add in some of your most popular products.

To add a little bit of confusion we are now going to add some Service Attributes.

Service Attributes

Depending on your Category, there are Service Attributes that serve to provide more information about your business.

They appear under the HIGHLIGHTS section of the Knowledge Panel with these pretty icons.

Google My Business Attributes

Service Attributes are a mixed bag because they can be added by Google, business owners and randomly by the general public.

But thankfully, Google does review any attribute before displaying them on your profile.

Here’s how you can suggest some Attributes about your business to Google.

First click on the pencil opposite the little blue tag or label.

Google My Business Attributes

This will bring you to the Attributes edit box.

Google My Business Attributes

Simply click on and highlight the attributes that fit your business and click on Apply at the top to save.

Depending on your selected category, Google will offer a different set of potential attributes to suggest.

As you can see above, the business services category doesn’t have many options, especially if you are male.

But for some categories the options easily surpass 50 and each attribute added can become and extra feature that helps customers to find you on Google’s search.

The next section we want to edit is the Business Description.

Business Description

The Business Description is one of the most neglected sections of a Google My Business profile.

Banished for a time by Google due to a spike in keyword spamming, the business description is back, albeit on the bottom of the Knowledge Panel.

First, let’s show you where to create or edit your business description and then I’ll share a few tips on how to write one.

How to Edit Business Description

From the Edit business info screen, scroll down to click on the pencil opposite the two and a half horizontal lines.

Google My Business Descriptions

This takes you to the ‘From the business’ edit screen.

Google My Business Description

Here I would like to stress three key points:

  1. Google will review your business description before publishing it.
  2. The maximum character limit is 750.
  3. The number of characters the customer will see before having to click ‘More’ is 250.

The third point is key.

Google is basically telling us to put the most important information about your business in the first 250 characters.

With that in mind let’s run through a quick guide on how to write a business description.

How to Write a Good Business Description

After a long search I finally found a business description worth using as an example.

This slightly imperfect summary by the Bluewater Cafe in Manly is worth a look.

Google My Business Description

The reason this business description is a good example is:

  • It mentions Location and What they do in the first sentence.
  • They paint a picture that makes sense to the customer.
  • The story is customer and product focused.
  • It’s loaded with keywords but doesn’t look like an advertisement.

Yes, there is a sentence or two that isn’t perfect but that’s another reason why I picked this example. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Just don’t leave it blank.

Here are some suggestions when writing a Business Description for your Google My Business profile.

  • Aim to write three longish sentences (12-18 words each)
  • Your location and what you do should be in the first sentence.
  • Focus on how the customer is going to benefit.
  • Include your Business name without sounding too cheesy.

It’s worthwhile writing 3-5 versions and then asking your staff or friends to select the description they like the best.

For further reading on writing descriptions view Google’s guidelines here.

Once you have filled in your description click on Apply to save and return to the Overview screen.

The next step is to add a Logo and Cover Photo to your profile.

How to Add Photos and Videos to Google My Business

The last steps you can do while waiting for the Verification Postcard is to add a Logo and Cover photo.

But before you add any photos its worth reading How to Optimise Photos so that every photo reaps maximum benefit for your business.

Add Logo to a Google My Business Profile

The Business Logo on a GMB profile is displayed as a circle on the right-hand side of the Knowledge Panel.

Logo Photo on Knowledge Panel

Kind of small but it’s still better that you have one.

Here’s how you upload a Logo Photo on the GMB App.

First click on Profile along the bottom.

Then click on the pencil to the right of your Business name and Category near the top of the screen.

Google My Business Change Logo

Then click on Change logo to add or change.

Keep in mind the following guidelines from Google.

  • Image format must be JPG or PNG.
  • It will be displayed as a circle.
  • Min Pixels: 120 x 120
    Max Pixels: 5200 x 5300
  • Min Size: 10kb
    Max Size: 5MB

And although the final photo is quite small it certainly looks better when a business has added one.

Let’s move onto the Cover Photo.

Add Cover Photo to Google My Business Profile

The Cover Photo is arguably the most important photo.

It’s located front and centre at the top of the Knowledge Panel and is often the first photo the customer will see.

That’s because it doubles as the one photo you can suggest to Google to be the first shown in your profile.

Google has stated that profiles with photos can
receive up to 42% more clicks than profiles without.

Here’s how you add a Cover Photo.

Click on the Profile tab along the bottom.

But this time click on the pencil in the rectangle ABOVE your Business name and Category.

Google My Business Change Cover Photo

Then click on Change Cover Photo. The specifications for Cover Photos are as follows:

  • Image format must be JPG or PNG.
  • It will be displayed as a rectangle.
  • Min pixels: 480 x 270
    Max pixels: 2120 x 1192
  • Min Size: 10kb
    Max Size: 5MB

Google will review your Cover photo prior to publishing and the main guideline they use is that it needs to be relevant to your business.

