Your potential customers are faced with many options along their buying journey, and Google search is where most of them will start. Being visible in Google search when your potential customers search for your products or services starts with Google Business.
Below you’ll learn how to set up and manage a Google Business profile so you can drive more foot traffic, leads, and revenue from potential local customers.
Google Business, formerly known as Google My Business, is a free service through Google that is an essential part of any local search strategy. Google treats searches with local intent differently than other searches.1 Google Business is a key factor in how it chooses to show and order search results for local searches.
The best part: setting up a Google Business profile is free (and simple!).
Is your business eligible for a Google Business profile?
Almost any business can create a Google Business profile—if you meet one of the two following requirements, you’re in!
- You operate a business that has a physical location AND the business is open to the public during posted hours.
- You travel within a geographical area to provide services to customers at their location.
<div class="post-note">There are some exceptions, including: ATMs, video-rental kiosks, seasonal businesses, and some delivery-only food services.</div>
What to include on your Google Business profile
Google Business gives you the ability to create a detailed profile for your local business through a series of pre-selected fields. Some are more important to fill out than others.
Here’s how to prioritize what information to fill out to get the best results.
Complete essential information
This list below is the bare minimum. The more you fill out, the better off you will be. But at the very least, make sure to include the items listed below.
- Business Name — technically your business name should match your website to adhere to Google's guidelines
- Address — make sure your address on your website is formatted the same way Google formats it
- Phone Number — make sure the phone number on your website is formatted the same way Google formats it
- Website Address — use your website’s homepage or location page for websites that have multiple locations
- Services — choose relevant services from the options Google gives you
- Bio — write a 150 word description of the business that is optimized for conversions. You don't need to add "keywords" to this section because it's not used as a ranking factor.
- Photos — Include your logo, exterior of the business, cover image, and something related to the product or service you offer.
<div class="post-note">Most of these items can be found in the Info tab when signed into your Google Business profile. </div>
Fill out highly recommended information
The following list is technically optional, but I recommend you complete as much information as possible. Your potential customers WILL notice.
- Service areas—The location(s) in which your business operates or serves customers. Can be as specific as a neighborhood within a city or as wide as an entire country
- Hours —Be sure to note the days you are closed if applicable
- Product feed (if applicable)—If you sell products you can upload a product photo, product name, product category, price, description, and a link to purchase the product on your website
- Opening date (month and year)—You can include a day as well but include month and year at bare minimum
In order for potential customers to see your business in Google search, you need to go through a quick verification process. This is Google’s way of validating the legitimacy of your business profile and ensuring you meet Google’s Eligibility Requirements. The most common way to verify your profile is to have Google send a postcard in the mail to the address provided on your profile.
That postcard will have a unique number and detailed instructions for where to enter that number on Google Business to verify your profile. In some cases, Google may allow other forms of verification such as a phone call.
After your business is verified and eligible to be seen in search results, there’s more you can do to increase visibility (aka “rank better”).
What to include in your local SEO strategy (after business verification)
Get business reviews
This should be considered an essential item but it falls outside of your control. Develop a strategy to get past customers to leave a review on your Google Business profile. This is a very important ranking factor. But make sure you are getting genuine reviews from real customers, do not add fake reviews.
Here are some ways to get more Google reviews
- Reach out to past customers through phone call or email
- Include a postcard when you ship items or complete an in-person service
- Use a QR code to include on invoices or packing slips
When users leave a review for your business they may be asked to select boxes for the services that you perform. What users select may begin showing up in your map listing as “Provides: (Service)”, for example Provides: SEO Services.
Respond to all reviews
If you get a negative review, do not jump on the defense. Be concise, polite and offer a solution to remedy the situation—like an open invitation to call or email.
If you get a positive review, respond and thank them for their business and the kind words.
Optimize your website for the services / products you sell
How you optimize your website can also improve your visibility in the search results. Through proper use of page titles, heading tags, internal linking, and high-quality content, Google may pull information from your site to add to your Google Business profile and map listing. When Google pulls information from your website to display on your profile or map listing it will say “Their website mentions” followed by the service. If you are able to get Google to pull this information, it could give more credibility to your business compared to other competitors.
Create and maintain a Google Business post strategy
Use Google Business posts to highlight deals, offers, and company news that your current and potential customers want to know. Update as necessary based on news, press releases, blog posts, new products, sales, and more.
Respond to FAQs
Your potential customers have the ability to ask questions that will be publicly visible. Make sure you answer these question as they roll through.
Set up direct messages
Only do this step if you commit to responding within 24 hours. Setting this up and not responding could have a negative impact and could result in Google deactivating this service from your account.
Be accurate, empathetic, and authentic
Your Google Business profile is going to show up in Google search when people search for your brand. Consider it may be a user's first interaction with your business, so be accurate in the information that you provide.
People turn to Google for information so it is important to think about your customers and what information you think they may want to know and include this in your profile.
Be authentic to your brand and consistent when responding to reviews, FAQs, and messages.
<div class="post-note"><h3>It takes time and consistent effort</h3><p>If you can't dedicate time on a weekly basis to grow your local visibility, you can supplement with paid search, or hire a business like Momentic to help with your local SEO.</p></div>
- How to improve your local ranking on Google - Google Business Profile Help. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091
- Chen, J., & Mysen, C. (2007, August 16). Local business ranking using mapping information (U.S. Patent No. 8.312,010 B1). U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. https://patents.google.com/patent/US8312010B1/en