loader image

If you’re looking to build your local customer base, you’re in the right place. Chances are, if any individual is looking for a specific industry or item, they’ll most often head straight to Google. The way that Google’s search algorithm works means that many, many search terms will show those all-important Google My Business local results as a priority. That means that getting your local business listing right is possibly one of the best things you can do for generating local custom. Luckily, we’re here to help you do just that…

Brown notebook, sticker with the inscription LOCAL BUSINESS, pen, watch and glasses on a wooden background.

Making a good first impression

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but making that first impression count is crucial. For many situations, your Google My Business (GMB) listing is your first impression. If potential customers aren’t aware of your brand, it may be one of the first things they see when they’re searching. With a properly-optimised Google My Business listing, you stand a much better chance of showing more prominently in Google Search and Maps.

What is a Google My Business listing?

This listing appears in Google search results, as well as Google Maps. It displays information about your business, which includes your opening times, contact details, your location, and a link to your website.

It’s a completely free resource offered by the world’s largest and most popular search provider, and is continuously being updated to provide businesses with new ways to engage with potential local customers (such as a recent feature that enables you to post links to articles or your events directly from the listing). Regardless of whether you have a physical premises (such as a shop) or not, just having a GMB listing is seen as absolutely essential for any business. Obviously, the stronger it is, the better.

Let's work together

If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

Five simple steps to building a strong GMB listing

Now, when it comes to enhancing and improving your Google My Business listing, there are quite a few things to consider. Getting your listing optimised and looking/working as best as it possibly can be is the foundation of any worthwhile local SEO strategy. Whether you’re building your first GMB listing, or you’re looking to build on an existing one, we’re going to guide you through five simple ways with which you can hopefully begin to see a dramatic improvement in your local leads!

1.      Create or claim your listing, then add as much relevant information as possible (whilst keeping it accurate and up to date)

From a customer’s point of view, knowing as much as possible about a business they could potentially be engaging with is extremely important. If information is limited, it can affect that customer’s perception of the business. In the current day and age, people want information in an instant, rather than having to sift through page after page to find what they’re looking for. This is why it’s incredibly important to ensure that all of the information a customer could need is available (and relevant) from your GMB listing.

If you’re creating your first listing, it’s worth giving your business a quick Google to find out if there’s already an existing listing or not (you can also do this through GMB’s built-in search feature). If a listing already exists, you just need to claim it. This is typically the case for businesses who have been in operation for several years already. When you’ve claimed the listing, you can edit and insert information as you would if it was a new listing.


When creating a new listing, it can take a little longer (due to the verification process, which we’ll cover below). However, to get started, it’s fairly straightforward. Start off with the name of your business, and then select your business category. Ensure that the category you choose is the one that’s most relevant to your business (this is very important for proper optimisation).

Once this is done, Google will provide you with the option to add a location for customers to visit. It’s important to note that this affects specific location visibility (such as where your customers can visit your shop via Maps etc.), but it doesn’t mean that choosing not to enter a specific location (if you don’t have a shop for example) will push you out of location-based search results. Providing that your information is correct, your business will still appear in relevant search results for the area that it services. For this to work effectively, just ensure that you fill in the optional information section that asks you which areas your business serves. You can add to or change any details on your service area in the future as needed. It’s also incredibly important to add your opening hours (and any holiday hours) – keep these as up-to-date as possible.

Next, it’s time to add contact information and your website details. For businesses without a specific customer-focused visiting location, this will primarily be a phone number and your website URL. If you do have a physical store for customers to visit, you can enter your shop address in this same area too. You can also set how far or where your business is able to deliver any products or services here too, which is especially vital for a wide variety of businesses.

It might seem obvious, but be sure that the phone number you enter is the one you use for business purposes. The wrong number, needless to say, can have a negative bearing on how customers perceive your business if they have a confusing experience getting hold of you! Your website URL is equally as important. If you don’t have a website for your business yet, getting a site built is definitely worth looking into as the world continues travelling into a digital-first future. You can also opt for your URL to direct to your business’ Facebook page instead if a dedicated website isn’t what you’re looking for.

Bonus Tip: Complete your ‘from the business section’

One element of creating a GMB listing that can sometimes be overlooked is the ‘from the business’ description. Google actually creates a short summary that appears just below your business name in your profile (you can’t change this unfortunately, but Google tends to create well-crafted descriptions so you don’t need to worry too much). You can however create a lengthier description yourself, which is exactly what the ‘from the business’ section is for. This description appears a little lower down.

