What is Google Business Profile? An Easy Guide for Business Owners.

What is Google Business Profile?

Few can deny the power a higher Google ranking has on your business growth. The higher up your business is in the search results, the more likely people will be to click over to your site and become a customer.  Learn what Google Business profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is, how you can set it up and reap success for your business.  If you need help, just ask!

Google Business Profile is one of the foundational principles of SEO. And it’s why corporate SEO spending reached a whopping $47.5 billion in 2020 alone.

But for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), competing for the top results against corporations with six-figure marketing budgets can often be a losing game.

That is until you throw local search intent into the mix.

And there are few tools that impact your ability to rank for local online searches as much as your Google Business Profile listing.

If you’ve ever wondered, “What is Google Business Profile?” this guide is for you.

Inside we’ll take a close look at Google Business Profile, why it’s important, how to set your listing up, and more. If you’re an SMB, Google Business Profile is a game-changer. And along the way, you’ll discover what you need to know to use it well.

Table of Contents

What Is Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)?

So, what is Google Business Profile anyway?

Simply put, Google Business Profile is a tool that businesses can use to gain more visibility on the web. It lets you manage and optimize your Business Profile on Google.

Think of it as an enormous online business directory. But unlike other third-party directories, the information pops up on the most widely-used search engine the world has ever seen.

As you can imagine, leveraging the massive reach of Google (with 63,000 search queries per second) can mean pretty great things for your business.

Beyond just the visibility factor, there’s also tons of helpful functionality within GBP. With it, you can connect with your customers, expand your audience, and showcase your business’s unique personality, all with a single Business Profile.

Where Is My Business Profile Displayed?

Google uses this profile to display information across three main areas of its search functionality.

First, there’s Google Search. We all know what Google Search is. But when a search term is used that matches up with a local business, that triggers what’s known as the Local Pack (it also goes by the “3-Pack” or “Snack Pack”).

It looks a little like this:

Google Business Profile - Google Maps

Next up is Google Maps. Maps pull from your Business Profile to include important information like your exact location, delivery options, and more to populate your business info on Maps.

Google Business Profile - Google Maps

Last but not least, there’s the Knowledge Panel. The Knowledge Panel appears at the right edge of your Google search. For most searches, it’s populated by broad information on the search term (like “pizza” below). But in some cases, it can also use information about specific businesses if the search is specific enough.

Google Business Profile - Knowledge Panel

What Is the Purpose of Google Business Profile (GBP)?

As we said before, GBP can be a game-changer for businesses.

But why?

Below are four of the best reasons to fill out your Google Business Profile listing as soon as humanly possible.

Helps Deliver More Accurate Search Results

GBP was developed in response to the fact that so many people searching online are looking for local solutions. Beyond that, people looking for local solutions are typically ready to buy.

Just have a look at these stats from HubSpot to get a better idea of how impactful local search is.

  • 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
  • “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. (Source: Chat Meter)
  • 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
  • 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Source: Nectafy)
  • 18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day, whereas only 7% of non-local searches led to a sale. (Source: Think with Google)
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase. (Source: SEO Tribunal)

By adding in GBP, Google was able to cater to that need for more local results.

Levels the Playing Field for SMBs

First and foremost, it gives small and medium-sized businesses a leg up on national competitors.

Here’s how.

When you search for something on Google (“window company near Maryland Heights”), the organic results are going to be what you’d expect: a list of window companies. These brands have a high domain authority and are having their overall SEO managed. That’s why they’re able to grab the top spots in organic results.

Yet when Google detects “local intent” in the search phrase (meaning a search for something nearby), it delivers local results for that phrase above the organic results. The Local Pack, then, essentially shows you local results over global results.

Check it out below.

Google Business Profile - Local vs Organic Results

Filling out your Google Business Profile listing is a key component to any successful local SEO strategy. And in the end, it simply helps local customers find your business.

Speeds Up the Buyer’s Journey

Setting up your Google Business Profile listing also lets you qualify potential customers and let your audience know more about your business.

For instance, you can share menu items, products you have in stock, services you offer, and more—all right from your GBP listing. That way, people researching your business on the web can quickly determine if you’re selling what they’re after.

Plus, Google Business Profile also displays reviews of your business right on your listing. This in turn builds trust among prospective customers and can help streamline the buyer’s journey, leading to easier sales.

How Do I Claim My Business on Google?

The good news is your business may already be on GBP. And if that’s the case, all you have to do is claim it to gain ownership.

It’s worth noting that if you’re on Google Business Profile, you should definitely prioritize claiming the listing. It’s the only way to ensure the information on the listing is accurate, reviews from customers are being responded to by you (not an imposter), and customers get reliable updates on happenings in your store.

Luckily, Google makes claiming your business listing pretty simple. Here’s how.

Step 1: Find Your Business Listing

Head over to the Google Business Profile to “create” a new listing and log in to your account. From there, type in the name of your business to see active listings that match your name.

Be sure to try different variations (i.e., without “the”, adding an apostrophe, etc.) as the original may not be entirely grammatically accurate.

