Google Business Profile, previously called Google My Business, is an essential and free tool for any business owner who wants to show up more prominently online and convert that visibility into customers. However, many business owners are intimidated and frustrated when they first try to learn how to manager their profiles. (One of the reasons many small business owners call AZ Media Maven for assistance. We’ve been managing Google accounts for clients for a decade). We’re here to remove the mystery and angst from using the platform, which is a combination of social media, reputation management, and search engine optimization. We will explain the many business benefits of actively managing your profile.
What is Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profiles relay a wealth of information about your business, including hours, phone number, location, services, and products to individuals using search functions on their computers, tablets and smart phones. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you may already be in Google maps based on your street address. If a profile exists for your business, then you need to “claim” it by telling Google it’s yours.
To verify ownership, Google sends a postcard with a code to your business’ address. Once you have the code, you enter it into the site and Google will process the verification. This verification gives you access to update information shown the public on the profile, such as hours, closures, and more. It also gives you access to personally respond to Google reviews posted about your business, as well as the ability to make posts about special deals, upcoming events, and updates about your business.
At one time, Google only allowed businesses with physical locations to have profiles. That has changed, and businesses that take their services to the clients (such as a consultant or a cleaning service) can create profiles and manage them, depending on where their service area is and how they provide their services. There are some exceptions to which businesses can be listed, but Google’s process will alert you if your business can’t be accepted.
It is absolutely essential that the information on your Google Business Profile be accurate and up-to-date. at all times. This way ou can maximize traffic both online and in real life. “Customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider your business reputable if you have a complete Google Business Profile. They’re also 70% more likely to actually visit your location,” according to Hootsuite. Google also allows customers to make suggestions for edits to business profiles. If you don’t have access to manage your profile, those edits may not be accurate. You need access so you correct any errors. Having access also means you get to approve or reject any suggested changes to your business profile.
How does a Google Business Profile help your business?
The short answer is that having a Google Business Profile makes it easier for potential customers to find your business. It also gives them important information about it. Keeping your Google Business Profile updated improves your local search engine optimization. That means someone looking for, say, picture frames or veterinarians in your area will be more likely to find you. Google rewards business profiles that are frequently managed and updated by listing them higher in search results.
Information you put on your Google My Business profile is what shows up in Google Maps as well. When people say, “Hey Google, show me yoga studios near me,” you want to be included in the list. Part of Google’s rebranding is moving the Google My Business profile functionality completely into its Maps application. Soon, that is where business owners will manage their profiles, rather than in a separate dashboard.
How often should you update your Google Business Profile?
Make use of all the profile’s features: List your services/products; share all your amenities; post the link to your reservations system; note if you are veteran-owned, woman-owned or minority-owned; and more.
Because the platform is the best way to keep customers informed, make updates frequently. We recommend:
— checking the listing often
— adding a weekly post
— updating hours immediately as needed
— and answering reviews every couple of days so customers see that their feedback matters.
When creating posts, use eye-catching photos or videos that will encourage viewers to visit your website. Talk about special offers, upcoming sales, new products, or anniversaries in the posts. Posts in Google Business Profile can be similar to content you might put on other social media platforms.
The profile also allows you to add photos, logos. These are all opportunities to show potential customers what your brand is all about. The content is searchable so name images properly. Use “AZ Media Maven April Special” rather than “IMG _ 7509832,” for example.
What about Google reviews?
Reviews are a double-edged sword, but they add credibility to your business. You should embrace them no matter if they’re good, bad, or ugly. Respond to all reviews in a professional tone with the voice of your brand. Thank people graciously for positive feedback and offer to make something right if someone writes a bad review.
As with all social media, keeping on top of Google Business Profile can seem like a full-time job. But business owners who use it wisely will see the returns. If you need assistance, please reach out to our team of social media experts today.
AZ Media Maven is based in Laveen, AZ, a suburban village in the greater Phoenix area. Owner Rose Tring has more than 30 years of journalism experience as an editor and writer, many of those years in business news. She created AZ Media Maven in 2012 to help other business owners succeed by effectively telling their stories through public relations and social media. Reach AZ Media Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (602) 373-8371.