What if one simple tool could put your local business on the map — literally?
Local businesses need more than good SEO to bring in visitors. They need to use the full range of Google My Business products and services — now known as Google Business Profile.
Unfortunately, the average business owner doesn’t know a lot about Google Business Profile setup or Google Business Profile optimization. And these businesses inevitably lose out to the competition.
For your business, that ends today. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Google Business Profile (Google My Business)!
What Is Google Business Profile?
Our guide is going to walk you through how to setup and optimize your Google Business Profile. Before we get into that, however, we need to answer a very basic question: what is Google Business Profile?
Think of Google Business Profile as a local profile for your business that’s tied to Google search queries. After you provide information about your company (which usually includes details such as your address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.), Google makes it easier for local customers to find you, especially when they are searching for something specific, like the products and services you offer.
Such functionality is very useful for customers using a smartphone. They can simply click on your Google Business Profile phone number to call you. And with a click of a button, they can bring up Google Maps directions that bring them directly to your door.
To better understand what Google Business Profile can do, let’s take a closer look at the benefits it has to offer.
How Does It Benefit My Business?
Arguably, the biggest benefit of Google Business Profile is also the simplest: by using Google Business Profile and optimizing your information, you can connect with more potential customers in your area. While focusing on organic SEO is still important, Google Business Profile is the best way to compete for local customers’ attention on SERPs and maps apps.
Google also helps customers discover your business in some surprising ways. For example, an optimized listing can help your business appear in the Knowledge Panel when a customer is searching for something on Google.
We also love how easy and intuitive the Google Business Profile analytics is. You can discover what customers are searching for to reach your business, what they are doing with your business listing, and other aspects of how your customers interact with your business online.
All of this information is invaluable because it can help you tweak your marketing, products, and services to suit customer tastes. And as an added bonus, this type of local data is far easier to understand than what’s provided in Google Analytics.
Google Business Profile Setup Instructions for Beginners
If you’re interested in the benefits we outlined above, then it’s time for you to complete your Google Business Profile setup.
Setting up you location profile is fairly straightforward. However, the more information you provide, the greater the impact you’ll have in local search results, so we’ll also share some optimization tips that will help you stand apart from your competitors.
Step 1: Create A Google Business Profile Account
You’ll need to create a Google account if you don’t have one already, and then sign in.
Click “Manage Now” on the Google Business Profile page and provide the name of your business. Your business may automatically pop up in the system at this stage, but if it does not, click “Create a Business With This Name.”
Step 2: Add Your Basic Business Information
Next, you need to enter your business address and tell Google whether you are creating a profile for a Brick & Mortar business or Service Area Business. Later on in our guide, we will clarify the differences between these and which one is best for your business. But one thing you need to figure out right away is whether you’ll be listing your address or not.
Basically, if you want customers to know your address and visit a physical location, you will need to enter address info. Otherwise, you can clear the address from your profile so that it does not show up for Google Maps. This option is best for businesses that travel to a customer’s location, such as a locksmith or plumber.
Next, you need to enter the primary and secondary categories for your business. This helps customers discover your business when they are looking for something like “local electrician.” Google displays different profiles in the select categories, so be sure to include all the options that are relevant to your business (and that you want to be found for in search).
We’re almost done! Next, you need to enter your business phone number if you want customers to be able to call during business hours. After that, you need to enter your website (though if you don’t have one, you can specify this to Google).
Step 3: Verify Your Google Business Profile
Once you’ve input all of the basic business information customers will need to find and contact you, it’s time to verify your business.
This may take a couple of days because Google typically verifies your business by mailing you a postcard with a verification number. In some cases, though, they may try to verify your business via phone, email, or text.
All of this is pretty straightforward, though you might encounter some issues. Keep in mind that a professional agency can help you iron things out as needed.
Now that the basics are out of the way, we are going to explore different ways you can optimize Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tips
You can begin optimizing your profile even before your business is verified. To get started, you should first understand how Google treats local searches.
Basically, if Google thinks someone is looking for products or services based on their location, the search engine will display three local businesses it thinks the customer might want to check out. In optimizing your GMB profile, your goal is to appear in these results (often known as the “3 pack,” the “local pack,” and even the “snack pack”).
Begin by clicking on the “info” section of your GMB dashboard. This allows you to add additional information, including photos, hours of operation, services and products, a business description, and so much more. Just click a pencil icon to add or edit any information you think is important.
Most of our guide is going to focus now on how to optimize your profile. Before we do that, though, let’s circle back to the difference between brick and mortar businesses and service area businesses.
Understanding the Difference Between Brick and Mortar and Service Area Businesses
In the eyes of Google, there are two kinds of companies with a Google Business Profile. These are businesses that customers are intended to visit and businesses customers are not intended to visit.
