Whether you’re a construction company, retail store, or law office, a Google Business Profile is essential for any local business. In fact, 97% of people learn more about local businesses online than anywhere else. The average business is found in 1,009 searches per month, with 84% stemming from discovery searches, meaning that users searched for a category, product, or service versus a direct business name. And this is only increasing: according to Google’s 2019 report, “where to buy” + “near me” mobile searches grew by more than 200% in only two years.
That’s a lot of users looking to be persuaded to give you a sale! By ensuring your profile is optimized for local search and accurately represents your business, you’re helping customers discover, contact, and confidently buy from you. Check out the tips below to learn more about how to get the most out of your Google Business Profile:
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Regularly Update Your Business Information
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure your Google Business Profile information is accurate and up to date. After initially creating your profile, it’s easy to fall behind on maintenance, but updating your details is one of the simplest and most impactful things you can do for local search optimization. If customers search your business and are misinformed by your listing (for example, by visiting your store when it’s closed due to inaccurate store hours), you could lose their business for the long-term. On the flipside, if you’re able to keep your information up to date, you’re more likely to attract and retain loyal customers who feel good about the consistent and predictable experience you’re able to give them.
In fact, complete and accurate Google Business Profiles can not only increase your credibility by more than 2x, they are 70% more likely to attract actual location visits. That’s a lot of sales! Key areas to regularly check include your:
- Phone number
- Business name
- Hours of operation
- Website link
When performing a regular maintenance check, it’s also a good idea to examine how detailed your information is and if it’s seamless across the customer experience. Will your customer see the same information on your Google Business Profile, your website, your social channels, and in your store or office? Pay special attention to whether your business name, address, and store hours are advertised consistently. Keeping your contact information aligned on your profile and your other channels will help you build credibility with customers, as well as with Google’s algorithm for search rankings.
Add and Optimize Your Business Description
At the bottom of your Google Business Profile, you can add a “from the business” description of up to 750 characters. This is an area that many local businesses neglect. However, it’s a great opportunity to highlight the heart of your business and market directly to customers in your own words. It’s also a great way to highlight the areas of your business that aren’t covered in the rest of your profile details.
To optimize this space, place the most critical information in the first half of your summary and use the full character count, if possible, to highlight meaningful points about your business. If you already have a business summary or boilerplate on your social media channels, an about page, in your business plan, or elsewhere, you can repurpose it here. If you don’t have an existing business summary, this is a good opportunity to create one that you can use over and over again for your marketing needs.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out some of the larger companies and businesses in your area, as they’re more likely to have a complete description on their profile. Here are a few key areas to highlight to get you started:
- What are the main benefits of your business?
- What sets you apart from competitors?
- What is your mission?
- What notable statistics, awards, or achievements does your business have?
Check Your Categories and Attributes
When you set up your Google Business Profile, you should have been prompted to choose a primary category that would be listed for readers to see and understand the type of business you run. However, did you know you can choose not only a primary business category, but up to 9 additional secondary categories? While most businesses will only have 1-3 categories that apply to them, it’s a good idea to check your listing and see if you need to make any updates to your categories for accuracy or to showcase the full scope of your business.
For example, a café that makes fresh bread and serves sandwiches might include the following categories:
- Primary category: Café
- Secondary categories: Bakery, Sandwich Shop
When checking, consider:
- Have I included the categories that most accurately represent my business?
- Have I included the categories that will help the right customer find my business?
- Have I picked the most specific versions of the categories available?
Checking to make sure your categories are as specific, accurate, and inclusive as possible will ensure you show up in the right searches from your potential customers. While you’re there, make sure to check off any applicable attributes, which allow you to get even more granular about the features of your business that may be compelling to your customers. For example, our café from earlier may want to mark off attributes such as “free Wi-Fi,” “outdoor seating,” and “brunch.” Adding extra details like these makes your business more transparent and transforms your customers from hesitant to confident decision-makers.
Request and Respond to Customer Reviews
Google reviews have a massive impact on consumer buying. This is not only because of the social trust that reviews provide, but because Google typically adds businesses with solid ratings as the first three local results (known as the “Google 3-pack”). This local 3-pack has a big advantage when it comes to business visibility. Not to mention, according to BrightLocal, 76% of consumers read online reviews when searching for local businesses, with Google being the most trusted review platform.