Google Business Profile - Create Account

Step 2: Request Access

After you’ve found your business, you’ll be directed to the screen below. Click “Request Access” to send a notification to the current listing owner after filling out the form that follows.

It’s a waiting game after that, unfortunately. If you hear back and ownership has been transferred, then you’re all set! But if not, or if your request is denied, your next steps are to reach out to the GBP Help Community.

Be sure to see if you recognize the current owner’s email address using the hint provided, too. Who knows? You may already be the owner and just used another address to register the listing.

Alternatively, you may also be directed to another screen if the listing isn’t managed. From there, just click “Manage Now” to claim the listing.

Google Business Profile - Business Claimed

Why Isn’t My Business Showing Up on Google?

If you can’t seem to locate your business using Google Search, Google Maps, or the Google Business Listing “create” page, your business likely does not have an active listing.

Your next steps here are to create your Google Business Profile listing. But don’t worry! It’s free. It’s relatively easy to do. And many businesses can be on Google in less than an hour. Just follow the steps in the next section to get started.

If, however, you have created a Google Business Profile listing and you’re still not seeing your listing show up, there’s another problem afoot.

Head over to this Google support page to find out what that problem might be.

How to Get My Business on Google

If you don’t have an active listing on Google Business Profile, it’s time to create one.

GBP is one of the most powerful factors for ranking on local intent searches. Plus, it’s free and surprisingly simple to set up your listing. Just follow the steps below to start listing your business across Google Search, Google Maps, and on the Google Knowledge Panel.

Google Business Profile - Manage Listing

Step 1. Log In to Your Account

To get started, just head to the Google Business Profile and login to your Google account.

Be sure to use the Google account you actually want to be associated with your business (not your personal one if you can help it). You can always create a new account too if you don’t already have one for business use.

Step 2. Start Your Listing

After logging in, you’ll be directed to the screen below. First, confirm your business doesn’t already have a listing by typing in its name in the search field.

If it does have a listing, you can click on it and then request access or manage it if it isn’t managed already.

If it doesn’t have a listing, click “Add your business to Google” to create one.

Google Business Profile - Find

Step 3. Add Your Business Name

Simple step here. Just add your business name.

Be sure you’re grammatically accurate here, of course (unlike the fictional store name with the extra apostrophe pictured below).

Google Business Profile - Start Here

Step 4. Add Your Business Category

Next up, choose the category that best describes your business. Don’t worry too much about this step, as you can change your business categories later.

That being said, if you can’t find one that matches yours exactly, try broadening your search terms (e.g., “salon” vs. “nail salon”) and choosing the closest fit.

Google Business Profile categories are continually expanding, too (you can find a pretty consistent repository of current categories here). So be sure to check in regularly to see if there are new categories that more accurately describe your business.

Google Business Profile - Choose Categories

Step 5. Confirm If You Have a Storefront

If you have a physical storefront that customers can visit, click “yes” on this screen.

Google Business Profile - Location

Step 6. Add Your Address

Plugin your address details here. Make sure you’re completely accurate here (e.g., including suite numbers) to make sure you don’t run the risk of creating duplicate listings.

Google Business Profile - AddressStep 7. Do You Deliver?

If you deliver goods or conduct home/office visits for your customers, go ahead and click yes here.

Google Business Profile - Deliveries
Deliveries

Step 8. Add Delivery Areas

This screen gives you the opportunity to provide your delivery areas to your listing. You can add multiple areas to your listing and even update them later as your business expands.

Google Business Profile - Service Areas

Step 9. Add Phone Number & Website

This next screen lets you add your phone number and current website URL.

If you don’t have a current website, Google actually gives you the option to create a fully free and fully optimized website that’s hosted on their servers.

This basic site will pull in information from your listing and automatically update if you make any changes. The free version URL uses your business name at their “business.site” domain, but there are paid options to get your own custom domain too.

You can learn more about the free website option here.

It’s worth noting that this site is quite basic. Most small businesses should probably aim to develop their own site eventually.

Google Business Profile - Business Contact Info

Step 10. Turn On Updates

You’ll probably want to turn this on to stay updated on new GBP trends and recommendations.

Google actually has a pretty robust set of resources to help SMBs thrive on their platform. If you have the time, reading through their suggestions can really help you optimize your listing.

Google Business Profile - Stay Updated

Step 11. Verify Your Listing

Google’s verification process is a bit on the strict side. But considering how much your GBP listing matters for your rankings, that’s more of a good thing than a bad one.

On this page, you’ll be able to choose which method you’d like to use to verify your business.

  • Postcard Verification – All businesses are given the postcard verification option. With this option, Google will send a postcard to your business’s physical address (it can take 5 business days). Just follow the instructions on the card to verify your business.
  • Email Verification – Some business types will be able to verify simply through email. Here Google will send a unique code to the registered Google email address. All you have to do then is a plug that code into this screen—simple.
  • Phone Verification – Like the email method, this verification method will ask you to insert a unique code, this time delivered through an automated call to your business. Again though, not all businesses will qualify for this verification method.

