Ranking higher on Google search results is more important than ever. With almost every search happening on Google, building, nurturing and optimizing your Google Business Profile can result in tons of long-lasting, locally-focused, free traffic for your business.
A recent Birdeye study shows that:
- 65% of consumers use search engines to find a local business. Google being the largest search engine, gets the lion share of this.
- Customers are spending more time reading reviews in their purchase decision process. Birdeye research revealed that 92% of respondents read more than 2 reviews while 50% of respondents claimed to read more than 5 reviews before choosing a business.
- 67% of all customer reviews are written on Google.
These strongly demonstrate the importance of having easy to find reviews. And without an active Google Business Profile, how would customers write reviews for your business?
Google Business Profile (previously known as Google My Business) can help you accurately make your case to your clients, showcase the locations you serve, and boost online visibility for your business.
In this comprehensive guide, we talk about how to create, maintain and optimize your Business Profile to help you stand out from the competition and show up on the first page of Google.
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Getting started with Google My Business
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a free, easy-to-use Business Profile for companies to provide business information, attract customers, and rank higher in Google search results. The profile controls how your company appears in Google search and Google Maps results.
The search giant currently has millions of Google My Business accounts across nearly 4,000 business categories. Mastering this Google feature can help businesses reach customers and build a stronger online reputation.
Why you need a Google My Business account
Google experts confirm that 91% of business searches occur on Google. It becomes immensely imperative for local businesses to establish a presence here and become more visible than their competitors.
Most of these searches are from potential customers looking for the best product, validation of a product/service based on reviews, and finding deals. Having a Google My Business can help you become visible in those searches and drive growth for your company.
More and more people are choosing local businesses over large brands. In fact, a Birdeye survey reveals that 67% of consumers agreed that they purchased products or services from a local business in a week. And search engines like Google are their preferred method to decide which local business to go with.
The bottom line: If you want potential customers looking for local businesses to spot you, the first step is to have a Google My Business account.
What are the benefits of Google My business?
Organic marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of digital marketing. But an updated Google My Business profile can help you make the most of it. If you are wondering what a Google Business listing can do for you, the answer is: plenty. You can transform it from a simple business listing to one of the most effective digital marketing tools for your business.
Here is a list of benefits of Google My Business that you can leverage:
Get discovered on Google
A major benefit of having a Google Business Profile is search engine optimization (SEO). It helps your prospects find the information about your business they need in order to become customers. That’s because your Business Profile helps Google’s algorithm understand the type of services your company offers, which translates to a higher search ranking.
“Top four local ranking factors are – accuracy in business information, data visibility, availability of local-intent content, and Google Business Profile optimization." - Steve Wiideman, Wiideman Consulting
Most existing companies will already have a Google Business Profile. However, only 44% of companies have claimed their Profile. This means the majority of companies are making it harder for potential customers to find them online.
Engage with prospects
Google strongly believes that your Google My Business account is a great way to engage with prospects and existing customers. Take a look at a few of the ways you can drive engagement on your Business Profile.
Share accurate business information
When a customer searches online for a business, the search results often show duplicate directory listings with conflicting information. The first one of those is usually your Google knowledge panel that derives from your Google My Business account, if you have one. Updating multiple sources with accurate business information is difficult, but you can make sure customers find the right information by managing your Google My Business from the start.
Pro tip: Be sure to list all the products and services you offer on your profile to make it the one true source of your business information.
Chat with consumers on Google
Make it easy for potential customers to communicate directly from your Google Business Profile by enabling Google Business Message. When you enable the business chat feature, customers can message your business directly from Search and ask questions about store timings, product offerings, and so much more. You can set up automated replies or assign a team member to handle the messages.
Allow prospective customers to book appointments from Google Search
Customers searching on Google for service providers have a high purchase intent. It is important for businesses to help customers close the loop on transactions via their Google Business Profile itself. By integrating appointment booking solutions with your Google My Business account, you can avoid waiting around for your customers to call and confirm appointments within a click. This also increases customer convenience by avoiding switching to another platform (your business website) or having to call the store/office. This especially comes in handy for healthcare, legal, and restaurant businesses where it is important for customers to book appointments quickly with ease.
