A comprehensive guide to Google Business Profiles

Web.com Team

Ever since online search made the Yellow Pages obsolete, Google has been on a mission to provide the most accurate information for users that search for local businesses.

For this to happen, they need your help. They need you to supply the information that’s shown to customers searching for things related to your business. Which is why they launched Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)

A Google Business Profile listing is the knowledge panel you see when you enter the name of a business and location into the search bar.

GMB listing guide

They’re also tied to the pack results that are displayed when you make broader searches that don’t include the name of the business.

A Google Business listing is the one of the most influential factors in local search results. But it isn’t simply there to make Google more useful—it’s beneficial to your business.

A GMB listing puts your business in front of a LOT of people, resulting in:

  • Increased search visibility
  • More traffic to your website
  • Increased foot traffic
  • More leads and sales
  • A better experience for your customers

It’s a win-win relationship. Google gets the information it wants, and you get to manage how your business appears in search.

And the best thing of all? It’s totally FREE!

In this post, we’ll show you:

  • How to get your business on the Google search engine via Google Business.
  • How to optimize your listing to stand out from the competition.
  • How other local businesses are using Googly Business in ways that can inspire your own listing.

How to set up your Google Business listing

Google has a knack for making things as straightforward as possible for its users and that’s the case here. Setting up your GMB listing is a hassle-free process.  

Step 1: Log in to the Google account you want to link to your business. If you don’t have a Google account or you’d prefer not to use a personal account, you can easily create a new account for free.

Step 2: Go to Google Business and click Manage Now.

Step 3: Enter your business name.

Step 4: Choose your business type. You can choose online retail, local store, or service business. You can select more than one business type.

Step 5: Choose a business category by typing in your industry. As you type, Google will display available categories. Pick the most accurate one from the list.

Step 6: Choose your service area by typing it in the box indicated. As you type, Google will suggest a list of areas. You can choose more than one area.

Step 7: Enter your contact information. These details will be displayed on your Google local business listing so double check that they’re accurate. You’ll also be asked to include your website, but this is optional.

Step 8: You’ll be able to put your business on the map. You can tick the box if you want to get news and tips about how to improve your Business Profile.

Step 9: Verify your mailing address. Once done, Google will send a physical postcard containing the verification code. Once the code is entered, your Google Business profile will be verified.

You can also click Verify Later if you want to postpone the verification process. The setting up process will continue nevertheless, but your profile won’t be visible to the public yet.

Once you’re verified, you can get to the fun stuff—optimizing your profile to get noticed.

How to optimize your GMB listing

A lot of businesses that verify their GMB listing leave it at that. But by not optimizing they’re missing out on all of the features that Google provides to make it easier for customers to find a business.  

Once you open Google and you’re already logged in to your Google business account, you should be able to see your dashboard. Your dashboard is where you can complete your profile to add relevant details about your business.

It’s important to complete all of the information Google asks for and maintain it regularly so customers can find out what they need to know.

Because if you don’t, someone else might.

Google wants to provide the most accurate details for its users and asks that the community provides them. This means anyone can suggest (and make) edits to your page. And yes, that includes your competitors.

By clicking on Suggest an edit, it’s possible to make changes to the company name, category, location, business hours, and website address—the bulk of the information a customer relies on when deciding whether or not to get in touch.

Why you should use GMB listings

Increased online visibility

Google Business allows small businesses to create a free online listing that appears in Google Search and Google Maps. This increased visibility makes it easier for prospective customers to discover your business when searching for relevant products or services in your area.

Improved local search ranking

By optimizing your Google Business listing with accurate and up-to-date information, such as business hours, contact details, and customer reviews, you can improve your local search ranking. This means your business is more likely to appear at the top of search results when someone searches for businesses like yours in your local area.

Enhanced business information

Google Business provides a platform to showcase important information about your business, such as your business address, phone number, website, photos, and even virtual tours. This comprehensive business profile helps potential customers learn more about your offerings, leading to increased trust and credibility.

