A Google Business Profile, formally known as a Google My Business (GMB) profile, is a free online listing provided by Google that allows businesses to showcase important information about their company. It serves as a digital representation of a business's physical presence or online-only presence on Google's platforms, including Google Search and Google Maps.
As you can see, it includes details such as the business name, address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, photos, reviews, and other relevant information. It provides users with quick access to essential information about a business, making it easier for potential customers to find and connect with the company.
Setting up and optimizing a Google Business Profile is an essential step for businesses to establish a strong online presence, improve local visibility, and effectively connect with their target audience
Google Business Profiles are often underutilized but offer you a treasure trove of ways to get your company in front of potential customers, regardless of your industry!
Brick-and-Mortar Businesses Vs. Service Area Businesses (SABs)
On a Google Business Profile, there are two main types of businesses in terms of their service areas: brick-and-mortar businesses and service area businesses (SABs).
Brick-and-mortar businesses: These are physical locations where customers can visit and interact with the business directly. Examples include retail stores, restaurants, or hair salons. For brick-and-mortar businesses, the address of the physical location is displayed on the profile, and customers can see it when searching for the business. The service area is typically limited to the immediate vicinity of the business location.
Service area businesses (SABs): These are businesses that primarily serve customers at their location, either by visiting customers at their premises or by providing services remotely. Examples include plumbers, electricians, or home cleaning services. SABs do not have a physical storefront or a public location where customers can visit. Instead, they travel to the customer's location to provide services.
In the case of SABs, the address of the business is not displayed on the Google Business Profile. Instead, they have the option to specify a service area or a list of locations they serve. This allows SABs to indicate the areas they cover without revealing their specific address publicly.
Customers who search for services in those areas may see the SAB's profile in search results or on Google Maps. It's important to note that SABs must meet certain criteria to qualify as such. They need to provide services directly to customers, have face-to-face interactions, or travel to customers' locations. Google also requires SABs to hide their residential addresses if they use a home address as their business address.
Understanding the difference between these two types of businesses on a Google Business Profile is crucial for accurately representing your business's nature and service areas to potential customers. Not establishing your business type from the beginning can have negative impacts on your profile down the road (don’t worry, we’ll talk about that later). If you need more info, here’s what Google says on the topic.
Getting Your Business Verified on Google
Regardless of your business type, you will need to get verified before your listing goes live to the public. This verification process can be the most cumbersome element of the entire process so following the tips in this blog will ensure the path of least resistance!
The verification process confirms that you are the legitimate owner or representative of the business. The specific verification methods available may vary depending on your location and the type of business you have. Here are some common ways you’ll be asked to verify your business with Google Business:
Postcard verification: This is the most common method of verification. Google sends a postcard containing a verification code to the business address you provided during the registration process. Once you receive the postcard, you can enter the code into your Google Business account to complete the verification.
Phone verification: In some cases, Google may offer the option to verify your business over the phone. You will receive an automated call to the phone number associated with your business, and you will be provided with a verification code to enter into your Google Business account.
Email verification: For certain types of businesses, email verification may be available. Google will send a verification code to the email address you provided during registration, and you will need to enter the code into your Google Business account to complete the verification.
Instant verification: In some cases, Google may be able to verify your business instantly without requiring additional steps. This is typically available for businesses that have already been verified through other Google services, such as Google Search Console.
Bulk verification: If you have multiple locations or a large chain of businesses, Google offers a bulk verification process. This allows you to verify multiple locations at once by uploading a spreadsheet or using an API. This is a key option if you are operating a Franchise network.
Google Profile Success Tips
Now the fun begins… optimizing for local search! Optimizing your Business Profile for local search is essential for appearing in relevant search results. For example, if you are a winery in Napa that specializes in dry farmed Pinot Noirs, your Google Business Profile can help ensure that when people search “Napa Valley Dry Farmed Wine” your business shows up first.
Neglecting to include appropriate keywords, a clear description, and relevant categories can limit your visibility (and get your account suspended!). Taking the time to optimize your profile to improve local search rankings is absolutely critical.
To create a successful Google Business profile, follow these 9 tips:
Accurate and Complete Information: Provide accurate and up-to-date information about your business, including the name, address, phone number (NAP), website URL, and business category. Make sure all fields are filled out correctly to enhance your profile's visibility and credibility.
Use High-Quality Images: Include high-resolution images that showcase your business, such as your logo, storefront, interior, products, or services. Visual content helps attract attention and gives potential customers a better understanding of what to expect.
