Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business profile is one of the most valuable components of your Local SEO strategy, and it’s free! As of August 2020, Google is the preferred search engine for 92.05% of people searching for a product or service. In a 2019 study conducted by Moz, 77% of respondents used Google three or more times a day. The more information you provide about your business on Google, the more likely you are to reach customers.
Claiming Your Business Profile
Log into your Google Account.
- It’s preferable to claim your profile with an account you check regularly, as Google My Business will send all communication about your listing to this email address.
- Note: If you have multiple locations, you can claim multiple profiles from the same account.
Find your business on Google.
- A search for your business name will most likely suffice, but if your business has a common name, you may need to add the city and state.
- When the search engine results page loads, a box resembling a Knowledge Panel will appear to the right-hand side of your screen. This box is your Business Profile.
In your Business Profile, scroll down to “Own this business?” and click on it.
- If your profile is unclaimed, a screen will load with a “Manage now” button. When you click the button, you can begin the claiming process. There will be a series of questions about your business (address, phone, categories, etc.) that you will need to answer in order to reach the next step: verification.
- If your profile is already claimed, a screen will load that states: “This listing has already been claimed.” Google will provide you with the first two letters of the email address of the current owner. If you do not recognize the account, you can “Request Access.” When you request access, make sure you are requesting “Ownership,” not “Management,” access. Whether the current owner approves or rejects your request, you will receive an email stating so. If your request for access is approved, you can usually skip verification and go straight to optimization. If your request for access is rejected, you can move on to the next step, which is verification. If the current owner doesn’t respond to your request for access within seven days, you can begin the verification process once the seven days have passed.
Begin the verification process.
- Google will now require you to verify your profile to prove that you own the business. Methods of verification vary, but typically, Google will give you an option to verify by phone, email, or postcard. Sometimes Google will allow you to choose which verification method you’d prefer to use, but occasionally they’ll only provide one option. Phone and email verification are the quickest verification methods, while postcard verification is the slowest.
- Phone verification:
- Google will either call or text your business phone number. You can choose whether you would prefer a call or a text.
- If you choose the call option, when you answer the phone, an automated message will play with a verification code. Enter the verification code in the field provided on your computer screen.
If you choose the text option, Google will send you the verification code via text message. Enter the verification code in the field provided on your computer screen.
- Email verification:
- Google will send an email to your Google account. The email will include a verification code. Enter the verification code in the field provided on your computer screen.
- Postcard verification:
- Google will send a postcard to your business address. The postcard typically takes five to seven business days to arrive. The verification code will be printed on the postcard. Once the postcard has arrived, type the verification code into the field provided in your Google My Business dashboard.
- Phone verification:
Congratulations, you have now successfully claimed your Google My Business profile! It is now time to optimize.
Optimizing Your Business Profile
Once you have access to your business profile, there are many fields for you to utilize. The more information you fill out on your Google My Business dashboard, the more likely your business will appear in the top search results on Google. Google constantly updates the dashboard, so it is vital to keep an eye on new features.
To begin filling out your business profile, navigate to the Info tab in the menu on the left-hand side of your dashboard. The following sections will need to be filled out or edited:
For most businesses, the business name is self-explanatory. It must match what your business displays on its website, signage, and other branding. Businesses with individual practitioners are the exception to the rule. There are a few different naming scenarios depending on the size of the business.
In these scenarios, we will refer to two types of Google My Business pages: practitioner pages and practice pages.
An individual practitioner is a business professional that sees customers publicly. Dentists are considered individual practitioners. Practitioner pages should include titles (e.g., Jane Doe, DDS). Creating an individual practitioner page is not always necessary or advisable though. If you choose to create one or if one already exists, it should be optimized separately, and it should not link to the same URL or have the same category as your practice page. This is to prevent a practitioner page from competing with a practice page.
A practice page is the go-to business profile for your business. It should link to the homepage of your website. If you own a dental practice with multiple practitioners, the practice page should only be the name of the practice (e.g., ABC Dental). The business name should not include the names of individual practitioners. If you own a practice with only one practitioner, then the business name should include the practitioner’s name (e.g., ABC Dental: Jane Doe, DDS).
Choosing the correct primary category is vital for your business profile. Not only does the category you choose affect which fields populate in your dashboard, it holds significant ranking power.
