In this guide I will cover how to setup a Google My Business profile. We will take it step by step as follows:

What is Google My Business or GMB?

Picture a crowded marketplace where you sell fruits as a vendor. 

Your customers come through the rows of other vendors, browsing stands, asking questions, trying samples. 

Google is this marketplace where Google drives a lot of local customers. A GMB listing is a kiosk at this marketplace that Google is giving to you for free.

All you need to do is claim your kiosk, decorate it and make it attractive to customers that are passing by.

Can any business have a GMB profile?

A business needs to be local, servicing a city or a geographic area. There are two general types of local businesses that Google considers suitable for a listing: storefronts AND service area businesses (SABs).

For details, check these guidelines from Google.

Storefront businesses

First, location businesses or storefronts are places that have customers come to their doors to get products or services. For example, a restaurant, a grocery store and even a law practice with a permanent office space.

If you’re not open during the office hours in your GMB listing, your listing can get reported and our profile get taken down.

Service Area Businesses (SABs)

The service area businesses or SABs are companies and entrepreneurs that don’t meet people at their office but rather travel to their customers’ locations. For example, window cleaners, garage door installation professionals and anyone that’s willing to travel to customers’ place to fulfill the service.

Read more about adding an SAB or converting from storefront to an SAB.

GMB is NOT for you if…

Your business is an online business that transacts with customers over the internet. For example, an e-commerce store that sells products nationally or internationally would not be suitable for a Google My Business profile. A remote consulting business that serves clients locally, nationally and globally over Zoom, Skype, Meet or Facebook should not create a GMB profile either.

I know it might be tempting to game the system and get that local search real estate for your internet based business, but I don’t recommend it. There are plenty of other opportunities online business have that local businesses don’t. It’s better to focus on tools and tactics that are there for your specific type of business.

Why should you create a GMB profile today?

There are numerous benefits of having an active profile, I will list the top 3.

Exposure opportunity

According to Social Media Today, “46% of searches on Google are looking for local information”. Over 1M Canadians search “keyphrase + near me” every day.

Below is a sample of popular search phrases (middle) with average monthly volumes (right) and related terms (left) from SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool. And the list is 849,801 keywords long.

"near me" local search statistics in Canada

Please note that these are just searches with “near me” in them. There are also other local modifiers (terms that trigger Google to show localized results, often with a map) like “term + city” or “term + city quadrant”.

So, every time someone searches localized keywords Google shows searcher a local 3-pack panel with a map that has dozens of pins on it. Searcher can click on the map to see the full list, read user reviews and check the location.

In order to be on the list (either the local 3-pack or lower on the list) at all you need to have a Google My Business profile. No GMB profile means a missed exposure opportunity.

It’s built for small businesses & it’s free

Google’s goal is to simplify business listing management for small business owners. That’s why today we’re seeing a much improved Google My Business (workflows, usability) comparing to previous versions of the system.

Google My Business offers a way to showcase your business, track results and create simplified Google Ads campaigns all from a single account. And even if your business doesn’t have a site yet, GMB offers a free one page website builder.

And, the icing on the cake, it doesn’t cost anything to set up your Google My Business profile.

It improves your search visibility

If you already have a website and it’s ranking on page 1 of organic results, a GMB profile (if created and optimized) will add another mention of your business to the first page of Google.

In addition, having an active GMB profile with a backlink to your website is a great way to improve your website traffic and overall authority of your site.

How to create a Google My Business profile

Google My Business is quite user-friendly. So, I’m sure you will be able to create a new profile on your own. Here I want to share my experience at each step of the way. Let’s get right into it.

Go to google.com/business and hit Manage now

Google My Business index page. This is where it all starts.

In the next step you will be asked to log into your Google Account. If you don’t have an existing Google Account or just need to create a separate one for your business, you can always create a new account by clicking Create account.

Log into your Google Account

Skip this section if you want to create a new account.

Sign into your existing Google Account or create a new one.

First provide your email address and hit Next. Then your password. If those match what Google has on record, you’ll be half-way through creating your profile.