Customer engagement and reviews

With Google Business, you can actively engage with your customers by responding to their reviews, answering their questions, and providing updates about your business. This direct interaction builds trust, demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction, and encourages others to engage with your business.

Valuable insights and analytics

Google Business provides valuable insights into how customers are discovering and interacting with your business. You can gain access to data such as the number of views on your listing, customer actions (such as website visits or phone calls), and demographic information about your audience. These analytics help you make informed decisions about your marketing strategies and understand customer preferences better.

Make sure your profile is fleshed out and up to date, including as much information as possible on:

  • Services
  • Service area (be specific)
  • Business hours
  • Attributes (e.g. “Free Wi-Fi,” “wheelchair access,” “outdoor seating,” and “pet-friendly”)
  • Public phone number
  • Website URL
  • Opening date
  • Business description

11 tips to optimize your GMB listing

Being thorough with your listing info will give you a solid profile, but not an entirely optimized one. To maximize its potential, you need to make the most of the vast array of features Google offers for its listing.

Here are 11 ways to do exactly that:

1. Add photos

People love photos in Google local business listings.

According to Google, businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites compared to businesses that don’t have photos.

The more high-quality photos you upload, the easier it will be for customers to build an accurate picture of your business.

In the Add photo section of your dashboard, you’ll be able to upload images for Photo, Logo, and Cover photo.

Photo: This is the photo inside or outside your business.

Logo: This photo is used to show your identity when you upload media or posts or reply to a review, so it’s best to use your company logo here.

Cover photo: This is the photo that’s most prominent on your listing, so make it count. Take a picture that shows your business in its best light.

Here’s an example of a business listing with pictures:

Build up a collection of photos that show off your business, focusing on the interior and exterior of your building, your team, employees in action, and products. Google recommends at least three photos of your building and team and at least one for every product.

Look at how Jamie’s Italian displays its tables and service area.

Or how Watkins Books gets you up-close-and-personal with its store’s interiors.

Such images make customers confident of what they can expect to find when they visit your business.

Ask customers to tag your business in photos

Asking customers to tag you in photos on Google Business is the same as asking them to share on social media—it gives you social proof.

The images here were all uploaded by customers of Jamie’s Italian.

Those meals look appetizing, right? Appetizing enough to make you want to go and check out the restaurant.

Recommended photo specifications

According to Google’s best practices, images should be in the following size and format:

  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB
  • Resolution: 720px x 720px, minimum

2. Ask for reviews (and respond to them)

When was the last time you bought something without having first sought an opinion as to whether it was worth it? It’s something we all do because we don’t want to be left regretting our decision, not when there are so many other businesses to choose from.

When it comes to purchase decisions, nothing is more powerful than a customer review. Take a look at these findings from Brightlocal’s Consumer Review Survey:

  • 93% of local consumers use reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad.
  • 85% of consumers trust reviews online as much as personal recommendations.
  • 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

Ask customers to review your business.

If that makes you feel a bit fake or pushy, it really shouldn’t. Google actively encourages business owners to ask for online reviews, so long as they’re earned and not bought.  

If you can get reviews, it’s going to help your listing stand out. According to Google, high-quality and positive reviews can improve your business’s visibility.

Responding to negative reviews

How you deal with the bad reviews will have as much influence as a five-star feedback.

Rather than ignoring them and hoping no one sees, respond with a polite, apologetic, fact-based reply, or an offer to investigate the issue further. Don’t get into a battle over who did or said what. Let the customer know you’re sorry that they had a poor experience and how you’ve worked to address the issue.

Here’s an example of a business responding professionally to a negative review:

3. Make your business description count

Your business description is your way to tell customers about your business and what makes it unique. Think of it like the About page on your website.

You need to be careful about how you write your business description and what’s included because Google reviews the content.

It’s worth following Google’s guidelines on this.

Your description can be a maximum of 750 characters, but users will only see the first 250 characters before the More cut off.

