Ultimate Google My Business Optimization Checklist

A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Google My Business Listing

Google My Business Guide

Google My Business (GMB) is the most important online listing for any local business. It drives the local business search results on Google search, maps, Google Assistant (voice search) and more.

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is critical for not only getting new customers, but helping repeat customers do business with you again. However, Google My Business changes frequently and the best practices for a well-optimized listing are not always clear.

We created this “blueprint” for Google My Business as a single point of reference and will update it continually to reflect the changes and best practices recommended by the most well-respected local search experts in the world.

If you have questions, would like to request additions, or have suggestions to improve / correct this guide, please post them in the comments section below.

Stay Updated

We update this checklist frequently to stay current with Google My Business best practices. Subscribe to our email updates and get notified of important changes.

Claim / Create a Google My Business Listing

Does Your Business Qualify for a Listing?*

  • You must must interact in-person with customers during stated business hours:
    • At your place of business (storefront business).
    • At your customer’s location (service area business).
  • Exceptions:
    • ATMs, video-rental kiosks, express mail drops and select other similar services.
    • Seasonal businesses with permanent signage at location.
  • Ineligible businesses:
    • eCommerce or online-only businesses.
    • Rental or for-sale properties.
    • Meetings at locations you don’t own or represent.
  • You must be currently open or opening within 90 days.*
  • You must own or be an authorized representative of the business.

Does your business qualify?


  • Go to https://www.google.com/
  • Enter the business name, city and state / province
    • Example: rez church loveland co
  • Also search for previous business names, phone numbers, or addresses.
  • Look for a “knowledge panel” listing for the business.

GMB Optimization Guide Unclaimed Listing

  • If a business listing is found, see if it has an “Own this business?” link.
    • If it does not have this link, then the listing is claimed.
    • If the link is there, then the listing is unclaimed.

Did you find your business on Google?


Create a New Google My Business Listing

Next – Verify Your Google My Business Listing


Claim a Google My Business Listing

  • Sign in with a valid Google account or create one if needed.
  • If you haven’t already done so, search for the business on Google
  • Click the “Own this business?” link (desktop) or “Claim this business” link (mobile)
  • Follow the instructions to verify your information and claim the listing.
  • Refer to the How to Optimize a Google My Business Listing section for best practices.

Next – Verify Your Google My Business listing


Request Ownership of a Listing

  • Go to https://business.google.com/add and search for your business.
    • If you’re a storefront business:
      • You’ll see “This listing has already been claimed”.
      • Click “Request Access” and submit the form.
    • If you’re a service-area business or for bulk-verified accounts:
      • Enter your business information and complete the verification process.
      • Once verified, you’ll see “Owner conflict”
      • You can then click “Request access” and submit the form.
  • The current owner will be emailed and you’ll also get a confirmation email.
  • Wait for the current owner to respond.
    • This may take up to 7 days.
    • You can check the status of your request in the GMB dashboard or use the link in your confirmation email.
  • You’ll be notified by email if approved or denied by the current owner.

What was the result of the request?


Verify Your Google My Business Listing

  • Log in to Google My Business and go to your listing.
  • Click “Verify Now” and you will be presented with your verification options.
  • Select the option you prefer. You cannot choose which methods Google makes available.
  • Postcard
    • You’ll be sent a postcard within 14 days with a verification code.
    • Do not make any changes to your listing during this time.
    • Log back in to Google My Business and enter the verification code for your listing.
    • You can request another postcard from your GMB listing if needed.
  • Phone
    • Ensure that you can answer the phone number in your GMB listing.
    • Log in to Google My Business and go to your listing.
    • Choose phone from the list of verification options (if available).
    • Google will call with a verification code.
    • Enter the code into your listing.
  • Email
    • Choose email from the list of verification options (if available)
    • Google will send you an email.
    • Click the “Verify” button in the email or enter the code in your GMB listing.
    • Google Search Console
    • Verify your business website with Google Search Console.
    • Use the same email address for Google Search Console and Google My Business.
    • When you verify your Google My Business listing, Google will instantly verify it.
  • Video Chat
    • Install the Google Hangouts app for iOS or Android.
    • For storefront businesses, Google will want to see your workplace, business logo, equipment, public space, and possibly meet a couple customers.
    • For service area businesses, Google will want to see your work vehicle, license plate, business logo on the vehicle, and tools of your trade in the vehicle.
    • You then connect with a Google specialist via video call to verify your listing.
  • Google Trusted Verifier
    • Work with special partner companies and bypasses the entire verification process. This is an invitation-only program and you cannot apply to be a Trusted Verifier.
    • Google Trusted verifiers will use a private, Android-only, Trusted Verifier app to send verification documentation and location information about your business back to Google.
    • Work with the Trusted Verifier to visit your location in person or …
    • Send the Trusted Verifier original documents for the business: current utility bills, government tax documents, business incorporation / registration.