The most common selection by businesses is to use a photo of the outside of their business (entrance) or a nice interior photo.

There are other types of photos that Google suggest adding to your profile. Let’s go through them.

Other than adding an Opening Business Date, the Cover Photo
is the last section you can fill in before completing Verification.
The remainder of this guide explains methods to improving
your ranking and tips on how to manage your profile.

Adding Other Types of Photos

Google suggests business owners upload a variety of different photos to their profiles to give customers an idea of what to expect when they visit.

Here are some different types of photos that Google recommends:

  • Exterior photos of the outside of your building.
  • Interior photos where customers might expect to be served.
  • Staff photos of people who might serve customers.
  • Product photos that help guide customer expectations.

It is recommended to a add variety of photos across your profile because every customer is looking for something different.

How to Add Other Photos

Here’s how you add a different type of photo:

First press Home along the bottom of the App.

Then click on the floating + symbol with the word Post written on it.

Google My Business Add Photo

Next, click on the blue circle that looks like a camera next to Add photos/videos.

Google My Business Add Photo Videos

This takes you to the Upload photo screen.

Add Photo or Video

Click on the blue camera to get three options.

  • Take photo
  • Record video
  • Choose from gallery

Make a selection, write an optional caption and then click on the blue Upload button on the bottom of the screen to upload your photo.

Keep in mind that Google reviews every photo and video so be sure to check over their guidelines.

Now I want to show you a way to prepare your photos so that you can gain maximum exposure for your business.

HOW TO Optimise Your Photos

Here is one simple step I want to show you here that helps boost your local rankings on Google Search.

Whenever you take a photo on any device, it usually comes labelled like this.

Raw Photo Title

It’s worth taking just a few seconds to rename the photo before uploading it.

Rename Photo Title Suggestion

Like the image above try to include your location and category/industry in each photo along with a descriptive word or two about the photo.

Check out this article to learn more about keywords.

In a month or two, the photos will begin to appear in Google Images for local search results.

The local businesses that rank really well
on Google My Business are often those
that add photos regularly.

Josh Vinecombe, Changing Your Business

Other ways to improve your local rankings is to add location data to your photos by using Geo-Tagging and to encourage customers to upload their own photos.

Learn more here about how increasing your Photo Review Ratio can help improve your local rankings.

Next, are the guidelines for adding videos to your profile.

How to Add a Video on Google My Business

Adding a Video follows the exact same process as Adding Photos as explained above.

Google loves videos that help its customers learn more about your business.

And because its rare to see on a local profile, creating a video is well worth the extra effort.

Just be sure to keep within Google’s video specifications which are.

  • Duration of Up to 30 seconds
  • File size of Up to 100 MB
  • Resolution of 720p or higher

For advice on how to create your own business videos check out this article from Hubspot.

The next section is about using Google Posts to make free advertisements.

How to Create a Google Post on Google My Business

Google Posts are Google’s version of Facebook posts and they appear at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel and under the Updates tab.

Posts act like free advertisements and provide businesses the opportunity to place additional links onto their Knowledge Panels.

The only catch is that all Posts only last for 7 days.

Except for the Events Post.

How to Create Google Posts

Here’s how you Create a Google Post.

Start by pressing the Home button on the bottom of the App.

Next, just like Adding Photos earlier, click on the floating + symbol with Post written on it.

Create Google Posts

Then click on any of the these four types of Google Posts to create one.

  • What’s New – Ideal for Updating Customers
  • Offer – To offer discounts including coupons
  • Products – Where you can promote products
  • Events – So you can advertise an upcoming event

Let’s go through them all.

Types of Google Posts

Each of the four post types offer slightly different features but all of them allow you to add:

  • A Photo
  • A Description
  • A valuable link to direct customers

Let’s look at each of them a bit closer.

What’s New

The What’s New post is the ideal post for updating customers on news about your business.

What's New Google Post Screen

The format is basic without any of the added features that are found in the other three post types.

But it is effective for creating posts such as announcements, renovations and the arrival of new staff members.

Offer

The Offer post has three special fields.

One that allows you to offer customers a special discount or coupon code.

The second enables you to specify the duration of the special discount or coupon.

And the third gives you the chance to add in any terms and conditions.

It just doesn’t have the range of call to action buttons but you can still add a link to your website or landing page.

Create Google Offer Post

If you have a promotion going or want to test out coupon codes, try using the Offer Post.

Products

The Product post comes complete with a price tag so it’s similar to adding a product on your website.

Create Google Product Post

But the post only lasts 7 days, so I would suggest limiting Product posts to a maximum of one per week.

It’s the ideal post type for new or popular products.

Events

The Events post is special in that Google will leave it up until the end date has finished.

