More customers are using their mobile devices to search for local businesses. Local searches make up 46% of all search queries on Google.
When your customers are looking for your local business, you want them to find you in search results and to get all the information they need to buy your products or services.
They will want to know your contact information, opening hours, products & services, unique selling point (USP), and other useful information that will help them make an informed buying decision.
They will want all that information before they even visit your website. So how can you make that information available in local search results?
The answer is Google Business Profile (GBP).
In this article I will help you understand the meaning of Google Business Profile, how to set it up, why it’s so important for local SEO, and how to optimize your Google Business Profile.
It is a free tool by Google that lets businesses create and manage detailed profiles on Google to make it easier for searchers to find such businesses on Google Search and Google Maps.
With a Google Business profile, you can provide searchers with the information they need about your business without the need for them to go through your website.
Google will curate this information and create a dedicated profile for your business that will appear in searches for your brand name and other relevant queries. This information includes your website link, business address, contact information, Google Maps directions, and more.
Your Google Business Profile is the most important factor in getting your business to rank high in local search results, and it’s how you will get your business to appear in the Map Pack.
The Map Pack is a box that holds a list of three businesses and a map that appears in search results for relevant local search queries.
For example, let’s say you own a Roofing company in Trenton, Michigan – and a potential client searches for “roofer Trenton, MI”. Google will show a Map Pack that contains three local roofing companies at the top of search results, Holbrook’s Roofing, MCM Services, and Napier’s Home Improvement.
Creating a profile for your business and optimizing your listing for local SEO will improve your chances of showing up in the Map Pack.
Your profile is not just a place where searchers can find information about your business, it is a powerful tool that can help boost your online presence.
Any local business that wants to thrive online needs to prioritize local SEO, and your profile can contribute a lot to helping you rank high in local search results. Here are a few ways that a profile can aid your local SEO efforts:
Like I pointed out earlier, the Map Pack is prime real estate in local search results, and it’s where your business needs to be.
Just by creating your Google Business Profile, you vastly improve the chances that your business will appear in the Map Pack for one of the relevant local keywords.
There is also the added benefit that the Map Pack is positioned at the top of the search results page. If your business is on that coveted list, customers are more likely to check you out instead of scrolling down the web page to see other businesses.
The effect of showing up on the Map Pack is so profound that research shows that brands that show up among the list of three businesses get a 700% increase in clicks to their website.
On that 3-pack box, customers will see your review ratings, business address, website link, map directions, opening & closing hours, and your contact information.
Let’s say you’re a Dentist in Southgate, Michigan, and a local customer searches for “dentists near me”. Your chances of converting that searcher into a customer will be much higher if your business appears in the local 3-pack and at the top of search results.
Research shows that the conversation rate for businesses that rank high in local search results is 80% and it’s easy to see why.
Customers can call or message you directly from the search results page. They can book an appointment directly from your Google Profile or access your website in one click to check out your range of services. Check out what Admire Dental in Southgate did for their profile.
If you want to generate more leads and boost revenues, you must create an optimized Google Business profile.
Searchers are primarily interested in local businesses that are in proximity to their location. To find such businesses, they use Google Maps.
Your profile will not just help you rank high in local search results, it will also ensure your business shows up in relevant Google Map searches.
Let’s say you run a handyman business in Allen Park, Michigan. Simply creating your Google Business Profile will ensure your business will pop up in response to relevant search queries like it did for Handyman Service Plus.
If you get enough positive customer reviews to earn a 5-star rating like Mac’s Towing in Taylor, customers will trust your local business and Google will rank you higher in search results.
Apart from displaying basic information about your business on your Google Business Profile, you can also add a business description. This gives you the opportunity to provide searchers with a snapshot of your business and to highlight the USP that makes your products and services different from those of your competitors.
Just look at how Turf Concepts Landscape Management – a landscaping company in Flat Rock, Michigan utilized its business description space effectively.
Your Google Business Profile dashboard also includes an “Insights” section. Here, you will access useful analytics about the search visibility of your brand, the types of searchers that are looking for your business, and the search queries they are using to look for you.
You will also see the number of customers that reached out to you through your contact directly from your profile, the actions each searcher took on your profile, and whether more customers are finding you on Google Maps or Google Search.
All these insights will help you gauge how well you are performing in local search, and you will be able to identify areas that need improvement in your local SEO strategy.
If you are yet to claim your Google Business Profile, here is a step-by-step process to help you set up your profile.
Anyone can create a free Google account to use Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and other Google services. To create your Google Business Profile, you need a Google account. Since it is possible to have multiple accounts, you can have a separate Google business account from your personal account.
