6 Serious Mistakes You Must Avoid With Your Google My Business Account

"76% of people who search for a local business on their mobile device will visit that business within 24 hours! Google My Business is very much mobile centric and designed to make it super easy to find a local business as a result."
set up google my business account

Google My Business is perhaps the greatest asset/online marketing channel for any small local physical or service based business in Australia to be found and secure leads and sales currently. Its so important I would say many Aussie businesses if they invested a little time to properly set up their Google My Business account could easily survive if not thrive even in the absence of a website. Why might you ask?

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Put simply, Google nearly always prioritises their own assets (think any Google Product you can access online) over other independent assets (e.g 3rdparty websites, marketplaces, portals etc). For that reason, as I see so many micro/small business owners making the same mistakes time and time again with their Google My Business Listing I felt it important to highlight what some of the mistakes are to avoid. That way you can have a higher chance of success in securing local leads for your small business today.

Why Is Google My Business So Important For Australian Businesses?

Before we dig into the core mistakes related to a set up of a Google My Business Account, I thought it important to share upfront some facts that support the importance of maintaining and optimising your Google My Business Listing. Google states that 80% of consumers use Google to find local information including store locations, business address, opening hours, products and directions. More interesting they also found that 76% of people who search for a local business on their mobile device will visit that business within 24 hours! Google My Business is very much mobile centric and designed to make it super easy to find a local business as a result.

So now we have established the why, lets move on to those common mistakes you need to avoid when it comes to maintaining your listing.

Mistake 1 – Duplicate Listings and or Listing Not Claimed

At the ground level, if you have an agency or “family friend” looking after your online advertising, check they have claimed your listing if you do not know this already. My father in law is a small business owner of a BnB accommodation he thought his listing had been claimed by his IT support guy who also looked after his website when in fact it was not claimed and users had even been uploading the wrong photos! Big Mistake. With a few simple steps we were able to sort this out.

Sometimes there can also be duplicate listings there have been “scrapes” performed previously where Google took Directory Listings and set up a Google My Business account automatically. In these instances you can report these as being “permanently closed” if you already have a listing created or claim it and update it from thereafter.

Below is an example of a business that might be a duplicate note the same business names and same telephone number. There is the potential for Google to penalise both listings if the duplicate is not removed.

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duplicate google my business listing

Mistake 2 – Not Keeping Information Up To Date & Not Matching Your Website

I would estimate that the majority of small business owners could get the bulk of information needed all uploaded into their Google My Business Listing in under an hour. This is provided they have all the basic business information at hand, some great photos etc.

One important call-out if you do have a website is to make sure that the information on your Google My Business Listing is exactly matching as its listed on your website. To be specific match opening hours, types of services, and your physical local address in the exact same format (really critical for ensuring your listing ranks for the local geographic areas specifically).

Invest a little time to make sure the categories are the most specific for your business. One quick shortcut with this one is to see what categories your competitors are classified in if there is a common theme there then its best to go with that one. Speaking of competitors, Attributes are also a great way to differentiate from your competitors – use attributes to call out what makes your business so special and unique – e.g for a local cafe if you have great outdoor seating and your competition does not make sure to list this as an attribute! 

See below an example of a cafe that has not listed the exact address as it appears on their website on the Google My Business Listing and vice versa. This listing was interestingly very far down the listing of relevant searches.

Website not matching google my business listing
Google my business not matching website

Mistake 3 – Not Updating Photos

Photo’s are the first impression for any potential customer who will see your GMB listing so its critical to make sure they are up to date and current! Its surprising how often this one is overlooked by business owners. You can set up a Google My Business account Profile, Cover and also include Videos. This is an easy one to differentiate on against your competition as well and important to back up those “attributes” I mentioned earlier that might be points of differentiation.

Uploading new photos regularly will certainly help your listing be as prominent as possible for relevant local gro keyword search terms related to your business. You can also encourage your customers to upload their photos to your profile – I have seen this work particularly well for local tourism and hospitality based businesses.

See below an example of a painter (a highly visual professional service which has a important need for images). You will observe that the only image is the Google Street one showing the front location of their business. Again interestingly this listing was not ranking anywhere near the top for relevant geo location searches.

