If you’re a local service business and you haven’t yet claimed your Google Business Profile (GBP), you’re missing out. You may have heard of Google My Business and even claimed your business profile there and, if you have, that’s what we’re talking about, as Google rebranded Google My Business to Google Business Profile in December 2021.
Google is now encouraging local business owners to manage their Google Business Profile directly from Google Search and Google Maps apps, and they are retiring the Google My Business app in 2022.
So, what is Google Business Profile, what do the changes mean for you as a local business owner, and how can you make the most of GBP?
Read our complete Google Business Profile guide and get your business found and visited by more local customers.
The advantages of using Google Business Profile
Let’s start with what Google Business Profile is and look at why it has so many benefits for local service-area businesses.
If you’ve ever signed up to Yelp, Angie’s List, or Thumbtack, then GBP is very similar as it’s another business directory, in essence. Where it differs is in two ways: Firstly, it’s your chance to manage your business profile on Google and optimize it. Secondly, it differs in reach. Google is the largest search engine in the world by a long way and GBP is their own business directory where you can have a free listing for your business. When you sign up and claim your business profile, your business will show up in Google Search and Google Maps. If you have products listed, you could also find you show up in Google Shops, too. If you add videos to your profile, chances are they’ll appear in the Google Videos tab.
Who wouldn’t want the chance to appear in multiple places on the world’s biggest search engine and be more easily seen by local potential customers?
Not only that, but “64% of consumers have used Google Business Profile listings to find a local business’s address or phone number,” and “A typical business receives 59 actions from their Google Business Profile listing each month” – both from Bright Local. An action might be visiting your website, requesting directions, or calling you, so it’s really important to be listed so you can be found.
With GBP, people can make an appointment or book your service with just one click, right from your business profile and you can easily keep track with the scheduling tool that’s included. Your GBP is automatically connected to Google Maps so your customers can be given clear directions to your premises.
You can also answer common questions and pin the most frequently asked to the top. You can add posts to provide updates, new products or services, current offers and promotions, news, and more. Even better, your customers can leave a review on your business profile and you can respond directly to them right there, without having to log into anything else.
Given the fact that many businesses haven’t yet claimed their Google Business Profile, if you claim yours, you’ll be ahead of the competition.
What do the changes mean for your local business?
Apart from the name change, here’s what’s different in your Google Business Profile:
Instead of having to go to your Google Business Profile Manager, you can now manage your profile right from Search or Google Maps if you are a single location business. As long as you’re signed in using the Gmail address you used to claim your GBP, you can search for your business name or just type in “my business”. You can then manage everything you need to, including creating new posts, updating your information, responding to reviews, and more. You can also verify your business if you’re just in the process of claiming it.
Eventually, businesses will be able to do their complete setup from Search or Maps, and you’ll be able to check if your profile is publicly visible.
This is quick and convenient for single-location businesses. As a small business, you’ll no longer need the Google My Business app or the website.
And if you have multiple outlets or offices, you haven’t been forgotten. Google is changing the existing Google My Business dashboard to the Business Profile Manager to focus on supporting larger businesses with many locations.
How can a local business ensure they maintain ownership of their Google Business Profile or claim theirs if they haven’t already?
There may be some confusion here as a business profile for your business can exist on Google, without you having set it up or claimed it. The reason for that is that a business profile isn’t really yours. Any member of the general public can add and amend the info on your business profile, including adding reviews, adding images, updating your business hours, and more. Google may also bring together information from the search results on your business profile.
Claiming your Google Business Profile gives you the ability to manage what appears on your profile and to tell Google who you are and what you do. While you can’t delete negative reviews, you can add images, add products, if you have them, amend your contact details and opening hours, reply to reviews, message customers, set up ads direct from Search, and use various other options to present your business in the best possible light.
To claim your GBP, go to either Google Search or Google Maps when you are signed in to your Gmail account that you want to use with your GBP. Type in your company name.
You should see a listing with a map and any existing information to the right of the search results. Under the business name, you should see “Own this business?” If you click that, you’ll be taken to Google Business Profile Manager, where you can begin the process of claiming your business profile.
Once claimed, you will need to verify your business profile, which you can do in several ways. You can receive a postcard through the mail with a code on it, you can verify by email or phone, or if you already use Google Search Console, you can verify with that if you use the same email account for both.
After that, you can complete the setup straight from Search or Maps and add all the details and images you like.
How to effectively use your Google My Business profile
Before we go into more detail on how best to use your GBP, first and foremost, you need to check it regularly and keep it up to date. Because anyone can suggest edits to change the information on your business profile or upload their own photos or videos, you need to check it often to make sure there’s nothing on there that isn’t correct. You can’t do anything about negative reviews, but you can ensure your basic details are correct, including your opening hours, and add your own information and photos.
Keeping it up to date with fresh content, quick replies to all reviews, including the negative ones, and answering customer questions keeps your business looking like it’s a current, thriving, and responsive business.
1) Optimize Your Profile
Ensure you’ve filled in as much information about your business as you can. Add your opening and closing times, make sure your address is correct, and upload great photographs of both the inside and outside of your business. If you add images of the exterior of your building and any signage, it’s easier for potential customers to find you. Well-branded images of your people, the interior of your business, any charity events and fundraising you do, award nights, and anything else that puts you in a good light, will also make your business appealing and human to potential customers.
Don’t forget to add relevant keywords and phrases in your profile, Q&As, descriptions, and posts. You’ll rank better in local results if you create well-keyworded content.
2) Engage With Your Profile Visitors
As well as responding to reviews, you can answer frequently asked questions, post information about sales and offers, reply to comments, allow messaging and calls straight from your profile, and use every scrap of space to ensure your customers know what you do and who you are. Much like social media, you can talk directly to your customers on your GBP and build a community.
3) Promote Your Business
Click on the Promote button on your business profile and you’ll get several options. As well as posting and answering questions, you can create Google Ads from your profile and share your review form with customers to encourage them to leave you a testimonial. You can also add any products you have which may then appear in Google Shops.
Given that Google has invested heavily in Google Business Profile, it’s reasonable to assume that they will be adding more features and options in the future. It’s well worth signing up and claiming your business profile now, while keeping a keen eye out for new features that you can take advantage of to get attention for your business.
Book a Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo
Our business intelligence marketing software makes managing your Google Business Profile even easier. Log into your dashboard just once and you can manage and update your GBP without needing to search for yourself on Search or Maps. You can do everything you need to do without leaving our marketing software, including updating your opening hours, changing your address, adding images, posting updates, and responding to reviews.
And at the same time, you can update your details on over 80 business directories, manage your entire content marketing operation, get your email marketing done and scheduled, manage your social media, and so much more.
And with a firm eye on the bottom line, you can easily run off a whole range of reports to keep an eye on how your marketing efforts are doing, what’s working and what’s not, and what your return on investment is.
If you’d like marketing to just be easier, get in touch with our team at Surefire Local and book your demo today.