Google My Business (GMB) is the core of every local SEO strategy. It contains all the information about your client's business and presents it clearly to search engine users. If you optimize your GMB listing properly, it will be easy for potential customers to find your client through Google SERPs; optimize poorly and you’ll do more harm than good.

Let’s look at the critical steps to getting started with Google My Business.

1. Find Your Client's Business and Any Duplicates

First, locate your client’s true business page. It’s common for copycats to pop up over the years. This might be due to work done by the client or other previous SEO agencies. Search for your client’s listing and choose the page that most accurately reflects the business and start there.

How to get rid of duplicates according to Google:

  1. Sign in to Google My Business
  2. Click Duplicate locations at the top of the page, then click the location you'd like to remove. 
  3. Review the location. Make sure the business information for the duplicate location is included in the location that will remain in your account. Make sure that the photo URLs, ad-specific fields, and store codes are up-to-date in the location that you are keeping. 
  4. Click the back arrow  in the top-left corner to return to your location list. 
  5. Click Remove duplicate on the right side of the location you'd like to remove.

2. Verify Your Business

First, claim your business listing (if you haven’t already). On the listing itself, you will see a link that says: “Is this your business?” Click that to verify.

Note: Google usually verifies your phone with a call, and your address with a postcard. The address verification can take weeks, but it’s there to protect your business from copycats.

3. Connect Your Domain Email Address

In the listing info, add your authentic domain.com email address. For example, if you are the owner of Parmessanos.com, connect your listing with tony@parmessanos.com. This adds legitimacy, showing both Google and your customers that you are the true owner of the website and the listing.

4. Get Your NAP Right

If you take one nugget of wisdom from this guide, let it be this: consistency is king. This is especially true for your NAP: Name, Address, and Phone.

NAME

When filling out the business name, use the name that your customers use when referring to your business.

For example, Disney’s legal name is The Walt Disney Company, but everyone knows them as Disney. Their Business page is set up right: https://plus.google.com/+Disney

ADDRESS

As with your business name, your mailing address should be accurate and consistent across the web. If your address is: 12345 Hollywood Blvd SW, then include the SW.

To validate your address, check USPS’ website.

Note: Google does not permit P.O. boxes to be used for My Business listings.

PHONE

Use the local number for your business. Make sure this number is consistent on all local listings. Don’t use a toll-free number, like 1-800 or 1-888.

7. Link Your Website

When adding your website URL to your My Business listing, it should be the home page of your main website — the site customers find when they look for your business.

For businesses with multiple locations, set up a My Business page for each listing. On each of those pages, enter the URL for the specific landing page for that one location.

8. Choose Your Correct Business Categories, and Choose Wisely

After NAP consistency, business category selection is the most important local ranking factor.

Choose any category that specifically describes your business. Chose as many as possible, but don’t be spammy. A few well-chosen categories will have more of an SEO boost than a long list of semi-related categories.

To figure out which categories are right for your business, check out Blumenthal’s Business Category Tool and the Moz Local Categories tool.

9. Use Amazing Photos

You’re allowed three main photos on your My Business page: profile, logo and cover. Make them count! Upload photos that showcase your brand identity. If photos don’t align with your brand, searchers will be confused and less likely to click the listing.

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