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How does Google My Business work?

Updated: Feb 11, 2019


Google My Business listings feature within local Google searches as part of a Google Maps insert called a Local Pack. Google My Business (GMB) was formally known as Google Places and this changed when the product became independent from Google Plus.

The GMB listings are free and typically are either in a state of being non-verified or verified. Often, non-verified listings contain incorrect details such as the wrong address and phone numbers.

GMB listings should be claimed or set up and then verified so that the business can manage it’s listing and ensure that the business information is correct. The GMB listing is verified to a specific address and multiple listings can be set up for those businesses with multiple sites.

Support for Google My Business

It’s fair to say that GMB listings are one of the more difficult and frustrating areas within Google to manage, especially for the non experienced. Managing multiple addresses often adds more complexity to managing listings. See support information from Google My Business.

How to claim and verify an existing GMB listing

You can identify that a listing isn’t verified by searching for the brand and location of the business in Google and then inspecting the Knowledge Panel on the right hand side of the search results. If it says “Own this business?” then the listing is un-verified and you can claim it. How do I claim and verify an existing listing?

1. Sign in to your Google account at www.google.com/business and ‘Add a location’.

2. Follow Google’s instructions as if you were going to create a new location for your business of interest (even though we know that the business listing already exists).

3. If the verified location already exists, Google will recommend it to you. When you select the business listing, a popup will explain that “Someone else has already verified this listing”.

4. If you know you already own the business listing but can’t remember which email account was used to create it, Google will show the first to letters of the email address that verified the business listing (e.g. “xx…@gmail.com”). Hopefully this will help you remember which login to use.

5. Otherwise, click ‘Request ownership’ and answer Google’s following prompts/questions. In order to transfer ownership of the business listing to your account, choose the answers “No, the account is currently managed by someone else” and “No” when asked if you can contact the listing owner.

6. Fill out the form to request a transfer of ownership. Google will then send you an email informing you that an email has been sent to the owner of the business listing, asking him/her to contact you.

7. Usually, if 5 days passes without the owner responding to you or Google, you can reply to Google’s email to continue the ownership-transfer process. They will respond either by phone or by email to get you access.

How to add a secondary owner to a verified GMB listing

1 — Go to www.google.com/business and sign in using your Google or gmail account. Scroll down to the 'Locations' section to see if you have access to the existing location. If you do, go to step 5. If you can't find the existing listing, go to step 2.

2 — Click the pink + button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and select 'Add a location'.

3 — On the next page, fill out the Google My Business form with accurate information and click 'Continue'. If a verified listing already exists, you'll get a popup saying that "Someone else has already verified this listing".

4a — Within this popup, Google will show you the first two letters of the email that currently owns the exisiting listing — This is the account that you need to try login to www.google.com/business with. This may require asking around the workplace to figure out whose email it is and what their email-password combination is.

4b — If you simply can't work out whose email it is (or get their password), all you need to do is reply to this email to let us know — Adhesion can contact Google directly to gain access, however this process may take 2+ weeks.

5 — If you can successfully login to www.google.com/business with the correct email-password combination, then scroll down to the 'Locations' section to find the existing location and click 'Manage Location'.

6 — Click on the circular account button in the top right hand corner of your screen and click the 'Manage account' button.

7 — Click 'Manage permissions' and then, in the top right hand corner of the popup, click the 'Invite new users' icon.

8 — Enter the email googlelistings@adhesion.co.nz, as well as your own email. Then click 'Choose a role', select 'Owner' and click 'Done'. Don't worry, Adhesion won't really 'own' your listing (you always will), this simply gives us the access permissions we need.

How to set up and verify your GMB listing

If there is no listing for your business address, then a new listing will need to be set up and verified. To set up and verify a GMB listing:

1. Sign in to your Google account at www.google.com/business and ‘Add a location’.

2. Input the name and location of the business listing you wish to create. Google may then prompt you with one or more listings that it thinks could be your business. In our case, we’re going to ignore these and click ‘This doesn’t match - Add your business’.

3. Google will then present you with a form. It’s very important you fill this our correctly:

i. You should only use your correct business name.

ii. Ideally, your ‘Street address’, ‘Suburb’, ‘City’ and ‘Postal code’ should match the location that Google Maps recognises. So go to www.google.co.nz/maps and enter what you know your address to be. Google will present you with the ‘official’ address. Copy and paste the street address, suburb, city and postal code into the Google My Business form;

iii. Your ‘Category’ affects how your listing will rank on Google search results. You cannot input whatever you like and so you might have to compromise with a category that most closely describes your business. Up to 5 categories can be added, however the first one you choose should ideally best represent your primary category.

4. By checking ‘I am authorised to manage this business…’ and clicking continue, you will be creating both the Google My Business location and an associated Google+ Page.

5. After this, you will be prompted to verify your business location. You will need to complete this process for your listing will show in Google. Google will give you one or more options to verify a local business on Google: Postcard, phone call, instant verification or bulk location (for verifying 10 or more locations at once). If you use the postcard option, these arrive within about 15 days and expire after 30 days. As soon as the postcard arrives, log into Google My Business, select your business location, click ‘Enter code’, and type in the 5-digit code presented in the postcard.

6. If your postcard doesn't arrive after 3 weeks, then you will need to log into your Google My Business account and request another postcard to be sent.