When creating your description, it’s a good idea to make full use of the available character count. You have up to 750 characters available, and Google will display the first 250 automatically. That means it’s essential to get key information into that first third. With regards to what you should include, you can always re-purpose content from any of your business’ ‘About Us’ pages, just be sure to use relevant keywords that people may be using to find a business such as yours. You should also try to make this section unique (don’t include information from other sections of your listing for example) and shout about what sets you apart from the competition. Just make sure you leave anything that isn’t plain text (such as links or HTML code) out of the description entirely.

Now you’re ready to finish up and publish your Google My Business listing!

Let's work together

If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

Essential: Verify your listing with Google

The verification step is crucial in the new GMB listing procedure. In order to get your business listed correctly, you need to verify it with Google themselves. Verification should be tackled once you’ve finished adding all of the essential information needed for your listing. You can complete the verification in a few different ways (depending on business eligibility):

  • By post – Verifying by post is possibly one of the more common ways to gain verification. This typically involves requesting a dedicated postcard through Google My Business. When requesting the postcard, ensure that your address is displayed accurately (this will be the postal address for the postcard). Once your postcard arrives (usually within 14 days), you simply need to enter the verification code from the card in the correct place in the Google My Business verification area.
  • By phone – Not all businesses are able to verify via the phone. Certain criteria must be met. However, if eligible, you should see a ‘Verify by phone’ option in the verification section of Google My Business. An automated message will be sent to your phone, and you simply input the code from the message into the verification section in Google My Business.
  • By email – Much like phone verification, not all businesses are able to verify via email either (unless the business meets certain criteria). When verifying by email, Google will send your code to the supplied business email address, or you can simply click the ‘Verify now’ button in the email.
  • Instant verification through Google Search Console – If you have previously verified your business in Google Search Console, you may be able to verify your business in GMB instantly. Again, this may only be possible for certain businesses who are eligible, and it must be done using the same email account for GMB as was used for Google Search Console verification.
  • Bulk verification – This is ideal for businesses who have 10 or more locations for the same business.

Once you have verified your business, Google will ask you to review your information and to make any final changes. Find out more about verifying your business here.

2.      Mange your Google business reviews and respond to them

Once your listing is published and verified, you might find that your business begins to collect some reviews through Google from customers or individuals who have engaged with your business. Each and every review you receive is important, and that includes any negative ones.

If you’ve read our recent article on Google Star ratings and reviews, you’ll know just how crucial reviews can be for any business. If you’re providing the service that your customers expect (and exceeding them), you’ll begin to reap the benefits that a swathe of positive reviews can bring. When potential customers see positive feedback, it builds trust and can go a long way towards converting them into actual customers.

If any customers happened to have a disagreement with the goods or services they’ve received, you may also end up with some negative reviews to deal with. Don’t let this deter you. It’s important to remember that people are much more likely to air their issues with something than they are to post about the positives. It’s a way for humans to vent their frustration. When this happens, regardless of the reason, it’s important to handle the situation appropriately.

Responding to reviews is one of the ways that you can begin solving any problems that reviewers leaving negative feedback may be experiencing. For example, if there is a shipping issue or a faulty product, you could respond by offering to directly address the situation and fix it. Reviews are typically on show to anyone and everyone who can view your listing, and that includes your responses. That means responding in a positive manner can be beneficial. Providing the correct response and being able to publicly solve a situation can go a long way towards negating the trust problems that a negative review in itself could cause.

It’s also a good idea to respond to positive reviews if you can. This shows that you pay attention to your customers, that you care about them and you’re willing to interact with them. This can aid brand loyalty, improve trust, and generally provide your business with a human image. All in all, building positive reviews and ratings can increase your Google Star Rating for the better, and that in itself can provide an instantaneous positive insight for customers who view your business before they even read any of the feedback.


Bonus Step: Engage with customers through Google My Business messaging, as well as ‘Questions & Answers’

Using the Google My Business app, you can switch on messaging services, enabling people to contact your business directly through Google’s services. Responding to each and every message can often be time-consuming, but in terms of building a positive brand image and generating trust, it’s definitely a good tool to utilise. By responding to these messages using a handy customised and automated response through GMB, you can improve visibility too whilst reducing response times. It’s advised to keep your response times below 24-hours in order to take full advantage of the enhanced visibility that this can offer, making messaging and automated responses and excellent time investment.

