Your Google Business Profile (GBP), which was previously known as Google My Business, is a vital and valuable tool for any business owner, as long as it’s used effectively. From showcasing your products and services to quickly providing contact information and updates, and from building trust with customer reviews to showing up more prominently in search, your business can benefit a lot from a GBP listing.
The fact that it’s a completely free tool gives you even more of a reason to set it up!
Why Should You Optimise Your Google Business Profile?
1. Local search
A Google Business Profile helps you show up in local searches and searches on Google Maps, which means you are more likely to be seen by people who want to use your service or buy your products.
As is the case for websites, Google will rank your business profile based on a number of factors, which includes quality of information. So the more optimised your profile, the better the information, the higher it appears in search, and the more people see you.
2. User engagement
Website click-through rates from Google have been dropping over the last few years. This is because many users are finding the answers they need directly on Google thanks to rich snippets and People also ask rich snippets.
Although this isn’t ideal for website traffic, it’s an ongoing trend, so you want to make sure users can still find as many useful details about you as possible. If they can’t find your information right there in the search results, they’ll find it from a competing business.
3. Google holds the market share of traffic
Google as a search engine is a true giant, claiming over 90% of worldwide search traffic. Of that, nearly 46% of searches are looking for local information, and 97% of people learn the most about a local business online.
Even beyond that, there are a huge number of third-party platforms that use the information Google holds to provide local information to their own customers.
If any part of your target audience is local, then a Google Business Profile is vital if you want to be seen by them. So set some time aside to create and optimise your profile.
How to Set Up A Google Business Profile
If your business has been around for a while, there’s a good chance that there’s already a GBP out there for it, and it’s important that you claim it so you can take control of the information. If there’s no existing profile, it takes just a few minutes to create one.
You should first log into your Google account, or create one if you don’t already have one. Then head to Google Business Profile and click Manage Now. From there, follow the instructions to set up or claim your account.
Optimise Your Google Business Profile
1. Basic Details
Before anything else, you need to include the very basics:
- Business Name
- Telephone number
- Website address
- Opening hours
If they’re already displayed, make sure everything is correct and up-to-date. You don’t want someone trying to visit a website that no longer exists, or calling a number for an old office.
It’s also important to make sure that you’re using the same information across the internet. If you have a landline contact number on your website, don’t put a mobile number on your profile. And your business name should be an exact match to what’s on your website.
2. Business Category
This may seem straightforward, but make sure you take some time to select the correct primary Business Category. There may be several very similar options, so go through them all to pick the one that most closely matches what you do.
Your primary Business Category will help you show up in the right kind of searches and also determines the features you can use in your Google Business Profile.
If you provide a number of different types of services, then you can also choose secondary Additional Categories.
Remember that categories indicate what your business does, not what it sells.
It’s vital to verify your business before you can start getting results. By doing this, you tell Google that you’re a bona fide business and that you really are the owner.
To do this, Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code and instructions. This should be with you within 5 working days and, in the meantime, you can continue working on your profile.
4. Service Area and Physical Location
Depending on the type of business, you may have a physical location, a service area, or both.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business where customers come to your location – such as a store or an office – then add the address to Business Location.
If, instead (or as well as), you provide a service within a certain region, add a Service Area.
For example, a garage will have a physical location where you bring your car for an MOT or repairs, but they may also offer roadside assistance within a 20-mile radius. In this case, they’d have both a Physical Location and a Service Area. A mobile hairdresser, however, may only have a Service Area and no Physical Location
It’s important to clarify that a Physical Location is different to your Business Address. You will still need to include your Business Address, but can opt for it not to be shown on Google Maps.
5. Logo and Cover Photo
Your logo is an important part of your business identity that makes you easily recognisable and memorable, and GBP will highlight this on your profile. Make sure you add a good quality version of your logo. Then add a cover photo to make your profile look more appealing.
6. From the Business
This section is where you tell people what you do. With 750 characters to use, you have a good amount of space to talk about your business and encourage customers to buy from you. Make it clear what you offer, be engaging, and include important keywords.
