As a business with multiple locations, you want your locations to succeed in their local marketing, and one of the best online local marketing tools around is Google My Business. But to be successful at GMB, you need to not only create listings for all of your locations but also stay on top of keeping their information accurate. Managing one location isn’t that hard, but when you’re a franchise or multi-location business with dozens of locations, managing these can seem overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these tips to help franchises manage their Google My Business listings for multiple locations without being overwhelmed.
1. Set your account up the right way
The first step is to ensure that you meet the qualification guidelines set by Google to create and manage a Google My Business listing. Next, make sure that you’ve set up your account correctly so that you can manage your listings from one central location. If you have lots of locations that have never been centralized with Google My Business, you might have a mess at first because some of the locations may have great listings while others haven’t even claimed their business yet.
For consistency and brand control, we recommend that the corporate office retains ownership of the Google My Business account and manages all of the locations. You can do this either in house or by hiring a marketing agency to manage your listings for you. While you can give your locations access to update their own Google listings, you’ll be at risk of them making changes to the account, and so you may want to restrict them to be a communications manager.
If you don’t already manage your Google My Business listing, the first thing you need to do is set up an account. Create a Google account with your business name as the domain, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org. Next, you’ll need to create a Google business account, if you don’t already have one. This will be the main account that you manage all of the locations.
As the business owner or manager, it’s important that you retain primary ownership of your Google My Business Account. You can add other managers and owners (either marketing agencies, third parties, or local owners) to your listings as needed. If you’ve worked with an agency in the past and they’re the primary owner, you have the right to ask for ownership of the account. This means that even if you change agencies, you’ll still retain control of your account.
Some of your locations may already have listings they’ve claimed and manage. Request access and ownership to these listings by following these instructions.
2. Gather Account Information From Each Location Into One Place
It’s important that the information such as name and address that is on your location’s website matches their Google My Business listing and is consistent across all of your locations. If each of your location has the same name, i.e. “Sally’s Flower Shop” in each city, that is the name that should be on the Google My Business listing. You’ll also want to be consistent with address terms such as using “st” or “street” across all websites and local listings. This helps search engines recognize that it’s the same business and location across the web and ensures you’re listings aren’t competing against each other, resulting in lower search placement.
The easiest way to collect this information is through a spreadsheet. If you qualify for a bulk upload (see below) you can download a spreadsheet to use directly from Google My Business. You’ll need at least the store ID (for internal use only), company name, website page to link to, physical address, phone number, and service category for each location. We recommend adding additional information such as hours of operation, business description, AdWords extensions, and more to give your customers more details about your business. Here’s a list of the different fields you can create in your Spreadsheet.
If some of the information (such as hours) is different for each store, you can build a Google Form that feeds into your spreadsheet and send it to each store. You’ll just need to keep on top of your locations to make sure they fill out the necessary information.
3. Add New Business Locations In Bulk (If You Qualify)
There are two ways to add new businesses to your account: via bulk upload and by adding each listing individually. New businesses you could add include locations that were just opened* or locations that have never been claimed.
If you have more than ten locations, you can choose to use the bulk uploader. You’ll use the spreadsheet you already created (or use the one Google provides) and check that all the information is correct. Then you’ll upload it at once. Google will let you know if there’s any discrepancies or errors in the information.
There are some drawbacks to using the bulk upload method. First, there’s a character limit in the name and description field which can cut off text. Also, service area providers (where there isn’t a main physical location and services are provided at customer’s location) aren’t eligible for bulk verification.
After you’ve uploaded your information, you can request bulk verification. Bulk verification is a lot faster than manual verification. For manual verification, each location is mailed a postcard with a code that you’ll need to enter into their business listing. This can take time, especially if locations accidentally throw away their postcard and it needs to be resent. But with bulk verification, all of the locations are verified at once through sending a verification form to Google through your account. You’ll need at least ten locations to be able to request bulk verification, and it may take up to a week to get processed and approved.
*Never open a Google My Business account for a location that hasn’t opened yet. Your account could be disabled.
4. Update Business Information Easily
You can update information such as addresses, phone numbers, descriptions and more in bulk if you have at least ten locations. This is helpful if some of your locations already have listings, but they aren’t consistent with your other listings or have different information than their website.
You’ll need to download your location information, make changes in the spreadsheet, and then upload them again to Google. By downloading the information, you can also see if there’s errors that Google has found or any updates Google made on their own. Follow these instructions on how to make edits.
5. Hire Help As Needed
Business owners and managers should stay informed and actively participate with their business listings, but using listing tools or hiring experts can help your listings perform better and take some of the workload off your shoulders.
Local listing tools like Yext can help you manage your Google My Business account along with other local directory listings through one interface. If you want an even more hands off approach, hire a marketing agency.
Marketing agencies can enhance your local listings and manage your photos, reviews, ad extensions, and more so that your listing shows up for customers looking for your services. Another benefit of hiring help is agencies can manage your local listings across many services such as Yelp, Bing, and other directories. Look for marketing agencies that have experience with local listings, communicate well about accounts and changes, and adhere to Google’s guidelines.
Get Started With Local Listings Today
If you’re a franchise or multi-location business that needs help with your Google My Business or other local listing directories, give us a call at 317-576-2855 for a free consultation. We’ll manage your local listings for you so that customers can find your local stores while you focus on other aspects of your company.