In November 2021, Google renamed Google My Business, often abbreviated as GMB, to Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile 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 to keep the information 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 specializing 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 you give to current 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 Google listing to reject this update.
Google My Business User Roles
There are three types of access levels, and unlike some other tools, you invite users to access your listing. So you don’t directly grant access, you invite them to manage, and they’ll have to accept that invitation before they can access the business profile.
Primary Owner: The primary owner is the first person to claim or verify a listing. The primary owner can remove other owners but 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, including other owners, as needed.
Manager: Managers have the same edit permissions as owners but cannot manage users. The main difference between owners and managers is that managers are not able to grant access to new users.
Previously there was a role for Communications Manager (formerly Site Manager), but that has since been removed. This was a user’s most restricted access level to a business listing. A user with this permission could only respond to reviews and edit some business information.
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 agency or marketing team to Manager, depending on the access they need to perform their expected job duties. However, by restricting their access, there may be certain aspects of the business listing they won’t be able to update or optimize, or they may not be able to integrate with certain tools.
In most cases, it’s best to grant your marketing agency or marketing team ownership access to 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 To Verify Your Google 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 they don’t truly own, so your marketing team will most likely need to work with you to verify ownership.
Google My Business Verification Methods
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 be an option if Google can 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 also comes with roadblocks. 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.
Video Verification: Video verification is a newer option that utilizes a live video call or recording. You’ll need to prove that you’re at the business by showing things like signs, nearby businesses, business operations, and proof that you manage the business. As such, it is also one of the most time-consuming, and if you’re an agency, your hands are tied as it relies on the client or someone on site to verify. Use this option as a last resort, as the other options are much easier.
What if someone claimed my business listing on Google?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or personal email to claim their business listings and then forget about it. If this email address is associated with a current or former employee or marketing team, you can request access through GMB or ask them 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, you can attempt to claim the listing over the current owner after seven days through one of the verification methods listed above.
If the current owner responds and denies ownership, it gets tricky. When this happens, they often 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 if denied access. This security measure prevents unauthorized users from obtaining access to your listing.
However, in some instances, 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 owner’s account, as 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 To Add Users to Google My Business
Google recently completely reworked this process, opting for everything to be managed from within the SERP. The new process is as follows:
Step 1. Go to your business profile by typing the business name into Google while logged into the Google account with access.
Step 2. Select three vertical dots next to Profile Strength and select Business Profile Settings.
Step 3. Select the first option, Managers.
Step 4. Click the Add icon.
Step 5. Add names, email addresses, or business group IDs, choose an access level (Owner or Manager), and click Invite.
For Google My Business Agency Accounts
Agency accounts allow you to group multiple listings into a location group. Through a location group, you can grant multiple users access to numerous listings all at once. This is convenient 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 various people without needing to grant access through each individual listing.
One quick and easy way to do this is by creating user groups, allowing you to group multiple users. You can then share access to a location group with 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 and sign in, or, in the top right, switch to the Google account with access to the Google My Business listing. Alternatively, you can log in to the Gmail account with access, click the 3×3 grid in the top right, and select Business Profile Manager.
Step 2. Select Businesses on the lefthand sidebar.
Step 3. Select the location group from the drop-down that you wish to grant a user access to.
Step 4. Select the Group settings button to the right of the drop-down.
Step 5. Select Manage Users.
Step 6. Select Add users or Add user group in the top right.
Step 7a. (Invite new user) Enter the names or email addresses, or the location group ID for agency accounts.
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) and click Invite.