Clicks on a well-maintained Google Business Profile are 50 percent more likely to lead to a purchase. (Notice we said “well-maintained.”) If you’re a small to medium business owner with a neglected Google Business Profile or don’t have one at all, you’re missing out on a ton of leads.
In 2022, Google changed the name of their popular service Google My Business to Google Business Profile. Though not too much has changed except for the name (we walk you through any essential changes at the end of this article), the service is still as important as ever—especially for businesses that rely on local customers and clients.
MK Way is here to show you how to take advantage of Google reviews and get more traffic using Google Business Profile. If you’re a small to medium business struggling to gain visibility in your target market or catch the attention of your target audience, read on.
What Is Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)?
When you search for a business in your area—let’s say, a hairdressing salon or a local cafe—you might see a box pop up in the search listings.
That box contains a snapshot of Google maps, locating the physical business address, and other information, including (but not limited to):
- The business name
- The kind of business
- Phone number
- Menus (if they’re a restaurant)
- Opening hours
- Photographs and videos related to products and services
- Customer reviews
Searchers can use the listing to find out more about a business, contact them, or find and visit their physical location.
As a searcher, it might seem like this box is populated by Google like magic. And that’s sort of the case with basic profiles—they can be auto-generated.
But to create a comprehensive listing that’s useful to customers and searchers, businesses need to set up (or claim an existing) profile and enter detailed information themselves.
Are Google Maps and Google Business Profiles related? The short answer is yes. Business owners access and manage their Google Business Profile data using the Google Maps app or Google search. Best of all, this service is 100% free!
Pre-2022, this Google service was called Google My Business. As of now, it’s known as Google Business Profile. However, you still might find information online under the old name, so it’s worth noting this change when searching for how-tos and advice.
Google Profile for Business Listings Explained
Google’s own research has found that companies that complete their Google Business Profile get close to 40 percent more website click-throughs. And that’s not the only reason we think this service is worth putting some time into.
Is a Google My Business Profile Necessary in 2023?
In the world of search, Google reigns supreme.
Well over 90 percent of search traffic goes through Google. (Bing, Yahoo, Baidu? Never heard of them!) And since Google My Business operates in collaboration with Search and Maps, using it means you’re well poised to capture a portion of that traffic.
But more than that, the full functionality of the service is designed with usefulness to the customer in mind. From the reviews to the photos to the driving—or walking, cycling, or public transport—directions, everything is designed to help a searcher find the products and services they need that are local to them.
How the Local Google Listing Profile Algorithm Works
Learning how and why your listing ranks in local search results helps you know what to include in your Google Business Profile.
There are three main components to Google local search:
For Intent, you need to be concerned with the category (or categories) your listing sits under and getting the description of your business just right. You also need to ensure your on-page (things like alt text, links, tags, and meta description) and off-page (things like content marketing) signals are comprehensive.
Location is concerned with geo-modified and non-geo-modified searches—whether or not the searcher inputs locational keywords.
Reputation relates to consumer trust and the positive standing of your business or brand in the community. Signals here include reviews (and responding to them), citations, and backlinks.
Google Business Profiles display in various locations in the Google ecosystem, including:
- In the search sidebar, as a truncated view when someone searches your business name.
- As part of a Google Local Pack, when a searcher uses a local intent search phrase (like “hairdressers near me”).
- In a map display list called Local Finders.
- In searches made using Google Maps (Android users).
What Is NAP, and Why Is It Important?
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. These three seemingly mundane things deserve their own acronym because they comprise the fundamental ways your customers find and engage with you.
This data is shared in everything from print and online advertisements and articles written about your business in the local newspaper to sponsorship promotion.
Get this wrong anywhere online (or offline), and you erode the public’s trust in your business. NAP consistency is a cornerstone of local marketing and essential across all platforms—not just Google.
Setting Up Your Google Business Profile: A How-To
Now you know why having a Google Business Profile is, in our humble opinion, essential, it’s time to dive into setting one up for your business. There are two ways to get a GBP:
(1) Create an entirely new listing or
(2) Claim an existing profile.
Create a New Profile
Step 1: Add your business to Google Maps. You’ll see a menu button in the top left-hand corner. Click that, and look for “Add your business.”
Step 2: If needed, create a Google Business login. Go to the Google account sign-in page, click “Create account,” then choose “To manage my business.”
Follow the instructions to complete your information, filling out the fields with as much detail as possible—you can edit this information later if needed. You’ll also need to verify your account. If you already have a Google Business account, head to the next step.
Step 3: Complete your business details—don’t forget about that all-important NAP consistency—and add your location. If Google asks you to claim existing profiles, we have instructions for that below.
Step 4: Select your service area. It’s as easy as typing the name of the area you operate within. Then, add your contact information: we recommend at least adding a phone number and website link.
Step 5: Select “yes” to opt for recommendations and updates. Trust us; the insights from Google are helpful!
