Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business or simply GMB) was built for local businesses to facilitate the process of building an online presence by offering them a simple platform where to list their information, collect reviews, post offers, and much more.
Google Business Profile listing is one of the simplest ways to gain visibility for local businesses and provide your customer easy access to the relevant information about your company. An optimized and up-to-date GBP listing is also one of the cornerstones of a successful local SEO strategy.
So, if you want to drive more customers to your website and rank better in local search results, this article is for you.
What is Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile is a free resource offered by Google. It allows individuals to compile and list details of their business online, including everything from the products and services it offers to locations and photos.
Being offered by Google, it works with its entire ecosystem of products. When someone creates a Google Business Profile, their details can appear across Google Search, Google Shopping, and Google Maps.
Google Business Profile was created and popularized by the need for businesses to stand out in the digital landscape. It serves as an easy, effective and straightforward way for companies to increase their online visibility.
It's important to note that Google Business Profile is only for businesses that have direct and personal contact with customers. This means that they must have a physical location like a store or provide services by meeting with customers in other locations, such as in the case of photographers and event rental companies.
The benefits of having a Google Business Profile
There are a number of advantages to having a Google Business Profile. Some of the most notable are as follows.
One of the biggest advantages of Google My Business is that it allows companies to obtain an unparalleled degree of visibility online. Google My Business listings are built into Google's system and tools, making it easier for users to search for and discover businesses.
Through products like Google Search and Maps, people can easily locate and get details on the products and services they're looking for, whether based on criteria like location or keywords.
Better rankings in local search results
A Google My Business listing is also great for improving a company's local SEO. Local SEO is the process of optimizing a business's online presence so that it appears higher on search engine results pages when people search for businesses near them.
This is important because most people looking to buy or use a product will often do so based on the accessibility and convenience of the available options. By setting themselves up to be visible in these searches, businesses can more effectively connect with these consumers and increase the likelihood of a sale.
Better customer insight
Google also allows businesses to see detailed insights about their customers through Google My Business. This data can include, for example, the location of people who have interacted with a business and what devices they're using to interact with it.
This information is valuable because it provides businesses with a comprehensive view of who they're appealing to most and a better understanding of how their online presence favors different demographics.
Supports public trust
Credibility is key, and there's no better way to safeguard it than through a Google Business Profile. Google My Business requires users to verify their ownership of a business prior to registering or modifying it online. Thus, a Google My Business listing is a sign of legitimacy and supports customer trust.
Seamless means of updating information
Google Business Profiles come equipped with a collection of information reflected across a business's presence on the platform.
When someone searches for a local business on search or Google Maps, it displays the same phone number, hours, website, and other information.
This unified profile allows businesses to easily manage and control information such as business hours and contact details without worrying about updating their presence on every tool.
However, if and often when a business has profiles on other listing sites, it's extremely important to ensure that the essential business information is consistent across the different listing sites around the web.
Builds social proof
An interesting feature of Google My Business is that it allows customers to engage and interact with the profile of a listed business.
Google users are allowed to leave comments, compliments, or criticism in the form of reviews, which are displayed in association with a company's Google Business presence. This can be a great tool in bolstering business reputability as it allows customers to share their experiences directly and provides a public platform for businesses to respond to any feedback. Review signals are also a significant ranking factor for local search results.
Furthermore, customers can also send messages and ask for quotes directly through the Business Profile.
Prevalence of Google Search
Like it or not, Google dominates the internet in everything from general search and maps to shopping and news. It's, therefore, an ideal way to build a presence online for businesses.
By becoming verified and affiliated with Google, companies can establish themselves in the biggest digital landscape out there and make it easier than ever for consumers to find and engage with their business.
Getting started with Google Business Profile
1. Login or sign up to Google
In order to use Google My Business, you'll first need a Google account. Sign into or create your Google account to get started. Make sure this is the login you'd like to use to access and manage your Google My Business profile.
Once you're logged into the Google account you'd like to use for your Google Business Profile, navigate to Google Business Profile Manager and click 'Manage now'. The onboarding flow walks you through the most essential steps if you're setting up a completely new profile. You can edit all the information you add during the onboarding later through the Google Business dashboard.
2. Identify your business
Enter your business name into the search bar. If your business has been around long enough, it may already be known to Google and have a profile ready to claim. If not, you'll need to select 'Create a business with this name' and select its appropriate category.
3. Specify your location
Next, Google will ask you to add a location for your business. If you have a physical establishment like a store or office, click 'Yes'. In this case, you'll be asked to specify where with a business address.
Service area businesses without a specific visiting address will need to identify the areas that the business serves.
4. Fill in contact details
Fill in your business' contact phone number and business website on the following page. This should be the information that you'd like displayed publicly online. If you prefer not to list a phone number, simply leave the field blank and enter your website.
Together with your business name and address, phone number forms the so-called NAP information. To improve your legitimacy in the eyes of Google, ensure that all your NAP citations across the internet are 100% consistent and presented in the same format.