If the credentials don’t match, try to re-verify your identify by clicking Forgot email / password? and follow prompts to change your password.

Create a new Google Account

If you’d like to create a new account that’s specific for your business, that’s a good idea too. Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind though.

When you click Create account you will be asked if it’s for you (personal) or for your business (business). The question is tricky and Google doesn’t explain it there and then. Here’s what I mean (image below)…

Creating a new account for myself or for my business in Google My Business.

There’s an official clarification from Google: For myself vs. to manage my business. In a nutshell, both options will give you the same functionality. The only exception is “manage my business” option will help Google market its services to you as a business. All features are the same in each of these options.

My recommendation is to create an account “To manage my business”. It makes sense if you’re going to manage your local business.

I’m also a big proponent of keeping all accounts organized. For example, I suggest having a single Google Account for all Google services like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business, YouTube, etc. It helps with your day to day management of Google related properties.

Once your chose the type of account you want to create (For myself vs. To manage my business) you’re ready to actually create the account.

Provide your name. It will not be displayed on your Google My Business profile.

Provide your email address. You can either use your existing business address or create a new @gmail.com address.

Create a secure password and confirm it. Google My Business hijacking is a thing. Black-hat SEOs, unethical marketers and thieves can take control of your account and update it the way they want.

So, make a strong password. If you’re using a password manager like LastPass, use their password generator tool. If not, then try to come up with a longer (8+ characters) combination of number, letter, symbol.

Create your Google Account by filling out a simple form.

Your Google account is now set up. We’re officially half-way through setting up your Google My Business account.

Find and manage your business

Why do you need to search for an existing listing before creating a new GMB profile?

“Now, this is confusing” you might say. “How can I find my business if I haven’t created it yet?”. And that’s a fair question. However, there’s a reason for it here.

Google’s database of businesses has been building over time using a number of methods including imports from external sources. In addition, your past employees may have created a listing and left the company since then. Or there was a business with a similar name in your area in the past.

So first use the search box to see if your business already exists. I’ll be using my business name Search Friendly as an example here.

Check to see if your listing already exists. If not, create a business listing with this name.

There’s no other business, so I’m safe to create a listing with this name. Please note that it doesn’t matter if I use lower-case or upper-case letters in my searchers. It’s not important at this stage.

Choose your business name. Make sure you check the spelling.

Now is when checking your spelling and letter-casing is critical. This is the way your business name will appear on listings in Google search results. Make sure you double-check your business name at this point.

Changing you business name down the road is possible but might take time and temporary drop your local rankings while Google verifies everything.

Choosing a business category in GMB is important.

Your business listing is allowed to have one primary category and four secondary business categories. Yes, you can change and add categories later, your business category is a critical element of your profile so I suggest we chat about it a little more here.

When we pick the categories it helps Google bucket us in a certain area of its database. Each area or category has a list of terms and concepts that trigger Google to show listings. If we choose the wrong category, our business listing will be misplaced and this will lower our chances of exposure in front of the right audience.

Check this helpful resource from Google on choosing a business category.

I recommend doing a couple of searches in your niche and checking your your competitors’ categories. For example, I searched “SEO courses” and got these results…

SEO courses on Google local SERPs results.

I can see (to the right of star rating) that one is using “Training centre” and two are using “Internet marketing service” category.

Most of the businesses in “search engine optimization” space are agencies offering SEO services (including SEO training) are categorized as Internet marketing service. Although this does not represent what I do exactly, I’m going to stick to it for now.

Choosing between storefront and Service Area Business type on GMB.

This is an important question too. Early in this post we covered the difference between the two. So, this is the place where you tell Google if your business is a storefront (place with a location where customers come to get service) or a Service Area Business (you service customers at their place).

In my case my business is a Service Area Business, so I chose No on the image above.

Now I get to set my service area by choosing search suggestions as shown below.

Setting the Service Area Business cities, regions.

If you’re servicing multiple cities you can add multiple areas here. Search, find, choose and it will be added to the list. So, any time a person is searching for one of those areas your listing will get a chance to compete with other businesses in these service areas.

