How To Set Up A Google My Business Listing For Your Local Business

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If you operate a local business and want to be found in Google Local Search, you need a Google My Business (GMB) listing. A GMB listing not only puts your business into Google’s search index, it also allows your business to be found in Google Maps and Google Image Search among other places. A completed GMB listing will allow potential customers searching for your products and services to be able to call you directly from Google Search and Google Maps. They can also get driving directions to your business, view your business hours, and read your reviews.

Setting up a Google My Business listing for your business is very easy. Just follow the step-by-step instructions* in this guide and in no time you’ll be reaping the rewards of being found in Google Local Search.

If you need help setting up your Google My Business listing, don’t hesitate to contact Arcane Marketing and we’ll be happy to work with you. The success of your online marketing is our passion and we love it when our clients succeed! Now, on to the good stuff.

In The Beginning, There Was Darkness…

In order to create a Google My Business listing for your business, you will first need a Google account. If you don’t have one yet, your GMB listing cannot exist. So, CLICK HERE to create a Google Account if you do not have one yet.

Congratulations! You are now ready to begin. The very next step you need to do is visit the Google My Business page and click “START NOW.”

Google My Business Sign In Page

Then There Was Light…

Google My Business Information FormYou will then be prompted to sign into Google if you aren’t already. The next screen is where you will begin to fill in your business information. This is the important stuff. When it comes to ranking high in Google Local Search, Google wants to know exactly who your business is and how people can contact you.

  • Business Name – Use your actual business name. Avoid using any other information that could confuse searchers.
  • Country/Region – Select what country your business resides in.
  • Street Address – Enter the number and name of the street your business is located at. Even if your business is a “Service Area Business,” this needs to be filled out for verification purposes. If your business shares the same building as other businesses, click “add line” to enter in your suite or lot number. Don’t put your suite or lot number in the main address line.
  • City – Enter your city name here.
  • State – Select your state from the drop down list.
  • Zip Code – enter in your 5 digit postal zip code here.
  • Main Business Phone – Enter in your 10 digit (area code+phone number) contact phone number here. This must be a phone number where customers can contact you directly. Only use a local phone number with a local area code. Don’t use an 800 number or any other variant. This is something that affects local rankings so be sure to use your local phone number.
  • Category – Type in a word that best describes what your business is. GMB will provide the best matches for your entry. It is important that you choose a category that represents your main business offering/service.
  • Website – If you have a website for your business, enter in your URL here. Otherwise, you can enter it in later.
  • I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location check box – If you are a “Service Area Business” where you deliver your services or products to your customers and don’t serve your customers at the address you supplied above, check yes. This would usually be appropriate for caterers, for example.
  • Finally, click “Continue

Google My Business Service Area FormIf you have selected “yes” for  I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location check box, the next screen will ask you to indicate the geographic areas you serve your customers. There are 2 different ways you can designate your service area:

  1. You can list out the zip codes or individual cities and counties you serve, or;
  2. You can denote how many miles from your location you are willing to travel to provide services.

IMPORTANT!!! There is a checkbox at the bottom of the form that says “I also serve customers at my business address. (Your address will be hidden from the public if this box isn’t checked.)” Here is what you need to know about this: If you are running your business out of your home and don’t want people showing up at your door, leave this unchecked.

One of the things Google uses for determining how well your business will rank in Google Local Search is your business address and how consistently it is found throughout the internet. Some of the places Google checks to make sure that your GMB listing is accurate include:

  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • SuperPages
  • YellowPages
  • Apple Maps
  • …and more.

Some of these local business listing directories will not allow you to hide your business address, so be aware of that fact when adding your business to these directories. It is known that having your business address visible to users can influence your rankings in a positive way. This means there is a small trade off with it comes to privacy and performance. It is up to you to decide.

