Google Business Profile Optimization Guide
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Whether they’re looking for a donut shop or a local veterinarian, the first thing most people do is turn to Google. The world’s biggest search engine then spits back the top results – including Google Business listings complete with addresses, FAQs, reviews, and more.
Local search revolves around Google Business listings – and if you run a small business, you need to create and optimize your own profile ASAP.
It’s estimated that at least 87% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses in 2022 – up from 63% in 2020. Additionally, Google holds the largest number of business reviews in comparison to any other review platform.
At Foxxr Digital Marketing, we found that our collective clientele received about 50% of their January through March 2023 conversions from Google Business Profile (GBP) alone. In comparison, Google Organic’s conversion rate was around 27.8%.
Your Google Business Profile (also referred to as Google My Business listing), is a free profile with Google. This is where you can input all of your essential information for customers to view, from your business name to your phone number and hours of operation.
If you have a GBP but haven’t optimized it, or if you are just creating your profile, it’s important to check all of the boxes for a strong online presence. It’s not just about having a listing, but about creating a profile that increases visibility and customer attention.
In this Google Business Profile guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about optimizing your GBP – including what an agency can help you with.
Understanding the GBP Basics
Your GBP will appear in both Google Search and Google Maps, where customers can easily find and learn about your business. However, your profile is only as helpful as you make it. That’s why you need to start by uploading all of the right information.
This includes your business’s…
- Business name (DBA)
- Physical address
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Operating hours
- Photos (of location and/or services)
- Reviews from customers
Ensure that all of this information is (a) accurate and (b) consistent with other information about your business on the internet. The last thing you want a GBP to do is to confuse potential customers.
According to Google, customers are 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete Business Profile. Don’t cut corners!
Remember: your Google Business Profile should heavily complement your business’s already-existing website identity. Think of your GBP as another extension of your online presence. You want it to feel cohesive and on-brand.
What Does It Mean to Have an Optimized GBP?
So you’ve dumped all of your business’s information into your GBP – is that it? The answer is probably not, and here’s why.
It’s not just about creating a GBP, but about optimizing it. An optimized Google Business Profile is completely filled out, but it also features careful strategies to…
- Improve local rankings
- Generate more conversions
- Spark better customer engagement
Sounds pretty sweet, right? Let’s talk about some ways to get there, both on your own and with the help of a professional agency.
What Your Team Can Do
(1) Verify Your Google Business Profile
The first step in optimizing a GBP is verifying your profile. In fact, Google will not display unverified businesses, so the rest of your work is pointless until you get verified.
To verify your Google Business Profile, you will need to…
- Sign into your account.
- Select your business.
- Choose a verification method.
- Enter your details.
- Verify with your code.
There are three main ways you can verify your business with Google. The first is to have a postcard mailed directly to your home with a code. The second is to receive a code over the phone using the phone number on your GBP. The third is to request verification via your business’s GBP email address.
Not all businesses are eligible for all verification methods. Google will determine which verification methods are available to your business based on the information in your profile.
If you’re feeling a little confused by the whole verification process, consider turning to an agency that will handle it on your behalf. They’ll ensure you cover all of your bases and fully complete your official GBP verification.
(2) Provide Your Agency with Professional GBP Photos Regularly
No Google Business Profile is truly optimized without professional photos. Sure, user-submitted photos in reviews are great, but we’re talking about crystal-clear, high-quality images that will bolster your credibility.
The average number of photos on a Google Business Profile varies by industry, with hotels having the highest average of 150 photos and restaurants having an average of 67 photos. At the end of the day, you just don’t want to be that sketchy profile with very few “good” photos.
Make sure you are covering all of your bases by uploading…
- A cover photo
- Interior photos
- Photos of your products & services
You want searchers to get a strong feel for your business based on your profile. Build your credibility and set expectations with photos from the start.
(3) Ask for and Reply to Reviews
As you work on optimizing your Google Business Profile, you need to generate traffic and credibility. The best way to do that? Ask for testimonials.
