These instructions are most useful if you want to improve your business’s online visibility and…
- …you are a business who wants someone (staff or a third-party vendor) to manage or fine-tune your listing, or
- …you provide such services and want to add an assistant or to set a listing’s owner without requiring them to set up the initial listing themselves.
Disclaimer: External Design provides related services to our clients and, on an as-available basis, to new inquiries. This includes setting up GMB accounts, assigning the proper ownership, and fine-tuning the detailed content of the listing — sometimes to a significant degree. This is one part of a good strategy for managing your online visibility.
Google My Business — Listings, Users
If you (or your client) don't have one yet, open a "Google My Business" account.
If you have an account that's appropriate to use for the business listing you intend to manage, you may skip to the next section.
- Not a small thing: First, decide which email address you'll use. You might already have a Google account as an individual, and Google My Business might ease you right into using that one by default. But consider: is that the best email address (and its domain name) to represent this business listing? Might you want to delegate this account or transfer its ownership easily? If in doubt, for the most flexibility get a new email address just for this business; ideally it will use the real domain name of the business, which helps with branding, rather than a generic @gmail.com (or @yahoo.com, etc.). After you have settled on something like firstname.lastname@example.org that's appropriate for your situation, set up the email account and test to ensure you can both send and receive email successfully with it.
- Start at the "Google My Business" (GMB) landing page:
- Important: if you are already signed in to a Google account, check to verify it is the account that uses the email address you chose for this GMB account (above). If not, logout and continue.
- If you are logged out, choose either the Sign In or the Start Now link. (At the time of this writing, they display the same form.)
On the form that pops up, use the "Create account" link.
- Complete the form on the "Create your Google Account" window, using the email address you chose for this account.
Add a "Google My Business" listing (aka "location")
Google refers to each GMB listing as a location. That helps businesses with several locations serving an area, and which might want a separate listing for each of them in GMB (and also, therefore, in Google Maps). If the listing already exists and you have access to it in GMB, you may proceed to the next section.
- Start at the Google My Business landing page, logging into the correct account if you aren't already:
- When you are logged into your account, the landing page lists any Google My Business listings this account can access. (If you don't see the page shown below right away, you might need to use the "Manage locations" link to display it.)
- Give the listing a name — typically the name of a business. If it is for just one location of a business that has more than one location, you might find it convenient over time to have a modifier in the business listing's name. For example, instead of 80 listings for Milton's Mufflers, it can help to add a location ID number or a descriptor in the name, such as Milton's Mufflers #68 or Milton's Mufflers - Walnut Creek.
- For "Delivery area," if your business is constrained to a particular geopolitical area, choose the first option. Otherwise, choose the "Deliver in person within distance from business." You'll then have the opportunity to set a physical distance in which most of your potential customers reside. Google might constrain your choice of distance.
- Set a Google category for this business location. Start by typing a relevant term or two to explore the relevant, valid choices. Put in a bit of time to find the category that accurately and specifically identifies the kind of business this listing is for.
- On the "Make connections" screen, some businesses might find the telephone number unnecessary and might omit it. (If you omit it, that might prevent one convenient way Google has of verifying your account.) All businesses are likely to benefit from providing their website address here. At least one of these fields must be completed.
- Next, to lessen the chances of someone impersonating a business and hijacking their listing in My Business, Google will present steps to verify you are authorized to act on behalf of this business. Choose the method that seems best suited to you — for simplicity, we won't document all the options here but, have faith, choose a verification option and follow the instructions. In some cases, time will pass… after it does and you are verified, proceed to the next section to add a manager or to specify the owner for this GMB listing.
Add a User — Manager or Owner — to a "Google My Business" account.
To add a user, first sign into a Google My Business account that has permission to manage that business location's listing. Use the "Manage locations" link, if necessary, to display the list of business locations your account can manage.
- From the list of locations, choose the one for which you wish to add another user.
- On the left-hand menu, choose the Users option.
- The resulting form lists anyone who already has permission to manage this location's listing. If you're like most people using these instructions, your name is shown there. In the upper-right of the same window is a small, "add users" symbol — click that to display the form for adding a new user to this location's GMB listing.
- Enter the name or email address of the person you'd like to add, and select a role for them from the drop-down. Google may attempt to help auto-complete the email and name. In some cases, Google might require the new user to have already logged into a Google property using the same email address you use to add them here. Just persist, and follow the on-screen prompts. As for the user's role, the general rule of thumb is (and it's nothing personal): only give the minimum amount of power each person needs to perform their routine functions. Owner has the most control. Communications manager has the least, but nevertheless includes the most-needed functions for most routine tasks. (In our practice, we always assign the business's legitimate owner or business manager the role of Owner for each listing. Corporate and enterprise clients — such as franchises and multi-office businesses — may wish to define a policy for assigning this role in a consistent way that doesn't suffer when a person leaves or is promoted.)
- Important: After you issue the invitation to the new user, Google will email an invitation for them to accept. It is a very good practice for you to send that individual a personal email, too — the Google message could get caught in a spam filter or they might not look closely and mistake it for spam.
That's how a Google My Business team can be built and managed. Check the list of users after you've issued an invite, and after they accept (or not), to explore your additional choices for managing them.
Because of its potential importance, both direct and in synergy with your other web assets, we advise a studied approach to completing a Google My Business profile. Today’s value of a well-crafted listing can hardly be overstated and it looks likely to become even more valuable, especially in mobile and local SEO (search-engine optimization). As SEO pros at Yoast have noted, unlike past years, a Google My Business listing is not a “set it and forget it” asset — it is part of your online identity, an indicator of your business’s vitality, and should work in concert with your brand, your other web properties, and your presence on social media.