Google My Business VerificationFinally, the last step is to click “Continue” which will then lead to a small dialog box that asks you how you want to receive a verification code. This code is how Google verifies that your business is a real business. The best way for Google to know if your business is real or not is to mail a postcard to your physical address that contains a 5 digit PIN. This PIN will be used to verify your GMB listing at a later date. It typically takes about a week for the PIN to arrive in your mailbox, so keep a sharp eye out for it.

IMPORTANT!!! When you see this dialog box, you are effectively at a crossroad. Should you click the blue “Mail” button, the next screen will ask you to supply a contact name for whomever should receive the postcard at your business address. At this point, YOU ARE DONE WITH GOOGLE MY BUSINESS UNTIL THE PIN COMES IN THE MAIL. If you decide to go into your new listing and add images, add business hours, or otherwise edit it in any way, your PIN will become invalid and you will have to complete the mail verification all over again. I do not recommend that you send the PIN via postal mail just yet. Instead, click “verify later.” You’ll thank me later if you suffer from OCD like I do.

Form Begins To Take Shape…

Once you click “Verify later,” you will be taken to your new Google My Business listing dashboard. This is where you will be able to fill out the remainder of your business information, add images, and then finally send off the verification post card. The first thing I recommend that you do is add images. Go to the image manager by clicking “photos” in the top menu of the business listing dashboard or by clicking the “Manage photos” button in the information panel. The two most important images to start with are:

  • Profile Image – This can be your logo or an image of your product/service. Google doesn’t care much for logos and won’t typically display them when your business appears in the Knowledge Panel. But, my OCD forces me to use my logo so I just do it. It is your choice. Google specifies that profile photos be sized at least 250px wide. I always upload profile photos at 500 x 500.
  • Cover Image – The cover image will appear in Google Image search and as the main cover image of your Google+ page should you choose to utilize it. This image should be a big, clear image of your best product/service. It needs to be sized at 2120 x 1194 for best resolution.

Depending on what type of business you have, the photo manager will allow you to categorize your images based off what you’re uploading. For instance, a catering company may have the option to upload and categorize images of their menus, team members, food and drink items, and identity (things like pics of your business vehicles or food stands). When your listing is live, it is highly recommended that you continuously add images as often as possible. Google likes images and each image you upload can appear in Google Image Search. Beautiful and compelling images will help to sell your services to potential customers. Pro tip: download the Google My Business smartphone app to make it super easy to add images right from your smartphone or tablet to your GMB listing.

Google My Business Photos

Knowledge Is Established…

It’s now time to add the final touches to your Google My Business listing. At the top of your dashboard you will find the “Info” tab. Click it and you will be taken to the GMB listing information editor. It is here where you will be able to edit your business info. Did you change your mind concerning the business name? You can change it here. You can add your business hours. You can also add attributes such as if your business is ADA compliant; if you deliver your products; if you accept electronic payments. Depending on what type of business you run, there may be more options available. Fill this information out as completely as possible.

Google My Business Information

And In The End, We Saw That It Was Good…

Well, we have finally reached the end of the process. There is only one thing left to do and that is to get your beautiful new Google My Business listing verified and into Google Maps. No matter where you are in the GMB dashboard, there will be a prompt to “Verify Now.” Once you are satisfied with your listing, click “Verify Now.”

Google My Business Verification Button

Google My Business PostcardYou will see a familiar dialog box appear. This is the moment of truth. If you think you’ve missed something in your business information, there is still time to turn back by clicking “Verify later.” But, if everything is good to go and you are ready to get this show on the road, click the blue “Mail” button.

The final step in this whole process is now in front of you. This last dialog box shows you what the Google My Business PIN postcard will look like and gives you the option to add a contact name to the postcard. Go ahead an put your name into stone. You know you wanna!

This is your last chance to turn back. Click “Cancel” if you want to go back to the GMB editor. Or, click “Send Postcard” to finalize your Google My Business listing.