Businesses that have verified their business website with Google Search Console will also have the Instant Verification option. Businesses managing more than ten locations will have the option for Bulk Verification too.

Google Business Profile - Verify Your Listing

Step 12. Use Your Dashboard

After that, you’ll be directed to your brand-new Google Business Profile dashboard.

From here, you can drill down into the details about your business.

What kinds of products and services do you offer? Do you have any business updates you want to share? What about photos, frequently asked questions, and special hours?

You can tackle all this information and more right from your dashboard, so be sure to bookmark it and return here regularly to optimize your listing.

You can also get actionable insights about your listing too, like:

  • How are visiting your site through your listing
  • How many people ask for directions
  • How many people called your business
  • How many people are looking at your photos

These can all help shape your marketing efforts going forward.

Google Business Profile - Dashboard

What Can I Do to Optimize My Google Business Profile Listing?

Setting up your Google Business Profile listing is a powerful step towards climbing the local rankings. But it’s really only the first step.

If you want to give your business an edge over your competitors and reach more customers than ever, you’ve got to spend time optimizing your listing.

What does optimizing your listing mean? Basically, it’s adding as much info about your business as possible and keeping your pages updated. And thankfully, Google Business Profile gives you plenty of ways to do just that.

Add More Info/Media

It’s important to include as much information about your business as possible when filling out your GBP listing.

Do you have special hours? Are you a minority-owned business? What are your accessibility options? How do you handle health protocols?

There are lots of different areas for you to fill in details about your business. And the more you add, the better you’ll be representing your business to prospective customers.

You’ll also want to add photos and videos to your listing. For restaurants, hotels, and retail stores, this is a great place to showcase your space. For service providers, try to include media about successful jobs you’ve completed.

List Your Products

You can also add your products directly to your Google Business Profile listing.

What’s great about this option is that these products actually show up directly in your listing. That means potential customers don’t have to go through your site to see if you’re offering what they’re looking for.

You can see below that when you search “the Beloit mattress company” in Maps, you can head straight to The Beloit Mattress Company products right from the search page.

Google Business Profile - Promote Products

 

Ask for & Respond to Reviews

Reviews are a critical component in the success of your business. Not only do reviews help build trust among your potential customers. But your business reviews also affect how Google ranks you in your local searches.

That’s why it’s so important to regularly ask customers to review your business on Google.

Build the requests into your current processes. Reach out to satisfied clients. Add links to your social accounts. Whatever you can do to solicit real, honest reviews, you should be doing.

You’ll also want to regularly respond to negative reviews. Doing so can turn an unsatisfied customer around while also showing potential customers that you take customer feedback seriously—never a bad thing.

Publish Posts

Google Business Profile also lets you keep your audience updated by adding posts to your listing.

Posts are essentially updates to your business. These posts can cover recent changes to your menu, special hours for upcoming holidays, staffing changes, seasonal discounts—basically anything.

While these posts may not directly affect your ranking, they do fill out your listing and offer more clickability than competitors without them.

Just be sure you’re following Google’s guidelines.

Take Advantage of Questions & Answers

The questions and answers section is another great way to optimize your listing.

Here, potential customers can get the low down on some of their frequently asked questions about your business. The information here helps qualify customers, speed up the buyer’s journey, and gives you valuable insights about your audience.

That being said, it’s important that you take control of your questions and answers from the outset. Anyone can both ask and answer questions about your business. So if you want this section to only reflect the most accurate information, you’ll want to closely monitor and respond to new questions faster than the random web surfer.

You can also pose and answer questions yourself for even better results, similar to an FAQ page on your website.

And like other listing optimizations, you can reach questions and answers right from Maps. Here’s what that looks like for The Beloit Mattress Company.

Google Business Profile - Q&A

Who Offers Google Business Profile Management?

As you can see, making the most of your Google Business Profile listing takes work. There’s setting up your profile properly, optimizing your business info and description, adding in regular content, responding to reviews, and more.

It’s no exaggeration to say keeping up with it all can take tens of hours every single week—and that’s the time most business owners just don’t have.

That’s where Google Business Profile management services come in.

When you work with a Google Business Profile management service, you get to skip all that hassle entirely. Instead, a qualified professional will create and maintain your listing for you. And when you find the right service, they’ll keep your listing optimized to drive more traffic to your door.

That’s exactly what we do for businesses in the St. Louis area. At Studio C5, our monthly Google Business Profile management services take care of your entire listing from start to finish.

That includes:

  • Claiming and creating your unique local listing
  • Optimizing your business information for your location
  • Setting up your photos, products, FAQs, and more
  • Handling your backend and developing reporting
  • Building local and niche citations
  • Building link intersect (backlinks to your site where your competitors are listed)
  • Generating fresh weekly photo and post content
  • Ongoing management of FAQ, services, products, and more!

To get an idea of how well your business could be ranking online, click below to get your Free SEO Audit now.

Get Your Free SEO Audit

And if you want to discover what an optimized Google Business Profile listing could be doing for you or want to learn more about our services, you can request a free consultation today.

But no matter what you do, don’t let your Google Business Profile listing go to waste.