Whether your company is a small local B2C business or a large B2C company, it’s worth paying attention to your Google Business Profile (GBP) listing.
According to Google, “listings on Business Profile can only be created for businesses that either have a physical location that customers can visit or that travel to visit customers where they are.”
This means that most businesses can (and probably should) have a GBP listing. A Google Business Profile listing is a free resource that can direct more visitors to a business’s website and place of business. It can make the phone ring more often, no matter what the type or size of the business.
A Business Profile listing shows in both Google Search and Google Maps.
In many cases, Google automatically creates a profile for a company. Some of these profiles go unclaimed. It’s important to both claim your profile and maintain long-term control of it.
Here are some best practices to follow for:
- Claiming your listing if Google created it for you
- Creating your listing if Google did not create it for you
- Optimizing your listing to attract web traffic and direct that traffic to your business
1. Maintain control of your Google Business Profile’s credentials
Sometimes a company loses track of the consumer Gmail account that was used to set up their profile. This can happen when a marketer sets up the Business Profile with their personal email address and then later leaves the company.
We have heard several stories about an agency that set up a Google Business Profile for a customer with one of the agency’s domain email addresses. Then, the relationship with that agency ended — or the agency simply disappeared.
It takes time & effort to recover from an orphaned Google Business Profile listing, but it can be done.
There are three ways to log in to your Google Business Profile listing in order to claim it.
- A consumer Gmail account
- A Google account without Gmail
- A Google Workspace account
If your business is a Google Workspace customer, a best practice is to create a separate email account with an address such as email@example.com.
If your business is not a Google Workspace customer, make sure that the Gmail or Google account credentials are available and that there are recovery options if a password is lost.
The first person to log into GBP is the Primary owner. Additional users can be added to a Google Business Profile account, with the role of Owner or Manager. Consider making a business owner or executive an Owner.
2. Keep your business information and hours up to date
Many businesses do not update the company information and hours. Make sure to keep these up to date.
Avoid stuffing your business name with a keyword. Google alternately rewards and punishes this. But the punishment can be a delisting.
3. Add descriptions to services
You may find that Google’s AI suggests a lot of services that you didn’t add. It’s best to accept the suggestions and then add a description to each. The description can be up to 300 characters.
4. Make sure your NAP information is consistent with other sites
This is a well-known local search best practice is for your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) to be consistent across your website and business listing services.
In fact, you should consider using the exact GBP address and phone number format on your website pages.
This best practice applies to Google Business Profile and to all business listing sites.
5. Choose your Categories wisely
Check what businesses similar to yours are using for their Primary Category. Consider using the same Primary Category in your profile.
While it’s possible to select several additional categories from a pre-determined list of categories, it is important not to select too many categories.
6. Define your Service Area
If your company provides on-site services, you can define your service area either by region(s) or by service area radius.
Service Area radius
Service area radius can be defined by a number of miles or a number of kilometers.
Service Area region criteria
Your Service Area region can be defined using any of the following criteria. The criteria can be mixed and matched.
- ZIP Codes
- Postal Codes
If you choose to hide your business’s address, your service area will be displayed in your public listing as either a polygon or a circle, depending on which Service Area option you use.
You can optionally hide your business’s physical address and still display your service area in Google Search.
7. Optimize the Photos section
Photos are an important component of GBP, even if your business is not strictly local. When in doubt, add photos of happy, smiling staff and customers.
Use your own photos
You should take your own photos and avoid stock photos or composite images.
In the GBP photo guidelines, Google states with regard to image quality, “The photo should be in focus and well lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. In other words, the image should represent reality.”
Consistently upload photos (and short videos)
Google cares about both the quantity and the recency of photos uploaded to Google Business Profile. So, don’t upload all your photos at once. If you have an inventory of photos, stagger the upload to GBP.
Add metadata to your photos
Google currently does not parse photo metadata, but it can’t hurt to add geotags to your photos.
An Exif editor can be used to add the following types of tags to your photos:
8. Ask customers for reviews
Unlike Yelp, which discourages the solicitation of reviews, Google encourages asking customers for GBP reviews, as long as the reviews meet guidelines. For example, Google does not allow soliciting reviews from customers by offering incentives or by setting up review stations at your place of business.
Here is a sample email template that can be used to send a review request to a customer:
Thanks for agreeing to help us build our Google Business Profile.
To leave a star rating and a review, you need to first be logged into a Google account. If you don’t have a personal Gmail or a Google Workspace business account, you can create a Google account “without email.”
Please use this link to leave a star rating and type in a review. The review can be brief — just something about how working with us improved your business situation.
Regarding the two links in the above template:
1. Use this page for the first link.
2. Look for this item on the GBP home page to get the second link:
The best practice for customer reviews is to not try to get all 5-star ratings. People are more likely to trust a less-than-perfect average rating.
9. Respond to your fans and your critics
When you do get reviews — either positive or negative — Google recommends responding as quickly as possible.
GBP provides the following best practices checklist within the response dialog:
- Ignore minor complaints and resolve issues privately if possible
- Address issues constructively. Don’t use responses to advertise
- Do not ask users for anything or offer them anything
- Be professional and polite. The world can see your response
10. Add an Appointment URL
GBP lets you add an appointment URL.
B2C businesses can direct a visitor to an appointment scheduling page.
B2B companies can offer visitors an informational or consulting session, using an application such as Calendly — or even with just a simple web form.
Certain categories of business, such as restaurants, salons, and fitness centers, can take this to the next level by integrating Reserve With Google with any one of many service providers.
11. Add new “What’s New” Posts regularly
Updates, a.k.a. “What’s New” posts, are a good way to drive additional traffic to your website.
It’s recommended that you add a new post to GBP at least once a week. Google provides several call-to-action (CTA) options. You can add a link behind a call to action.
A best practice is to use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to create your link.
The following are the CTA types:
- Order online
- Learn more
- Sign up
- Call now
Keep in mind that a Post’s call to action button does not have to link to your website. The CTA can link to any content that’s relevant to your audience, including a YouTube video.
12. Try out GBP messaging
Messaging (a.k.a. Chat) lets people message you straight from Google Maps and Search, from a mobile device.
If you already have someone on staff who is responsible for replying to website chat, this same person could respond to GBP chat.
Messaging can be manually turned on and off. Web notifications can be enabled.
Should You Enable The Website Feature?
A still available option is to enable a basic, one-page GBP website.
“Enable” is the operative word, as there is little to create outside of the text in three editable sections plus a selectable CTA. Your most recent nine GBP Posts and photos appear on your GBP website. Your most recent three reviews will also appear.
If you do not have a website, you can get a basic site by switching on the website option within Google Business Profile. Even if you do have a website, there are benefits to enabling the GBP website.
As of late 2021, there were over two million websites enabled globally within GBP.
Google Business Profile gives almost any business an opportunity to increase website traffic as well as phone and chat conversations.
As long as GBP’s guidelines and best practices are followed, there’s no downside to enhancing a GBP profile. There is plenty of potential upside.