To create your account:
Your Business profile on Google Search exists separately from your Google account.
Provided information about your brand is available online, Google will still create a profile for your business.
The issue with this is that you have no control over the structure and accuracy of that information. Having a Google Business Profile account will ensure you can dictate and edit the content of your profile.
To confirm if you already have a profile, follow these steps:
This is the stage where you finally create your Google Business account. Follow the steps listed below:
Follow the 3-step process outlined above to create your Google Business Profile. After creating your profile, the next thing is to optimize it.
Some local business owners simply claim their Google Business Profile and promptly forget about it. This is a very bad idea.
If you want to maximize the advantages of your profile and rank high in local search results, you need to consistently maintain and optimize your profile.
Below are 7 ways you can optimize your Google Business Profile:
After you have provided the basic information as outlined in the steps above, go back to your Google Business Profile dashboard and provide more detailed information.
Make sure the information you provide is accurate and consistent with what you have on your website and other online profiles.
Google reviews your business information all over the web to check for inconsistencies and to verify the credibility of your data.
If your information is not consistent, it will negatively impact your rankings in local search. Also, failure to provide all the required information will leave you at the mercy of third-party editors.
Google allows searchers that visit your profile to make user-generated changes with the “suggest an edit” option.
If you don’t provide all the required information, anyone including your competitors and other mischievous individuals can make dramatic changes to your Google Business Profile.
This also emphasizes the importance of constant management of your Google Business Profile.
You should check your profile regularly to ensure no one has made any unwanted changes.
To do this, log into your dashboard and click “Back to GMB classic” from the dropdown.
From the classic dashboard, you can see if any updates have been made to your profile by third parties or Google Search bots.
Click “Google Updates” and you will see the option to review and rectify any incorrect information that may have been added to your profile.
Visual content converts better than bland text. It gets you more leads, visits, likes, social media shares, and sales. Research shows that visuals will get you 650% more engagement from users than text, and 85% of buyers are more likely to buy your products if they can see a product video.
Since your customers love visual content so much, it’s easy to see how adding photos of your products and business to your profile can increase conversions.
You will humanize your business by adding photos that show your location and employees, and you can also include photos of your customers using your products.
A key reason why a Google Business Profile is so good at generating leads for service businesses is that customers can contact you directly from the search page.
Let’s say a customer finds your Taylor, Michigan based real estate business in search results and wants to contact you immediately. The customer can use your phone number to contact you or better still, send you a text message.
Research shows that 90% of leads prefer to send a text message instead of calling your phone number. If you don’t activate the messaging feature on your profile, you could be losing many potential customers.
To do so, go to your dashboard and click “messaging’’.
From there, you can turn on the messaging feature and you will add the phone number that will receive your messages.
You can also set a default welcome message that customers will get immediately, anytime they contact you.
You can optimize your Google Business Profile for local search by integrating relevant local keywords into your profile. Add these keywords to your business description, customer reviews, answers to questions, and posts.
Doing this will signal to Google that you want to rank for those keywords. Google will also embolden the relevant keywords in your profile content in search results.
More 5-star reviews + high local search ranking equals more sales.
85% of local buyers regard online customer reviews as personal recommendations of other customers and most buyers require a minimum 4-star review rating before they can choose a local business.
The more 5-star reviews you get from your loyal customers, the more you will be able to convince potential buyers to choose your business. The best way to get these reviews is to ask your customers.
Also, you should respond to all reviews both positive and negative. Responding to positive reviews shows your customers that you care about the effort they took to leave feedback.
And when you get negative reviews, respond.
Take the time to address the concerns of the reviewer and try to win them over. Besides, searchers will read your response to such reviews and 44.6% of buyers say they are likely to check out a local business that responded to negative feedback.
With Google posts, you can publish 300-word posts with images and CTA buttons on your Google Business Profile. Look at how Home Base in Lincoln Park, MI utilizes the Post functionality.
With these Google posts, you can grab the attention of searchers with interesting content about company products, upcoming events, latest blog posts, and anything that can pique the interest of searchers.
To start publishing posts on your profile, go to your dashboard and you will see the “Posts” button in the left-side menu.
However, Google doesn’t allow you to respond to these questions from your Google Business Profile dashboard, and you need to use the Google Map app to check for notifications on customer questions. You may also get email alerts when any new question is asked on your profile.
A Google Business Profile is a powerful tool that can position your business in a prime spot in local search results and make it easy for potential buyers to find you.
Now, it’s up to you. Use the information in this post to set up and optimize your Google Business Profile, so you can start driving local customers to your business.