Google Business Profile (GBP, previously known as Google My Business - GMB) is a free service that helps you manage how your company shows up in Google Search and Google Maps, so it can capture local traffic. I'm sure you've seen the large profiles on the right-hand side of the SERPs, such as this one:
Results like this will often appear in local search results (such as pizza nearby) or when searching for a specific company and location (like starbucks broadway nyc). As you see, it has everything a searcher would want to know about this place, including contact information, work hours, pricing, reviews, and more. And since it's so prominent in the SERP, Google Business Profile is a great way to get some extra visibility - for free.
Also, the GBP results are featured very prominently in Google Maps:
Additionally, the data from GBP is used in the Google Places API that's used by many other online tools.
To benefit from this extra visibility, all you need to do is create a Google Business profile and claim ownership of it. This article will show you how!
Setting up your GBP profile is free and easy. Start by going to https://business.google.com/create, while you're logged in with your Google account.
If your company has been around for several years or more, there's a big chance it already has a GBP profile. To avoid duplicating, search for your company's name to see if it already exists.
If there's already a GBP profile for your business, continue to claiming ownership. You can pick between different methods of doing so, including the following:
- Going to business.google.com/add, finding your business, and choosing it from the search results.
- Go to Google Maps, find your business, and click to claim it in the card.
- Request ownership from the current profile owner (if there is one).
Typically, you'll get a response within 3 days. If you don't hear back, you should get the option to claim the profile on your own with the additional verification process through Google.
If there is no GBP profile for your business, you need to create one. Just click the Add your Business to Google link and follow the steps:
- Enter the name of your business
- Select the most relevant category
- Add a location, set up delivery options, and add your service areas (and the location marker, if you do have a physical location)
- Add contact details like phone number and website
If you don't have a website right now, Google might suggest creating a free one through them. It'll be a very simplistic site, so it's not something you'll be able to optimize for search engines, but it can work as a stand-in if you're just getting started.
Now that you've created the profile, Google wants to make sure that you're the owner of that business. The default (and most romantic) way of doing this is via postcard. Google sends a postcard with a code on it to the address you provided. Once you get it, log in to Google Business and click Verify Now. Enter the code from the postcard, click Submit, and you're officially the owner of this Google Business Profile! Well done!
Of course, there are other verification methods. And even if you've used one method to verify your business, that doesn't mean you won't be subject to additional verification. In addition to the postcard, email, and phone methods, there are two video methods.
The first one is the simplest - you'll upload a video recording showing Google around your business. However, there are cases in which you'll be joined by someone from Google on the other side of the screen and give them a virtual walkthrough.
With the live call option, you'll have to arrange the call and be at your premises at the moment of taking the call. The Google representatives may ask you to step outside and show your street name, the locale around the business, and so on.
You might also be asked to show your business equipment as proof of doing business or show access to employee-only areas.
After verifying, you have access to a lot of options to showcase your business.
Once you click on specific settings, you can edit other details. As you enhance your GBP, you'll see your Profile Strength score rise. In the screenshot above, it's marked with a green circle and text saying: "Looks good!"
Let's start with the basics! Scroll down and enter a nice description. Since this data will be used in Google's Knowledge Graph, it's a good idea to include relevant keywords.
Next, include anything relevant to your customers, like payment methods, accessibility, amenities, and more.
Adding opening hours to avoid people showing up at your door while the store is closed. This information is also used to add a Now open or Closes in 30 minutes label to local search results. It's also relevant for voice search: if someone shouts, "Hey Google, what time does Sunshine Florist open?" at their Google Home speaker, this data is used to answer the question.
Keep this information updated whenever your opening hours change (and during holidays).
As you've seen in the profiles above, photos are shown prominently. And since a picture tells a thousand words, it's important to add some photos to your profile.
The most important ones are the logo and the cover. Depending on your business, you can add interior photos, product photos and videos. For businesses like restaurants and cafes, showing the interior helps searchers feel the atmosphere of your business, and add specific Food and Drink photos to show some delicious platters, as well as Menus.
Don't be afraid to spend some money on professional photos or videos, because they'll often be the first impression people get from your business.
If you like, you can even add 360-degree photos of the location, as well as photos of your team.
Keep in mind that your customers will also be able to add photos with their reviews.
GBP includes some special features that can be very relevant depending on your business.
For example, restaurants can add their menus, takeaway options, and reservation options.
You'll see many references to Google Ads. Since Google is in the ad business, it tries very hard to promote Google Ads in the GBP profile settings. Sure, you can start advertising, but don't feel obliged. You can set up a perfect GBP listing without spending a dollar on advertising.
However, if you do run Local campaigns, you'll be able to control them with the Performance Planner in GBP.
If you want to, enable the feature that allows searchers to message your business directly from the SERP.
Source: Search Engine Land
You'll get notified whenever someone messages you, so you (or other profile admins) can respond as soon as possible. You can even set up automated messages welcoming them to the chat.
And while we're at the messaging feature, you can also set up FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and immediate responses to them. For example, if you often get asked about certain dietary requirements at your restaurant, set it up as an FAQ so the searchers can get a response right away, instead of presuming you do (or do not) accommodate their preferences.
If you run a bookings-based business, it might be helpful to let searchers book directly instead of redirecting them to your phone number or your website. This is something worth testing, but the good thing is that you can direct them to a custom link and reduce friction.
Nothing helps build trust like a 5-star review below your business name.
To get more reviews, you can encourage your customers to leave a review, for instance, by emailing them after their purchase and offering a discount.
You have no control over the reviews, so you can't remove unfavorable reviews. You can flag a review as inappropriate and hope Google removes it. Also, you can reply to a customer who's left a review.
Once you're done, you can publish the GBP listing. If you now search for your business in Google, you should see the listing you just created. This is a good time to check if everything is correct.
Note that it will have four prominent actions:
- Website: Takes the searcher to the website you added to the profile.
- Directions: Opens Google Maps to get directions to your location.
- Save: Lets searchers save the place in Google Maps.
- Call: Place a phone call (you guessed it).
These actions help your customers interact with you. What's great is that you can get exact reporting on people's actions in GBP Performance.
Google helps you better understand how your profile performs in GBP Insights. In the GBP profile, click on Performance to get more information.
Firstly, you'll get an overview of all the views, visits, and interactions. Then, it's time to go granular!
This section shows what type of searches led to showing your GBP listing:
- Google Search
- Google Maps
- Google Ads (if relevant)
Similarly, you'll see a breakdown of the most popular keywords that have led them to your Google Business Profile.
We discussed the actions in the listing earlier. However, there are specific breakdowns for each action type, including the following:
- Direction requests
- Website clicks
Each comes with a handy graph showing how the interactions changed over the analyzed period.
Google Business is great for small local business. However, it also helps large national chains with many retail locations. You can add many different locations and see the insights for all of them separately, or grouped. To do this, you first need to have a location group account. You can learn more about this in this article.
Thankfully, there's no need to manage all the locations manually: you can import a spreadsheet containing all the locations.
There's no way around it: if you have a physical location, you need a Google Business Profile. Thankfully, the new version comes with plenty of features to help you manage your communications with potential customers. Look at the features unique to your business type (e.g., bookings for salons and restaurants, menus for restaurants, etc.) and make the most of your GBP experience!