Google is the world’s largest search engine, with more than 3.7 billion Google searches each day. Nearly half (47%) of those are by people seeking local information. In 2021, 99% of consumers surveyed had used the internet to find information about a local business in the last year. Creating a Google My Business (renamed to Google Business Profile in 2021) is a powerful way to attract new customers to your business through Google Maps and Search.
Table of Contents
- What is a Google Business Profile (aka Google My Business)?
- Why do I need a Google My Business (GMB) account?
- How do I set up a Google Business Profile?
- How do I boost my Google My Business page?
What is a Google Business Profile (aka Google My Business)?
A Google Business Profile is a free listing describing and promoting a business. It is a Google service (not from a third party) and includes the details customers are searching for, like location, hours of operation, services, and products.
You’ve probably seen one before without knowing its name. It looks like this:
Business Profiles appear in Google Maps and the local results of Google Search and look like this:
Some owners wonder how to add their business to Google Maps. Luckily, your business will be added to Google Maps when you create a Google Business Profile. No extra steps are needed.
Google will sometimes create these with information gathered on the web without the owner doing anything. Creating a Google Business Profile allows you to claim an existing listing, enabling you to control the content.
Not every business is eligible. A Google Business Profile is only available to those with in-person customer contact- either in a place customers can visit (like a store or office) or a service area (like a cleaner or electrician). Online-only businesses can’t have a profile.
Why do I need a Google My Business (GMB) account?
It is where your customers are looking for your business
Google is the ultimate source for exploring the internet. You want people to find your business, so you need to be where people are looking. A Google Business Profile helps ensure that people notice you when searching for products and services like yours.
Save time and money
The listing helps answer common questions, like hours of operation, which frees up your valuable time. Also, appearing in Google Maps shows your location, which cuts down on requests for directions.
We already mentioned it, but it is worth repeating. Is Google My Business free? Really? Yes! Creating and maintaining a Google Business Profile account is free. There is no better deal in the advertising world today.
Build trust with your customer base
Anyone can make claims about their top-quality customer service or exceptional products, but that doesn’t mean those statements are accurate. Online reviews provide evidence of customer experience and build trust and confidence.
Google’s review system includes both a star rating and open-ended comments. A rating average and the total number of reviews are strongly associated with the brand.
Google also includes a section of words and phrases that people often mention. This feature can help you find a specific service or showcase a trait associated with a brand.
Customers trust and engage with online reviews regularly, and these reviews are influential in purchasing decisions.
Is Google My Business worth it?
Without a doubt, Google Business Profiles are worth the effort. Local search is a crucial component of digital marketing strategy, it helps find customers, and accounts are free. You can’t find a better opportunity than that.
How do I set up a Google Business Profile?
Before creating a GMB profile, you’ll need to log into your existing Google account or create a new business account on Google. If you are making a new one, select the “create a business account” option and use your company email.
Step 1. Sign in to Google Business Profile Manager
When you log into a Google account, you automatically log into Google Business Profile Manager.
Step 2. Enter your business name and category
Start building your profile by submitting your business name and the category that best describes what you do. When you enter your company name, Google will display a list of suggestions. If the business appears there, click on it.
For your business category, start with your primary product or service. You can add secondary categories later, but the search algorithm prioritizes the main one when determining search rankings. If the descriptor you would use doesn’t appear in the dropdown menu, choose whichever is most similar. Once you’ve answered the two questions, click Next.
Step 3. Add your location
Next, you can add a location where customers can visit you, like an office or storefront. This address will be displayed on Google Maps and Search with your business name.
If the answer is ‘yes,’ provide the address and click Next.
Step 4. Enter your service area
If your company offers deliveries, like a restaurant, or your work includes trips to homes or offices, like a plumber or carpet cleaner, note the towns and cities served here. If you did not indicate a location in the previous step, this information determines where your name appears on Google Maps. When your information is complete, click Next.
Step 5. Provide your contact info
Add the phone number you want to connect to your business and your business website URL (if you have one). You want to include the website to make it easy for customers to learn more about you. When finished, click Next.
Step 6. Verify the business
Once you’ve completed these steps, Google will verify the business. Different options are available to verify depending on the type. Google will send a verification code – either by postcard or by mail. Once you receive the code, enter it on the screen and select Verify.
Congratulations! You have created a Google Business Profile account!
How do I boost my Google My Business page?
Not every GMB account lives up to its full potential. Optimizing a Google Business Profile takes time, but that work pays dividends. By clearly spelling out what you do, where you are, and when someone can connect with you, you are more likely to be ranked highly by Google because those are the things customers want to know.
Here are a few action items you can take to maximize your Google My Business listing.
Complete all the fields
Google wants to provide search results that match what a user is looking for, and that is easier to do with complete and accurate information. Take time and complete every field. Keep this information up to date as things change, like holiday hours or safety protocols.
High-quality, genuine photos (instead of stock photos) offer a competitive edge. Start with around 20 photos, including a cover photo, a profile photo, and photos related to your products or the services you provide, your team, and your work environment. Add more photos periodically.
Google specifies that the ideal photos to post on your GMB are either .jpg or .png, are between 10 KB and 5 MB in size, and are 720 pixels by 720 pixels.
Engage with questions and reviews
Google reviews help businesses differentiate themselves from one another. They provide valuable information to potential customers about what to expect. But they serve another purpose as well- they boost ranking. Regular, authentic reviews send powerful signals for local search and help search engine optimization.
To get a steady stream of positive reviews, start by providing a great experience and then encourage customers to leave you a review on Google. You can do it via email or text or with a card with a QR code they can scan. Explain that it will only take a minute and will help the business. People are more likely to help when asked directly and when they believe it will make a difference, and reviews on Google do just that.
Reply to every review you get, whether positive or negative. Everyone- not just the person who left the review- can see your response, which continues to build confidence in your brand. For negative reviews, be professional, be honest, and offer an apology when it makes sense. Your response to a negative review has the potential to distinguish you from your competition.
Likewise, answer any questions. Unanswered questions often deter customers from further engagement.
Whenever possible, have your answers include a thorough explanation.
Google My Business profiles offer many other features not mentioned here that help promote a business. Take advantage of all of these over time. Add new content with videos and posts, update health and safety precautions, and list your products and services. Each step you take to build out your GMB adds to the information Google can use to match you with interested customers.
A Google My Business is essential for local businesses. Accounts are free and easy to set up, making them well worth the time and effort. Get started with your free GMB today to get more customers in 2022.