If you own a business, you need a Google Business Profile. It’s free, and one of the most important – and simplest – elements of your business’ online presence.
Whether you’re starting a new business, or you’ve been in business a while and just haven’t created a Google Business Profile (GBP), you should claim your listing now and then optimize it for visibility using SEO best practices. Here’s how it works.
1. Your Business will Get Listed for Nearby Search Results
Google knows where someone is when they begin their search. Your Google Business Profile helps to literally “put you on the map”. If you’re a local service business, and potential customers near you are looking for what you offer, your Business Profile helps your listing show up in their search. If you’re in closer proximity to the searcher, your business will get priority over a business that’s further away. You will show up higher in the SERP (search engine results page). Ideally, you can wind up in the top 3 listings Google serves up, called the “3-pack”. Those listings appear just under the paid ad positions.
Here’s a search I did for a divorce attorney, just as an example:
The 3-Pack here shows local options. Note that two of these attorneys have reviews that show up, giving them a personal touch.
2. You Can Make a Positive First Impression Online
Keeping with the Google search above, let’s dig into that second listing, which includes a review.
In about 3 seconds you can see there have been many reviews (79) and they’re overwhelmingly positive. You can also see an overview of those business reviews, and click through to “view more reviews”. These are like gold, and your business should be regularly requesting online reviews – even if it feels a little uncomfortable to ask for them. It’s well worth it! Once someone sees your listing, and has read some great reviews, they’re more likely to get in touch to investigate your services.
3. Your Highlighted Services are SEO Opportunities
As part of your GBP listing, you can (and should) include the services your business provides. You should list the main services you want potential clients to see you provide, and can also provide sub-categories under those main services. Here’s the list of services from the same search I referenced above:
The service listing is another way to make a good impression, as it validates your business offerings. It can be a place to display the depth of experience and service areas, which potential clients will find gives your business more credibility.
Your list of services is also important for search engine optimization (SEO). Remember, Google is like a big question answering machine. And you want to be the most relevant “answer” for questions related to your business services. My search was simply for a “local divorce attorney” but in this list there are a few sub-services that could further engage me as a potential client, as well as signal to Google that you have a number of bona fide related services. This can give your listing more “authority” on the topic, and push it up in the rankings.
4. It’s Free, Fast, and Easy Marketing for SMBs
To get started using this free marketing tool for your business, go to https://www.google.com/business/. To be best prepared, be ready to have some images you can post along with the usual info you’d expect to provide: business name, address, website url, etc.
Once your listing is up and running, get into the habit of asking your clients for reviews. Thankfully, that’s easier than it used to be. Your listing will include a link you can send clients to. Importantly, don’t forget to check your Google Business Profile regularly, keep the information updated, and respond to reviews received. It’s free search engine optimization, and free marketing for your business.