What the heck is Google Business Profile and why should you be using it?
You might have heard of Google Business Profile (GBP). You might even have your listing. But, are you optimising everything that it offers?
For small businesses, I believe GBP is hugely important. When you think about how much we rely on Google these days, it’s astounding how many businesses don’t know what it is or aren’t using it to its fullest.
This blog post is going to help you figure it out and make sure you use it effectively to help your business be found. Grab a cuppa and settle in to read how you can max it out.
What is Google Business Profile?
It’s a listings service, just like Yelp. But, and this is important, it’s free! Anyone who has a business can have a GMB listing, which is great for we small business owners. You can very simply manage your online presence, either from a desktop computer or the GMB app. Here’s what my listing looks like.
That panel on the right-hand side is all the online information about my business. Here’s what it looks like in more detail.
So, why should you be using Google Business Profile?
That’s an easy question to answer! Every small business owner wants their business to be found, especially locally. It doesn’t matter if your business is a coffee shop or an event venue. The listings on GBP help you to be found more easily.
Think about the times you’ve got your phone out to search for something nearby. Or even opened a tab on your laptop. Chances are, you were searching because you were ready to buy. I know one of my clients, who lives up the road from me, was when he typed “marketing consultants near me!”
Don’t you want some of that action? Of course, you do, especially as it costs you nothing to be listed. And what’s the search engine most people think of? Google, right? It’s even a verb now! That’s why you should take the time to list your business and keep your listing updated.
How to get started
It’s not a complicated process. Here’s what you need to do.
- Log in to the Google account you want to be associated with your business. If you don’t have a Google account, you can create one.
- Go to google.com/business and select “Start Now” in the top right-hand corner.
- Enter your business name.
- From there, finish all the steps in the process. Remember to fully fill out your address, phone number and website details. The address part is especially important as Google will need to verify your address before your listing goes live. One of the ways you can choose for this to happen is by mail.
- Don’t forget to choose a business category. This is important when people search for types of businesses, i.e. florist near me.
- Choose a verification option – postcard, phone, email, instant verification, or bulk verification.
- Once you’ve verified your account, you’re ready to start optimising your business profile.
Minal’s Tip: If you run your business from home as I do, you can enter a registered postal address. However, if you chose verification by mail, instructions, you’ll get a postcard, so only do this if you can access the post. Otherwise, put in your full address to get the verification postcard, then go in and remove the door number, just like I did.
How to make the most of Google Business Profile
You have a verified account, so now the work starts to make sure your profile is optimised for when people search for your type of business. You need to head to your dashboard (Home), which looks like the image below.
Here are my recommendations to help you get more bang for your buck (or not, as it’s free!)
Info is the first place to head
This is where I recommend you start. Make sure your address is showing as it should. Add your phone number if you haven’t done so already. If you have an additional phone line, you can add it now. Next, create a short name for your business. Mine is @marketingbyminal. This helps to make it easier for people to find you. Opening hours are important, so make sure yours are up to date. If people can book appointments with you, here’s where you can add a URL for them to do that. This is where you make it as easy as possible for people to learn more about you.
Reviews are important to all businesses. They’re also important to people who come across your listing in their search. They want to know that others have found your business reliable. So, spend some time getting reviews from customers. Google makes this easy for you by giving you a link that you can share with your customers. It’s on your dashboard, under “Get more reviews”.
Minal’s Tip: When you do get a review, remember to respond to it. Google gives you the facility to reply to all reviews, so use this to thank people for positive reviews. Negative reviews happen, and when they do, reply to them asking the person how you can contact them to discuss the issue. Never give them a response to their complaint in response to their review.
Give your listing some interest
People will click on your listing if it comes up in a search and it’s relevant. So, take some time to give them interesting information when they visit. There are three particular things you can do:
- Post photos – you can show prospective customers a bit more about your business by posting photos. These could be you working in your business, new products, your team, or any number of things to do with your business. Even better, ask your customers to post photos. Maybe they just received a product or finished some training with you. Encourage them to share their photos.
- Create posts – these can be either photos or videos. You can add posts that encourage people to sign up for events, share a blog post you’ve written, promote new products or services, really anything you can think of. Those posts show up when your business appears in searches, so use them to show you know your stuff and also to get people to your website.
- Share promotions – there are two ways you can do this. The first is to create a welcome offer for new visitors. Imagine someone searching for what you do, coming across your listing and then getting an offer to use. By doing this, you’re moving them closer to purchase. And remember, if they’re searching, they’re ready to buy. The second way is to create a post and use that to create an offer that can be seen by all visitors. Again, this is a great way to encourage people to move towards buying from you.
It’s not all for retail, there’s something for service-based businesses
At this point, if you sell services, you might be wondering if there’s a point to you using GMB. Yes, definitely! Look back at the image of the dashboard. There is an option for you to list your services. Think about it. Someone’s considering your business. Why not give them all the information they’re looking for? List your services and costs and they will show up in your profile, giving people the information they need to make their decision.
Don’t forget to see what’s working
If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of metrics. They help you understand what’s working and what isn’t. GMB has Insights, just like Facebook, which helps you understand more about your listing. Here, you can find things like the number of clicks to your website or search terms people are using. It’s a great way to understand how people are getting to your listing and for you to learn how you get more people there.
And there you have it. A whistle-stop tour of Google Business Profile. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is an important part of your marketing activities. As you get more familiar with it, you’ll find more creative ways to use it. It’s worth the time and effort.