No photos on GMB listing

Mistake 4 – Not Asking Or Responding To Reviews

Reviews on Google and Facebook have been around for some time, I am not totally surprised that some business owners are still afraid to ask for a review for fear of someone writing a negative review. My belief though is if you are a “customer centric” business and are always looking to do the right thing by your customers this is not something you should be concerned about. Finding the right rhythm and timing to ask your customers for a review is really important though.

When to ask for a Google My Business Review?

My recommendation is this should be recent enough that the customer has a clear memory of the services you provided but not too long that they cant provide a accurate review. For example a small local plumber might want to include in the email with his invoice for a job the link to post a Google Review (see below a screenshot on how to find this).

Another great hack for a restaurant or cafe style business is that you can generate a QR Code and have that printed out near your till. When customers come to pay, you could simply ask them if they enjoyed their meal. If they respond positively and are happy you could ask them if they would be willing to upload a Review by simply scanning the QR code there and then! Talk about a great and extremely personal way to filter for great reviews!

Should you respond to a Google My Business Review?

The second big aspect of reviews is the importance of responding to reviews when you do receive them. You will be emailed each time and prompted to respond so you do not need to worry about manually checking all the time. By responding to reviews you are showing you are an interested and engaged business owner.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase your personality as well. Customers really do read reviews and responses to reviews can make a big first impression. I think this is even more important for physical businesses that have higher transaction values such as accommodation based businesses or renovation/builder related businesses.

In the unlikely event you also get a not so positive review, it allows you to comment to either make it right or additionally allow you make an offer or apology if warranted. Alternatively if the review is unfair or unsubstantiated you can make that clear also.

How to amplify a positive Google Review with an owner response

See below a great example of amplifying a good review from a customer – highly personal, review mentions the business owner, and the business owner replies and mentions their name.

Review with owner response

Mistake 5 – Not Turning Messages On

Again its probably no surprise to you but the majority of traffic from your Google My Business Listing will come from mobile devices. Although you would expect most people would prefer to call you directly its not the preference for everyone. For this reason Google introduced a Messaging feature. This allows customers to be able contact you via your GMB listing on text message.

What is particularly cool about this feature is that they won’t see your mobile number they will just see a Message Icon. You can also setup an auto-response welcome message they will receive whenever they contact you. You might want to put something in there along the lines of “Thank you for contacting My Business Name, I will be in touch shortly”. From there you can respond directly from your phone via text.

As Per below screenshot you can turn on messaging if you log into your Google My Business Profile you will notice this on the left hand menu

See below for a screenshot so you see what I am talking about.

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How to turn on messaging in Google My Business profile

Mistake 6 – Not Adding Posts To Your Listing

One brilliant update to Google My Business was the addition of being able to add posts to your listing. Think of posts as any relevant “update” that you might want to notify your customers about. The concept of posts on Google my Business is very similar to Facebook, however on Google the posts only are showcased for 7 days. This is a great way to notify customers of seasonal promotions – for example if you are a local florist you might want to get in front of the Mothers Day Rush by advising your customers of a pre order discount or similar.

A local pub or restaurant may want to advise of a new “happy hour” to entice local customer back into their premises with the loosening of restrictions from COVID-19 lockdowns as another example.

On that note Google also introduced the ability to create a specific COVID-19 Post for information related to impact on your opening due to pandemic which was a really great addition particularly for areas and states that have different restrictions in place (as we have recently seen with Victoria vs other states). One important point is that posts will be shown for only 1 week unless you enter a shorter duration so its worth bearing this in mind.

See below a vet business that is using posts. However does not have a post from the last 7 days. For this reason you find the posts under “Updates from the business” beneath reviews and the business description. Basically its not above the fold.

Google my business importance of recent posts

As opposed to the below example which has another vet whose post is within the last 7 days so the image features and stands out. Its much more prominent and eye catching don’t you think?

Google My Business Using Posts

Conclusion & Whats Next with Google My Business?

Google My Business listings are not going away. If anything their importance is only increasing. The evidence of this is that in other markets such as the US they have introduced paid listings as a by-product of Google My Business called “Local Services Ads”. This suggest the trend will continue here. As a result its super important to ensure you set up your Google My Business account listing as strongly as possible. Hopefully the common mistakes listed above will help set you on track to make some simple yet powerful changes and allow you to become more visible for relevant local geographic searches.

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