8 Google Business Profile Tips to Create a Winning Local SEO Strategy
It’s easy to see why local search has become such an important topic—people want their business to be found online! To maintain visibility in the crowded digital landscape, businesses must try to keep up with the best practices recommended for Google Business Profile (GBP) optimization. Formerly known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile is an important tool for businesses to find new ways to optimize for local search as SEO best practices are always changing. Local search tools and platforms like GBP have made numerous updates in the last few years to improve their services, and our Google Business Profile optimization checklist will provide the details you need to succeed in local search results.
At Blue Compass, we work with businesses to improve their Google local rankings with strategic keywords and tactics. The nuances that surround GBP local SEO strategies can be a bit overwhelming to small business owners with so many other important tasks to accomplish, but we encourage businesses to make it a priority! Optimizing your Google Business Profile is one of the easiest ways you can start appearing in local search results.
In this blog post, we’re sharing Google Business Profile tips to help optimize your listing and get to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). We’ll even throw in some other local SEO and SEM best practices for good measure!
But first, what is the difference between Google My Business and Google Business Profile?
In 2022, Google retired its Google My Business platform, encouraging business owners to take advantage of profile optimizations directly from Search or Maps. To complement their simplified approach, they renamed Google My Business to Google Business Profile.
Small business owners can now claim or update their business listing simply by searching their business name in Search or Maps. Businesses with multiple locations can access all listings directly from the SERP by toggling to the three dots on the right of your search result to access the “Your Business Profiles” function. It’s easier than ever to edit your Google Business Profile, but it’s not something you should set up only to ignore. For the best Google local ranking, consistent Google Business Profile optimizations should be part of your ongoing local SEO strategy.
So, why is Google Business Profile important for SEO?
When you create a Google Business Profile for your business, you’ll significantly increase your chances of showing up for local searches. GBP provides Google with more information about what your business does and how it helps customers, both of which can boost your brand’s credibility and traffic to your site.
Okay, now how do I optimize my Google Business Profile listing?
Providing all basic business information and filling in any additional sections helps Google understand more about your business and how you serve customers. Being thorough and giving them as many details as you can makes it easier for users to find your business in search and learn more about you.
Google and search engines are constantly evolving and updates happen frequently. Keeping up with Google Business Profile updates is key to being successful. To help, our experts have put together eight powerful Google Business Profile tips that will help you set up and optimize your GBP listing and be on your way to the top of SERPs.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #1: Be Thorough with Your Basic Google Business Profile Information
Right away, Google needs to know the most basic information about your brand—these are the most critical pieces to have associated with your Google Business Profile. In the digital world, we commonly refer to this with the acronym NAP: Name, Address, Phone. After verifying this information is correct, it will help establish your business’ credibility with Google.
But don’t stop with just the basics: any additional details help tell Google what sort of business you are and make your listing more valuable in search. Think through every aspect of your business’s digital profile and expand upon the information you can provide to help a user learn more. We recommend updating the key sections below, though there are much more fields within GBP that you can add and experiment with as desired. Our recommendations include:
- Business category
- Business description
- Business hours, including special or temporary hours
- Service area
- Products or services
Bonus GBP Local SEO Strategy Tip:
Include keywords in your business description and be specific with your business category to show up for the most relevant searches.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #2: Include Your Own Photos
According to Google, businesses that include photos on their Google Business Profile receive 35% more click-throughs to their website than competitors that don’t.
Visual content is simply more compelling and catches a user's attention far better than text alone. By using your own photos, you have more control over the look of your GBP listing. It’s common to see user-generated content from customers as the default images for listings, and as much as we appreciate aspiring Instagram stars, they generally result in lower quality images you may or may not want representing your brand. Avoid customers controlling your online image by providing your own photos.
