It helps generate details for its database about businesses and related entities relevant to specific searches.
Once a new profile is created, a Google Maps location is then generated.
That synchronizes with traditional Google Search for ease of access and searchability.
It certainly helps that most organic searches come from Google – around 90% of worldwide search engine market share.
It also shows the value of a GBP and effective local SEO.
Use this guide to ensure you’ve completed your Google Business Profile correctly and optimized all possible facets of the tool.
Doing this will also give the most leverage for your business on Google and third-party platforms that use the Google Maps API to generate location information for users.
If digital marketing is a somewhat new endeavor for you and your business, there are some basics to know.
And it’s good to understand Google Business Profiles and the value they offer.
First off: Yes, using Google Business Profile is free.
And, no, a GBP doesn’t replace your business’s website.
Google Business Profiles complement a brand’s already-existing website(s) by giving it a public identity and presence with a profile on Google.
The information provided about a business through Google Business Profiles can appear in Google Search and Google Maps.
Any third-party platform utilizing the Google Maps API will also show Google Business Profiles regardless of what device type is used to search.
If you’ve previously used specific Google tools to complement your business (Google+, for example), or your business has been operating for a while, chances are your business is already listed on Google Business Profiles.
Google My Business, Google Places for Business, and the Google+ Pages Dashboard were the best ways to manage your business information previously.
These have automatically been upgraded to Google’s universal platform, Google Business Profiles.
Starting Your Google Business Profile
The first step to getting your Google Business Profile up and running is to actually conduct a Google search to ensure your business doesn’t already have one.
You can also use Google’s in-platform search feature to locate your business on GBP.
Screenshot from Google Business Profile Manager, September 2020
If your business has been around for a while (several years or more), it’s likely it already has a GBP, and you just need to claim it.
Once successfully claimed, you can manage the information as if you started the GBP yourself.
If there is already a profile for your business, it will notify you.
It may also notify you that someone else has already claimed your business.
It’s important to know that Google won’t display your business or its edits until the business is verified.
Without verification, you cannot access page insights/analytical information or business reviews from the back end.
Verification typically takes less than a week.
Google will send you a verification code postcard that you will use to verify your profile, and your business will officially be live.
After you confirm the verification method, you can add additional details about your business, including business hours, business messaging options, a business description, and photos.
Publishing Your Google Business Profile
Once you complete this process, you will be taken to Google Business Profile Manager, where you can manage your business profile and modify your details.
Here are some basic but crucial tips for optimizing your profile:
1. Enter Complete Data For Your Profile
Local search results favor the most relevant results for searches.
Businesses offering the most detailed and accurate information will be easier to serve in search.
Don’t leave anything to be guessed or assumed.
Make sure your profile communicates what your business does, where it is, and how they can acquire the goods and/or services your business is offering.
2. Include Keywords
Just like traditional website SEO, Google uses a variety of signals to serve search results.
Including important keywords and search phrases to your business profile will be incredibly helpful, especially since your business website is listed directly within your GBP.
Use these in the business description and each time you post a Local Post to your audience.
3. Keep Business Operating Hours Accurate
It’s important to put your business hours, but it’s equally important to update them whenever they change.
Google offers the ability to customize hours for holidays and other special events.
It should always be updated to keep your site accurate and users happy.
And, in the age of COVID-19, GBP offers even more flexibility around hours and messaging for potential customers.
Note: Additional hours won’t show for your business until regular hours are set.
4. Add Photos
Photos help business profiles’ performance more than most business owners and marketers probably expect.
Businesses with photos on their profiles receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than businesses without photos, according to Google.
Keep reading for more GBP photo tips below.
5. Manage & Respond To Customer Reviews
Interacting with customers by responding to their reviews illustrates that your business values its customers and the feedback that they leave regarding it.
Positive reviews are going to have a positive effect on potential customers when researching your business.
They also increase your business’s visibility in search results.
Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews for your business.
6. Let Customers Message You
It can be somewhat inconvenient at times, but messages to and from customers are only available through the Google Business Profile app.
To do so, tap Customers, then Messages, then Turn on through the app.
Once enabled, customers will be able to message businesses through their Business Profiles with the Message button that appears.
Messages can have customized automated responses to welcome customers for incoming messages.
This helps with the responsiveness and visibility of the business since response times won’t suffer as badly.
For maximum performance and visibility through the GBP, it’s critical to keep message response time under 24 hours.
But obviously faster is better.
Customers don’t want to wait for answers, and oftentimes a fast answer is the difference between a customer and a non-customer.
7. Use Local Posts
You can publish offers, events, products, and services directly to Google Search and Maps through posts on Google Business Profiles.
Posts let you engage with your audience and keep your presence fresh on Google.
And they can be sent on the go from either a phone, tablet, or computer.
Some Google-provided tips for making the most out of Local Posts are: Make sure each post is high-quality – free of spelling errors, broken characters, gibberish, or useless information.
And they should be respectful and non-offensive.
The best posts include visuals and links, but the links should always be to sites that are trusted.
Links that lead to malware, viruses, phishing, or pornographic material aren’t allowed.
Posts from businesses that operate on regulated goods and services are allowed to use posts but can’t post content related to the products themselves.
These industries typically include:
Alcohol and tobacco.
Pharmaceutical products and recreational drugs.
Health and medical devices.
These posts can and will show up in Google, so they need to be kept PG.
8. Stay Connected During COVID-19
This year has provided us with plenty of surprises. The biggest has been COVID-19 and the craziness it left (and continues to leave) in its wake.
If stores operate differently than normal due to COVID-19 restrictions, mandates, or safety guidelines, businesses can update their profiles on GBP to provide the most accurate information to customers.
Recently added features make communicating with current and potential customers easier in the time of the pandemic.
In addition to customizable business hours and Local Posts, a business can:
Mark store temporarily closed.
Manage delivery options.
Add healthy and safety attributes.
9. Use The Special Attributes
Newer features to GBP allow Black-owned and women-led businesses to be highlighted on their profile.
These also allow for other features like outdoor seating and the like.
Over the last several years, Google has made tremendous strides with available analytical data for Google Business Profiles.
Now called Insights, Google offers businesses a different way to understand how customers interact with business profiles, including:
How customers find your profile.
Where customers find you on Google.
How Customers Find Your Profile
This section of Insights shows how customers found you in a “Direct” search (they searched for your business name or address) versus a “Discovery” search (they searched for a category, product, or service that you offer, and your profile appeared).
These sections have the following labels in bulk insights reports:
Article by Sam Hollingsworth, who is a native New Yorker currently leading SEO efforts for the global agency Hero Digital. With a background in general SEO, content strategy, social media, and client services, when Sam’s not hard at work at the agency, he can be found at one of the many thoroughbred race tracks across the country (soon to go international), enjoying the great outdoors, and hanging with his son.