If you don’t have reviews or ratings yet, don’t worry! Actively encouraging reviews from satisfied customers will increase your odds of collecting reviews over the long run, especially given that many customers are not in the habit of leaving reviews (particularly positive reviews). A direct request may be just what they need to take action. Depending on the communication channels you have with customers, consider asking customers to submit a review through email, mail cards, text messages, receipts, QR codes, or simply face-to-face.
Once you get reviews, it’s also important to respond to further legitimize your business. If you find yourself with negative reviews, responding in a polite way that shows legitimate effort to remedy the conflict will help you earn back loyalty and trust from both existing and potential customers. Remember: one response could take you 20 minutes to write but could last years on your profile!
Upload High-Resolution Photos
Thoughtful visuals are a critical piece of any marketing strategy and could be the final push that drives a customer to pick you over a competitor. When it comes to optimizing your Google Business Profile for local search, it’s important to have high-resolution photos that capture every aspect of your business, including the exterior and interior areas of your location, shots of any products or services you offer, and the employees and teams that power your business. Check out these tips from Google for more ideas on photos for your listing.
We also recommend that you choose a cover photo, which will likely be the first thing a customer sees. Please note Google may choose not to use your specified photo. But, in case they do, it’s a good idea to select a photo that best represents your business. When assessing photos, consider:
Does this give an accurate representation of my location, products or services, team members, and business atmosphere?
Will the customer know what experience to expect from my business by seeing these photos?
Are these photos in focus, with good lighting and without added filters that could distort the imagery?
Once you have your preferred photos, make sure they are saved as a JPG or PNG with a resolution of approximately 720 px tall x 720 px wide. You can learn more about Google’s photo guidelines here.
Add Your Product and Services
Did you know that you can add your current inventory of products straight to your Google Business Profile? This allows customers to view your stock in real time. Adding your product catalog not only helps customers get a clearer idea of what you offer, the extra content actually helps you boost your rankings on Google. Remember: the more details you add to your profile, the more your profile will work for you over the long term.
If you’re a product business, here’s what you’ll need to start adding products to your profile:
- Product photo
- Product name
- Product category
- Product description
- Product price
- Call-to-action link
Google Business Profile also allows certain businesses to add their services. However, please note that while the products feature is available to most industries, the services feature is much more limited based on your business type. If you are able to add services, you can choose from a range of selected options or customize your own.
If you’re a service business, here are the details you’ll want to include:
- Service type
- Service price
- Service description
As always, make sure to regularly update your products and services so customers can get an accurate view of what your business currently offers.
Post Updates on Your Profile
Additionally, you can publish posts through Google to highlight offers, events, updates, and announcements. Publishing posts regularly helps you keep your presence on Google fresh, keeps you connected to your audience, and gives you the opportunity to drive more traffic to your website or other key channels for your business. There are several post types you can take advantage of, with formatting built in by Google that helps you highlight the right details. There are 6 main Google Business post types that are available to all businesses: updates, photos, reviews, offers, events, and FAQs.
Pro Tip: When posting to your social media, consider if the content is relevant to your Google Business Profile and, if so, post it across your social channels and Google to maximize the reach of the content you’ve already created. For example, when you post a special offer or deal on Facebook and Instagram, you can also publish an offer post on Google for extra visibility and engagement!
Your Google Business Profile is a powerful tool that can drive customers to know and buy from you at extraordinary rates. Not for nothing, it’s also completely free. By completing your profile across each of the tools that Google offers, encouraging customers to review your business, and regularly updating your profile to ensure your details are up to date, you can push your business to stand out from the crowd on the world’s most used search platform. And don’t forget to check in with Google for new features and updates as the platform evolves, so you can stay ahead of the curve and continue to optimize for local search.
We’re excited to see where your Google Business Profile takes you and are always available to answer any questions you may have regarding your online presence and driving traffic to your business. It’s our passion at 1558 Brand Agency to help local businesses like yours ignite your image and brand reputation.