Years ago, businesses had options about how new customers could find and interact with them: directory listings, signage, flyers, newspaper ads, and more.
Today, there’s essentially one: Google.
That’s why creating a stellar Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) and leveraging it to its fullest is a vital way to attract new customers to your operation.
Google Business Profile: The Basics
Google Business Profile is a free listing offered to businesses by Google. It allows business owners to share information and photos of their operation, including its location, the services offered, and products sold.
Taking advantage of this free profile is a great way to increase the visibility of your organization on Google. Information from your business profile is used to populate Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping.
Why You Need a Google My Business Account
Here are the benefits of signing up for an account:
Get Discovered in Google, Google Maps, and Google Shopping
Whether you want to attract foot or web traffic to your business, you need Google’s help. A Google Business Profile ensures that people in your local area find your company when searching for the products or services you offer.
Your Google Business listing shows searchers where your company is located and how to get there. It tells them what it sells and gives them a sense of what makes it unique. A Google Business Profile is a sure way to improve your local presence and maximize your activity in Google.
Gain Control Over Your Online Business Info
Your Google My Business profile allows you to control and update your contact information, business hours, and other essential details. You can use it to post updates about new products and services, temporary closures, or sales and special events.
Earn Ratings and Reviews That Impart Trust
Google Maps ratings and reviews are a way to build trust and credibility with online searchers who likely know little or nothing about your business. People are more likely to take recommendations from people like them — even online ones — far more seriously than anything a company says about itself.
It can be scary to think about getting reviews on an open public platform, especially since you can’t select which Google reviews are served up. You can gain some control over how reviews are perceived by responding to negative ones, especially if you can use the experience to make it clear that you want to make things right for your customer. You can also put a process in place to identify customers who liked their experience with your company and ask — or even incentivize — them to provide you with five-star ratings and stellar reviews.
Also, remember that a reasonable combination of positive and negative reviews is more believable than pages of great recommendations. No business operates perfectly every single day.
How to Create and Set Up a Google Business Profile
1. Log in to Google Business Profile Manager
If you’re logged into any Google account, for instance, Gmail, you’re automatically logged into Google Business Profile Manager. Otherwise, enter your usual Google sign-in information or create a new Google account.
2. Add Your Business
Enter your business name. If it doesn’t appear in the drop-down menu, click Add your business to Google. Then choose the right category for your company and click Next.
3. Enter Your Business Location
Google will require you to confirm you have a physical location. Then you’ll have to add your business address. You may also need to position a marker for your business location on a map.
4. Add Your Contact Information
Enter your business phone number and website address. It makes it possible for prospective customers to connect with you. If you prefer not to get phone calls, you don’t have to enter a phone number. Just be aware that most Google searches happen on smartphones, so you could lose a lot of opportunities if you don’t include a phone number in your Google business listing.
5. Verify Your Business Location
Within a few days of registering your company, Google will send a physical piece of mail to your business address. It will ask you to input a five-digit code on your Google Business Profile to verify your address checks out.
6. Customize Your Business Profile
Enter your business hours, messaging preferences, and business description. Upload your photos.
When you’re ready, click Continue. You’ll be taken to the Business Profile Manager dashboard. The dashboard allows you to manage your business profile, view insights, check reviews, respond to messages, and create Google ads.
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Google uses three factors to determine local search rankings:
Relevance: How well your Google My Business listing matches a search query.
Distance: How far your business is from the search or searcher.
Prominence: How well-known and reputable your company is, based on link clicks, number of reviews, review score, and the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website.
Here are some things you can do to maximize your score for all three factors.
Complete All Elements of Your Profile
Google is more likely to serve up your business to its users if your profile is complete and accurate. That includes things like keeping business hours up-to-date, especially around holiday times.
Verify Your Location
Google will only serve businesses that have inputted the five-digit verification code sent to them in the mail.
Add Quality Images and Videos of Your Business
Google users are more likely to click on profiles with attractive photos. That activity makes it more likely that Google will serve them up. Investing in quality imagery will help ensure your business information will be featured more prominently on Google and that more prospective customers will want to learn about your company.
Include Keywords in Your Profile
Using the keywords your business wants to be known for in your Google Business Profile will help Google understand what your company does and connect your profile with your website. This is a powerful step to building local search relevance.
Answer Questions and Request Reviews
Any activity associated with a Google My Business profile demonstrates to Google that people are engaged with your organization. This includes getting questions from consumers and answering them and receiving good reviews, and responding to negative ones. These are positive signs to Google that will improve your local rankings.
Keep Your Business Information Current
Make sure to update your business profile if you change your hours of operation, contact information, and products or services you offer. Nothing annoys customers more than incorrect business profiles. These inaccuracies will turn into angry comments, hostile questions, and bad reviews, harming your Google ranking.
Use Google My Business posts to share updates, product news, offers, and events. Don’t stop sharing company info on social media, through your blog, and in newsletters. Just add Google posts to your mix to demonstrate to Google that your Google Business Profile is active and valuable.
Add Unique Features to Your Profile
Additional features and functionality can be added to Google Business Profiles, depending on your industry. Some examples include:
Hotels can show their class rankings, highlights, check-in and out times, and amenities.
Restaurants and bars are able to upload menus and photos of popular food items and cocktails.
A service business may include a list of the services they offer.
Healthcare operations can share health insurance information.
Most businesses are able to add buttons to their profiles to book appointments, make reservations, and do other things.
Adding these features will increase engagement with your profile, making it look more attractive to Google.
Include Your Products
If you sell products, include a current inventory in your Business Profile. In addition to appearing on the profile itself, your products may show up in Google Shopping. The ability to sell directly through Google’s platforms makes a business more attractive to the search engine than local competitors that don’t.
Leverage Google’s Marketing Tools
Google offers businesses free access to a marketing kit. It includes functionality to create custom videos, which you can have on your profile.
Taking these steps will help increase the prominence of your business in Google search results, making it possible to sell more products and services to a whole new consumer base.
Google Business Profile is a potent tool that can generate outstanding business results if used correctly. However, many small business owners find the tool overwhelming and are concerned about making mistakes or missing out on opportunities. That’s where Dodgeball Marketing can step in. We offer services that help small business owners make the most out of their Google Business Profile. A small investment with us could pay off in a very big way for your company.