Write a Compelling Description: Craft a compelling and concise business description that highlights your unique selling points, key offerings, and value proposition. Use relevant keywords to improve your profile's visibility in search results.
Positive Customer Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your Google Business profile. Positive reviews not only boost your reputation but also influence potential customers' decision-making process. Respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews.
Post Regular Updates: Keep your profile updated with the latest information, such as business hours, holiday closures, special promotions, or any changes in services. This ensures that potential customers have accurate and relevant details.
Add Relevant Attributes: Utilize the available attributes that align with your business, such as Wi-Fi availability, wheelchair accessibility, outdoor seating, or online appointments. These attributes help customers make informed decisions and filter their search based on specific preferences.
Local SEO Optimization: Incorporate relevant keywords in your profile's description, posts, and updates to improve your visibility in local search results. Optimize your website for local SEO as well, as it can impact your Google Business profile's performance.
Utilize Google Posts: Take advantage of Google Posts to share updates, offers, events, and other relevant content with your audience. These posts appear directly on your profile, enhancing visibility and engagement. Pro tip: Treat your Google Business Profile like your Facebook. When you post an update to Facebook, do the same update on your Google Business Profile!
Monitor and Respond: Regularly monitor your Google Business profile for new reviews, questions, or messages. Respond promptly and professionally to engage with your audience and address any concerns or inquiries. This blog is from 2021 but still holds true on the importance of reviews!
Best Practices After Verifying Your Google Business Profile
After verifying your Google Business Profile, it's important to be mindful of certain practices to avoid negatively impacting your profile and online presence. Or worse, getting your verification revoked! After managing hundreds of Google Business accounts, here are some things you should avoid:
Creating duplicate profiles: Once your profile is verified, it's crucial to avoid creating duplicate profiles for the same business location. This can confuse customers and dilute the accuracy and visibility of your business information. Stick to managing a single, verified profile per location.
Providing inaccurate or misleading information: Duh, right? Ensure that the information provided in your Google Business Profile is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent with your business details. Avoid misleading customers with incorrect addresses, phone numbers, operating hours, or other essential information.
Keyword stuffing or misleading descriptions: It's essential to maintain transparency and authenticity in your profile description. Avoid stuffing it with excessive keywords or using misleading language that doesn't accurately represent your business. Provide a clear and concise description that genuinely reflects your products, services, or offerings.
Violating Google's content policies: Google has content policies in place to maintain a positive user experience. Ensure you adhere to these policies, which include guidelines on prohibited content, inappropriate language, spam, fake reviews, and other forms of content that violate Google's terms of service.
Neglecting customer reviews and engagement: Customer reviews play a crucial role in shaping your online reputation. Avoid neglecting or ignoring customer reviews, whether they are positive or negative. Engage with your customers by responding to their reviews in a timely, professional, and courteous manner. Addressing concerns or expressing gratitude for positive feedback demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction.
Neglecting profile updates: Keep your Google Business Profile up to date by regularly updating information such as business hours, address changes, contact details, and other relevant information. Neglecting updates can lead to confusion among customers and potentially harm your reputation.
Violating Google's review policies: Reviews are an important part of your online presence, but it's crucial to respect Google's review policies. Avoid soliciting or incentivizing fake reviews, posting fraudulent reviews, or engaging in any manipulative practices that violate Google's guidelines.
By avoiding these pitfalls, you can maintain a trustworthy and accurate Google Business Profile that positively represents your business and enhances your online reputation. Plus, avoiding the re-verification process will save you a ton of time (and headaches! Trust us. Oh, the migraines this has given us!)
Start Maximizing Your Google Business Profile Today
Your Google Business Profile is often the first point of contact for potential customers. A well-maintained and informative Google Business profile can significantly impact your online visibility and attract more potential customers. Do not sleep on managing your Google Business Profile. Get verified and start treating your profile like you do your website or social media platforms- accurate and up-to-date!
Need some help? Whether it’s getting you verified, reversing a suspension, or fully optimizing your local SEO strategy, let us help you start fishing where the fish are… on Google! Drop us a line here!
*You probably guessed it but A&J Vineyard Supply is one of our amazing clients. For the past three years, they have been optimizing and prioritizing their Google Business Profile and their local search SEO and are very much enjoying the fruits (website traffic and qualified leads!) of this strategy