Google recognizes the benefit of photos and encourages businesses to categorize the photos and videos they upload. Especially if you’re an organization that people will be visiting, it’s helpful to specify whether people are looking at your storefront, something inside or photos of employees. This helps customers find what they’re looking for and gives them a better idea of the experience they can expect. We encourage you to take photos of your business, your staff and your products. Even entertain the idea of investing in a photoshoot for your company if you can. Professional pictures can be used on other marketing materials outside of your Google Business Profile page as well so you get more bang for your buck.
GMB Tip #3: Keep Your Profile Relevant with Google Posts
Over the years, Google has done a lot to revamp Google Business Profile, and one of the coolest features we’ve seen is the addition of Updates to listings.
Google Updates are like free ads that allow you to share a variety of posts with people searching for your product or service. There are a few different types of Google Updates which we’ve listed below:
- Update: This is the type of Google Update we use most often, and it’s similar to a social post where you can tell your customers about anything related to your business. You can post a blog, a service page and more through this option. Our experts also love that this type of post has the option to add a CTA button.
- Offer: If you’re running a special discount or campaign, the Offer post signals this is a time-sensitive deal. You can set the date range, title and choose your photo or video to include in the post. Options to include a coupon code, link to redeem the offer and terms and exclusions are also available.
- Event: Announcing your upcoming event became easier with this sort of post. This is very similar to the Offer post where you set the date range, and include a title and image, with the option to include a button for sign-ups.
Updates allow you to directly speak to your consumers and it’s a great way to advertise to those who are already looking at your listing. Posts should be short and to the point—you only have about 120 characters before you get cut off. Unlike social media best practices, these posts can be 100% promotional because the people that see them might not be familiar with your brand yet and you’re trying to convince them to click.
Again and again, Google shows preference to websites using Google’s services. Regular updates are not only good for your customers; they’re good for your Google local ranking in search results.
Bonus GBP Local SEO Strategy Tip:
Google Updates have a shelf life of about seven days, so we recommend posting once a week. According to findings from the 2021 Local SEO Summit, it doesn’t help to have multiple posts competing against each other, so one Google Update a week is what we typically stick to.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #4: Check Out Your Competition
Want to outrank your competitors in search? Start by taking a look at their GMB listings to see what they do differently.
We recommend performing a Google Search for your target keywords or a category you want to rank for and then see what’s at the top of SERPs. Are you in the Local Pack, or one of the first three businesses listed? Are you showing up at all? If not, what information do your competitors provide that you’re missing?
Competitor analysis serves as an excellent baseline when looking for a place to start building a local search optimization plan. If a competitor is ranking highly for a term, they’re doing something right. Take a look at their listing information and see what you can do to outrank them for this keyword.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #5: Check and Respond to Your Google Reviews
It’s important to check your reviews and respond in a timely manner. We especially recommend that you respond amicably to negative reviews—nothing looks worse to a potential customer than a poor review with no visible response by the company to reach a resolution with that reviewer.
Think about it, have you ever seen a one-star review, read the review, then seen a response from the company that appropriately addressed the complaint? We bet you feel a lot better about the business addressing complaints than a business ignoring them. Need help? Learn how to respond to Google reviews now.
Google has openly noted that high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility. This also implies the opposite, that poor-quality, negative reviews will affect your visibility as well. Keep in mind, reviews are based on averages, so it takes multiple positive reviews to outweigh one negative review. If you don’t have a review strategy in place before you deal with the unhappy customer, your business will suffer from that one negative review.
Bonus Review Tip:
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews. If you only get 10% of them to leave a review, that’s 10% more than you had before
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #6: Use GBP Local SEO Features to Your Advantage
After reviews, some of the features that take up prime real estate in your local listing profile are the product and services sections. These are additional opportunities that can take your Google Business Profile listing to the next level.
In the product section, you can include pictures and prices, and even group your products into categories. This can be especially helpful for companies whose products use industry jargon or numbers, because you can include a description that tells people about your merchandise before people ever get to your website. Services work similarly, and together they both reveal a lot of useful information to your potential customers.
