09 Jan How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile
It once was said that there’s no such thing as free advertising. But if you’re a business owner, your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a valuable way to get your business in front of numerous potential customers at the very time they’re searching Google for a business like yours – completely free of charge! Although most business owners have completed the basics of their profile, many have not taken full advantage of its potential to increase traffic through their doors, or increase appointments for their services.
Although optimizing your Google Business Profile may take some time – which you might feel you can’t spare – completing your profile and updating it on a regular basis can literally pay off! Before we delve into how to do so, here are some of the benefits of making the effort – with many thanks to local SEO expert Greg Gifford at Mailchimp, and Kristen McCormick, senior managing editor at WordStream.
Your Google Business Profile can boost your local ranking – Google’s algorithm for ranking Business Profiles doesn’t just consider proximity and relevance, but also activity and quality of information. Optimizing your Google Business Profile sends these signals to Google to rank your business higher in local results, as well as Google Maps – which means more visibility and engagement with your business.
Helps you drive traffic without searchers having to visit your website – Don’t get us wrong – we always emphasize the importance of every business, no matter how small, having a dedicated website. But when your Google Business Profile can answer all of a potential customer’s questions, provide directions and a handy map, they’re on their way to you! In the online marketing industry, this is known as a “zero-click search,” and it’s great for quality engagement and conversions.
Helps you convert more customers – An optimized Google Business Profile allows consumers to discover your business in keyword searches, visit your website, learn more about your products and services, request a quote, schedule an appointment, make a reservation and more. You also can track clicks to your website, appointment or menu link using UTMs and Google Analytics.
Who Uses Google Business Profile?
Practically speaking, everyone who is searching for a business in their area uses Google Business Profile, as a complete profile provides all of the relevant information a consumer needs to decide to visit or call. If the elusive members of Gen Z are your target market, Chelsea Alves – senior content marketing specialist at Rio SEO – has good news in her article for Search Engine Journal! Rio SEO’s 2022 Local Search Consumer Behavior survey revealed the following insights:
- 47% of Gen Zers said they very frequently use Google Search and Google Maps to find information about businesses in their area.
- 65% of the most frequently searched information on local business listings is the business address/directions – followed by reviews (56%), hours of operation (54%), and website (54%).
- 68% of Gen Zers conduct online searches a few times per day.
- 65% of Gen Zers want to travel 10 miles or less for a business’s products or services.
Take These Steps to Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Hopefully, the above information has inspired you to go to your Google Business Profile dashboard and get to work! Here’s what you need to do!
Use your actual business name – McCormick recommends making sure your business name is identical to the one you use on your store signage. “In other words, exactly as it appears in the real world. Adding location name (unless it’s in your brand name) or keywords is considered spam by Google and you could be penalized.”
List a local phone number – It’s a key signal (ranking factor) that you’re a legitimate local business. If you use a call tracking number, enter the tracking number in the primary slot. (That’s what will show up to users.) Put your actual local number into the secondary slot.
Make sure your hours of operation are correct – If they’ve changed since you first filled out your profile, you don’t know how much business you may have lost because potential customers showed up while you were closed – and were so put off they just didn’t bother to return. If your business has seasonal or holiday hours, include them as well.
Write a compelling description that establishes your competitive advantages – Let people know who you are, and what sets you apart from your competitors! For example, a restaurant would want to let its audience know not only the type of food it serves, but such amenities as a bar, patio or banquet room. Don’t stuff this section with keywords – which is the practice of loading a page with keywords to boost a site’s ranking – because the description doesn’t have any effect on how you rank in searches. The people who look at your Google Business Profile are much more interested in what you have to offer that makes it worth their while to check you out!
Upload high-resolution photos – This includes exterior, interior and product shots. Potential customers want to see your establishment to decide if they want to shop or dine there. Obviously, a business that has a clean, well-maintained premises is more attractive to customers – and strongly implies that the business is well-managed. Photos will show them that they won’t be unpleasantly surprised by its condition. If your business is a service with a location (such as a warehouse) that customers don’t visit, photos will help assure them that it’s legitimate and established.
Upload videos, if you have them – Videos must be 30 seconds or shorter and smaller than 100 MB. This will help give potential customers an idea of what experience they can expect, and showcase your business even more effectively.
Get reviews from happy customers – Reading customer reviews is a big reason people visit your company’s Google Business Profile. A profile filled with recent glowing reviews speaks much more highly of your business than one with only a few reviews, the most recent being several months old. As Gifford points out, reviews are also a key element in getting more visibility in local searches. Our blog post – “How to Get Online Reviews for Your Small Business” – covers this topic in greater detail.
Moreover, reviews are a key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. For most searches performed on google, the first three local results that appear – which are known as the Local 3-Pack – are those with multiple reviews and solid star ratings. Our blog post – “How to Rank in Google Local Pack” – covers this topic in greater detail.
Don’t neglect the Questions & answers section – Depending upon the nature of your business, you may find it useful to ask and answer questions yourself, if they’re frequently asked by those looking for your product(s) or service. Keep in mind that anyone can ask or answer a question, which can lead to inaccurate information – or worse yet, outright lies left by someone with malicious intent. Set up alerts so you can stay on top of questions and answers posted to your profile, and monitor your profile on a regular basis.
The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion
Optimizing your Google Business Profile shouldn’t be something you pay attention to for a few hours, then forget about. In McCormick’s words, “Just like any Google SEO strategy, your Google Business strategy should center around providing as much quality information about your business as possible, not just in your Business Profile but in the sources that Google uses to populate it – your website, review site profiles, and even your social media accounts.”
The types of ongoing attention your Google Business Profile needs includes updating information, uploading photos each week, keeping a steady stream of reviews coming in, responding to reviews and staying on top of new features to ensure you’re using your profile to its full potential. By treating it as an avenue for promoting your business and driving traffic, your Google Business Profile can be a valuable asset!
Since you’re busy running your business, let our experienced team at Virtual Stacks Systems run your local and website SEO. Our full-service digital marketing agency can also take care of your website design and redesign, social media marketing services, as well as PPC advertising and much more! Every small business is unique, and so are our solutions! Contact us to get started.