How to resolve duplicate listings

When managing your Google My Business page, you may be informed that your location is not showing because it is a duplicate of another or it has the same address as another business. Searching your business address in Google may help you identify any listings with the same address. Alternatively, you can ‘Add a location’ in your Google My Business account and do a search for your business location.

In most cases, duplicate listings need be removed. This can be done by gaining access to the duplicate listing (see ‘How to claim and verify an existing GMB listing’ above). Alternatively, if the duplicate business listing is not verified, you can simply ‘Add a location’ and click ‘I am authorised to manage this business…’. If you still have issues gaining access, go to the Google My Business Support page.

Once you have access to manage or own the duplicate page, you can manage its settings. Click the circular button in the top right corner and then click ‘Settings’. Scroll to the very bottom of the resulting page and click ‘Delete page’. Make sure you read Google’s instructions carefully and then you can click the final ‘Delete account’ button.

How to manage multiple GMB listings

If your business needs multiple location pages because you have many branches or franchise outlets, you’ll want to create a separate business account to hold all your location pages. Login to Google My Business, click the menu hamburger-button in the top left corner and select ‘create business account’.

Once inside your new business account, click the circular ‘+’ button in the bottom left corner and select ‘Import locations from a file’. We suggest you choose the ‘Download a template’ option.

Open the spreadsheet and fill in all the columns possible. You must give each location a ‘Store code’ of your choice. We suggest you use a common convention that will keep each location unique (e.g. SubwayAuckland001, SubwayAuckland002, SubwayAuckland003…). If you are unable to input data for any columns (e.g. ‘Address line 2’, ‘Latitude’ or ‘Special hours’), then delete these columns (don’t leave them empty). Any photos that you include will need a URL link for Google to locate them (otherwise you can add them manually later).

Once you have uploaded your completed spreadsheet, you need to verify all your locations. Click the circular ‘Get verified for all your locations’ button in the top right corner and follow Google’s instructions.

Let’s say you’ve changed your 0800 number and need all your listings updated accordingly: When you click on one of your listings and change your phone number, you can check a box to ‘Apply changes to all locations’.

For more information, search for help on the Google My Business Support page.

Optimising for ranking performance

Firstly it is most important that your addressing and phone numbers are correct and that they match precisely the same information on your website. In your GMB listing you can select up to 5 business categories. Take care to select the most appropriate categories and order them in priority.

Once you have verified your listing you should optimise it as follows:

1. Initially you will see on your GMB location page that ‘Your profile is 45% complete’. You must follow google instructions to get this to 100% complete, no less. Start by clicking the ‘Edit’ button. Fill out the following form as fully as possible:

i. Copy and paste your homepage URL from your website.

ii. Click on ‘Category’ to ‘Add another category’ if you need to. We recommend you select 2-3 relevant categories that are ordered from most important to least important.

iii. Adding your ‘Hours’ is very important but you don't need to specify their ‘Special Hours’ for holidays or irregular open times.

iv. When adding an ‘Introduction’ to your business, it is important to use some of your most-searched keywords, add links to your website, keep it to 3-5 lines in length, and end your intro with a Call To Action with a link to your website. When you’ve completed the above, click ‘Done editing’.

2. Finally, click on either ‘Manage photos’ or ‘Add profile photo’ to add some imagery:

i. Add a quality profile photo of your business’ interior or exterior, or a feature product. This image needs to be at least 250x250 pixels but we recommend it’s no smaller than 1080x608 pixels.

ii. Continue to add a logo and a cover photo for your business. Then, in the top right corner of the ‘Identity Photos’ section, click on the button next to ‘What are these?’. Here, you can recommend what image you would like Google to show when people search for your service or product.

iii. We also highly recommend you use a good camera or smartphone to take at least 3 photos of you business’ interior, exterior, workers, products, services etc. and upload these too (this will positively affect your ranking).

See a video about GMB

It’s beneficial to update your GMB listing regularly (at least annually) – listings that are not updated, experience lower ranking performance. You can update your GMB photo’s and business description etc.

If you move address, its best to edit and update your existing listing, rather than creating a new one.

Posts now avialable on your GMB listing

You can now publish small posts onto your GMB listing. This is an excellent feature if you have an offer to promote or even an announcement to publish. The posts can include a link and an image and they automatically expire after one week.

Linking to your Adwords

In your Adwords campaign you can enable a Location Extension within your campaigns. This needs to first enabled at the account level – go to settings and click the “Ad Extensions” tab and then select “Location Extensions” from the View tab. From here you can add your GMB location extension. Note you will need to be logged into your GMB account. Once you have completed this you can then ad a “Location Extension” at an individual campaign level.

Advertising in Google Maps

Google has signalled that it will be launching a new advertising service in Google Maps later this year. This will allow businesses to place ads within the Local Pack in search results and to promote pin markers within Google Maps.

Please refer to Google's up to date list of feature changes to GMB.

Contact us if you need help with managing your Google My Business listings.

Fully certified, year after year.

Our reputation goes hand-in-hand with our team’s dedication to best practice. As a registered Premier Google Partner, our team refreshes our certifications every 12 months — A tradition we started over a decade ago. To stay ahead, we are always looking forward to upcoming certifications for online advertising, website development and search engine optimisation.