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Google Business Profile: A Small Business Guide

A Google Business Profile can effectively help local businesses, especially small business owners, have a professional online presence and build a loyal customer base. 

This article will explain the fundamentals of what it is and the benefits it brings. We’ll also cover a step-by-step guide on how to make your own Google Business Profile and share some tips and tricks. Let’s get started.

What Is Google Business Profile?

Previously known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free tool for businesses to promote their products or services across Google platforms, like Search and Maps.

Unfortunately, online-only businesses don’t qualify for a Google Business Profile. A GBP is only applicable for business owners with physical addresses for their establishments. 

However, if you’re an entrepreneur or self-employed professional working from your home, you can have a Google Business account by registering your home address.  

Three Reasons to Use Google Business Profile

The low-cost nature of setting up and maintaining a GBP account allows local small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to compete with bigger, well-established companies. Aside from that, let’s consider other key reasons for using Google to promote your business. 

Free and User Friendly

Not only is it free, but Google Business Profile also comes with quick and effective solutions for businesses to manage one or multiple profiles from one dashboard. Configure your local business’ online profile by accessing the GBP Manager from the website or mobile app. 

If you already have a website or plan to have one, use your own domain and connect it to your GBP. Alternatively, use the website feature via the GBP Manager to create a simple website for free, with “business.site” as the domain.

Improve Business Presence

As 70% of consumers are more likely to visit businesses with a Google Business Profile, it is easy to see why GBP can help boost your online presence. Additionally, business owners who already have a company website can utilize their GBP to drive more traffic. 

Furthermore, since a business has to be verified before you can create a listing, this ensures information accuracy across Google – preventing scammers from posing as you. At the same time, a GBP can serve as a resource to encourage social sharing among customers.

Encourage Users to Give Reviews

Reviews can be highly influential when a potential customer makes a purchasing decision. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. These testimonials help demonstrate whether a brand or business is worth considering in the first place. 

This is another excellent benefit of Google Business Profile, as it lets users give feedback about your business. Not only do reviews enhance your brand’s appeal to potential leads, but you can also figure out what to continue or stop doing to satisfy customer expectations. 

How to Create a Great Google Business Profile

Creating a Google Business Profile is easy due to its intuitive interface. You’ll need to prepare information relevant to the business, such as name, type of business, and service area. Before listing your business on Google, it’s also good to review the official guidelines

Now, let’s go through all the steps. 

1. Claim Your Business and Set Up Your Google Business Profile

The first step when creating your profile is making sure of the originality of your business name. If you happen to find an existing profile under your preferred business name and would like to take over the account, GBP allows you to request ownership from the current profile owner.

If your desired Google Business name is available, proceed to create a profile by visiting the Google Business Profile page and entering your company name.

Afterward, you will be directed to other pages that require additional details about your business, such as whether you accept in-person transactions or do deliveries. Input all the information accurately and ensure the details match what’s stated on your existing website and social media profiles. 

2. Verify Your Business Listing

To access your Google Business Profile Manager and start editing or adding information about the listing, you must verify your profile. 

Select a verification method to prove that you are actually operating at the registered business address. Some businesses qualify for a verification code through phone call, text message, or email. Alternatively, a postcard verification option is also available. 

Once you have requested the verification code, avoid editing any details on your profile or asking for a new code so that Google won’t delay the verification process. Note that if you have a Google Search Console account with the same registered email address on GBP, you can get instant verification.

Your business will be active on Google Maps, Search, and other Google platforms once the verification is complete. You’ll then have complete control of your profile and can make changes at any time. Keep in mind that Google users will be able to see any edits you make once your GBP profile is verified.

3. Complete All Sections of Your Google Business Profile

Next, it’s time to add information to your Google Business Profile. Make sure to fill out all the sections to increase your business’ credibility and brand value

From your GBP Manager dashboard, find and edit everything from your location, service areas, website, to contact details. If you want a shortcut, edit your Business Profile directly from Google Search

Let’s look at some of these important sections in more detail.

Ensure you have the correct name 

To avoid confusion, make sure the name of your business appears exactly the same across all online and offline platforms. This will help users easily discover your Google Business Profile on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Select your business category

GBP requires you to choose a primary category for your business, and this can impact how your profile ranks. Whether you run a hair salon or a private dental practice, make sure that your business is listed in the correct category.

Determine your operational hours

Accurately listing your daily operational hours is important. It’s also particularly beneficial during the holidays, so customers can check whether you’re still open during that period. Make sure to keep the information up-to-date whenever there’s a temporary or permanent change. 