7. Additional Photos & Video
Additional photos and videos, alongside your logo and cover photo, help you tell more of a story about your business. You can include images of photoshoots, your team, where you work, your products… There are plenty of options!
Video, too, is an underutilised tool. A high-quality, professional video is ideal, but an informative and interesting video shot on your phone is good too. You might be showcasing your products or services, or simply talking face-to-camera about some exciting news.
8. Products, Services & Appointments
When adding a product, you should fill in as much information as possible to make the most of this feature. As well as a name and description, you can add an image, categories, price, price range, and a call to action button.
Like the From the Business section, all this information together should appeal to your potential customers and give them the information they need. Write naturally using keywords that are relevant to the product. Show an image that accurately represents the item.
The call to action button is particularly important. Don’t spend all your time crafting a fantastic description and then forget to give the user something to do next! Include a suitable call to action and remember that each button should link to a relevant page, most likely on your own website.
Services allow for a brief description of what you offer, and adding an appointment link lets customers book an appointment directly from GBP.
There are currently four types of post on Google Business Profile:
- What’s new
They may not all be relevant to you, but you should utilise those that are by adding relevant content on a regular basis.
Messaging, when switched on, allows you to interact with customers in real time. You receive notifications when someone reaches out to your business and should respond within 24 hours.
This option not only allows you to provide amazing customer service, it also helps you make sales.
Reviews are a great way to build trust and a good reputation, and Google makes it very easy to collect them from customers.
Every time someone buys your product or uses your service, encourage them to go to your GBP listing and write a review. They’ll rate you out of 5 stars and have the option of giving more information about their experience. Google then adds up all your reviews and displays them prominently on your profile.
Bright Local found that reviews play a big part in whether a user clicks on your business profile or not.
If you take bookings via a non-Google provider, you can integrate with Google Business Profile so that customers can book directly from your profile.
This is only available to certain service businesses.
13. Request A Quote
When switched on, a Request A Quote button will display on your profile. When clicked, this opens a form (which is based on your primary Business Category) that a potential client can fill in. You can then respond as necessary.
This option is available to businesses that match specific eligibility criteria.
14. Special Attributes
Special Attributes allow you to provide even more information about your business in bite-size chunks. Take a look through the options available and select all those that apply to yours. They include attributes such as women-led and LGBTQ+ friendly.
15. Opening Date
The Opening Date of your business is a small but nice feature that just gives a little more information to those who are interested. If you’ve been around a while, it also helps you show that you’re an established business.
At the start of the pandemic, Google quickly and helpfully adapted its Business Profile to allow businesses to provide more information to customers about relevant changes and restrictions. From temporary closures and updated opening times, to additional safety measures and adapted services, make sure that your information is up-to-date in relation to Coronavirus.
You can find more guidance from Google on these features.
17. More Hours and Special Hours
If you provide particular services or special offers at certain times of the day, then add them under the More Hours section. There are a number of pre-defined options including Happy hours, Breakfast, and Online operating hours. This is ideal for providing your customers with more specific information about your services.
Special Hours is for those dates when your opening times differ from usual. You can, for example, add Christmas or bank holiday closing times.
Once you’ve update all the information, make sure you check your settings so you receive updates and changes. You don’t want to miss an appointment or an important question because your settings aren’t correct.
Keep Your Profile Up-to-Date
Once you’ve set up your profile and fully optimised it, set aside a bit of time each month to keep it updated. Like your website, Google rewards those profiles that are active and keep users up-to-date. You can keep your profile fresh in lots of ways including:
- Uploading new photos
- Writing posts
- Responding to reviews and questions
- Updating opening hours for holidays
- Adding new products, services and special offers
- Reviewing current information to make sure it’s up-to-date
- Analysing insights and making adjustments to improve your profile
An up-to-date and optimised Google Business Profile is vital for any business that wants to be seen in local searches. Creating and maintaining a profile is a free and easy way of boosting your visibility and engaging with new potential customers.