Once verified, go to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Stay Updated

We update this checklist frequently to stay current with Google My Business best practices. Subscribe to our email updates and get notified of important changes.

Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Basic Business Information

  • Business name
    • Use the same business name as on your signs, business cards and legal documents.
    • Do NOT spam your business name with cities, search terms, taglines or anything else. It is against Google’s terms of service and could lead to listing problems or suspension in the future.
  • Business categories
    • Make sure the primary category best represents your business. It is the only one that people see on your business listing.
    • Take advantage of additional categories and add as many as apply to your business.
    • Do NOT use categories if they do not directly apply to your business.
  • Business location
    • Only enter a physical address if customers actually visit your place of business.
    • Use a free tool like Smarty Streets to make sure your address is properly formatted.
    • Put the physical street address in the first line and put suite numbers in the second line.
  • Service area
    • Only enter this if you serve customers at their location (service area businesses). Some businesses serve customers both at their place of business and at their customer’s location.
    • Enter the cities, postal codes or regions that you service. Note that no matter how big a service area you set, it is still unlikely to appear in a search result greater than 20 miles away.
  • Business hours
    • Enter regular hours of operation when customers can actually do business with you.
    • Add special hours for holidays, special closures, or other times when your business is not open. See Update Special Business Hours for more information.
    • If you are a seasonal business, remove all operating hours when closed, and re-enter them when you open again.

Phone Numbers and Call Tracking

  • If you use a call tracking number for your Google My Business listing
    • Use the call tracking number in the “Primary Phone” field.
    • Add your primary, local phone number as an “Additional Phone”.
    • Add toll-free and secondary phone numbers as “Additional Phone” fields.
  • If you do NOT use a call tracking number for your Google My Business listing
    • Use your primary, local phone number in the “Primary Phone” field.
    • Add toll-free and secondary phone numbers as “Additional Phone” fields.

Website and Appointment URLs*


Services / Menu / Products

  • Services
    • Only available for certain types of service businesses (dentists, attorneys, insurance agents, hotels, marketing agencies, and others)
    • Only shows up for end users in the Google Maps app right now.
    • Create separate sections for the different categories of services you offer.
    • Create a separate service for each specific service you offer.
      • Enter the appropriate name and price of each service.
      • Add a description of each service up to 1000 characters. Take advantage of this space to describe each service for customers using rich keywords.
  • Menu
    • Only available for restaurant-type businesses.
    • Only shows up for end users in the Google Maps app right now.
    • Use this in addition to a link to your menu on your website.
    • Create separate sections for each section of your menu.
    • Create a separate menu items within each section.
      • Enter the appropriate name and price of each menu item.
      • Use the same description of your menu item as you do in your actual menu up to 1000 characters.
  • Products
    • Only available for certain types of retail-oriented businesses.
    • It may not be practical to include every product or product category that your business carries. Focus on just the most important products and categories.
    • Create separate collections for each product category you’d like to feature.
      • Enter the collection name.
      • Add a collection description up to 1000 characters. Take advantage of this space to describe each collection / product category using rich keywords.
    • Create individual products within each categories.
      • Enter the product name and price (price ranges are not supported).
      • Add a product description up to 1000 characters. We recommend using the same description that you would use in your product catalog.