Be sure to fill out all of the options Google has available if you’re able. Doing so will give your business the best chance possible to rank above your competition and be found by users.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #7: Don’t Ignore the Question & Answer Section of Your Google Business Profile
Many businesses don’t know that customers can ask you questions directly through Google! You’ll want to make sure you’re checking this regularly so your business can answer instead of a random user. If not, existing and potential customers may be getting wrong answers to their questions, and whoever is responding might be representing your business poorly.
Be sure to stay on top of any questions you receive through Google, and respond in a personal, friendly way. Doing so will make customers feel valued and encourage them to choose your products or services.
In addition, the questions people are asking can be used as potential content opportunities to create later on. They give your business an idea of what users want to know about your products, services or industry and tell you what users are searching to try and find that information. Put the two together and you’ll have a valuable content piece that benefits the overall SEO for your website.
Google Business Profile Optimization Tip #8: Check Google Business Profile Insights
Insights is a fairly new analytics portion of Google Business Profile that directly addresses any and all questions you might have when it comes to how people find your business online and how they interact with your listing. Google has recently been making some changes, but here’s an example of what you can expect:
- How people search for your business - Google breaks down the context of the search into three categories: Direct, Discovery and Branded. A Direct search is when someone searches for your brand name, Discovery is a search related to your product or service and Branded search is a profile that pops up if you have a brand you’re associated with.
- Where customers view your business on Google - This is a comparison of the number of users that find you through a regular search listing or on a map, like in the Google Pack. In the current version of Insights, Google can actually divide this information into whether they found you at one of these points from their desktop or mobile device.
- Customer actions - Our experts pay a lot of attention to this metric because it tells us how people want to interact with our business. Right now, Google Business Profile tells you the number of people that call, visit your website or ask for directions. It also breaks down where people are when they’re asking for directions.
- Popular times & calls - Google lets you know which days people are most likely to call you directly from your Google Business Profile, as well as the most popular times by days of the week.
- Searches breakdown - Insights’ current version shows the keywords and types of terms that trigger Google to show others your Google Business Profile.
The Insights function is overflowing with information. Take the time to analyze what Google has to offer and you may be surprised how one keen insight can impact your entire digital marketing strategy.
How to Use GBP for Local SEO
Three significant factors rule local search, local SEO and GBP local SEO listings. Think of them as the rules for your overarching local SEO strategy. These three factors are going to take priority over any other tips you’ve read in this post and should be the first things considered when reviewing your Google Business Profile listing.
Relevance: Just like with any other search, the relevance of your listing drives your Google local ranking. Does your website fit the search intent?
Distance: When you type “tapas” into the search bar, Google will treat it as the phrase “tapas near me.” Part of it feeds back to the relevance portion mentioned above—the other part is common sense. Don’t expect to have your listing show if you’re miles away from someone searching. When thinking through your search terms, add “near me,” “in Des Moines” or where your business is located to the end of the phrase—this is how Google operates nowadays. Not to mention, Google reports the term “open now near me” saw a 400% usage increase year over year as of 2022, showcasing the continued prominence of near me queries.
Reviews: We can’t stress enough that positive reviews weigh heavily in your Google local ranking and should be a priority. Google aspired to command the same word-of-mouth power as a friend’s recommendation, and if your friend tells you to check out a new brunch spot—one they swear serves the best brunch in the world—you’re probably going to check it out, right?
Dominate Google Local Rankings with Regular Google Business Profile Optimizations
There you have it: a complete guide to Google Business Profile optimizations to begin ranking number one in local search. Pay attention to your analytics and you are on your way to beating the competition. If you need help implementing these tactics in your own GBP strategy, or just want to talk about local search and SEO strategy, reach out! We're not just Des Moines SEO experts, Blue Compass can tackle any local SEO challenge and would love to discuss how we can help your business start outranking and dominating your local competition.
Kevin McMurray is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Blue Compass. He enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on Cyclones sports and leisure sports.