5. Verify your business
In order to verify the legitimacy of your business, Google will require you to input your address. It's important to note that this information is only used to validate your location and is not displayed to the public.
The proceeding page will offer the applicable options you have for verifying your profile. When you add or claim your profile for the first time, you can verify it through phone, text, email, or video. Depending on factors such as business category, public info, region, support hours, and volumes, you may need to verify with more than one method.
The verification process can take a few weeks. If Google can’t verify your business with the first method, the “Get verified” button shows up again in your Business Profile. If this happens, try a different verification method.
For more about verifying your business, check out Google's resources.
6. Complete your profile
The next step in this process entails setting your Google Business Profile up with everything you'd like it to feature. This can include things such as business hours, business descriptions, messaging preferences, and pictures. Click 'Continue' to access the business dashboard. From here, you'll be able to control your account, see insights, create ads, and manage messages.
How to optimize Google My Business listing
While creating a GBP profile is valuable itself, it's important to know that simply setting up your Google Business profile is only one step in the process. Your account will need further effort and attention to be optimally effective.
Google tabulates its local search rankings according to the three following factors.
Relevance: How much your business has to do with a given search input.
Distance: How far your designated business location is from the search or searcher.
Prominence: The popularity of your business, as determined by things like reviews, links, and other SEO factors.
Knowing these will better equip you to build and organize your content so as to better appeal to Google's algorithm and be more discoverable in search results.
The following chapter includes some best practices in optimizing your Google My Business listing for long-term success.
Fill in the information gaps
Google Business Profiles come with a lot of information fields for a reason. Google likes and needs context in order to more effectively understand and source search results. They even state this directly, writing that "businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches".
As such, it's important to ensure that your account is complete with as much information as possible to give Google an idea of your business identity.
Google even gives you a score for how complete your business profile is.
Basically, the information you provide should tell:
Where your business is
How to contact your business
What your business does
When your business is accessible
In addition to the basic details of your business, one of the areas you should pay attention to is primary category selection. Google forces you to select at least one primary business category out of their predefined options, so select one that best describes your business.
However, what many businesses neglect, is adding the secondary categories. The secondary categories give Google more information and data points about your business and directly impact the keywords and searches your business can potentially rank for.
Attributes allow you to extend the description of your business that Google shows to users. Adding some attributes to your profile can help potential customers better understand your business' accessibility and offering and increase your chances of ranking for relevant searches.
Products and services
Adding the products and services you sell to your GMB listing is also extremely useful. By adding your product catalog to Google My Business, you tell Google what your business is actually selling. This also increases your chances of appearing on the Google search result page real estate beyond the basic blue link results.
Keep your information consistent and up-to-date
It's important that you keep your information up to date as people may search for this when looking for your business. This includes contact details, hours of operation, and even pictures.
Remember to update your profile immediately if anything changes with your company or its operations. This will allow for your profile to remain accurate and support Google's likelihood of deeming it relevant in searches.
Remember, updating the information only on your website and GBP profile is a good start but might not be enough. Google values consistency A LOT, so ensure you update the same information around the web where your company is listed.
For Google, it's a red flag if a company has one business address listed on its website and another on its Google Business listing or other third-party sites.
The internet is a very visual place, and this is something Google takes into account when determining the value of its search results.
Images are very important to include on profiles because they add a visual layer that can help your business stand out. Google itself states that business profiles with images are "more likely" to receive engagement from users.
Google recommends adding at least a profile picture, cover photo, and video. They all have their own purpose in showcasing your business.
To add or edit images to your business profile on Google:
Click on Photos in the left menu of your account dashboard.
Add your business logo and cover image. These will be the most commonly seen and used representations of your profile.
To add more images, select 'Team' or 'At Work' from the top menu of the photos page.
To add videos, select the 'Video' tab from the top of the photos page.
Consider adding pictures of your storefront, products, team, and other visuals that represent your business well.
Make sure that all of your images are high quality, well-lit, and representative of what your business does. Google requires that all images be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall and either in JPG or PNG format.
Encourage customers to leave reviews
Customer reviews are an essential part of local SEO – so collecting Google reviews should also be an essential part of your digital marketing strategy.
Reviews are simple star ratings where users can add a more detailed description and pictures of their experience. If the user adds pictures to the review, these will automatically feature in your GBP listing.
The reviews will appear across multiple locations online. They appear in your Business Profile in the search results, the local pack, Google Maps, and you can even use a widget to show them on your website.
Reviews are not only a local ranking factor, but they also build social proof and trust in your brand. According to The Media Captain, 90% of Searchers Read Reviews Before Purchasing.
So how to get reviews? In all simplicity, people are more likely to leave a review if it's made easy for them. So, don't hesitate and ask them. Implementing an effective review strategy is vital to get reviews at scale.
There is a number of ways to request the customer to share their feedback and experience with your business. You can a review link to your website or approach your customers via email, SMS, or simply at the point of sale. No matter the format you choose to communicate with your customers, be polite and thank them for choosing your business. Keep the message short and tell the customer that their feedback is valuable for you to improve your services. Finally, thank them for their time.