If you have enabled the business chat feature (Google Messages), you can help your customers reach you and complete all transactions from one single place, driving convenience and customer delight higher.
As a business, having the option to book appointments right from the Google Business Profile means reducing the lead time between considering and booking. If the customer finds everything they want in your profile (like business hours, contact information and appointment booking facility), they’ll end up booking the service instead of continuing the search. Having that influence on prospective customers and reducing friction in the overall sales process comes in handy for businesses.
Promote products and events via posts
Do you have a new product launch or a sale event coming up? Updating this information on your Google My Business account can help you promote this to all the people who make local searches every day.
You can create content, post updates, and share images, answer FAQs, create events, and so much more with your audience with just a click.
Google displays these prominently under the Updates section and “From the Owner” section. Businesses can generate a lot of views for their content by promoting them via Google Posts.
Adding promotional content for your business in your Google My Business account also ensures that they get picked under the Google Shopping tab and generate views.
Gain credibility with reviews
An active Google My Business account makes it easy for businesses to generate and respond to customer reviews, as well as handle review management effectively. When a business consistently generates reviews and responds to them promptly, it shows customers that they care about the feedback and their online reputation. Customers are more likely to trust such businesses over businesses without any social proof on the internet.
Get a free Google knowledge panel
The Google knowledge panel makes businesses look reputable and establishes more credibility on the Internet. Getting a Google knowledge panel to appear for your business can be tough and involve a lot of steps. However, the easiest way to do so is to set up a Google My Business account and claim it.
Tips to use your Google Profile for SEO
Google reviews help your SEO
It’s not just customers who value reviews. Google’s search engine algorithm values them, too. Hundreds of great reviews show that your company provides great services and Google aims to provide the best results for every user search. Lots of glowing reviews mean you have a better chance of ranking high for relevant search terms. This is especially important for local SEO where reviews can help you boost credibility. For more information, check out our comprehensive guide to Google reviews.
Post regularly on Google My Business
Google cares about user experience and is constantly looking for signals to see how people interact with a business via link clicks, bounce rates, and time spent on a website.
By posting regularly on Google My Business, you can improve the exposure rate for your content, increase website traffic and link clicks on your content. This in turn improves your authority in Google and boosts your SEO efforts.
Chapter 2: Create or claim your Google My Business Profile
How to claim your existing unverified Google listing
As we mentioned earlier, most businesses have a Google My Business but fail to claim it. So before you consider creating a fresh account for your company, check to see if the profile already exists. If it does, then claim it.
You can claim your Google My Business account by accessing it via the Search page or on Google Maps. Here’s how to do it.
Claim Google Business Profile from Google (step-by-step process)
- Go to Google and search for your business name with the location — “Example: Starbucks California Garden Square.”
- Scroll down to see the Google knowledge panel and click on “Own this Business?”.
- A screen offering to help you “Manage the business” appears.
- Verify the business (steps in the next section) to claim the Google My Business account.
Claim Google Business Profile from Google Maps (Step by Step process)
You can also claim your Google Business Profile via Google Maps. Follow these steps to do so:
- Open Google Maps and type your business name with the location in the search bar.
- Click the button that says ‘Own this business?’
- If the listing has already been claimed by someone else, you’ll see this screen. Maybe someone else in your company has already claimed it earlier. You have the option to either request access from the business owner or, if you don’t know who the owner is, to appeal to Google.
- If the listing hasn’t been claimed, you’ll see this screen. Click the button that says “Manage Now.”
- Once your profile is claimed, Google will ask you to verify your business before proceeding.
Verify your Google Business Profile
The last step in claiming your existing Google My Business account is to verify your business on Google. To do so:
- Choose your desired verification process after choosing the “Get Verified” option from the Google My Business dashboard. You can receive verification codes via text, email, video, or phone. Some listings require multiple verification processes.
- Complete the process per the instructions on the screen.
- Wait for Google to verify your credentials and handover the Profile to you.
For detailed information on verification, check Birdeye’s detailed blog article on verifying your business on Google.