Business Attributes

  • Business Attributes
    • These are attributes that you can explicitly set for your business. Attributes vary by business category and can include items like: Women Owned, Wheelchair Accessible, Restroom, Languages Spoken, Outdoor Seating, Happy Hour, etc.
    • Go to your listing in Google My Business.
    • Click “Info” and then click “Attributes”.
    • Select as many attributes as apply to your business. Do not spam these attributes as Google has been known to confirm these by asking Google users to submit subjective attributes (see below).
  • Subjective Attributes
    • Subjective attributes are crowd-sourced from people Google believes might know about your business. Google asks questions like “Is there a wheelchair accessible entrance here?” “Is the parking here free?” and even asks people which images they think are more helpful.
    • You cannot control the subjective attributes Google asks about your business, nor the responses that people might give.
    • Certain types of businesses can monitor subjective attributes by using the Insights tab in your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business Subjective Attributes
Google My Business Subjective Attributes

Business Description*

  • The business description is an open text area that you can use to tell potential customers more about your business. It appears in both desktop and mobile web search, but does not appear on the Google Maps app.
  • Go to your listing in Google My Business.
  • Click “Info” and then click “Description”.
  • You can write a description of up to 750 characters, however, only the first 244 characters display on your Google listing unless the visitor clicks “More”.
  • Recommendations for business descriptions:
    • Think about what you’d want your customers to know most about your business. Pretend they know nothing about you.
    • Use the most important terms that potential customers might be looking for, but do not keyword stuff. It is not believed that Google uses the description field as a factor in search rankings. However, a well-written description could help convert someone looking at your listing into a customer.
    • Don’t use all-caps, emojis or other “gimmicky character use”.
    • Do not focus on promotions, prices or sales. Tell people about your business instead.
    • Do not use any URLs.

Advanced Information

  • Store Codes*
    • A specific ID for each location used to help organize listings for multi-location businesses. This is required for bulk upload listings on Google My Business.
    • Each store code must be unique, have no spaces or special characters, and a maximum of 64 characters.
    • To add/edit store codes individually:
      • Go to your listing in Google My Business.
      • Click “Info” and then in the “Advanced information” section click “Store code”.
    • To add/edit store codes in bulk:
      • Download your locations to a spreadsheet.
      • Enter store codes into the spreadsheet, but do NOT change the address of any location.
      • Re-upload the spreadsheet with new store codes.
  • Labels*
    • Labels (tags) help multi-location businesses organize their listings. You can search for labels within the Google My Business dashboard and use them in Google Ads. For example, you might use geographic regions as labels, or use a store type like “Full Service” or “Limited Service”.
    • You can assign up to 10 labels per location. Each label can be 50 characters and can include spaces, but should not include special characters.
    • To add/edit labels:
      • Go to your listing in Google My Business.
      • Click “Info” and then in the “Advanced information” section click “Labels”.
      • Add as many labels as you need for each listing.
  • Google Ads Local Extensions Phone*
    • With Google Ads, you can have a “location extension” that allows you to show a different phone number than the one used in your normal Google My Business listing. This is particularly useful if you are using call tracking for Google Ads.
    • If you leave this field blank, Google Ads location extensions will use the primary phone number in your Google My Business listing.
    • Use a local phone number in order to show in local search results.
    • You cannot use “pay” phone numbers like 1-900 numbers in the United States.

Stay Updated

We update this checklist frequently to stay current with Google My Business best practices. Subscribe to our email updates and get notified of important changes.

Changelog

  • 01/07/2019 – Initial release of the Google My Business Checklist

Coming Soon

  • Photos / Videos / Virtual Tours
  • Monitor and Maintain Your Google My Business Listing
  • User Management
  • How to Handle Management Requests
  • Bulk Uploading
  • Google My Business Agency Dashboard
  • Remove Duplicate Listings
  • Reserve with Google
  • Link Google My Business Account to Google Ads
  • Link Google My Business Account to Google Merchant Center

Want more tips?

Get practical advice for Google My Business, local search, email, social media, PPC advertising and more.

Eric is the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. He has 25 years of experience in digital marketing and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several B2B and consumer media companies. Eric has a passion for local businesses and focuses on practical digital strategies to help them attract more customers, build customer loyalty, and grow their business.

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