When people search for your name or for photography businesses like yours, your listing could appear in Google web search and Google Maps, helping you bring in my customers.
Google My Business is a free service that simply lets you claim a business listing on Google. Over time, this has become a critical part of SEO. This article will teach you everything you need to know about creating such a listing for your photography business.
How to set up your Google My Business listing
Go to Google’s My Business page and click on the “Start now” button:
Then follow the instructions on the screen to enter your business details:
You’ll also need to select a business category:
Unless you see your specific niche in there, “Photographer” is fine. There’s no way to add/define a new specialty in that list.
And be sure to check the “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location” option if you’re a service-based photographer without a “storefront”. Your service area will appear on the map (as opposed to your physical location).
By the way: Google also added a messaging feature (in some countries), allowing customers to send you an SMS message. More details about the messaging feature here.
After you complete the form, you might need to verify your listing (which can involve Google sending you a postcard to your business address, containing a verification code). It’s relatively easy to do, and it helps increase your listing’s visibility.
Once verification is complete, you’re all set! You then get access to customer reviews (to engage with them) and to Insights (to see how people find and interact with your info on Google).
No need for a free Google Business website
Google even allows you to create a free website on their business platform, you can read more about it here: Create a free website for your business in minutes
But Google’s business websites are free for a reason, they’re more for amateurs who don’t yet have their own personal site. The ideal scenario, however, if to have your own personal website, on your own domain. The Google business listing will just link to it.
What the end result looks like
Here are a couple of examples showing Google My Business listings:
Please note that your Google My Business listing won’t show up all the time. It depends a lot on the search query you use, and on your location. People in the UK won’t always see the same listings as people in the US.
Even a very insignificant change in phrasing (like “event photographer NY” versus “NY event photographer”) can make the different as to whether or not a business listing will come up.
What if you don’t have a specific office location?
That’s not a problem. It’s really useful to have a Google business listing even if you don’t have a specific address where you’d want people to visit (studio, office, headquarters, etc.)
Most solo photographers taking freelance jobs and then working from home fall into this category.
In one of the examples above, notice the location is just set to “New York”:
Google’s FAQ confirms this:
“Can I still use Google My Business if I don’t have a store front? Absolutely. Whether you’re a home-based business or a service-area business, you can list your details to appear on Google with or without an address.”
It’s such a prominent box that can appear to the right of Google search results, that it’s incredibly useful even if you don’t have a precise location.
Reviews are highly important
Getting more reviews on your Google My Business listing is a great way to get more links back to your site (or for people to contact you directly). Reviews don’t help with SEO directly, it’s just a matter of raising trust and encouraging people to click on your listing.
In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (source).
Google values positive reviews as well, because it wants to “translate” offline popularity into the online world.
This is especially important if there’s another photographer with the same name, competing for that same spot to the side of Google search results. The more 5-star reviews you have, the better the change to overtake them.
Reviews are important when people search for a specific photography specialty and/or a location:
Reviews are what can actually push you in those top 3 results.
Create a review link
You can create a specific link for leaving a review by following these instructions: Google My Business Help > Create a link for customers to write reviews
Once people click on the link, they’ll see something like this:
You can send that link (via email or social media) to past clients, friends & colleagues, industry connections, etc.
Basically anybody who would be willing to write a review and rate your business.
The best time to ask for reviews (and testimonials!) is right after you provide your photography services to your clients, while you’re still on their mind.
When asking for a review, your emails should:
- be short and honest
- provide clear directions on where and how to leave the review (with screenshots if possible)
- show gratitude for helping you out with this
And once you do get new reviews, always respond to them:
- reply with a simple “thank-you” to positive reviews
- accept the feedback from negative reviews, and take responsibility. That means not getting angry, trying to resolve the problem (privately),
- and always end on a positive note and thanking the client for the feedback (even if you don’t feel like it at first).
In Google’s own words:
A few other guidelines for getting reviews:
- try to spread new reviews over time (Google likes to see a constant stream of fresh reviews, not all at once coming from a big marketing push)
- don’t review your own business (for moral reasons, plus Google doesn’t like it)
- don’t pay for reviews either
Reviews on other sites
Besides the regular Google reviews, you might have also noticed something called “Reviews from the web”.
Google allows you to connect your listing to other social profiles. Many photographers have a Facebook business page under the same name, and Google is smart enough to draw in reviews from there:
Here’s a great guide that can help you get those as well: What’s up with the new Google My Business reviews section?
A critical aspect here is to make sure you’re using the exact same business name, address and phone number on all other sites. Consistency is really important if you want Google to link to your other business listings.
Keeping your Google My Business listing fresh
Your business listing is not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. Incomplete or out-of-date information can lose you clients!
Here are some tips to improve your business listing over time:
- review Insights (the built-in analytics report in your dashboard) which show you
- how people found your business listing
- how many of them requested map directions and where they were coming from
- and, most importantly, how many people saw your listing & then visited your site
- double-check any contact info and links
- update photos if needed (you probably already have some in there, but are they the right ones? Do you have new images that might better represent your business?
- you can now also add videos to your listing
- engage with people that left you reviews (good or bad), and ask for more reviews
- schedule to review it every few months
Update: another great way to improve your GMB listing is to use their new posts feature.
Quoting Elizabeth who brought this up in the comments section: “It’s a short blurb that you can add a photo to and a CTA and it shows up at the bottom of your GMB [listing]. The post expires after 7 days and you’ll get an email prompting you to make a new post. This is a great way to keep your GMB [listing] fresh and updated and it helps significantly with SEO.”
Here’s how such a post looks like:
- How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing [Moz]
- New Google My Business features [Google My Business Help]
Your photography business needs more exposure. Getting a Google My Business listing is free and easy to do, and it can really bring in dividends in the long run. So why not create one today?
And if you already have one, improve it by:
- updating its info (in case anything has become outdated)
- trying to get more 5-star reviews by following the tips in this article
- diving into the listing Insights to see what’s working and what things to improve