How to request access to a GMB account managed by someone else
What if the Google My Business account for your company already exists but is managed by someone else? This happens if an ex-employee or consultant holds the credentials for your account. It’s also possible that the business has been taken over by a new party while the previous owner hasn’t shared the Google Business Profile credentials.
According to Google, there are two ways to handle this dispute:
- The current owner or the employer can reach out to the person who holds the credentials and ask them to hand over ownership.
- File a dispute claim with Google and wait for a resolution. Once you’ve filed an access request with Google, the current Profile owner has three days to respond. If they don’t, your request will be accepted and you will get a notification enabling you to manage the listing. If the request is denied, you can contact Google to submit an edit to the profile or appeal the decision.
Request access to Google Business Profile using the create page on Google
You can also request access to your Google Business Profile via the create page on Google.
- Go to the Google create page.
- Type your business name on the first page. If there is an existing listing, it will show up here.
- Select the listing from the dropdown.
- You will see a page that informs you that someone else is managing the listing. Click on “Request Access.” On the next page, add your details and submit the request.
How to set up your Google Business Profile from scratch
If you encounter a scenario where your Google Business Profile doesn’t exist, you may have to create it from scratch.
In such cases, you have two options. You can add your business on Google via:
- Google Maps
- Google create page
Set up your Google Business Profile via Google Maps
- Open Google Maps on your mobile device.
- Choose the location of your business on the map.
- Right click and then click on “Add your business.”
- Follow the instructions to complete adding your business.
Set up your Google Business Profile via the create page
- Sign into your Google account and go to the create page.
- Click on “Add your business on Google.”
- Enter your business name and the business category.
- Click Next and choose whether you want to enter your store’s location. If you choose yes, you will be required to add location details.
- Proceed and add the service area of your business.
- Enter your website URL and phone number.
- Click finish after all the information is filled.
- Proceed with verifying the listing based on the verification code options available.
Chapter 3: Optimizing your Google Business Profile
Why is it important to optimize your Google Business Profile
Optimizing your Google Business Profile ensures that:
- Your Profile shows up for the right keywords and your business is discovered by your target audience.
- Your potential customers are able to locate all relevant information about your business easily from your profile.
- You can increase brand awareness organically.
- Your sales team is able to convert leads faster by leveraging the trustworthiness the Business Profile creates.
How to optimize your Google Business Profile for optimum performance
Optimizing your Google business listing includes updating branding material in the profile picture and cover photo section, publishing news articles, and maintaining consistency with all other listings.
To modify, edit or optimize your Google My Business listing, you can start with a quick Google search.
If you’re already signed in to your business google account, you will see the Google My Business dashboard right above the search results.
Here are a few optimizations that can boost the performance of your Google Business Profile.
Edit and update business information
Your Google My Business account is your digital storefront. Potential customers will base their first impressions on this profile. To make the most of your efforts, make sure your Business Profile stays up-to-date at all times. It is very important to keep your name, address, and phone number up-to-date for customers to find you.
Whenever you switch business hours, delivery options, phone numbers, or product offerings, remember to update your Profile simultaneously.
To edit business information on your Google My Business account:
- Sign in to your Google account linked to the business and click on “Business Profiles” from the App launcher icon.
- A screen pops up with five tabs: About, Contact, Location, Hours, and More.
- Based on what you wish to update, choose the appropriate tab.
- If you’re editing basic business information, choose the “About” tab and enter all necessary information in detail. You can edit business name, category, and business description within this section.
- To edit phone number, website URL, and business short name, choose the Contact tab and make the edits.
- If the location of your business is inaccurate, you can edit that in the Location section along with the service areas.
- Edit business hours, holidays, and related details in the Hours section.
- The more section allows you to add details on amenities, dining, payment, and service options so that customers can make an informed decision. The more details you have, the higher your chances of lead conversion are.
Add photos and videos to your Business Profile
We strongly recommend adding photos to your Google My Business account. Use professional business photos that show products, services, store layouts, interior shots, exterior shots, and so on. These can clarify customer queries and motivate people to choose you over your competitors.
According to Google, companies with photos get 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more clicks to their website than companies with no photos.
