Google Business Profile is one of the most potent local SEO tools you can use to attract more local customers and the best part? It’s free! To make the most out of this fantastic free tool, there is a little work to do to get it to produce the best results, but with some work and some regular updates, your business could soon be ranking high in search results and attracting more customers. In this blog post, we will give you all you need to know to set up your Google Business Profile for maximum exposure and results.
Claiming & Verifying Your Profile
Before you set up a new profile, you should do a quick Google search to see if one already exists as often one may have been created without your input. If it has, you need to claim this listing and not set up a new one to prevent duplication. If there is not one already live and claimable, you will need to create a new Google Business Profile.
To create a Google Business Profile, you will need a Google account (you can use your current email address for this), and then head to Google to claim your free business profile. It is essential to complete the full registration process and ensure that you request verification, which can usually be done online, but sometimes they will need to send you a postcard with a code.
Complete All Sections on Your Google Business Profile
Once you have claimed your Google Business Profile, you need to add your business details to it thoroughly, and when we say thoroughly, we mean it! Missing small details could be the difference between success and lingering at the bottom of the search results. On a list of 149 local SEO ranking factors discussed by some of the industry leaders in SEO, the completeness of your profile was voted 12th – showing just how important it is to have it fully completed!
The best results can be had from your GBP when you include all the following:
- Business address.
- Business phone number.
- The correct business category.
- Business opening hours.
- Business services.
- Images of business and services/products.
- Description of your business.
We will go more in-depth on the what and the why of each of these below.
Address & Phone Number
Having the correct address and phone number on your Google listing is mission critical, not only for how customers find you and contact you but also so Google knows how local you are to the user performing the search. User proximity is a significant factor in local SEO, and your correct NAP (Name, Address and Phone number) details must be accurate to appear in these search results.
NAP details must also be correct on any citations you have been building, such as directory sites or the local chamber of commerce website, as Google will look at these too.
The choice of business category is also critical in a list of the top things to rank better locally using Google Business Profile. It is one of the main ways Google determines if your business fits the user’s search. For instance, if you run a bike shop, you don’t want people searching for a local plumber to find your listing, do you? While choosing multiple categories to rank for more keywords can be tempting, ensure you only select categories relevant to your business and industry.
Services & Product Section
If you sell local services such as plumbing, web design, or hairdressing, for instance, you should be adding these services to your Google Business Profile. It is pretty simple to do, and you will need to complete all the sections for:
- Service name (Max 120 characters).
- Price (from, fixed, free or no price).
- Description (max 300 characters).
These will then appear on your GBP listing, and we would strongly advise only adding your actual services, as adding too many or closely related services in a bid to hit more keywords could lead to a Google penalty.
We recommend speaking to an SEO consultant about syncing your merchant centre if you sell products rather than services, as this part can be tricky, as you will need to sync your website up with the Google Merchant Centre and then with your Google Business Profile, which isn’t as easy as it sounds!
Images & Videos
Adding images of your business and its products and services is a sure way to ensure your GBP listing stands out from the crowd and improves the overall SEO of the listing. You can add your business logo, images from inside and outside your premises, and relevant images to your business. This can include things like:
- Previous work or examples from your portfolio.
- Pictures of staff at work.
- Fleet images.
- Photos of your offices or workplace.
Be sure to name your image files with what is in the image, such as “Coffee Shop window”. This will help relate the image to the search. You can add as many images as you like too, there is no upper limit – so the more the merrier!
Utilise the Questions and Answers
Frequently asked questions are fantastic for SEO purposes and help you hit more keywords and create content if done correctly, but they also have a place on your GBP listing. Using the questions section, you can pre-empt the most commonly asked questions, such as:
- Is there parking?
- Is there disabled access?
- Do you accept card payments?
The feature also allows anyone to ask questions on the profile, so set up alerts to enable you to answer any questions.
Set Up Messaging
If you have the Google Maps app on your phone, set your messaging feature up on your Google Business Profile with the same account you are signed into on your Google Maps app. This way, potential customers can message you directly from the search engine if they have queries or wish to book your services. This is an excellent way to reduce friction between people looking for goods and services and your business, reducing the time and effort required to make contact.
Reviews are one of the most potent tools in your local SEO arsenal and work in two ways, as they act as both social proof and as a ranking factor. There are lots of ways you can ask your customers to leave reviews:
- Business cards with QR codes on
- Email invites
- Links off from your website
- Verbal request
It is important to remember that you should never leave fake reviews on your profile, buy them from anyone offering them, or offer customers financial or other rewards if they leave a good review. Google frowns upon this and it can result in stiff penalties.
Google Business Profile Optimisation
Google Business Profile is a powerful, free local SEO tool to attract more local customers. To maximise its potential, follow these steps:
- Claim and verify your profile.
- Complete all sections, including address, phone number, business category, opening hours, services, images, and description.
- Ensure correct NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) details.
- Choose relevant business categories.
- Add services and products, but avoid keyword stuffing.
- Sync your website with Google Merchant Centre for product listings (consult an SEO expert if needed).
- Add images and videos of your business, staff, and workplace.
- Utilise the Questions and Answers section and set up alerts for new questions.
- Set up messaging through the Google Maps app.
- Collect customer reviews, but avoid fake reviews or incentives for positive feedback.
These steps will help improve your Google Business Profile’s visibility and attract more local customers and improve your overall local SEO for your business.