As a local digital developer I have helped many small businesses create a digital presence including the claiming and optimization of their Google My Business (Formerly Google places). At first glance GMB’s offering for local businesses may appear fairly simple but there are nuances that every business owner should be aware of. Below I address some of my clients most common questions about Google Local SEO.

 

It is currently estimated that four out of every five people use search engines to find local information such as a company’s address, hours, phone number and reviews. With such strong figures, it amazes me how many businesses have not even claimed their Google business listing!

 

Going even further, Google research has showed that businesses with detailed and complete online listing information are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.  Furthermore, those listing see a rapid lift in brand reputation with the amount of positive reviews a business obtains across major platforms. such as Google and Yelp.

 

Statistics like these have translated to Local SEO specialists claiming the business listing as the first step towards an effective local SEO strategy.  Yet surprisingly more than 56% of local businesses have not even claimed their listing!

 

Some common questions about Google My Business:

 

Do I need to setup a separate Google email (gmail) address to claim my business listing?

 

I always suggest that you have a gmail account setup for the business to be a backup to your domain email however a separate gmail account is not needed. You may signup with your business domain email (info@yourdomain.com) as the primary and  you can assign manager roles for coworkers or agencies.

 

I own a restaurant and have recently updated my menu but I see an outdated menu on my Google My Business Page. How can I fix it?

 

Most likely the menu information was pulled from the data feed from a website called singleplatform.com. SP is a site that distributes menus from service based listings across many platforms including Google.

 

In order to remove your menu link from SinglePlatform the business owner will need contact them and request it be removed. The owner should then contact Google My Business support and request it be removed.

 

My GMB listing is claimed but I  don’t know the email to access it, what do I do?

 

Since the Google My Business listing is “owned” by the person who verified the listing, it’s important for the owner to get back control of their listing.

First, confirm that the business is listed on Google My Business:

  1. Go to Google My Business
  2. Sign in with the Google account you think may have been used to claim/login to your business listing
  3. Search for the business name and address
  4. If the business appears in the search results, click on the listing
  5. If you see a dialog that says that someone else has verified the business, select one of these options:


Try a different email address

If you’re like most people, you probably have more than one email address. You might have verified your business using one of your other email addresses. Try signing out and then sign back in with one of your other Google accounts.

You will see any listings that have been verified with this Google account. If you still don’t see the business listing in any of the owner’s Google accounts, then you will need to contact the current listing owner.

Request access from the current listing owner

Google allows you to contact the current listing owner directly through Google My Business so you can request access to own or manage the business listing.

To request access from the current listing owner:

  1. Go to Google My Business
  2. Sign in with the Google account you want to use to manage the business
  3. Enter the name or address of the business and select it from the search results(Note: You might see a dialog that shows part of the email address that was used to verify the listing. The business owner might recognize that email address snippet. If the owner recognizes the email address, sign into that account to access the business listing.)
  4. Fill out the form with your contact information. The current listing owner might need to contact you, so you need to share your contact details with them.
  5. Click Submit

 

The current listing owner will get an email asking them to reach out to you and you’ll receive a confirmation email. Click on the link in the email to check the status of your request. Allow 7 days for the current listing owner to respond to your request. If you don’t hear back from them after 7 days, you can then go in and verify your affiliation with the business to get access to the business listing.

 

By far the most common question from local business owners is….. “There are fake or negative reviews on my Google listing, Can I get them removed?”

 

The short answer…NO. You know, and Google knows, that at some point it is inevitable that an unhappy customer or even just a person that has heard bad things about your company will leave a negative review. But what can you do about it? Well, not much. Freedom of speech protects reviews except in cases that violate Google’s review policy or federal/state laws such as intentional slander.

 

Most negative reviews will be a permanent mark on the local listing account however if you feel that the review has violated GMB’s policies then you can mark the little flag in the right hand corner, however flagging the item will only make Google aware of the review unless it blatantly violates Google’s policies it will remain on the listing.

 

The best practice is to come up with an incentive for clients to leave a positive review. This can be done by holding contents for reviewers, gift cards, service extensions etc but directly reaching out to end users will increase the perceived value of your business online by promoting higher quality reviews by real customers.

Flag Google My Business Reviews

 

Okay I’m frustrated and can’t find a number for Google, who do I call?

 

Well historically Google has not made it easy for SMBs to contact them however here are a couple ways to reach GMB support.

 

Phone: 844-491-9665

 

Via twitter @GoogleMyBiz

 

Via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoogleMyBusiness/

 

If you would like to know more about Google My Business feel free to contact me. I can help you shape a professional digital image!

 

GMB Goto Guides: https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Go-To-Guides/bd-p/gmb-go-to-guides

 

Google GMB Guide: https://support.google.com/business/answer/6337473

Google GMB Forum: https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Google-My-Business/ct-p/GMB