It’s no secret that the internet is where most people go to find information. If your customers want to verify that you’re open, learn more about your products, or give you a call, you can bet your bottom dollar they won’t be cracking open the Yellow Pages.
Instead, they’ll go to Google and type in your business name. In most cases, your Google Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) will show up prominently on the right-hand side of the search results page. This is the quickest and easiest way for users to find the information they need.
If they don’t, you have a problem. Since Google’s job is to provide people with the information they’re looking for a quickly as possible, if your business doesn’t rank, they’ll be happy to present plenty of other options. This means that if your profile isn’t up to date (or even worse – if you don’t have one at all) you WILL lose business to your competitors.
If this comes as a shock to you, don’t worry! The following guide will explain exactly what Google Business Profile is, answer some of the most frequently asked questions, and show you how you can use this exciting tool to grow your business. Let’s get started!
What is Google Business Profile?
Before you decide to invest your time into creating or optimizing your Google Business Profile, it’s important to understand exactly what it is.
Google Business Profile is a free business listing provided by Google. This platform allows business owners to provide a wealth of information including your address, phone number, directions to your business, details about your products and services, and more.
You can also use it to share photos of your business, promote company news and events, respond to reviews, and connect with current and future customers through phone calls and messages.
Is a Google Business Profile really free?
It may be hard to believe that a tool so valuable is available without cost – but it’s true. A Google Business Profile is absolutely FREE!
You can sign up for your profile, manage your listings, and take advantage of all the features without ever spending a dime. In fact, if you ever get a call from someone claiming that your profile is expiring or that you need to make a payment, you should hang up immediately because it’s a spam call.
Unlike many other platforms, Google Business Profile is also not a “freemium” or tiered offering. This means that no matter how small your business is, you’ll have access to the exact same tools as your competitors. Even better, you can sign up right now and start enjoying the benefits without any waiting period.
How can I create or claim My Google Business Profile?
If you don’t have a Google Business Profile yet, you’ll be glad to know that it’s super easy to get started.
First, you’ll want to check and make sure your profile doesn’t already exist. This may be the case even if you’ve never created one. Often, if someone has provided Google with your business information by leaving a review or other references, you may have an unclaimed profile.
1. Claim or create your listing
Start by heading over to Google and searching for your business name. If a profile comes up on the right side of the screen, look for the link that says, “Own this business?” and follow the instructions.
If no profile comes up, you can get started by heading over to Google.com/business, logging in with your Google account, and entering your basic business information. (If you don’t already have a Google account, you can create one for free by visiting Google.com/account.)
2. Verify your business then add more info
Once you’ve entered your information, you’ll need to verify your listing. Going through this process allows Google to ensure your business information is accurate and that only an authorized person has access to it. Once you’ve been verified, you can go back into your profile and add more information.
How can my Google Business Profile help my business grow?
Still not completely convinced that your Google Business Profile is worth the effort? Here’s a look at four important ways an optimized listing can help your business grow.
1. Improve your local search visibility
Studies show that online searches with the phrase “near me” have increased by nearly 500% over the past few years. Well-optimized Google Business Profiles rank higher in Google’s “local pack” and maps, giving you access to more qualified leads who are actively looking for the products or services you offer.
When determining which businesses to show, Google considers factors like relevancy, search proximity, accuracy, trust, and popularity. Taking actions like keeping your profile up to date, consistently generating positive reviews, and adding as much information to your profile as possible will help show Google that your business deserves a top spot.
2. Generate qualified leads
Thanks to increased mobile search and map requests, Google is now placing even more emphasis on hyperlocal search results. When your listing is complete and active, it’s easy for Google to send target customers directly to your door.
This focus on local search can cause businesses that are focusing primarily on broad SEO strategies to notice a decrease in their traffic. However, putting some effort into optimizing your GBP listing can help your business thrive.
3. Build your reputation and trust
One of the hardest parts of growing your business is convincing potential customers that they can trust you enough to spend their money with you. Studies show that 91% of people read reviews before making a buying decision. When your Google Business Profile consistently brings in positive reviews, trust will come naturally.
Google’s statistics also show that users are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business reputable if it has a Google Business Profile. They’re also 70% more likely to visit the business’s location and 50% more likely to consider making a purchase.
4. Outperform your competitors
While everyone has access to the same Google Business Profile features, many business owners simply aren’t taking advantage of them. It’s common for listings to be incomplete, outdated, or not actively managed.
This means that taking the time to optimize and manage your profile will allow you to easily outrank your competitors. Often, a few small changes will make a big difference. For example, according to Google, business profiles with photos receive 35% more click-throughs to their website and 42% more requests for directions through Google Maps than those without.
5. Control your online information
Your GBP listing gives you the power to easily control and update your online information. If you’ve changed your business hours, contact information, or other key details, you can get this out to the public with just a few clicks of a button.
You can also add information about new service offerings, special holiday hours, temporary closings, and more. Since Google Business Profiles have strong local SEO, they’re extremely likely to rank above third-party sites that might contain outdated information.
Need help with your Google Business Profile? Give us a shout!
Today, having a Google Business Profile is no longer optional. Instead, it’s a critical part of any solid marketing plan.
If you’re ready to start taking advantage of this incredible resource, there’s no time like the present. The first step is to create or claim your Google Business Profile. Then, you’ll want to make sure it’s fully optimized and set yourself up with a consistent posting schedule. Keep an eye out on our blog over the coming weeks for more information about how to complete these next steps.
In the meantime, if you don’t want to wait or don’t have the time to deal with it on your own, we can take care of everything for you! Take a look at our Local SEO service and sign up online or contact us for more information.