For your primary category, choose the category that is most relevant to your business. Google My Business provides a huge selection of categories you can choose from, and they update the list on a regular basis. If you offer more than one service, you can select up to ten additional categories. To increase your visibility in Google search, we highly encourage selecting as many applicable categories as possible, but never select a category that doesn’t relate to your business or you’ll be penalized by Google.
The address you enter here should be your physical location: where customers go to receive your services. It should not be a home address or a P.O. box. Google My Business also provides a Service Area field, but it does not impact ranking. If you’re not a service-area business, we do not recommend utilizing this section.
Insert your business hours here. Make sure they are accurate and updated regularly, as they’re an important element of trust between customers and your business. You can add holiday hours in the Special Hours field as well. Unfortunately, at this time, holiday hours must be entered separately for each year and cannot be carried over from year to year.
Your phone number is a prominent field on your business profile. As one of the primary methods of communication with your customers, it should be accurate. For many of our clients, we utilize call tracking to decipher where calls are coming from. If you use a similar service, we recommend setting the call tracking number as your primary phone, and making your actual business number (which the call tracking number forwards to) the secondary phone.
Profile Short Name
Your profile short name is Google’s solution to shortening the long URL for your business profile located in the browser’s address bar. When you share your business profile with customers, you can now share this simplified short name, g.page/[your short name], and it will take them directly to your Google My Business page. You can change your profile short name up to three times a year.
The URL for your website is another integral piece of information that must be provided on your business profile. We recommend inserting the link to your homepage because it has the most authority and it is most relevant to customers searching for your business. If your business has multiple locations, we suggest linking to a different location page for each business profile, so you don’t have multiple business profiles competing with each other.
Google also provides additional URL fields for Appointments, COVID-19 info, Menu (for dental practices this can be a link to your Services page), and Virtual care. The more URLs you provide, the easier it is for customers to learn more about your business, which Google often rewards.
When you click on Services, you will be redirected to the Services tab, which appears in the left-hand menu. While the Services section does not affect ranking, we still recommend at least providing a list of your services, as can be found on your website. As always, the more information you provide, the happier the customer. And when the customer is happy, Google will make it worth your while. Google My Business provides predefined services, but you have the ability to create custom services. If you’re so inclined, you can also add a description for each individual service, but it cannot exceed 300 characters.
Attributes cover many different topics: “Highlights” about your business (black-owned, veteran-owned, women-led), “About this person” (practitioner gender), “Accessibility” (wheelchair accessibility), “Amenities (types of restrooms), “Health & safety” (sterilization and office safety protocols), “Offerings” (teeth whitening), “Planning” (accepts new patients and LGBTQ friendly), and “Service options” (online care).
Google My Business updates this section on a regular basis, so it’s important to check your attributes frequently.
Your business description should be an accurate portrayal of your business. It has a 750-character limit, so it cannot be too wordy. Many businesses copy and paste text from the homepage of their website, which is fine, but we suggest tailoring your business description to contain your business name, city and state, and the name of each dentist that works at your practice in the first sentence or two. Don’t worry about spending too much time here, as your business description does not directly impact ranking, and it appears near the bottom of your business profile on Google’s search engine results page, so its importance is debatable.
Filling out all fields on your business profile is preferable to leaving them empty, so while this section may seem trivial, we still recommend filling it out. When you enter your opening date, the month and year are required. Including the exact day is optional.
Recently, Google has begun adding how long businesses have been open to select Google My Business profiles on the search engine results page, so this field may gain importance in the months and years to come.
When you click “Add photos” at the bottom of the Info tab, you will be redirected to the Photos tab. A higher number of photos correlates with more clicks, calls, and direction requests. When adding photos to your business profile, include at least five to seven (of each) interior, exterior, and team photos. Be sure to label them correctly as well. And of course, don’t forget to add your logo and a cover photo. Customers want to see what your business looks like and how your team operates, so the more photos, the merrier. Keep photos updated regularly too, as fresh content will keep current and potential customers interested.
Once you’ve added photos, your optimization is complete! Of course, there are many other features on your Google My Business dashboard that you can utilize, including Google Posts and Google Messaging. Reviews also play an integral role in your ranking, and they should be responded to on a regular basis.
For more detailed information about optimizing your Google My Business profile, we recommend checking out the Google My Business guidelines in Google My Business Help. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.