Adding business contact information to verify your GMB.

In my case I chose Service Area Business so I’m only asked for a phone number and a website. If you chose a location you will be asked to provide your location address. In that case your location will be visible to your potential customers on your business listing.

If you don’t have a website, feel free to either choose I don’t need a website OR Get a free website based on your info. Choose either one, you will always be able to change it later. If you choose a free website, Google will automatically create a single-page website using information you have provided in this application.

Confirm that you’d like to hear from Google about your Google My Business profile.

If this is your business then I suggest you opt in for notifications because it’s generally very useful improvement recommendations and feature updates that you will be notified about. However, if you’re going to manage multiple business profiles, then these notifications will be repetitive and you should consider opting out of it.

Select the option that fits you best and click Next. Now it feels that you’re done but it’s not it yet.

Finish your Google My Business setup.

One last step left to complete your Google My Business setup – Verification. Although I chose a Service Area Business type, Google needs to know my mailing address to verify that my business actually exists. My address will not show on my Google listing. It is just for verification purposes.

Address verification for SAB in Google My Business.

At this step you have an option to click Verify later. If you have a couple of more minutes I suggest we verify now and get it done with.

Once you enter your mailing address Google will present you with a final step – Choose a way to verify.

This verification method is the slowest one (takes 12 days up to arrive) but it’s the process for all new businesses. If you were claiming an existing profile, a phone call or text is usually sufficient. This way the verification can be done in minutes.

Verification options in Google My Business.

The page shows your company name and the address. Please check it once again and edit if you have to. Feel free to enter your Contact name if you have someone else sorting through mail at your location. Once you confirm your name and mailing address, click Mail.

The next page will confirm that your mail is being sent and that you should expect it to come in 12 days. Click continue and it will bring you into your newly created Google My Business profile.

It’s a good idea to optimize your Google My Business profile before your verification mail comes. This way you will verify an already optimized listing and will start improving your local search visibility right away.

How to verify your Google My Business by mail?

Within a couple of weeks (usually faster than that) you will get your GMB verification code in the mail. It will look like this.

Google My Business verification mail (outside the envelope)

Let’s open it up and see what’s inside…

Google My Business verification mail (inside the envelope)

Just follow the 1-2-3 instructions as shown on the image above.

On my first try as I went to google.com/verifymybusiness and Google told me “There are no businesses pending verification by mail for account [my personal gmail account]”.

Log into proper GMB account to verify your listing.

I needed to log into GMB using the account I used to create the listing. So, I did. I hit Choose account button and selected the proper Google account from the list.

At that point everything was organized and I got the Enter the code page to submit by GMB verification code.

Enter 5-digit code to verify your Google My Business profile.

I entered the code and hit Verify. And there it was, I was successfully verified to manage Search Friendly on Google My Business.

Congratulations! You have now verified your GMB listing.

Your next step is to optimize your Google My Business profiles. There are important settings to tune up and a few areas to add more information about your business to make it competitive in your niche and location.

Frequently asked questions

What is Google my Business?

Google My Business or GMB is Google’s online business directory program for local businesses. Starting, verifying and optimizing a GMB profile improves local search visibility for storefronts and service area businesses.

Can I change my business name on Google My Business?

Yes, you can. You can edit your business name in the Info section of your Google My Business profile. Please note that a business name change will have be verified by Google and may take several days to complete. Learn more here.

How can I get my business on Google Maps?

If your business is not currently showing on Google Maps using your business name as a query it means that Google does not know about your business. Please create a free Google My Business profile and verify that you own the business either by mail or phone.

How to add multiple locations to Google My Business?

If you have 10 or more locations that you’d like to add at a time, consider using bulk location management features that are explained in details here. Please note that this feature is most suitable for a single business with multiple locations.

How can I verify my Google business by phone?

All first time Google My Business profiles are verified using your mailing address. After all, GMB is a location based service. However, you can verify by phone if you’re claiming an existing listing.