It’s estimated that up to 98% of people read online reviews for local businesses. If your profile is lacking in customer feedback, that’s a problem for multiple reasons. Not only does it make your profile seem weak and unpopular, but it also gives less information to sway potential customers.
Most times, the best way to garner reviews is simply to ask. Ask in person, via email, or through follow-up surveys – however, you can best get customers to take action and leave feedback.
(4) Update Your Holiday Hours
Are you going to be closed on an upcoming holiday? Taking a week off? Always let your customers know via your Google Business Profile.
If you fail to update your hours, people might look at your GBP, see that you’re supposed to be open, then show up to find a closed business… and that’s never good for your reputation. Check your business hours regularly, set special hours when necessary, and always mark temporary closures.
(5) Monitor and Respond to Messaging
We all know customers expect quick results nowadays. If you really want to optimize your profile and be receptive to customers, turn your GBP messaging feature on. Doing so will allow you to…
- Reduce your response times.
- Provide more personalized support.
- Be available when customers need you.
- Increase foot traffic and revenue.
To turn on customer messaging, simply sign into your account and click “turn on messaging” in the menu. You can also customize your automated responses or set up an automated chatbot system for after-hours queries.
Warning: Google will deactivate the messaging feature on your profile if you aren’t responding to messages consistently and in a timely manner. Make sure you stay on top of your chats.
(6) Provide Your Agency With Any Discount, Coupons, and Offers
Should you decide to work with a professional agency to optimize your Google Business Profile, let them know about any promotions or special offers you are running. This is an excellent way to draw traffic to your profile and get people interested in your local business.
What an Agency Can Do
We’ve shown you a handful of ways to easily optimize your GBP. Now, we want to share some of the more complex strategies for optimizing – ones that are best left to professionals with SEO expertise and years of experience.
(1) Optimize Your Profile’s Keywords and Description
Using top-ranking keywords and phrases is a crucial part of ranking well and drawing people to your business.
When you work with a professional agency, their SEO strategists will…
- Conduct competitor keyword research
- Find ways to add keywords naturally
- Stay on top of the latest top-ranking keywords
Additionally, an agency will help you incorporate keywords in your actual business description and in any local posts that are published. Doing so will draw in organic traffic, but it will also help Google better understand the nature and services of your business.
(2) Select the Right Attributes and Categories
Next, GBP allows you to pick descriptive attributes that help Google and visitors understand what your business does. These attributes are easy to select, but they need to be entirely accurate and pertinent.
For example, if you run a restaurant, you can explain if you offer delivery services or just takeout. Adding just a few descriptive tags can dramatically increase your reach and answer important questions from customers.
You can also add more specific attributes such as “wheelchair accessible” or “high chairs.” This can widen your potential customer pool to include everyone from parents to people with disabilities.
The more specific you can get with your attributes, the better – and a professional agency will ensure you’re utilizing as many of the applicable options as possible. Furthermore, they’ll ensure you’re using relevant attributes based on the nature of your business. Not every attribute or category is a good fit for your business, and you might have different options in your dashboard as a result.
(3) Sync GBP With Bing Places
This is a task that intimidates many local businesses – but it’s a crucial part of optimizing any GBP. Syncing a Google Business Profile with Bing Places increases your online visibility and ensures your information is accurate and consistent across the board.
Rather than having to manually alter your profiles on Bing Places and Google Business, it’s best to sync the profiles for automatic updates. An agency will help you do that so that you can save time and make the changes instantly.
(4) Regularly Update/Fill Out the FAQ Section
Google Business Profiles permit anyone to ask questions about your business – and anyone can answer. Although this is sometimes useful in educating customers, it also means that people could be providing incorrect or outdated information about your business in the FAQs.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to stay on top of questions and answers. Make sure you are asking and answering questions regularly, as well as monitoring for incorrect answers.
Bonus: experienced agencies know to use the FAQ section as a place to increase your keyword usage. They may even add questions and answers of their own (owner-seeded FAQs), based on competitor and keyword research.