Google recommends having three relevant business photos for each of the following categories:
- Exterior photos
- Interior photos
- Product photos
- Photos at work
- Food & drink photos
- Common areas
- Team photos
You can also add video to your Business Profile on Google. While people don’t often take the time to read a lengthy article (you are the exception), they’re more than happy to watch a quick video. It can be a great way to show off your brand’s personality through video.
To add photos:
- Sign in to your Google My Business account.
- Choose Add photos from the Google My Business dashboard.
- Choose the type of photo you wish to upload: Choose Photo option to add photo posts, event updates, product photos, and more. Logo and cover photo options allow you to upload your branding material to your Google My Business account.
Here are Google’s recommendations for adding Google My Business photos and videos to your Google My Business account. You can use free tools to edit the photos and videos to make them compliant to these standards.
Google My Business photo recommendations:
- Format: Either JPEG or PNG.
- Image size: Between 10KB and 5MB.
- Recommend profile photo size: 720 x720 pixels (minimum 250 x 250; maximum 5,300 x 5,300).
- Recommended cover photo size: 1,080 x 608 pixels (minimum 480 x 270; maximum 2,120 x 1,192).
- Quality: Google says that photos on your profile “should represent reality.” That means it is better not to use filters or alter images while uploading.
Google My Business video guidelines
- Length: Up to 30 seconds long
- Resolution: At least 720p
- Video size: 100 MB or lower.
Update the list of services you provide
People usually look for specific service providers on Google. Having an exhaustive list of services on your Profile can help you show up for relevant Searches and improve your click-through rate to your website as well.
Use Google’s service editor to add or edit services on your profile.
You can choose relevant services from the dropdown or add your own if the service isn’t available.
Add detailed information about the products you offer
Google’s Product editor and Product catalog options are available for small and medium-sized businesses. You can showcase your products via the Product tab on your Google Business Profile.
To make sure people can navigate easily, include detailed descriptions, use cases, and other information about the products in the “business description” section.
Leverage Google posts
Google offers many solutions for businesses to interact with customers and keep them updated on latest happenings. Businesses can use Google posts to:
- Post information on past, current or upcoming events.
- Promote discounts and special offers that are available for a limited time.
This is a great way for businesses to reach out to their customers and entice them to take action.
To create Google posts:
- Sign in to your Google Business account.
- Select the option “Add update” from your business dashboard.
- Choose the update type from the next screen and proceed.
Answer questions in the Q&A section
If a customer has a question about your company, they have the option to ask a question on your Google Business listing. These questions can be answered by a representative within the company or answered by the public.
We recommend that business owners stay on top of questions in your Business Profile. Otherwise, it’s possible that people will get misleading or incorrect answers to their questions, which can have an impact on your reputation.
If you feel someone is abusing your Q&A section and spreading false information about your company, you can flag the question and report it to Google.
To answer questions from your Google My Business account:
- Sign in to your Google account linked to the business.
- Go to your business profile by clicking on the nine dots or app launcher icon on the right.
- Click on the “Q&A” option on the Google My Business dashboard.
- The questions appear on the screen along with any answers people may have submitted. You can then add answers from this screen and clarify any doubts customers have.
Request and respond for reviews
Google reviews boost the visibility and authority of your Google Business Profile. You can generate review requests for your customers right from the Google My Business dashboard by using the following steps:
- Sign in to your Google account linked to the business and search for your business profile.
- Your business dashboard will open.
- Click on the “Get more reviews” option on the dashboard.
- Copy the URL that shows up.
- Send this link to customers with a message asking them to review you on Google.
Once your Google reviews start trickling in, you can also respond right from the dashboard. It is important that your business responds quickly, professionally, and concisely to every review. It shows customers that you care and signals to Google that this is an active business profile.
To respond to Google reviews:
- Sign in to your Google My Business account.
- Click on the Read Reviews tab on the dashboard.
- You will be able to see all reviews here and can respond to them directly.
- You can also see the “X new reviews” section in the second part of the dashboard and respond to the ones that came in recently.
Respond to messages from your Google Profile
If you have opted for the Chat option within your Google My Business account (and you should), you will receive a notification every time a customer sends in a message. You can respond to their questions, share details about relevant products, and even offer customer service right from the chat dashboard.