Once you click “Send Postcard,” you’re done. That’s it. You will see a final dialog box that tells you that your listing will appear as unverified in Google Maps until you verify your new listing with the 5 digit PIN that will arrive in your mailbox within a week. In my experience, it usually takes only 3-5 days before you receive it. Keep an eye out for it. You have 30 days to get the listing verified otherwise you’ll need to go through the verification process again.

Google My Business Final Dialog BoxIMPORTANT!!! Once the postcard is requested after you click “Send Postcard,DO NOT, under any circumstance, go back into your GMB dashboard and edit your listing in any way. Don’t add more images, don’t change the business name, don’t even access it. Any edit you make before you verify the listing with the PIN will void said PIN and you’ll have to start the whole verification process over again. It is my highest recommendation to just leave the listing completely alone until you get your PIN. It will save you lots of heartache if you do. Trust me, I know from experience.

Once you receive your PIN postcard in the mail, go ahead and sign into the Google My Business dashboard and look for the blue banner across the top of the dashboard with the “Enter Code” button. Click the button and enter the 5 digit PIN into the field. Click the “Submit” button and voilà! You are now the proud owner of a verified and live Google My Business listing.

Google My Business Verification Code Entry

And The Earth Was Filled With All Sorts Of Great Local Businesses!

Setting up a Google My Business is a very straight forward process and if you follow this guide closely, you’ll have your business listed in Google Local Search in as little as a week. The hardest part is waiting for that PIN postcard!

If you have any questions about this process, do not hesitate to give Arcane Marketing a call at (208) 938-5988. We have set up hundreds of GMB pages for our clients and resolved even more GMB issues that give some business owners trouble. This is what we do. Anyways, I hope this post was helpful. We’d love to hear from you. Go ahead and leave us a comment below if you have something to add.


*Authors Note: Google is always updating their products and Google My Business is no exception. Since I began working in the local search marketing industry, I have seen Google My Business morph from Google Places to Google+ Local to its current incarnation. And in between each major overhaul there have been multiple tweaks and changes. I realize that this post may become outdated at any time so if you see a link HERE, click it to view posts related to these changes.

Chad Russell
Chad Russell
I am the Director of Search Marketing at Arcane Marketing. I specialize in local search, specifically organic local search. I really enjoy local search because I understand how businesses can leverage social media, traditional and evolving website optimization, and content development in order to rank high in Google Local Search. I currently market dozens of local businesses in the United States using knowledge I have learned over the past 6 years. I am a Google Local Guide, a Google Trusted Tester, and I have written over 800 local reviews in Google Maps.

11 Comments

  1. Nice job Chad. Well written. I think a lot of people should be able to learn from and use this guide.

  2. Jared Taylor says:

    Great article, well described. This should help guide people who aren’t as familiar with GMB.

  3. Chad Russell says:

    Thanks! I’ll do my best to keep this updated. Heaven knows that Google will probably change everything tomorrow.

  4. Well written! the images will be hugely beneficial to anyone unfamiliar with the dashboards. h/t to you good sir.

  5. Nate Somsen says:

    Amazing Article Chad! I had no clue about voiding the PIN number if you request the postcard and then continuing in optimizing your My Business Listing! What are your thoughts on optimizing the About section with an introduction and adding a tagline? I didn’t see that mentioned in your article. Once again amazing and incredibly helpful!

    • Chad Russell says:

      Thanks, Nate. The reason I didn’t add anything about the About Us or Tagline sections is because those features were divorced from Google My Business some time ago when Google decided that Google+, the social media platform, was to become its own entity. After Google transitioned from Google Places to Google+ Local, Google had the grand idea of making users have a Google+ profile to use Google products such as YouTube, Picassa, Gmail, and others. Because of this, the newly designed Google “local” was integrated into your Google+ account and managing your business listings was done through the Google+ interface. Well, people didn’t like the idea of being forced into Google’s social media platform just because they simply wanted their business listing to show up in Google Maps. The About Us and Tagline sections of the old “Google+ Local” pages had their own benefits (ranking high was NOT being one of those benefits). When Google decided to do away with the requirement to have a Google+ account to create business listings in the brand new “Google My Business,” the ability to have an About Us and tagline in the business listings for Google Maps went away… kind of. Google+ allows businesses to still use their services as Brand Pages. A “business” can still create a profile (or it will be created when you create a new listing in GMB) and utilize the social media aspect of Google’s services via Google+. In other words, if you are using Google+ as your business/brand, other Google+ users will still be able to see your About Us and tagline. Users of Google Maps, Google Search’s Knowledge Panel and YouTube, however, won’t see the About Us/tagline. YouTube has it’s own area for a description that is separate from Google+.

      TL;DR – The About Us and Tagline sections only appear for and benefit your followers in Google+, away from Google Maps and Google Search.

  6. Chris Wright says:

    great article Chad i am certainly going to take some of these thoughts through an implement for my customers at NetTonic.

    • Chad Russell says:

      Thanks, Chris. Take a look at the reply I gave to Nicolas below concerning how to get Google to display correct images in the Knowledge Panel and incorporate a good image SEO strategy to help make your GMB listings stand out.

  7. Hi there,

    Really nice article. I’ve a question though : Even when i’ve uploaded a cover, logo and some images in Google My Business, the main image (the one just over our business name) that appears in search results and Google map is a random image took from the homepage of our website. Why is that? I’ve tried uploading some other photos but it sticks with that unrelated image from our projects gallery.

    • Chad Russell says:

      Nicolas, that is a great question. And as a local search marketer myself, I have found that this particular question has caused many a headache for my clients over the years. The short answer is: there is nothing you can do to force what images Google chooses to display for your business in the Knowledge Panel and Google Maps. Yes, that answer sucks. However, there is a longer answer that may give you some hope.

      As with all things Google, there is an algorithm that makes the determination of what images to use. Currently, there are a few things you can do to help Google make the right choice (but nothing is guaranteed…). Images in your website that reside on the server have their own URL. That URL is subject to all the same ranking factors as the individual pages on your website does. Because of this, the more that the image URL appears in the landing pages of your website, the more “link juice” may be attributed to it. This is one of many signals Google uses to determine how your image relates to specific search queries.

      Also, whenever you put images into your landing pages, make sure you are properly utilizing the ALT attribute. Google uses that attribute to understand what the image is and how it relates to the search terms being used to find your business. Make sure relevant keywords appear in the ALT text.

      Google also looks to off-page sources of information to understand what images to use. It would be my suggestion that the image you want to appear in the Knowledge Panel also appears on your Facebook page, Yelp listing, Bing Places listing, and all of the other local listings you are managing. Logic would tell us (and presumably, Google) that this particular image is indeed representative of your product/service.

      Also, let’s not forget that Google prefers images that are sized appropriately. Rarely does Google use images that are thumbnail size (150×150). Images that are sized around 500×500 to 2120×1440 are better. Keep the file size low as well –
      preferably below 1Mb in size.

      Does your preferred image contain text or logos in it? Google is getting good at recognizing text in images and won’t display those images because those types of images take the focus away from your product or service.

      Does the image file name contain the main keyword you want to rank your business for? This is a good signal for Google.

      Additionally, utilize Schema markup to markup images that you want Google to pay particular attention to. Visit Schema.org for more information about this.

      Finally, does your image accurately show what your product or service is and is it a high quality image and not blurry? These factors make a difference.

      The bottom line is that while you cannot force Google to use an image of your exact choosing, utilizing a sound image SEO strategy in your online marketing can help Google choose the most appropriate image to display for your business in the Knowledge Panel. For further image optimization information, Moz.com recently released a Whiteboard Friday video that explains how to perform image SEO for your website. Watch the video and incorporate the info into your campaign and I believe that you will soon get the results you are after. To watch that short video, CLICK HERE. Good luck!