Still, Google reviews your posts so the ‘Event’ should be genuine otherwise they will just take it down.

Create Google Event Post

Suggestions here include charity events, month-long promotions, competitions or anything around an Annual Event like St. Patrick’s Day or Mother’s Day.

The jury is still out on whether Google Posts actually help a business rank higher in search results.

But why not test out all four types of Google Posts and try the range of ‘Call to Action’ buttons.

Later on, you can view your insights to measure how each post went.

For more about creating posts click here.

For now though, let’s take a look at Google My Business’s New Features for 2019

New Features for 2019

There are two new features that Google has released in 2019.

The most recent addition is the Welcome Offer that was rolled out in June 2019.

Welcome Offer

The Welcome Offer works like a Google Post except that you make a sweet offer to thank customers for becoming followers of your business.

Here’s how you can create one.

Start by clicking on the Profile tab on the bottom.

Next, click on the camera inside the panel just below the top which is labelled ‘Your welcome offer’.

Welcome Offer Create Screen

Then create your Welcome Offer like you would any other Google Post. It’s similar to the Offer post as mentioned above.

One point to remember is that your Welcome Offer will be valid to your followers for two weeks.

Now if your wondering what followers are here’s a quick summary.

Followers

In October 2018, Google introduced Followers to Google Maps and consequently to Google My Business.

Similar to liking a Facebook business page, followers will receive notifications whenever the business updates their profile or publishes a post.

Here’s where you go on your mobile device to follow a business.

How to Follow Bus

As a fairly new feature it is yet to gain a lot of traction just yet.

But for now, a smart tactic might be to follow some of your local rivals to keep tabs on any of their updates.

Now let’s turn our attention to the second of Google’s New Features of 2019, the Shortname.

How to Create a Review Link for Google My Business

Since April 2019, Creating a Google Review Link became a lot simpler thanks to a new feature called Shortname.

You can view a detailed strategy on how to Collect Customer Reviews here.

Shortname

A Shortname is a link designed to simplify the process of sending happy customers to your profile so that they can leave a Review.

And because it’s shorter than the usual review link, you can use it in text messages as well as emails.

Here’s how you create a Google Review Link with Shortname.

First, click on the pencil opposite the @ symbol as pictured below.

Edit Shortname

Then choose a Shortname that is relevant to your business name.

Be warned, your first choice may already be taken.

Create Shortname

As you can see in the image above there are only two rules to follow:

  • No longer than 32 characters
  • And you can only change a Shortname 3 times per year

Once you have chosen your Shortname click on Apply to save.

Using Your Shortname

After creating your Shortname, you will return to the Overview screen where you can copy the link and share it with your happy customers.

Example of Shortname Code

For example the shortname link for this website is:

https://g.page/changingyourbusiness.

If you happen to find this guide helpful why not test out the link above and leave us a review.

I have included our Shortname in the text message below with an edited version of a review script that I found in this article.

Shortname in a Text Message

Google Reviews are a vital part of developing your Google My Business profile and this new Shortname feature has made it much easier to collect them.

Just remember that your customers can’t use the link until your profile has been verified.

Once you start getting reviews, the next step is to respond to them.

How to Reply to Reviews on Google My Business

Responding to Customer Reviews is, in my opinion, the most neglected of all elements within Google My Business profiles.

I believe that’s because most business owners don’t realise that Google Reviews are such an important ranking factor.

Google Review Without Response

Whether the review is positive or negative your response is a powerful indicator to Google that you are taking notice of what your customers are saying.

So, when you receive a review, here’s where you go to respond.

Start by pressing on the Customers tab along the bottom.

Customers Tab for Responding Google Reviews

This immediately brings you to the Reviews tab and allows you to access each of your customer reviews.

Now you know where to go, let’s respond in a way that is not only business savvy, but encourages Google to send you more customers.

Replying to Positive Reviews

Every review is important.

It means someone has taken the time to provide valuable feedback which can help improve your business.

The least you can do is reply to it.

78% of consumers say that seeing management
respond to online reviews makes them believe
that the business cares more about them.

Modern Comment

Not only does this show appreciation but a warm response can encourage future customers to leave reviews.

When replying to positive reviews try to consider:

  • Addressing the reviewer by their first name.
  • Responding like you have actually read their review by referring to any unique comments made.
  • Thanking them for any constructive criticism.
  • That future customers will often read your replies.

You may even want to encourage them to make themselves known to you ‘next time they visit’.

Furthermore, a warm, personalised reply does two potentially great things for your business.

  1. The reviewer feels valued and is likely to spread the word.
  2. Future reviewers might attempt to add greater detail to their comments as they can see their feedback will be appreciated.

And detailed reviews are like gold dust as they often include words that describe positive experiences around the products or services that you are offering.

Experts now believe that Google uses the words found in reviews as a method of finding the most relevant businesses for their customers.

