In late 2021, Google changed the name of this valuable business asset from Google My Business - or GMB - to Google Business Profile. You'll see these terms used interchangeably, but here we are using the new GBP term. There are some enhancements to the GBP, but the key is to be aware that a full and complete GBP is a key ingredient of the trust that Google will place on your website. Make sure you capitalize on this simple but highly effective 'billboard' for your business.
If you don't have a Google Business Profile your business is not visible to over 85% of people who are searching for your services. Google Business Profile is a one-stop shop of sorts that allows local consumers to find your business on Google Web Search and Google Maps. Think of it as a mini-website for your business.
It's important because many searches start and stop with your GBP listing. Meaning that prospective customers look through your GBP listing including the number of reviews your business has and your star rating, and decide right there to call you. If your listing is claimed but not maximized, or worse, your listing is unclaimed then your competitors are getting business opportunities that should be yours.
Google has updated its criteria and considers a fully-optimized GBP listing as a key to where your business will show up in search rankings.
Beyond the holy grail of getting your business onto Page #1, there's also a visual map showing the top 3 businesses for each search. This is commonly referred to as the "Map Pack" or the "3-Pack". Either way it is prime real estate on Page #1, and our goal is to help you achieve a Page #1 ranking and a Map-Pack listing.
If you click "More Results" you'll see all of the Google Business Profiles for that search result, but the 3-Pack is what every business strives to achieve.
What makes a great profile? There are five things that you should do immediately to your profile.
Your Business Category
When you fill out your GBP listing details, Google asks for your primary business category. This seems like a no-brainer. Google uses your category information to return search results to prospective customers. If you're a restaurant, your category is 'restaurant'. More specifically, an 'Italian restaurant' or a 'Mexican restaurant'. Not terribly complicated, but consider the following situation.
You own a Plumbing & HVAC business. You perform all the normal services a Plumber offers, but you also install heating and air conditioning systems. If you categorize your business as a "Plumbing" business, and a customer searches for a "HVAC" or "Heating/Cooling" or "Air Conditioning" provider, there is a likelihood that your business may not show up in that search even though you offer both services.
To accommodate this, you can add secondary business categories to your listing. Just be aware that your business category can affect how you show up (or don't show up) in search.
If you're unsure how to categorize your business, simply look up your competitors in your local area and see how they are classifying themselves. There's a good chance that if most of them are using one primary category, it's probably a good choice for your business as well.
Right below your heading, you have an area to write a description of your business. This is the perfect opportunity to promote your business. Don't be bashful! Tell the world why you're the best Auto Repair shop in your local area, or the best Indian restaurant. Talk about awards, your unique approach to serving your customers, and literally anything else that makes you unique in your community.
You're not an "Italian Restaurant", you're a "A family-owned, classic old-world Italian ristorante reminiscent of those little eateries on the Amalfi Coast. Fresh seafood, romantic candlelit dining room with crisp white tablecloths and silverware shined to a mirror finish, congenial and knowledgeable service by waiters who have spent a lifetime learning how to please our clients, and welcome you as family members. And don't forget, our house specialty is veal saltimbocca - a recipe that's been in our family for over a century - transported from Sicily by our great, great-grandmother! A splurge for that special occasion"
So you see the difference? Make your business sing! You're unique! Make sure you convey this to your prospective customers!
Also, this is a perfect place to add critical keywords into your description (and throughout your listing) that you want to be known for. Adding these keywords into your description will help improve your SEO efforts and help your search ranking for those terms.
Your Business Information
Your Name/Address/Phone Number (NAP). Make sure this is 100% correct. Sounds like a no-brainer, but this address is used for directions so if your address is wrong - (maybe you moved, maybe Google pulled it from another data source if you haven't 'claimed' your own GMB listing (it happens!) - prospective customers may not be able to find you, literally!
Hours of Operation
Make sure these are correct and updated. Nothing worse than relying on a GBP listing, getting to the business and finding out you're store is closed. This doesn't inspire trust, and will likely earn you a negative review as well. If you have special sale or holiday hours, you should include those as well.
Photos of Your Business
People want to see pictures of your business. They want to know it's a 'real' business. If you own a service business (say, an Electrician) include pictures of your trucks, your staff, your technicians, your office, etc. If you’re a restaurant, include photos of your wait staff, bartenders, kitchen staff, food plates, seating areas, interiors, photos of your clients eating their dinner (ask their permission first!), etc. People want to do business with service providers they know, like & trust. Make sure your business is represented as the friendly, earnest, and hardworking business you've worked tirelessly to make it. And always, make it human!
Questions & Answers
If you have 'claimed' your GBP listing, you will be able to respond to prospective customer questions and reviews of your business. Responding to prospective customer questions is one key way that shows you respect your customers, and want to ensure they have the best available information about your products and services.
Customer Reviews & Ratings
Reviews are a key factor in how Google interprets your trustworthiness. If you're engaging with customers and prospects, it shows you take pride in your business, are customer-focused, and want to ensure an excellent experience with your business. Google will rank your business higher if you're responding to customer reviews.
One area where responding to customer reviews is critical is when you get a negative review (Yes, it will happen eventually!). The goal here is to address the concerns the customer had in dealing with you and your team. Express your desire to "make it right", and ensure that anyone who is reading these reviews sees that you take your customer satisfaction seriously and will do whatever it takes to rectify a negative experience.
Even when the customer is either wrong or completely unreasonable, a sincere professional response will show other potential customers that you are willing to work to fix a customer complaint. Everyone makes mistakes; every business has an off-day. Own up to it, make it right, and your positive approach to fixing problems will reassure future potential customers that you're a business owner who deserves your top-notch reputation.
And finally, the reason to setup your GBP profile is that you can get really interesting information about people who are visiting your Google Business Profile including the number of people who are calling your business from that link, who are visiting your website, and much more. Also, if you have keywords that you're trying to target on your website, for your businesses, you can add those into your description as well to help with your SEO efforts at getting better rankings for your listing.