For example, if you have a physical location that serves as a storefront, then you have a “brick and mortar business.” But if you have another kind of business (maybe one you do from home, or one where you deliver goods to customers, or you’re a professional contractor who fixes things at customers’ homes), you have a “service area business.”
An example of a service area business displayed on Google Maps.
Be sure to check the right box for your business. If you indicate you have a service area business, you will be able to hide the address instead of manually clearing the address later, which is not recommended.
It is actually possible to select both boxes. This is common for businesses such as restaurants that deliver food to customers but also serve customers within the restaurant itself.
The Right Category Makes All the Difference
Earlier, we mentioned how GMB allows you to select primary and secondary categories for your business. Part of your optimization should be checking these categories for accuracy.
You can only select one primary category. Interestingly, though, you can choose up to nine secondary categories that may describe what your business has to offer.
So, for an electrician, a primary category might be “electrician.” But if that same electrician sells equipment, they can choose “electrical equipment supplier” as a secondary category. And if the business repairs items customers can bring in, it may have “electrical repair shop” as another secondary category.
It may feel a little odd to enter multiple categories for different things your business handles. But local customers are typically searching for companies who can help them solve a problem. By entering in multiple categories, you seriously increase the odds that a customer finds and contacts your business.
Don't Forget Services
The services added to your Google Business Profile tell local customers (and Google’s search engine) what services you have to offer.
When you first set up your profile, Google will add some services that it thinks fits your business. Pay attention to these suggestions and edit as necessary. Some suggestions might be recommended based on customer feedback.
Remember, you can add additional services as needed, so further optimizations can happen once you have customer data to guide your decision making. If you want, you can also list prices for the different services that you offer, which helps customers arrive at a decision without having to leave your local profile.
Use Attributes To Bring In Customers
When optimizing your Google Business Profile it’s easy to overlook the “attributes” field. However, the right attributes can make a difference in whether a customer views your business profile or chooses your competitor’s profile.
Attributes are either information about the business owner that might attract customers or important information about the business itself. For example, in a military-friendly community, adding “veteran-led” to the profile may help a veteran bring in more business. Or adding that you are wheelchair accessible may make certain disabled people comfortable enough to visit.
Remember, these attributes usually determine whether someone visits your business or checks out the competition. So don’t skimp on these important details!
Select A Photo That Stands Out
That old advice that “a picture speaks a thousand words” is still very true, especially for a local business. So if you want your Google Business Profile to stand out, you need to use the right images.
You must use JPG or PNG photos, and they must be a minimum of 10 KB and have a minimum resolution of 720px × 720px. But since photos can be up to 5 MB, we recommend using professionally-shot, high-quality images to help your profile stand out.
The first type of photo is the profile photo.
This gives customers a glimpse of what your business looks like. You want this image to be flattering without being fake, and that means no heavy filters or use of Photoshop.
The profile photo has a maximum resolution of 5200 x 5300 and should be in a 1:1 aspect ratio. While you can put almost anything in a profile photo, we recommend showcasing what your business actually does so customers can see you in action.
You can also add a cover photo in a 16:9 format.
The maximum resolution is 2120 x 1192. Keep in mind that the cover photo is usually the first thing customers see when they discover your business via Google.
What you put in this image is up to you, but many business owners focus on showing the exterior of the store, as this assists with wayfinding on Google Maps. Optionally, you may also want to include yourself in the photo and/or any workers.
You can also add shared images from customers.
Shared images are in a 497:373 aspect ratio with a maximum resolution of 2048 x 2048. This is a great way to show off specific products (like a restaurant showing off food).
If you want to really leave your competition in the dust (especially around the holidays), consider adding video to your listing. Video clips must be 30 seconds or less and have a minimum resolution of 720p and a maximum size of 100 MB. Considering how much customers love services like Youtube and TikTok, a video clip is a great way to get their attention.
Using Google Business Profile Products and Services
Many business owners love to use the Product Editor and Product Catalogue feature of Google Business Profile. However, they typically call it by another name: “Google Business Profile Products.”
This feature allows you to link different products from your website to your GMB profile. This is a handy feature for both desktop and mobile visitors to your profile, but it may not be available to you if your business category implies you don’t sell products. If you really want this feature and don’t have access to it, you may need to change the categories for your business.
Some businesses also refer to “Google Business Profile Services” as a way to showcase the services your business has to offer. If you followed our guide above, you will have already listed relevant services. We recommend seeing how this looks on user searches (particularly on mobile) and editing these services until everything looks “just right.”
Your Next Move
Now you know how Google Business Profile services and products work and how this can benefit your business. But do you know who can take your local SEO to the next level?
Here at Direction, we specialize in all things SEO. To see what we can do to transform your business for the better, contact us today!