SEO Guide For Your Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, is the ultimate business directory and an indispensable asset for any local business. In the past, when searching for a place to eat, you would likely have ended up on platforms like Tripadvisor or similar aggregators. However, today, your search ends with Google. It provides every business recommendation directly in the SERP, eliminating the need to navigate to other websites.
What are the benefits of Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free tool for business owners that lets you easily create a business listing and fetch your business details directly into Google. Its importance in local SEO grows every year, as it helps business owners succeed in search and win better positions. How exactly?
First, Google Business Profile is a way to get into the local 3-pack, which appears at the top of SERPs. This is a direct way to better visibility and more clicks.
Second, the information provided via GBP is better digested by Google, which helps Google assign it to your entity. The entity-based approach has proved its efficiency in local SEO many times. Besides, you may get a knowledge panel from Google if the information is sufficient.
Then, Google has recently developed many business-specific services that occupy the so-called zero search position and grab most of the users’ attention (i.e. clicks).
One of the ways to get there is to have a fully filled GBP profile with all the business-specific features.
As more and more businesses start creating and actively maintaining their listings, Google Business Profile keeps evolving to simplicity. Still, there are some points that deserve attention.
What are Google Business Profile ranking factors?
GBP offers a plethora of features that can significantly enhance your SEO strategy. However, many businesses only utilize it to share contact details, work hours, display media showcasing their services, and manage reviews. Don’t miss out on maximizing the potential of GBP for your business!
So what about ranking factors? When you search for a nearby business, Google will rank GMB listings based on relevance, distance, and prominence:
- Relevance is whether the business matches the query. This is usually signaled by the use of matching keywords and the choice of business category for the listing.
- Distance is how close the business is located to the searcher. Proximity is relative to the density of the businesses. If you are looking for a cafe, then everything within a block is close. But if you need an antique shop, then the entire city is a game, as antique shops are not located as densely as cafes.
- Prominence is about how well-known your business is. This is determined by the number of user reviews, fresh photos, filled-out Google Business Profile listing info, GBP posts, and many other things.
Now let’s move to the actual implementation process of your SEO success with Google Business Profile.
How to create a Google Business listing?
To create a listing in Google Business Profile, go to the GBP create page. With quite straightforward instructions, the only thing you need to do is follow them. Still, there’s an SEO point to consider: сarefully add keywords to your business name.
For your business name, consider including your main keyword, as it may influence your rankings drastically. Just as it works with titles and H1s for content SEO.
Consult Google’s business naming guidelines to avoid issues later. Say your business is a cafe. If your legal business name doesn’t include words like cafe or coffee, you should add them to your name in GBP to get something like Snow White and the Three Pigs Coffee House.
How to verify your Google Business listing?
To make your business visible on Google Maps and local packs, you’ll have to first verify your business listing, i.e. prove that the business belongs to you.
These days, verifying your Google Business Profile is simple as never before — you will only need to provide a phone number at the very first step of creating your listing. Google will then send you a confirmation code. Enter the code — and voila! You’re verified.
Once you’re verified, a Google Maps location is automatically assigned to your business — you don’t have to do anything extra to make your address visible to users.
If you already have a non-verified listing, you can request verification right from the SERP:
If you fail to verify by phone for any reason (which is not likely to happen actually), try other verification methods suggested by Google.
Google Business Profile verification issues
When creating your Google Business listing, Google may show several businesses that already exist at the address you’ve specified. If none of them is yours, it’s all fine.
But you may find that your business has been claimed by someone else. It may be an agency you hired, an ex-employee of yours, you yourself but you lost the email, or whoever else. In this case, Google Business Profile will show you a notification stating that the business has already been claimed, and a part of the email address used to claim the account.
If you recognize the email, you can just recover your Google account.
If the email doesn’t seem familiar, click Request access > fill out the form > click Submit. The current GBP profile owner will get an email with an access request. Google will grant 3 days to the current owner to reply.
At the same time, you will get an email regarding this request. Save that email — it’s important, as it will let you check the status of your request and restore access if the ownership request remains ignored.
If the current profile owner doesn’t answer in 3 days, you will then be able to claim the GBP listing on your own. If the previous listing owner denies the request, you will have an option to verify your affiliation with the business you claim.
Mind that Google can request re-verification sometimes. This can happen due to the changes you make to your business listing, or because the provided information violates Business Profile guidelines — incorrectly specified categories, address mistakes, keyword stuffing in business names, etc. To avoid that, make sure you follow the GBP guidelines when filling out your profile.
How to optimize your Google Business listing?
Google Business Profile has hundreds of features that can make your listing attractive to users and Google algorithms, thus making your SEO strategy even more successful. Some GBP features are universal, while others are niche-specific.
For example, cafes and restaurants can add menu items, gyms and hospitals provide types of service, hotels state amenities, supermarkets offer product catalogs, etc. All these features let you enrich your GBP profile, polish your SEO, and surpass your competitors.
For every type of business, there’s a rule of thumb – specify as many details in your GBP profile as possible. This way, Google will better understand your business and will be more likely to rank you higher.
The nice thing is that you can now edit and manage your profile directly from the Google SERP
1. Edit profile
The Edit profile section lets you add or change the general information about your business: description, contact info, location or service area, opening hours, and details like amenities, payment methods, etc.
While you cannot “optimize” your working hours or menu positions (you cannot say you offer something you don’t actually have), a proper business description can help outrank your competitors.
Google once stated that you should think about the words customers would type to find your business, and make sure that your listing actually includes those keywords. Still, it’s best not to get carried away — your GBP listing description can get flagged for keyword stuffing, too.