Set up and manage bookings
If you are a business that books appointments, you can greatly benefit from the “Reserve with Google” feature available via your Google Business Profile. Google allows businesses in the service industry to book appointments directly from their Business Profile.
Google has made this feature available to local businesses in select industries in the United States. With the “Reserve with Google” feature, restaurants, beauty salons, automotive businesses, home service companies, massage centers, gyms, fitness centers, and training centers can offer their customers the ability to request appointments with them easily.
Your customers can now discover, evaluate your business, and instantly book time to avail of a service right from your Google Business Profile. This makes sure that businesses can instantly convert search users into leads and customers, significantly boosting their revenue from this channel.
With the booking request feature, local businesses can capitalize on the lead-generating capabilities of this powerful marketing channel.
Businesses can currently avail this from trusted Google partners like Birdeye.
With Birdeye Appointments, businesses can:
- Add a “Book online” button to their Google Business Profile to collect booking requests from customers
- Manage all appointment requests, reminders, and related conversations from a unified inbox
- Send reminders to customers and avoid no-shows
- Get instant updates on appointment requests on the web and mobile applications
- Scale appointments for their business with a custom widget for their website
Frequently asked questions about Google My Business
To get your business on Google, you must create a Google My Business account. You can add your business on Google or claim an existing Business Profile and then add details so customers can find you easily online.
Yes, a Google My Business account is free. All you need is a Google account to create a Business Profile.
If you haven’t completed the verification process for your Google Business Profile, your business will not show up on Google.
Yes, you can change your business name on Google by using the Edit option on your Google My Business account if you are the business owner or manager of the listing. Make sure that you complete the verification process once the name change is complete so that the new name will appear on Google.
To improve the visibility of your business in Google SERP(search engine result page), make sure all information listed in the Google My Business account is accurate, updated, and the Profile has a steady flow of customer reviews.
To login to your Google business account, simply go to Google.com and sign in to the Google account linked to your business. Then you can either type your business name in the Google search bar or click on the App Launcher icon (9 dot square) and select Business Profile from the drop down.
You can add keywords to your Google My Business account via:
Google Products listing
The GMB website
You can add multiple locations to your Google My Business account by creating a business group in the Google Business Profile Manager. Once you’ve done that, you can add another location in the existing group and manage them from the same Google My Business account.
Go to your Google My Business account and choose the Edit profile section. Next, move to the Location tab and toggle the “Show business address to customers” option to off. Now your business address is hidden from customers.
To promote your business on Google for free, start by asking your customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile. This boosts your reach on the platform. You can also publish updates via Google Posts and promote events, discount offers, and new product launches for free on Google.
You can remove your business from Google by logging into your Google My Business account and choosing Business Profile settings. Click on the “Remove Business Profile” and choose “Remove profile content and managers.”
Beware that all current information will be deleted and this cannot be undone.
To transfer ownership of your Google My Business account, go to your Business Profile and then select “Business Profile settings.” Click on “Add Managers” and enter details of the person you wish to transfer ownership to for your business account. Select the user’s role as primary owner. The ownership is now transferred.
Login to your Google My Business account and edit the Profile to ensure it follows Google guidelines. Apply for reinstatement using this form. You can appeal if your reinstatement request gets denied, it usually takes 2 weeks for Google to respond.
Businesses with 10+ locations must upload a spreadsheet with details on locations within the same profile and send a bulk verification request. They must submit a form and wait for Google to respond via email on the verification status.
Login to your Gmail account with the email address linked to the business.
Click on the App launcher icon on the right hand side top corner.
Click on “Business Profiles.”
Your Google My Business Dashboard will appear.
Google shopping is a feature from the platform that allows customers to discover products across all brands. The products listed in your Google Business Profile are featured here based on the keywords added in the title and description.
Get the most from your Google My Business account
Your Google My Business account is an important first step in the digital marketing process. It is important for every business to maintain an active GoogleMy Business account and leverage it to the fullest.
Birdeye helps you handle every aspect of this journey. With Birdeye, companies can maintain accurate listings, get more reviews, manage and respond to reviews, handle messages, appointments, and booking from a single dashboard.
Find out how Birdeye can help your company boost its Google Business Profile and drive growth.