Where do most people go when they’re looking for…well, anything? That’s right, Google. People looking for a local restaurant do it, consumers comparing prices on electronics do it, even luxury jewelry shoppers do it. That’s why it’s important to claim and update your Google Business Profile.
Formerly known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile is a tool that allows small business owners to manage what searchers see when they search for that business on Google. With a Google Business Profile, you’ll be able to keep your business name, address, phone number, and store hours up to date. You’ll also be able to read and respond to reviews, post photos, and get insights into who is searching for your business, where they are, and how they found you.
Setting up a profile is easy: just go to google.com/business, click “Manage now,” and follow the steps. At the end, you’ll be asked to verify that you are indeed the owner of the business by mailing you a postcard with a verification code.
Everyone uses Google. Well, not quite everyone. But Google accounts for over 90% of all internet searches, and that’s pretty close to everyone. Google has achieved what every brand dreams about: its name has become synonymous with its product, like Band-Aid, Kleenex, or Tupperware. So when someone googles (see? ;) your business, you want to be in control of what they see. Managing your Google Business Profile will allow you to do exactly that.
In addition, a Google Business Profile can boost your SEO. According to Google, search rankings are determined by relevance, distance, and prominence, so make sure your description is complete and accurate. “Prominence” is determined in part by positive reviews, so remind customers to leave reviews and engage with those customers who do—but think carefully about how you engage with negative reviews!
Since Google Business Profile allows you to upload photos, you can design your profile to be as on-brand as possible. This profile doesn’t replace your ecommerce site or physical location; like social media accounts, it works to drive traffic to your site or store. For maximum brand impact, bring the same aesthetic and tone to your Google Business Profile. Add the same kinds of photos of your products and your store to your profile that you would to, say, your Instagram account. This is an opportunity to show customers that yours is a place they would like to visit, and that you carry the products they are looking for.
Don’t only add photos once, either. Active profiles move up in search rankings, so if you’re regularly updating your profiles with new pictures, you’re more likely to appear in customer searches. Responding to questions and engaging with reviews are also ways to keep your profile active. It’s just like any other social media account in that way. Also like social media, you can upload a thumbnail and a cover photo. This is another opportunity to keep your branding consistent across all channels.
There is a lot to fill out on your profile. Make sure to make your profile as accurate and complete as possible. The business name should be the same as it appears elsewhere. Same goes for your address and other information For your description, pull from your website’s About page (or similar page) to keep things consistent.
The more information you can provide, the more trustworthy and credible you become in the eyes of a potential customer who knows nothing about your business. Answering questions also goes a long way to establishing credibility and fostering engagement.
Your Google Business Profile will also provide you with valuable insights that can help you better understand how customers find your business. You’ll find data on number of searches, location of searches, requests for directions. You’ll also find out how many people clicked through to your website or called the number listed. On top of all that, Google provides you with statistics on both your photos and customer photos. This is useful marketing information that will help you get a better grip on who is interested in your business, where they are, and what is making them take the next step to visit your website.
While this can seem like just one more thing to have to deal with on top of your website, your Instagram, your Facebook, and any other social media platforms your business uses, this one really is worth the effort. You don’t have to be present on every social media platform, but since so many customers find businesses through Google, it makes sense to maintain an active Google Business Profile.