Are there any SEO practices for writing descriptions for listings? Well, if you look at the descriptions of GBP listings that already exist, you’ll probably see a common pattern repeated again and again:
- Laid-back canteen offering traditional pizzas, whole & by the slice, with classic toppings.
- Easy, family-friendly pizzeria offering coal-oven pies in a casual two-level space.
- Basic pizza shop on a busy corner that offers cheap slices & pies late into the night.
- This tiny coffee shop serves specialty drinks along with baked goods, sandwiches & housemade soup.
- Long-running shop offering many bike styles, plus accessories, footwear & repair service.
- Neighborhood store with a variety of bikes, equipment & apparel, plus fittings & repairs.
This pattern is quite universal and can be applied to creating a description for any business, including yours:
[Unique selling proposition (USP)] + [main keyword] offering [product/service] + [product/service] + [product/service]
[Cozy] + [pizza place] offering [cheap slices] + [pies] + [sandwiches]
[Neighborhood] + [bike shop] offering [variety of bikes] + [equipment] + [apparel]
This pattern clearly states who you are and what you offer, thus your users and Google get all the necessary information at a glance. This pattern is also keyword-rich without being too obvious — perfect for successful SEO.
Are you limited to this pattern only? Of course, not. You can write any description you like, but keep in mind that you are limited to 750 characters. Use them wisely, and don’t get too poetic — neither users nor Google algorithms will appreciate this. Be simple, and describe your services so that users would easily figure out what they will get.
Google Business Profile lets you add a website of your business to help your customers (and Google, sure thing) get more information. Social media profiles like an Instagram page will do as well.
If you don’t have a website or any social profile, you can hire a web design company in Mississauga or web design company in Toronto to build you one. This will also help your SEO efforts, since Google’s algorithms love websites that are regularly updated with fresh content.
2. Add photo
Visual content is a must for any business. Enrich your Google Business listing with high-quality photos of your goods and amenities, add video tours of your facilities, show some behind-the-scenes processes — all of that shows Google that your listing is alive.
What’s more, uploading your own visual content will give you more control over what your listing looks like.
If you don’t add any photos, your GBP listing will feature the photos uploaded by your users and those are rarely any good. If you add high-quality photos yourself, Google will prioritize them and your listing is guaranteed to look more appealing.
As for the guidelines that Google Business Profile has for photos and videos, they are as follows.
- Format: JPG or PNG
- Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB
- Recommended resolution: 720 px tall, 720 px wide
- Minimum resolution: 250 px tall, 250 px wide
- Quality: The photo should be in focus and well-lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. In other words, the image should represent reality.
- Duration: Up to 30 seconds long
- File size: Up to 75 MB
- Resolution: 720p or higher
3. Read reviews
Google reviews and their management do matter for SEO. Reviews work like comments and likes on social media — the more positive reviews you get, the higher your listing ranks.
It’s important to give feedback on all reviews — thank your users for good reviews, and express sincere concern if the review is negative.
Verified businesses can turn on their GBP chat, so users can contact a business by simply clicking a Message button in the listing right on the SERP:
Why is this useful? First, people don’t like making phone calls and prefer messengers. Second, it puts your contact details directly in the SERP, which is a major convenience for your users who now don’t have to visit your website and look for a contact page.
5. Add update (events, offers, announcements)
Updates, or Google Posts, help inform your clients about special offers and news. The posts expire seven days after they are first published so they are meant to highlight the most current developments in your business.
As for technical features, Google posts can include a title, dates and times of the event (up to 300 words), CTA buttons, and an image (4:3 aspect ratio, up to 5 MB). Also, make sure to check if your post fits Google guidelines and Google Posts content policy. Spoiler: relevant links are allowed.
Create new posts in Google Business Profile whenever you have anything to announce, add visually appealing photos, and write attractive, selling headlines and descriptions.
6. Questions and Answers
The Q&A section of Google Business Profile is a space where your users can ask any question about your business, and you or other users can answer them.
The best way is to handle all the questions on your own. Make sure your answers are to the point and use the opportunity to add more keywords to your Google Business listing. Once again, don’t overdo it with keywords not to sound spammy or bot-like.
You can take charge of this section by adding your own questions and answering them yourself. This way you are adding content to your listing while also providing information to your users.
7. Business-specific features
Google Business Profile has a set of specific services available for different types of businesses:
With their help, hotels let users check rooms from the SERP (Check availability button), Restaurants may offer Reserve a table without clicking any further.
The more features you include in your Google Business listing, the better it is for your positions, so make sure you make use of all the specific features available for your business and location.
Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) gives you a chance to get clicks with paid promotions. To quickly access your Google Ads account and create ad campaigns, simply configure your GBP profile settings to enable direct redirection.
In addition to the promotion itself, Google Ads is a nice source of keyword ideas to add to your GBP profile description and website content. That said, you can try optimizing your site to win positions in organic search as well.
How to track your performance?
Google Business Profile now lets you monitor your optimization effort right from the SERP. The very first thing you need to look at is Profile strength, which shows the general score of your listing:
Then, consult the Performance section. It’s pretty much like Google Analytics but its functions are kind of more business-specific. Here you can check the general number of interactions during the chosen time period, see how many calls and messages you got, find out top products, etc.
These insights will help you identify the areas for improvement, as well as see your strong sides and tune your local SEO strategy accordingly.
One of the remarkable features of Google Business Profile is its ability to bring more value than your actual website. GBP listings are given higher priority on SERPs, thus attracting greater attention and providing users and Google with all necessary information at once. This, in turn, helps Google gain a better understanding of your business.
Integrating GBP into your local SEO strategy is crucial, ensuring that your listings are regularly updated and that you remain active. The rewards will soon follow.