What is Google My Business (GMB)?

Published by Kyle Zinn in Marketing on October 3, 2019

Google My Business, often abbreviated as GMB, is a free service provided by Google that allows business owners to claim their Google Maps listings so that they have more control over what information displays in the search results for their business listings.

Any Google user can submit edits to your business listing on Google and some may suggest inaccurate information. There are also local listing aggregators and super users known as Local Guides that can have a lot of influence on what shows up on your business listing.

It is critical to claim and regularly maintain your business listing so that the information remains accurate. It’s not uncommon for users or aggregators to suggest an inaccurate change to your hours or for aggregators to have non-ideal business category information.

For example, if you’re an attorney who specializes in Personal Injury, you probably prefer to be found on Google for Personal Injury, not just Law Firm. A local listing aggregator may have your business listed as a Law Firm, and Google sees that and tries to set your primary category as Law Firm. This can hurt your ability to rank for your real legal niche, Personal Injury, so you’ll want to update your primary business category to Personal Injury and reject any Google updates to change it to Law Firm, even though that’s a perfectly acceptable description of your business.

Using the same attorney example, you probably have an office phone number and a personal phone number that you give out to current clients or high profile clients. You don’t want non-clients to have your personal number, so your business listing only lists your office number. A former or current client may try to be helpful and suggest an edit to your listing’s phone number and replace it with your personal number. You don’t want this edit to go through, so it’s important you have access to your GMB listing and deny this update.

What are the different user access levels?

There are three (four if you count Primary Owner) types of access levels for GMB, and unlike other Google Tools, you invite a user to access your listing and they must accept the invitation before they gain access.

Primary Owner: The primary owner is the first person to claim or verify a listing. The primary owner has the ability to remove other owners and cannot remove themselves from a listing until they transfer primary ownership to another user.

Owner: Listings can have multiple owners. Owners have full permission to edit the details of a business and the ability to add and remove users.

Manager: Managers have the same permissions as owners, but they are not able to manage users.

Communications Manager (formerly Site Manager): This is the most restricted access level a user can have to a business listing. A user with this permission can respond to reviews and edit some business information, but not all of it.

If you have a good understanding of Google My Business, are capable of managing your business listing on your own, and fully understand all of the roles, it’s acceptable to restrict your marketing team to either Manager or Communications Manager, depending on the access they need to perform their expected job duties. However, know that by restricting their access, there are certain aspects of the business listing they won’t be able to update or optimize.

In most cases, it’s common practice to send your marketing team ownership access of the listing, while maintaining primary ownership of the listing for yourself. This way they can optimize all aspects of your business listing and remove or add users as needed without running into any roadblock issues due to limited access.

How do I verify my business listing?

Before you can update or maintain the accuracy of your business listing, you need to verify ownership of your business. This is an important step in the process that needs to be completed. Google doesn’t want just anyone to be able to verify ownership of a business that they don’t truly own, so most often your marketing team will need to work with the business to verify ownership.

Search Console: The fastest and easiest way to verify ownership of a listing is through Google Search Console. If your business listing is tied to your website and you have verified your website property through Google Search Console, you can verify instantly through Google webmaster tools. This only works for unclaimed listings.

Email Verification: The second fastest and easiest way to claim your business is through email verification. This method only takes a few minutes. Sometimes this will show up as an option if Google is able to associate an email address or email domain with your business listing. Often, you’ll be able to enter any email address in the field but other times Google will only send a verification email to a specific email.

Postcard Verification: Postcard verification is the longest method, taking five or more business days for a postcard to arrive at your business address and additional time for this information to be relayed. We try to use this method as a last resort because it takes the longest and there are many places along the way where we can run into roadblocks.

Phone Call Verification: Phone call verification may also be an option if you do not use a call tree, but this method comes with roadblocks as well. Most businesses don’t have a single person answering calls, and the call comes through as an automated call, so operators often hang up because it sounds like spam.

What if my listing is already claimed?

If your listing is claimed by an email address you recognize: If this is an account you can access and login, then you can either transfer ownership to a better email address or add yourself or your marketing team as an owner or manager. It’s not uncommon for businesses to use an info@domain.com email or a personal email to claim their business listings, and then forget about it. If this is an email address associated with a current or former employee or marketing team, you can request access through GMB or ask them directly for access.

If your listing is claimed by an email address you do not recognize or do not have access to: If a listing is already claimed you will have to ask the current owner for access. If the current owner does not respond, then after 7 days you can attempt to claim the listing over the current owner through one of the verification methods listed above.

However, if the current owner responds and denies ownership, this is where it gets tricky. Oftentimes when this happens, they’ll reply with a message or reason for denial. It’s important to understand that once someone requests access to a listing, they cannot request access to the listing again for a short period of time if denied access. This is a security measure to prevent unauthorized users from obtaining access to your listing.

However, in certain cases you can appeal a denied request and go through an appeal process, but this should only be done if the current owner should not have access to the listing, such as a former marketing team or former employee holding the listing hostage. In these cases, Google will often intervene for further verification processes and may even suspend the wrongful owners’ account, as the act of holding an account hostage is against Google’s guidelines for representing a business.

For more information about requesting ownership of a business listing, see the Google My Business guidelines.

How do I grant users access to my Google My Business account?

Step 1. Go to https://business.google.com sign in or, in the top right, switch to the Google account that has access to the Google My Business listing

note: If you are using an Agency Account, skip to the step by step instruction further below

Step 2. Select the location you wish to grant a user access to

Step 3. Select Users

Step 4. Click the top right icon

Step 5. Add names or email addresses

Step 6. Choose a role (OwnerManagerCommunications Manager)

For Google My Business Agency Accounts

Agency accounts allow you to group multiple listings in a location group. Through a location group, you can grant multiple users access to multiple listings all at once.

This is convenient for when you manage a business with 50+ listings – such as a clinic with multiple locations and many doctor listings – and want to share access with multiple people.

One quick and easy way you can do this is by creating user groups, which allow you to group together multiple users. You can then share access to a location group to this user group instead of individual users. This allows you to organize your account and quickly manage who has access to what.

To create a user group:

Step 1. Select Manage Users

Step 2. Select Create user group

Step 3. Name your group

Step 4. Click the icon in the top right and add names or email addresses

Step 5. Choose a role (Owner or Member)

To grant users or user groups access to a location group:

Step 1. Go to https://business.google.com sign in or, in the top right, switch to the Google account that has access to the Google My Business listing

Step 2. Select Manage Locations

Step 3. Select the location group you wish to grant a user access to from the drop down

Step 4. Select the settings cog to the right of the drop down

Step 5. Select Manage Users

Step 6. Select the icon in the top right and either Invite new user or Add one of your user groups

Step 7a. (Invite new user) Enter the names or email addresses, or for agency accounts, the location group ID

Step 7b. (Add one of your user groups) If you set up a user group, you can choose that group here.

Step 8. Choose a role (Owner or Manager)

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