How to make the most out of your Google Business Profile.
Summer is just around the corner here in Michigan. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are chirping. We do our penance nine months of the year for the next three months of summertime bliss. That’s why I was excited when I was walking down the street the other day around noon and saw a new pop-up restaurant I’ve wanted to try. I took my place in line behind another customer at the order window. Here’s what happened next:
Other Customer: Do you have a menu I can look at?
Owner: We’re closed.
Me: (After waiting for my turn.) I noticed you said you weren’t open. When are you open?
Owner: 5 PM.
Me: (Looks around for a sign with hours.) Is there something here that shows your hours? (So I could obviously come back.)
Owner: It’s online.
Me: Okay, then. (Awkward silence. Walks away.)
I must have caught the owner in the middle of something because you would think they’d want to help. Then again, maybe they were being helpful, and I just needed to get with the times? The owner stopped short of telling me to “Google it,” but they might as well have. I went online and Googled the business to find more information. Low and behold, I saw their hours, photos of their food, reviews, and even a message from the owner.
It’s no surprise that the answer was waiting for me on Google. The search engine has become ubiquitous for finding information online. According to Statcounter, in June 2022, a whopping 92% of all search queries conducted across all search engine providers are done through Google. (Fun Fact: The verb "google" was added to Oxford English Dictionary sixteen years ago this week on June 15, 2006.)
A Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a free Google business listing where companies provide information and photos about their business, including the location, phone number, website, products, and services. The service launched in June 2014. Google launched Google My Business as a way to help local businesses connect with customers on Google.
Here are a few tips to make the most out of your Google Business Profile:
Claim Your Listing
First, you need to claim your business listing. Do this by searching for your business names. If it shows up, click Manage. If it's not on Google, add your business. Next, you'll need to verify your listing. This can be done by postcard, phone, email, bulk, and instant verification using your business email. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to two weeks (though, this year, mail delivery delays have extended the time frame for postcard verification from two weeks to up to a month). After you've claimed your listing, it's time to optimize it.
Optimizing Your Listing
Whether Google will admit it or not, they are basically trying to replace your website with a Google Business Profile. If you have a small site, say three-five pages or less, that actually might be alright, but most B2B companies have larger sites with regular content updates that are optimized for, you guessed it, Google. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!
- Make sure your business name, address, phone number, website, and hours are correct.
- Add your company's services.
- Post updates about products and services and even company blogs.
- Highlight your culture and office space with photos and videos.
- Encourage your customers to write reviews.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. MailChimp has a great guide to point you in the right direction.
Don’t Stop with Google
Although a Google Business Profile is the most popular local business directory, it's not the only one. Apple Maps, Bing, Yelp (yes, Yelp matters for B2B companies), MapQuest, and dozens of others are important too. Here’s something absolutely critical across platforms: When adding your business on multiple business local listing sites, make sure you're not only providing consistent information but exactly the same across each directory. "Suite" is not the same as "STE" to a search engine. Using a local SEO management tool will make the job easier. Yext, for example, integrates with hundreds of directories to ensure your business information and data are always up-to-date.
Adding your Google Business Profile to your marketing repertoire along with your website, social media, and email marketing is a must for businesses today. The old “belt and suspenders” approach isn’t a bad idea either. It doesn't hurt to put up a sign with your hours, too.