(5) Monitor Messaging
We already mentioned that you could turn on the messaging feature for your Google Business Profile – and that it’s important to keep up with your responses, or Google will deactivate it.
If your team is too busy (or too short on manpower) to regularly respond to messages, it might be best to outsource the task to professionals with more time and availability. Not only will this ensure you keep customers happy with quick responses, but it will also show Google that you take your messaging responsibilities seriously. X
The bottom line is that messaging directly impacts your online visibility and conversion rates. If you want to see those things improve, it’s smart to work with professionals.
(6) Build Local Landing Pages for Multiple GBP locations
Does your business have multiple locations and, therefore, multiple GBP listings? Then it’s a smart idea to talk to an agency about building local landing pages for all of your individual business locations.
Doing so can improve searchers’ experiences by giving them unique landing pages specific to their geographic location. Additionally, local landing pages increase your online visibility and boost conversions by targeting more specific audiences.
Note: it’s also critical that you put your local landing page URL as the website in your GBP dashboard.
A local SEO agency will create local landing pages that are accurate, highly visible to Google, and designed to bolster your reputation. SEO experts will even test and monitor the individual pages to ensure they are effectively contributing to your business goals.
(7) Respond to and Monitor Customer Reviews
We already talked about asking for reviews on Google, but now we’re talking about managing them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a nasty comment or glowing praise – an agency will help you respond to reviews in a way that bolsters your reputation.
It’s estimated that about 25% of your company’s valuation comes directly from its reputation. Even just one negative review can cause catastrophic damage – but an excellent response to a bad review can also improve your reputation in the public’s eye.
Be tactful, polite, and gracious when responding to comments, and don’t wait to address them. Thank customers for their positive feedback, and address problems in negative comments immediately.
Handling all of these reputation management tasks can be time-consuming. That’s why many people choose to outsource them to an agency. It’s the best way to stay on top of your reputation and address feedback rapidly.
(8) Post Regularly
It’s estimated that 79% of brands fail to publish content consistently – and that’s hurting their GBP’s effectiveness. Regularly publishing GBP posts is an excellent way to keep engaging customers (and draw new ones in).
We get it – you’re busy. That’s why it’s often best to outsource GBP post creation to a team of specialists. An agency will publish content to your profile at least once a week, if not more.
Consistent GBP content shows customers that you are active and evolving. It also gives you a chance to hit on the latest keywords and address new trends, topics, or questions presented within your industry.
(9) Apply Local Schema
You might have heard about applying the local schema to your website, but it’s also a smart thing to do for your Google Business Profile. A professional agency will help you create a specific schema markup that focuses on providing information about your business to Google, including your…
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- And more
That information is already likely included in your GBP – but an agency will write the local schema in a format that search engines can more easily read and understand. This helps Google better crawl your website, which can, in turn, improve your business’s online visibility and user experience.
(10) Optimize the GBP Product Catalog
If your profile is eligible to showcase products, take advantage. Google’s Product Catalog is available to many small and medium-sized businesses, and it allows them to highlight their best products in an extremely effective way.
Of course, products submitted via the Product Editor must adhere to Google’s Shopping Ads Policy and contain appropriate content. If you violate Google’s policy, it may result in the removal of the entire product catalog.
To avoid such problems, you may want to turn GBP Product Catalog tasks over to the experts. They’ll ensure you’re posting the right products in the right way (and staying on Google’s good side).
Even if you run a service-based business, you can still take advantage of the product showcases in the GBP dashboard. Simply list your services as products in the catalog.
(11) Setup a Virtual Tour
If you really want to go the extra mile, consider offering a short video on your profile that walks people through…
- Who you are
- What you do
- Where you are
- How you operate
Note: you’ll need to ensure your video meets Google’s length, file size, and resolution requirements. A grainy video filmed on an old iPhone certainly isn’t going to do the trick for customers or for search engines.
Additionally, you’ll need to title videos correctly with the help of the right keywords. This is a great opportunity to expand your SEO reach and pull in more traffic.