You can find the review link to share directly from the home page of your Google Business Profile Manager or by typing your company name into Google. Please note that you must be logged in to your Business Profile for the management tools to appear directly in the search results. Once you have the link copied, approach your customers in the way of your choice.
Everyone prefers getting positive reviews, but that's not always how it goes. Despite the tone of the review – whether it's positive, negative, or something in-between – always reply professionally to every review. Actually, the majority of consumers expect companies to respond to reviews and say they are less likely to use businesses that don't reply to reviews.
Keep your profile active by posting regularly
To show your business is active and to promote timely news and offers, you should actively publish posts to your Google My Business page. Google posts allow you to share content about your business in several ways. Different post types include:
What's new: Highlight new products and services. It can also be used to share company news and updates.
Events: Promote events you arrange or sponsor.
Offers: Promote any sales campaigns and special offers that have a start and end date.
COVID-19: Share any updates and changes to your operation that are related to COVID-19.
The content of the posts can include text, photos, and even videos, so there's room for creativity when crafting Google posts. Furthermore, you can add a relevant CTA for the posts to improve the click-through rate.
When you plan and create posts, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
The word limit for the posts is set to 300 words. However, depending on the device, not all of the text will be visible without clicking. So stick with shorter and punchy posts whenever you can.
Use images that are either in JPG or PNG format, 750x750px in size, in focus, well-lit, and overall good quality.
Google Posts show for six months after the publishing. If new posts haven't been published, Google shows a link to 'View previous updates on Google'. Therefore, the posts need to be fresh and relevant.
Google shows the ten most recent posts in reverse chronological order. The posts will appear in the business profile's 'From the Owner' section, right underneath the description. On a mobile device, the posts can be found underneath the 'Updates' tab. Google Posts are also shown in Google Maps, local discovery searches, and justifications (another SERP feature)
You can add links to your posts as well. When using links, ensure they direct the user to the expected destination to provide a good user experience.
Here you can find more information about the specifications, dos and don'ts, and other policies about posting to your Google Business Profile.
Turn on Google Business Messages
More and more customers expect to be able to communicate with businesses directly, and Google Business Messaging allows just that.
Messaging allows your customers to have a chat-like conversation with you directly through your Business Profile, both from the search engine result page or Google Maps.
Google Business Messages is a feature you can toggle on or off. That's up to you. However, if you decide to enable the feature, here's how to start using it:
First, go to your Google Business Profile Manager and navigate to the messages section. Click 'Turn on Chat'.
Next, you should write a welcome message, the first message people see when they start chatting with you.
Once you have your messages set up, it's worth noting that to benefit from this feature, you must actively monitor and reply to incoming messages. The response time will determine a lot of how much value Google Messages has for your business. In general, Google has set a maximum response time of 24 hours.
You will receive notifications of new messages based on your notification settings. You can manage and reply to messages from the GBP dashboard.
It's not self-evident whether a small business should enable Google Messages. If the resources are limited and response times tend to be long, chat messages can even become self-defeating as customers expect quick answers to their questions. So, evaluate the pros and cons before enabling the messages feature.
Keywords are the centerpiece of Google's ranking algorithm and, although not mandated, are highly recommended when setting up and optimizing your Google Business Profile. Keywords make it easier for Google to categorize your business and link it to relevant searches. Keywords can be anything that describes your business, what it does, or how it may pertain to a specific search query.
There are several places where you can include keywords in your profile. The first place to come to mind is your business description. A good practice is to pick one or two keywords you want to optimize your profile for. Include them early in the paragraph, together with your business name and location. Remember not to stuff the description with keywords but write naturally and describe what makes your business special.
You can further integrate keywords into your profile through Google Business Posts, review responses, and product descriptions. But again, be mindful not to use the keywords unnaturally or irrelevantly.
If you're not sure where to start when it comes to keywords, try using a free keyword research tool like the one Google Ads provides to determine which terms are most popular in your area or business category.
Location is a major factor for Google in disseminating a business' relevance for search results. A verified address gives it context and confidence as to where the business operates and makes it easier to display in Google Maps and local search results.
As the user's location plays such a significant role in how Google ranks local search results, companies with multiple business locations should pay close attention to each store's local listing information. Luckily, you can import the most essential location-specific information in bulk.
A Google Business Profile is an essential tool when it comes to having a successful business both in-person and online. Given how prevalent technology is today and all of the advantages that come with having a Google Account, it's something businesses simply can't afford to overlook when wanting to stay relevant.
For local businesses, the Google Business Profile should also be an essential part of their search engine optimization strategy. Only a verified business listing gives you search visibility and increases your web traffic. But an optimized and active business profile extends the benefits significantly.
Although there usually aren't free lunches in life, Google Business Profile is one of those by providing free visibility and tools to boost your business' online discoverability. As setting up a profile only takes a few minutes, you should definitely do it immediately. You won't regret it.