One other feature to take note of is the ‘Questions & Answers’ section. This essentially provides customers with a platform to publicly ask questions about your business, and you can respond. However, other people can also respond to these questions too. This can potentially lead to problems if things get out of hand or if information becomes irrelevant. With this in mind, you should set up alerts to inform you anytime a question or answer is posted. You can also choose to list your most frequently asked questions, post them, then answer them yourself and upvote your own answer. This might seem a little unorthodox, but it’s actually a tactic that Google encourages. When answering, you should again keep keywords in mind in order to aid rankings. Just use them naturally and avoid keyword stuffing.

3.      Upload relevant photos to your GMB listing

You’ve heard the saying – a picture paints a thousand words. This still reigns true in almost every aspect of digital business, particularly when it comes to your Google My Business listing. According to Google, any listings with published photos typically receive 42% more requests for driving directions, as well as 35% more clickthroughs to the provided website URL. This is quite a significant increase, meaning the addition of photos could be a direct way to increase your ecommerce revenue, boost potential leads, or generally increase traffic and brand awareness.

Photos also help to enhance trust. A visual aid can improve an individual’s perception of your business, with specific photos being able to provide that more humane image we mentioned earlier. Here are a few tips on how to utilise photos within your Google My Business listing to their maximum:

  • Use high-quality photos – pixelated or low-quality images can sometimes have the opposite effect. You can even get a little creative (within reason) to maximise the impact of your photos
  • Keep your eyes out for user-generated or user-submitted photos and consider using them to your advantage, if they are of good quality
  • Be diverse with the photos you choose in order to display the different elements of your business
  • Ensure that your photos are optimised for their purpose
  • Stick at it – don’t just upload a few photos at the start and then forget about them, it’s all about keeping everything fresh and up-to-date.


4.      Take advantage of Google’s posts feature

Planning on pushing out a promotion? What about hosting an event? Or even taking on new products in your store? Google’s posts feature gives you the perfect opportunity to build awareness and making your latest endeavours visible to searchers. These posts can be published directly to search results as well as Maps through GMB on any device you need to use, giving you the opportunity to keep your presence fresh and up-to-date.

When creating your posts, ensure that they contain high-quality content that has been properly proof-read and edited (make sure there are no spelling errors or issues, and that the content is relevant to the subject). It’s also worth making sure that any links you use in your posts lead to trusted sites, as if they don’t then your post simply won’t be allowed. Also, be wary of the industry or products that you’re talking about. Certain industries and product types (specifically those surrounding regulated goods and services) are allowed to publish posts, but they can’t post anything that directly relates to the products themselves. You could have some issues on your hands if you don’t stick by that last one…

5.      Utilise the product catalogue and special attributes that GMB offers

The product catalogue in Google My Business is extremely useful for ecommerce stores. It enables you to add products that you want to promote or showcase, complete with pricing, photographs and other product details. Not only does this provide your customers (both new and existing) instant information that they can view and access easily, but Google can also gain a much deeper understanding of your business through the product details section. This can enhance your ranking, particularly for related searches and keywords.

Another useful feature that you should definitely use (if applicable) is the Special Attributes that GMB offers. These are essentially ‘features’ of your business, such as offering outdoor seating for a bar or restaurant, free WiFi, on-site gift shops, and so on. The special attributes that you can choose through Google My Business can be quite in-depth, and they are definitely worth completing to enhance your GMB listing. Just ensure that they are both true and relevant.

Want to know more?

Hopefully we’ve given you a good, solid overview of improving your Google My Business listing. If you want to learn more, we can help.

Let's work together

If you want to talk to our specialist team about how we can help you with your digital marketing, talk to our team today.

Here at Agency51, we specialise in helping you build a successful business. Our expert digital marketing team can provide you with the answers, information and processes that you need for your business to thrive. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help!

Daniel Martin-Lemmon

Daniel Martin-Lemmon

Daniel Martin-Lemmon is a Content and Digital Marketing Executive at Agency51 with a passion for all things writing and marketing-related. From adverts and email campaigns, to long-form blog posts and instructional guides - he’s spent the first part of his career crafting engaging copy in an e-commerce environment, and now spends his time developing a diverse range of long and short-form content for a variety of different industries.

10 Great North Way, York Business Park, York YO26 6RB

© Copyright Agency51 2019. All rights reserved. All trademarks acknowledged. Agency51 Limited, trading as Agency51, is registered in England & Wales: No. 05516494. VAT Registration Number: 192 0540 24. Agency51 is part of the PureNet Group of Companies

Privacy Policy     Cookie Policy