To ensure your GBP video is up to snuff, you might want to partner with a video marketing agency. Not only will they have the equipment you need to film a great video, but they’ll also know how to best caption, share, and utilize the video for your benefit.
(12) Build Citations
This time-consuming, complicated task is a popular one to outsource to an agency. Building citations for a Google Business Profile involves…
- Creating a comprehensive listing on industry-relevant platforms
- Ensuring consistency across all sources
- Claiming and updating existing citations
- Submitting new citations as necessary
Chances are, your team doesn’t have the bandwidth (or perhaps the know-how) to keep up with every citation source out there. Working with an agency is the best way to ensure your business is listed in all of the right places – and that its information stays up-to-date and consistent across every citation.
(13) Remove Duplicate Profile Listings
If you’re unfamiliar with Google Business, you might have multiple Google Maps listings – and that’s a big problem. Duplicate listings confuse both customers and Google and should be removed immediately.
However, doing so is often easier said than done and requires you to report the false listing to Google. Rather than wasting your time hunting down duplicate listings and reporting them, it might be best to outsource the problem to a team that can handle it quickly and easily.
(14) Set Up Service Areas
If you work with customers across multiple locations, it’s essential that you set up service areas on your Google Business Profile. You can easily do that from your GBP dashboard by adding to the “list of areas you serve” section of your profile.
However, things can get out of hand quickly, especially if you have a vast list of cities, counties, or regions that you want to target. By partnering with an experienced agency, you can learn how to best optimize your profile to reach your most coveted service areas and attract more business.
An agency won’t just slap service areas on your profile and call it a day. Instead, they’ll use careful strategies to ensure you’re targeting individual locations with the correct keywords and language. The goal isn’t just to get your name in several service areas but to actually garner more conversions in different areas.
(15) Monitor the Competition and Fight Spam
You’ve got a lot on your plate – and you likely don’t have the necessary time to conduct frequent recon on your competitors. That’s why you might want to hire an agency to do it for you.
A professional agency will keep an eye on the competition to see how they’re using their GBP profiles, including how they’re categorizing their businesses, posting reviews, and interacting with customers. The best agencies also use tools like Google Alerts and SEMrush to keep track of competitors’ activities.
In doing so, your partner agency will find the best ways to optimize your Google Business Profile (and ensure you don’t fall behind the competition).
Additionally, it’s an agency’s job to regularly check your GBP for spam, including issues like keyword stuffing, inaccurate business information, etc. Even just one spam message can detract from your business’s credibility, which is why many companies prefer to have an agency looking out for them 24/7.
(16) Optimize Your GBP Landing Page
When someone searches for your business via Google, your GBP landing page is the first thing they’ll find – and it needs to stand out in the best way. Although you may have already filled out all of the landing page information, an agency will polish it until it shines (for both Google and your potential customers).
From double-checking every relevant field to adding high-quality photos, a professional agency will ensure you’ve dotted every I and crossed every T.
(17) Update All Services
Lastly, as your business grows and evolves, an agency will continuously update your GBP to include new services and offerings. Although you could do this yourself, it’s time-consuming work that never truly ends – and outsourcing service updates ensures your profile is always accurate and up-to-date.
Digital marketing agencies help clients update their profiles, but they also help them identify opportunities for improvement. If they see a service your competitors have started to offer, they’ll even let you know so that you can adjust your offerings and GBP accordingly.
Need Help Monitoring or Improving Your Google Business Profile?
In today’s search-based market, an optimized Google Business Profile is the key to improving online visibility and driving traffic to your business. If you haven’t put effort into fine-tuning your profile, now’s the time to do so.
At Foxxr Digital Marketing, we’re here to help. Our expertise spans from local SEO strategies to content marketing and beyond. It doesn’t matter if your GBP is nonexistent or underdeveloped – we’ll get it where it needs to be.
More importantly, we’ll help you implement an overarching Google Business Strategy. From posting regular updates to syndicating social media content, we’ll ensure your GBP is working overtime to support your business.
To get started with our GBP services, request a proposal today. One of our award-winning SEO experts will reach out with insights into what your business needs.