Replying to Negative Reviews

Leaving a Negative Review unanswered can be extremely damaging to the reputation of your business.

Especially within a small community.

On the other hand, a carefully constructed response can actually help.

Here’s some tips when replying to negative reviews:

  • Avoid the CAPS LOCK.
  • Address the reviewer by first name.
  • Apologise for any errors, even if they are wrong.
  • Offer a solution.
  • Thank them for helping you to improve customer service.
  • If you recognise their name, do not make it personal.
  • If you Drink and Reply, your a bloody idiot!

The best example might be to adopt a politician’s attitude towards journalists on the day before an election.

One last mention on replying to negative reviews.

The manner of your reply is the most honest reflection on the character behind your business.

If you want to report a review due to it being inappropriate you
can do so by clicking on the flag to the right of the review.

Now I want to share some bonus tips that will help you get the most out of your Google My Business profile.

Click here for some free suggestions on your Google My Business profile.

Bonus Tips

This is a long guide and so if you are still with me, I want to reward you with some of my better tips and tricks.

Contacting Google

There are numerous ways to contact Google.

First, you can call Google on 1-844-491-9665 (United States) but it’s not highly recommended by experts.

The second option is to create or login to a Twitter Account and follow @GoogleMyBiz. You can then send them a message.

Google My Business Twitter

The third option is to message them through Google’s Facebook page for Google My Business.

But probably the most efficient is to use this link, fill out a few questions and Google will call you back within a minute or two.

Describe This Place

Describe this Place is a slightly hidden section where you can add more details about what its like to trade with your business.

Adding more details can increase your relevance for customers who are more specific about what they are looking for in a business.

For example: Wheelchair access or a Pub that still offers Happy Hour.

To add suggestions, go to your Knowledge Panel via Google Search and click on the About Tab.

Describe this Place

Then scroll down to Describe this Place and click on the blue pencil next to it.

As you can see here, the Devonport Airport in Tasmania has only a few options that it can add.

Describe this Place Options

But in some categories such as Restaurants and Hotels, there are many different options that you can suggest.

I counted over 90 options for a local cafe.

To make a suggestion simply turn any option blue by clicking on it and then press send in the top right corner.

Here’s the reality:

  • Anyone can suggest them, which includes business owners
  • Google reviews all suggestions so there is no guarantee.

Here’s why it’s worth the extra little bit of effort.

If somebody searches for happy hour drinks and your pub has that option checked, Google is likely to reward you with a higher search result.

Questions and Answers

And here is one of my favourite tips which can save businesses a lot of time and help convert fence-sitting shoppers.

The Questions and Answers section is one of the more visible options on the Knowledge Panel.

Questions and Answers Panel

Anybody can ask any question about your business and anyone can answer it.

Over 90% of businesses leave their questions unanswered!

ThriveHive

To combat this, create a list of questions that you come across regularly in your industry. Start with 5 common questions.

And then create detailed answers.

Next, while logged in to your business’ Google account, ask the questions directly through your Knowledge Panel like any customer would.

Then, under the same account, provide your detailed answers.

This will now become a FAQs section with three clear advantages.

  1. Customers will appreciate having some answers upfront.
  2. Staff won’t be answering the same questions repeatedly.
  3. It’s more information that can be picked up in Google Search results.

It also appears like your business is popular with a few questions already loaded in.

What Type of Questions Should You Ask?

Here are some general questions that could apply to any industry that will inspire some quality Google-loving answers.

  • Where’s the best place to park? Answer: Include a street or local feature such as Opposite/Near/Next to the Hospital/Joe’s Pub/Train Station.
  • Where’s the nearest ATM? Answer: Similar to above.
  • What does it cost for a ‘basic service’? Answer: Price range and list all the added inclusions.
  • What are the trading hours on Public Holidays? Provide your answer.

Just a few to get you started.

Any answers that include locations, products, services and anything that helps customers (high chairs) are excellent.

Finally, be sure to check your Knowledge Panel regularly so that you can answer any questions from customers in a timely manner.

If you have the Google Maps App you can turn on notifications to ensure you don’t miss any.

For more tips on how to boost your rankings on Google check out our 7 Strategies that can help get you into a Local 3 Pack.

conclusion

Setting up a Google My Business profile is only the beginning.

The best profiles are regularly uploading photos, replying to their customers reviews and staying in touch with new features.

Google My Business is here to stay and will continue to grow as an important tool for local businesses to raise their profiles online.

Now it’s up to you. Leave a comment below.

What tactic from this guide are you going to try first?

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Google My Business Author Details

Josh Vinecombe lives in Melton, Australia with his wife, Leeanne and two boys, Noah and Billy. He is passionate about finding new ways to help small businesses to compete with big corporations. Follow Josh on Twitter

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