Local SEO Guide: Google Business Profile

I want to start open sourcing a lot of my processes in hopes that people can read through this on their own and get going on search engine optimization. SEO can be a struggle, especially for small businesses just starting their journey and hiring an SEO expert just isn’t feasible. The SEO industry is also notorious as the used car salesmen of the tech eco-system and I’ve seen way too many people get taken advantage of.

What is Local SEO?

This post is aimed for the business owners with a physical location or businesses wanting to target specific geographic area. Local search engine optimization a marketing skillset that encompasses a variety of techniques to help your brand stand out to potential customers in your local market. I’m going to do some blog post series that are focused on helping business owners improve their brand visibility locally. Today we are going to dive in arguably the most important tool to accomplish this, Google Business Profile.

How to set up Your Google Business Profile

In November 2021 Google rebranded Google My Business (GMB) to Google Business Profile (GBP) You will often see Google My Business across the web, this is the same as Google Business Profile.

Step one, claim or create your Google Business Profile (GPB) account. It’s a free business account that creates a profile you see when searching on Google Maps. We want to be as through and detailed as possible when setting this up. Complete every section possible.

  • Enter Your Business Name - In December, Google released an update that removed the importance of including keywords in your GBP title. Do with this information as will.
  • Add relevant contact info such as address, phone, email, and website.
  • Make sure to verify your account. Google will send a confirmation code to the address listed to verify the business.

Optimizing your Google Business Profile

Okay, we got the basics set up for GBP, now let’s help your business stand out a bit.

  • Add in your products and services. Make sure to list every service you have.
  • Upload high quality, branded photos. Good and detailed pictures are huge for your company. These photos should include:
  • A clear detailed photo of your physical location form the street, make it easy for people to find your business.
  • Multiple pictures from inside - let potential clients know they walked into the right spot and the vibe you’re curating. Client wants to feel connected to the products they purchase.
  • Pictures of your products and services.
  • Team photos or staff in action.
  • Write out a description with some local keywords relevant to your business. “hand made cannolis in Flushing, New York” - think of how potential clients will search for your business aka keyword research ;)
  • Add in your business attributes like delivery, take out, accessibility features, etc etc.
  • Add in your business hours and keep them current. You can also include holiday hours.
  • manage questions and answers - you can manually add questions people ask while answering questions posted. Don’t leave them unanswered.
  • Monitor GBP and keep it updated. Decide to revamp the inside of your business? Remove the old photos and replace with new ones. Adding more services? Don’t forget to include them. GBP is not set it and forget it.

Get that street cred

According to a 2021 survey by White Spark, the most best Google Business Profile conversion factors are high numerical google ratings, 4+ stars and the positive sentiment left in those comments. 4/5 of the factors are all related to reviews while one is a completed GBP. Not only does it help with conversion, but it helps with local ranking as well. So here’s some tips on gaining those reviews:

  • Be authentic and actually give a reason for the customer to leave a review by providing excellent customer service.
  • Remind every customer to leave a review. Be polite and kind, let them know how much it really helps your business to have positive reviews.
  • Create an easy URL to leave reviews. Don’t make them link like having to search your company and find where to leave a review. Less friction, the easier. You can do this within GBP and also create a custom URL on your domain and redirect it.
  • Please note it’s against Google review policies to solicit reviews or have review stations at your place of business. With that said, there is nothing wrong with a friendly sign including the URL to leave the review or a QR code to scan.
  • Do you have customer contact info? Politely and not annoyingly reach out for reviews. People are busy and may forget once they leave, you can ask via email or text... just don’t beg.
  • Respond to reviews, especially the negative ones.
  • Responding to negative reviews. We all have bad days, things out of our control, etc. You can’t please them all. If you receive a (warranted) negative review, express empathy and ask the client to come back for another experience. let them know you heard them.
  • Leave friendly thank you note for all the positive reviews.

Publish posts on your Google Business Profile

You can leverage your GBP as a social media platform which allows GBP to make posts. Google Business Profile offers a view post types. These posts have been found to increase local SEO, don’t forget to include some keywords into these posts. This is literally free advertising.

  • COVID updates
  • Special offers
  • Whats new - have a new item for sale or providing a new service? Make a post!
  • Events

Setup Google Business Profile messaging / chat feature

As far I know, this isn’t a ranking factor but one of the top conversion factors listed in the survey above. Clients can start a chat with your business for further communication. Just make sure you have notifications set up so you’re not leaving customers hanging days on end.

Post Google Business Profile care / maintenance

I mentioned above that your Google Business Profile is not a set it and forget, it is an ongoing project. Once you’ve completed and optimized GBP, here’s some tips for aftercare.

  1. Spam hunting - this often gets outsourced but reporting fake and inaccurate business profiles will help remove the noise and improve your ranking. Fake profiles are a shady technique black hat SEO people will use to help target geolocation.
  2. Regular GBP posts, with specific keywords.
  3. Keep information accurate and updated.
  4. Respond to reviews and don’t forget to ask (not beg) for them.
  5. Remember this is not an overnight success, patience and diligence will pay off.