Is your Google Business Profile (GBP) set up for success or failure?
Formerly known as Google My Business (GMB), Google Business Profile allows businesses to take control of their immediate online presence in search results. The platform has only gotten easier to use and richer with features over time, but not all business owners know how to use GBP to its fullest—as a result, they’re unintentionally positioned to fail on Google.
Here are the eight most common GBP fails and simple ways to avoid them. All it takes is a little knowledge and due diligence.
1. Failure to Monitor Your Google Business Profile Knowledge Panel
GBP success starts with your Knowledge Panel (KP). This feature should be full of accurate information about your business that prospective customers want to know.
If you haven’t checked your GBP KP for a while, review your information to ensure it’s complete and correct. Things you can control in GBP KC include:
Overview of your company
Questions and answers
The most common missing or incorrect pieces of information are hours (especially during holiday or summer seasons), website URLs (after a site is updated), and phone numbers (typically when cell phones are involved).
If any information is incorrect, you are providing a negative online user experience, turning prospects off, and missing out on acquiring new customers. Over time, Google will recognize this, and your search engine results page (SERP) positioning will take a dive. If there’s one Google Business Profile fail to avoid, it’s not regularly checking your GBP Knowledge Panel.
Be aware: If you anger someone because of incorrect GBP info, it could earn you a negative Google rating and review. This is an unforced error that’s easily avoidable with regular check-ins of your GBP information.
2. Unclaimed Listing
Not claiming your GBP listing is a rookie error.
If you don’t claim it, you can’t manage your profile completely.
You can still recommend changes to your address, phone number, website URL, and hours without claiming your GBP listing. However, claiming your profile gives you far more direct control over these things. If you upload photos without claiming your listing, you’ll be doing so as a customer—not with the credibility of being the business owner. Plus you won’t be able to create Google Posts or respond to customer ratings or reviews.
If your listing is not claimed for long enough, a user can inform Google the business doesn’t exist. Google will more than likely accept that and delete the listing.
Another issue: If your listing is unclaimed, another company could claim it or edit the information to include their telephone number and website, potentially stealing business from you. Because you did not claim the listing, Google cannot alert you that the information was updated.
Again, don’t make the rookie mistake of failing to claim your GBP listing. Click Own This Business and follow the steps in your Knowledge Panel.
3. Incorrect Map Pin
Business owners often don’t check their map pins. Too often, these pins are in the wrong place. Incorrect pins typically happen with businesses located in shopping centers or parking lots. A bad location pin doesn’t help potential customers. People use GPS programs to get everywhere. You don’t want to direct them to the wrong spot. “Close” isn’t good enough when it comes to GPS.
4. Ignoring Reviews
No one likes receiving bad reviews. And good reviews might not seem to warrant a response. However, failing to respond to both positive and negative reviews (and everything in between) is a big mistake. Consumers prefer businesses that actively engage online. It’s a sign the company is committed to customer service, which makes it attractive to prospective buyers. If you don’t reply to reviews, you show potential buyers that you don’t care. They will likely take their business to a more responsive company.
Avoid this common Google Business Profile fail by always responding to all reviews, no matter their flavor. If someone takes time out of their busy schedule to communicate with you about your company, you owe it to them to take a few minutes to acknowledge it.
Tip: Replying to negative reviews is challenging. It’s easy to get defensive, but never make the common fail of responding angrily, lashing out, or insulting the customer. If you have negative feelings toward a review or comment, step back and respond only when you’re calm. Some best practices for responding to bad reviews and comments include:
Empathize with the customer, and explain you don’t want them to feel anything bad about your business.
Explain how you will address the issue and make things right. Also, tell them how you plan to prevent it from happening again.
Tell the person how to contact you so you can respond to the problem to their satisfaction.
Staying on top of your reviews will better position you for GBP success.
5. Not Answering Questions
Q and A is a relatively new GBP feature. Because of its novelty, many business owners aren’t aware of it or simply forget about it.
The issue: Questions from prospective customers often turn into new sales. People who care enough to ask a question are likely quite far along in the sales process. If you don’t answer their queries, they will likely move on to a competitor who will.
Avoid this common fail by making it a point to check your GBP profile and alerts regularly to ensure your questions are answered. At the same time, monitor your reviews to ensure everything is up-to-date there as well.
Tip: Consider regularly posting answers to frequently asked questions on your GBP profile to proactively provide the answers even before people ask. Communicate with your sales and marketing team to get a sense of the most common questions they’re asked.
6. Neglecting Photos
Many business owners aren’t natural photographers. It’s why they often neglect the images on their GBP profiles.
Your Google Business listing will look seriously neglected if you only have a streetview image or a couple of photos posted by customers. Another issue: If you don’t post your own pictures, it’s possible that Google could grab a photo from another source, such as Facebook, and post it to your page, even if it’s an unattractive image or one of another business.
It’s a best practice to add five to seven outdoor photos and five to seven interior photos. Include some with staff to make your business seem warmer and more friendly (don’t include pictures with customers, as this could get you into trouble with Google or your customers). If you’re not a great photographer or unsure what a good photo is, seek help from someone with a good eye for imagery. It will pay off in a big way in creating a more attractive—and engaging—Google Business Profile.
7. Failing to Google Your Own Business
One of the surest ways to identify issues with your Google business listing is to search your company. Check if anything is missing, incorrect, or unattractive. Fix anything you find. Don’t stop there. Search your profile regularly on several devices. A problem on one piece of equipment may not appear on another. And even if you’ve done nothing to your profile, Google might have made a change that impacts your business listing negatively.
8. Not Marking a Business Closed
If you shut your business down, mark it as permanently closed. Do this in your GBP dashboard. You may no longer need your listing. However, leaving it active delivers a bad user experience. You may have prospective customers visiting a closed location. It could leave a bad taste if you ever open another business.
GBP Fails: The Final Word
All these Google Business Profile fails share two things: A lack of awareness or due diligence. You owe it to yourself to learn how to leverage GBP fully and monitor it regularly. Set alerts on your calendar to check it daily or more often. The time you spend will pay off in added traffic to your website, visits to your business, and dollars to your bottom line.