In this example, Vini Italiani fits location and keywords related to products and services into the first sentence (“wines,” “Italian cold cuts,” and “hot snacks”). Your description should follow suit, with the city or town and keywords at the top.

4. Upload videos

Videos are a relatively new addition to GMB listings, but it’s no surprise to see the feature added given how great videos are for engagement. In fact, according to Vidyard, marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.

You can use video in the same way as your description—to tell the story of your business and get customers invested.

Videos need to be:

  • Up to 30 seconds long
  • Up to 75 MB in size
  • 720p or higher

Again, Google guidelines come into play here. You’ll need to make sure your video is taken at your place of work and relates to your business, otherwise, it will be removed.

You can also upload videos to posts, which brings us nicely onto the next tip.

5. Upload posts

Google Posts brings social media to GMB listings in a way that’s better than Google+ ever was. Posts are attached directly to your listing and give you the chance to announce special offers, promotions, upcoming events, company news, or lead magnets.

From Google:

“Seventy percent of people look at multiple businesses before making a final choice. With Posts, you can share timely, relevant updates right on Google Search and Maps to help your business stand out to potential customers. And by including custom calls-to-action directly on your business listing, you can choose how to connect with your customers.”

While they’re not immediately visible on desktop listings, Posts feature prominently on mobile, which is what 76% of consumers use when searching for local businesses online.

Make a regular habit of posting in the same way that you share content on Twitter or Facebook.

6. Add a Book Online button

A feature that has been rolled out in the United States of America and the United Kingdom and is being introduced in other countries is the Bookings button. This allows customers to book appointments and services and make table reservations right from the GMB listing.

Turner’s Barber Shop & Shaving Parlor uses this feature to let customers see and book services. Clicking on the Book Online button reveals a list of treatments that can be booked from within the listing.

To use the feature, you need to be signed up with one of Google’s authorized booking providers. You can do this from within your Google Business dashboard. Once you’re signed up, you can add a booking button to your listing and track all bookings coming through Google.

By adding this option to your listing, you’ll be gaining an advantage over your competitors that don’t.

There is one caveat to this tip, however: Users will book without leaving Google search results. This will mean missing out on traffic to your website. Test the feature to see if bookings increase overall. If the difference is minimal and traffic to your site is affected, it might be best to leave this feature off.

7. Add a questions and answers section

The questions and answers section are an often-overlooked feature in GMB listings, but it’s one that will help you stand out if used correctly.

As with the Suggest an edit feature, Q&As are crowdsourced. Real people ask real questions about your business for you to answer. However, anyone can answer questions. Most of the time, this is fine as local guides will provide accurate answers. But it can lead to some rather embarrassing and unhelpful results.

Google will send you an email whenever a question is asked so you can easily reply. It also lets you create your own questions, which means you can create your very own FAQs (frequently asked questions) section.

And you should. Because most of your competitors won’t be.

Find the questions that your customers are likely to ask by looking through customer service data and listening to what customers talk about on social and marketing channels, then answer them.

8. Add your services

In this section, you will be able to add services that are related to your category. If you don’t see a service that you offer, click Add custom service.

9. Indicate your business hours

Set your operating days and hours so that users would know when to visit your store.

10. Add messaging

You can enable this option if you want your customers to message your business on Google.

11. Enable quote requests

You can enable this option so your customers can request for quotes easily.

Maximize your business listing today!

Creating and optimizing your Google Business listing is a simple process that will have a positive effect on your SEO. Yet, it’s something that many local businesses overlook. By investing a little bit of time in setting up and fleshing out your profile, adding quality media, answering questions and utilizing posts, you’ll position yourself as the business customers come to first.

In addition to Google’s listing, you can also take advantage of Web.com’s business listing management services. What it does for you is that it lists you in top online directories and monitors for accurate information daily so you can maintain your online credibility. It’s less hassle on your end when you avail yourself of our directory services! Get visible online and call us now for more info!

  • Web.com Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

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