Add your service areas

A specified service area helps both Google and users understand your geographic coverage. It can also help with search engine optimization (SEO) since there’s a better chance your business listing will appear when users search with location-specific keywords.

Let users communicate with you easily

GBP’s messaging feature offers a simple, convenient, and cost-effective way for customers to reach out to businesses. Bear in mind that enabling this function means you should be responsive during the stated operational hours, since slow response times can negatively impact your business reliability. 

Upload photos of your business 

Another must-have element on your GBP is a handful of images that clearly present the product or service you offer.

GBP provides the following image categories to help organize your listing photos: 

  • Logo – serves as your profile avatar. The logo should reflect your brand’s uniqueness and help users easily identify your business.
  • Cover photo – appears on Google Search and Maps when people search for your business. Essentially, it is the primary image that accompanies your listing. 
  • Video feature – allows you to upload a short video of up to 30 seconds. This is a terrific way to illustrate your creativity in marketing your products or services.
  • Interior photos – showcase the atmosphere of your store from the inside. It is an excellent way to illustrate the customer experience.
  • Exterior photos – depict your store’s exterior to help people locate your business. 
  • Google Street View – allows people to see your store from different angles on Google Maps. You can work with a Street View professional or create an immersive virtual tour using your own camera equipment. 

Note that customers can also post pictures of your store in their reviews, so keep track of these and make sure they are relevant to your business. 

Write a complete business description

The final step is to write a brand description to encourage potential customers to choose your business over competitors. The challenge is that you only have a maximum of 750 characters, so keep it straightforward and to the point. 

However, you cannot put special deals, promotions, or pitches in your description. Although it is a compelling marketing tactic, such information in your description would violate Google’s guidelines and is likely to be rejected during the review process. 

Let’s look at some guidelines for drafting an effective description on your GBP: 

  • Be very clear about what you do. Make it concise, but give users enough information about what you have to offer to pique their interest.
  • Highlight your unique business features. Inform potential customers about what sets your business apart from the competition.
  • Include high-value keywords. Focus on one or two high-value keywords that have the most traffic potential. This helps your listing appear on relevant search queries.
  • Ensure there are no links. Links aren’t clickable in a GBP description. If you wish to add links, include them in your Google Posts. 

4. Create and Publish Your Google Posts 

Once your Google Business Profile is live, consider using Google Posts to help attract customers. Here, you can promote deals, sales, offers, events, or new product launches and include a call to action. 

Simply navigate to the Posts tab on your Google Business Profile Manager to begin creating your first post. When people search for your business, the published posts will be visible on Google Search results and Maps. 

If you want to add visuals and stay on top of trends, Google’s Marketing Kit lets you create posters, videos, social posts, and window stickers for free.

Be sure to track all of your posts’ performance after they’re published. It is not uncommon for Google to conduct content assessments to ensure that posts do not violate content guidelines. For instance, they will reject posts that include a phone number. If your post is marked Not Approved, Google will send a notification so that you can make the necessary changes. 

5. Maintain Your Google Business Profile

Once your profile and posts are up, continue to manage them actively. Doing so helps ensure your business remains relevant to Google and useful to your audience.

Here are some ways to maintain your Business Profile:

Update and review your listing information

Make sure that users are getting the most recent information about your business. Revise or remove any irrelevant information, like changed business hours or expired deals. 

Another reason to routinely examine your posts is for outdated or conflicting information that may go against Google’s newest guidelines. It is also worth noting that Google archives posts over six months old – unless you have specified a date range. 

Respond to reviews and questions

A crucial characteristic of a reliable business is its customer service. Responding to reviews is a terrific way to show potential customers that your brand can be trusted and values consumer input.

Strive to respond to both good and negative reviews. Instead of ignoring consumer feedback, let them know how much you value their constructive criticism by responding politely and professionally. 

Track your Google Insights

Located at the bottom of your GBP Manager, Google Insights clue you into how well your posts are performing with buyers. These real-time analytics reveal information such as how users discover you and the actions they take after viewing your listing. 

Conclusion

As more consumers turn to Google to find local businesses, implementing a location-based approach using Google Business Profile can be a powerful way to generate revenue.

You can create a Business Profile for free and in just a few simple steps. When setting up your profile, ensure to input all the required information carefully to verify your business. 

Moreover, don’t forget to put in the effort to maintain your Google listing. Create posts, collect reviews, answer all customer questions, keep your photos and description up-to-date, and stay on top of the latest GBP guidelines. 

Putting up a business listing on Google is an excellent way for SMB owners to boost their online presence, increase SERP rankings, and attract new customers. Good luck! 

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