Google My Business is a vital tool for local businesses. GMB lets businesses appear in local search results, and can boost local SEO. Likewise, Google My Business for nonprofits is a powerful tool for charities like you. GMB listings give volunteers, donors, or clients an introduction to your organization.
The best part of Google My Business is that it’s completely free.
Here’s how your nonprofit can start using Google My Business.
What is Google My Business (For Nonprofits)?
Google My Business is a business tool that helps you optimize your business profile on Google. Your business profiles appear on local Google searches and Google Maps searches.
Here’s how your business profile will look on local Google searches:
And here’s how it will look on Google Maps searches:
With Google My Business, you can manage and optimize your business profile. This includes replying to reviews, adding photos, and posting content on your business profile, all of which supports your local SEO tactics.
For nonprofits, Google My Business is a little-known marketing tool. After all, the tool even includes “business” in its name. Despite this, GMB is still important for charities.
For instance, Google My Business can introduce your nonprofit in local searches.
In its standard form, Google My Business provides an opportunity for businesses to introduce their company to potential customers. For example, searching up [city name] restaurants provides an opportunity for businesses to briefly introduce themselves to potential customers through their business profile.
This model also works for nonprofits. Having a complete business profile can help potential supporters learn more about your charity. For example, a person interested in volunteering at a local animal shelter can learn more about animal shelters near them.
How To Start Using Google My Business For Nonprofits
Create a Google Account
To use Google My Business, you first need to create a Google account. To setup a Google Account, you can go to this link. Once you fill out all of the required information (like phone number, date of birth, and gender) and agree to the terms and conditions, you can start working on your business profile.
Enter Your Nonprofit’s Name
Next, head to this link and click “Manage now.” When prompted, enter your nonprofit’s name.
If your nonprofit has already been claimed, click the “Request Access” button to contact Google regarding the issue. In the event that you haven’t heard back within 7 days, you should contact Google’s Business Support team here.
However, if you are denied access to your business profile, work with volunteers in the Google My Business Help Community to fix your issue.
Enter Your Nonprofit’s Address
Additionally, if your nonprofit has face-to-face interactions with clients, volunteers, or donors, you should enter the address of your business location. If your nonprofit delivers goods or services to people (like a carpenting or pest removal company), you should check the “I deliver goods and services to my customers” box.
Choose a Service Area
This is only applicable to businesses that deliver goods or services from the previous step.
Here, you should type the specific area your business serves. Do not choose “Distance around your business location” if you see this option, because Google My Business is phasing out this option. Instead, target specific areas using cities, regions, or zip codes.
Choose a “Business” Category
Choosing a business category is an important step in the process. Choosing the right business category decides which searches you will appear for, what business category shows up on your business profile, and even the features in GMB.
Add a Phone Number and Website URL
Next, you should add contact information to your profile. Your nonprofit’s business profile should feature a phone number and your website URL, which can help potential clients or supporters. In addition, adding contact information can help you track meaningful actions performed from your business profile.
If you do not have a website, Google offers the option to create a website through Google. Unless you absolutely can’t afford to pay for a website (which costs just a few dollars per month), you should always add your own unique website url.
Finally, you need to verify your listing. Google will need to verify that your business exists, is in the location you submitted, and is owned by you. In order to do so, there are three options for verifying your nonprofit:
- Postcard Verification – This is a common verification process and can be used by all businesses. A postcard will be sent to the address you submitted, and you will receive a GMB code. If you enter the code in your Google My Business account, your nonprofit should be verified.
- Phone Verification – Some organizations can be verified through their phone number. If you see the “Verify By Phone” option on your verification page, you can use this method. In this process, you will receive a message containing your GMB verification code. Type this into your Google My Business account, and your account should be verified.
- Email Verification – This process is similar to the phone verification process. It is only available to select businesses. If you see the “Verify By Email” option on your verification page, your nonprofit is eligible for this option. A GMB code will be sent to your email account associated with the GMB profile, and you just need to enter the code into the verification page on your account.
- Instant Verification – If your business’s website has already been verified through Google Search Console (an SEO tool for your website), you can instantly verify your business. For this option, your GMB account needs to be on the same email you use for Google Search Console. This option is only available to certain business categories.
- Bulk Verification – This likely doesn’t apply to your nonprofit, but there is a fifth verification method for verifying 10+ locations. You can read more about this verification method here.
Tips For Success With Google My Business For Nonprofits
Now that you have a verified listing on Google, the next step is to optimize your Google My Business profile.
Here are a few ways you can optimize your Google My Business profile:
Create a Thorough “From the Business” Description
While Google automatically generates a description on your profile, you can also add your own “From the Business” description.
Create a strong description and maximize your character limit (750 characters). Remember to include relevant keywords for your nonprofit, and you can reuse content from your charity’s mission if needed.
Upload New Photos Weekly
Adding photos is one of the simplest ways to optimize your GMB profile. According to rankings.io, you should try to add as many pictures as possible. From their experience, GMB profiles with more than 50 images tend to get a boost over GMB profiles without any. You should also add videos to your profile if possible.
In your business profile, Google will show a questions & answers section. Similar to reviews on your profile, answers to questions could be the deciding factor for potential supporters.
Unfortunately, anyone can answer these questions. This can lead to inaccurate information or responses with a negative view towards your business, which would (I would assume) be nice to avoid.
Make sure to set up alerts so that you know when someone posts a question on your profile. You should also make your own questions and answer them to ensure accurate information.
Post Content Every Week
Like LinkedIn and other business platforms, you can post updates and content on Google. You can discuss announcements, new events or campaigns, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, or any other notification your nonprofit has.
By posting weekly, potential supporters can follow your business profile, you can increase your organization’s credibility, and you can potentially increase your profile’s rank on Google
Collect and Respond To Reviews
If you have ever shopped on Amazon (or any online site), you know that reviews are important factors in choosing a product.
Similarly, reviews for your organization are important factors for potential supporters, and are vital for ranking in Google’s algorithm. Here are some tips from Wordstream on how to optimize your GMB profile with reviews:
- Start with your long-time, loyal supporters to get the momentum going
- Make it easy with a shortcut link that sends people to your review page
- Ask! 62% of business customers will write a review if asked. For nonprofits, the percentage is likely even higher.
- Remind supporters that reviews don’t just help your organization; they also help other community-minded people make informed decisions on which charities they should support.
- Create a “Reviews” page on your charity’s website with a call-to-action to write a review
- Respond to reviews. Replying to feedback increases credibility, adds more information for potential supporters, and supports local search engine optimization.
One thing to keep in mind: Do NOT ask people to review your charity in exchange for something of value, as doing so is against Google’s guidelines.
Set Up Messaging
Another feature on your GMB profile is the option to send a text message directly to your phone. This can be a great way for supporters to directly connect with you.
With Google My Business messaging, Google will set up a different number for your business contacts, so you don’t need to worry about publicly posting your personal phone number. You should also set notifications for messages in your Google My Business dashboard.
Hopefully, this guide helped you learn more about how your nonprofit can use Google My Business to succeed with local marketing.
Google My Business is a critical tool for any charity, especially those that are local. Maintain your profile with high-quality content can increase your rankings and subsequently increase your reach.
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If you’re interested in maximizing your nonprofits reach with the Google Ad Grant (a $10,000/month marketing grant for charities), you can check out our services here. (Hint: We’re currently setting up accounts for FREE!)