Step 6: Follow the instructions to verify your listing. (You can learn more about why this is important in the next section.)
That’s it! You’re now officially a Google business profile manager.
If you have more information to add, like photos and videos, operating hours, messaging via Google, or your business description, you can add those now or do it later.
Claim an Existing Listing
In some cases, Google auto-generates business listings. If this is the case for your listing, there’s good news! You can claim it and manage it yourself.
Step 1: Search for your business name in Google Maps. Click on the listing and find the “Claim this business” button.
Step 2: You’ll be directed to a page with a “Manage now” button. Click that, and you’ll be prompted to start the business verification process.
Rarely, your business listing may be managed by someone else. In this case, you won’t see the “Claim this business” button. Instead, you’ll need to request access to manage the listing.
How to Drive Local Traffic to Your Business Using Google Business Profile
Even if you do nothing further on your profile outside of the basic setup tasks, you will get organic traffic. However, it probably won’t be much and may not be tailored to your location or target audience.
You can boost your presence locally with a few simple strategies.
Make Sure You’re Verified
Verifying your account is a must if you want to access the full functionality of Google Business Profile offers.
All you need to become verified is a website listing a contact email address, physical address, or phone number so that Google can send you a verification email, call, or postcard. Alternatively, you can verify your business instantly via the Google Search Console.
Some of the critical advantages of completing this easy step include:
- Mobile app usage and access to online bookings
- Having complete control of the photos on your profile
- Accessing performance insights (more on this later)
- Editing your business information
- Putting your business on the map—literally
- Email notifications and direct messaging
Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Just like with Search, GBP optimization is essential if you want to maximize the benefits of the platform.
As Google notes on their Google Business Profile explainer, adding photos boosts direction requests in Google Maps by over 40 percent. As many as 60 percent of smartphone users contact a company via the options they find in search results. And Google reviews influence purchasing decisions over 20 percent of the time.
You should aim to optimize and customize every editable field and function in your Google Business Profile.
Get Quotes and Book Appointments From Your Listing
Since Google My Business became Google Business Profile, you (and your customers) now have access to direct messaging options. Clients can use this to book with you—the notification appears in your Google Maps app.
Customer quotes are a valuable trust-builder to have in your marketing toolbox. Google makes it easy to collect quotes via your Google Business Profile using their “Request quotes” feature. It’s as simple as clicking a button and following the steps!
Generate and Respond to My Google Reviews
As we touched on above, arguably, one of the best features of Google Business Profiles is the ability to receive and reply to customer reviews.
Like customer quotes, public-facing reviews provide transparency into your customer service capabilities, brand ethos, and the quality of your offerings, be they products or services. Of course, you want to keep your review score high and respond appropriately to every review a customer leaves—good or bad.
One survey found that almost 90 percent of consumers selected “fairly” or “highly” when asked if they would choose a business that responded to all its reviews.
Make Use of Google Business Profile Insights
If you want to see how your business listing is performing, Google offers a range of insights. These include:
- Search terms: What people typed to find your listing.
- Impressions: Direct (specify your company name), Discovery (relate to your products or services), and Branded (brands you sell or use).
- Actions: Things a customer does when they visit your listing, like calling, messaging, requesting directions for, or visiting the website of your business.
This data is valuable in determining the success of your marketing strategies and helping you better understand customer preferences and local market specificities. Don’t be afraid to dig into it!
If you’re lost, MK Way can help. We’ve got a lot of experience navigating these analytics for our clients. Read our guide to GBP Insights here or contact our team to discuss a collaboration.
A Look Ahead: What You Need to Know About Google Business Profile in 2023
So, why did Google decide to change the name of Google My Business?
According to the company, it’s to “keep things simple.” In other words, they’re retiring the Google My Business app—instead, you’ll manage your profile via desktop Search or Maps (or the associated mobile apps).
Changes to expect in 2023
In most cases, this change won’t affect small to medium businesses with a single location and a local customer base. It mainly makes things easier for large companies with multiple locations.
However, the change brings about some new features that might be worth taking advantage of, including:
- Direct verification in Google Search and Maps
- The launch of call history (Canada and the US only)
- Direct messaging from Google Search (with read receipts)
- The addition of a Performance Planner tool
You can also expect to see more migration of features over to Google Search and Maps. And we believe that’s a good thing since it means less updating work and potentially greater visibility. Keep a close eye on the Google Business Profile community for updates.
Take Advantage of Google Business Profile Today
From garnering Google reviews to greater discoverability in Search, a Google Business Profile is a free, easy-to-use, and beneficial marketing tool for pretty much any business. It’s especially useful for companies and brands that target local audiences since the information a listing contains is highly localized.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to take the best advantage of Google Business Profile in 2023, it’s time to engage with MK Way.
If you’re more of a DIYer, download our free guide and work through the setup and optimization at your own pace.
Book a free 30-minute growth session with an MK Way expert today and connect with more customers.