Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is an essential tool for businesses trying to increase their own visibility for local keywords.
In recent years, Google has put added emphasis on this tool. Making it fairly easy for businesses to set up listings for themselves and provide potential customers with the information they seek about local services.
Some may ask: How far do the benefits go? What are the primary benefits of Google a Business Profile? And most importantly, why do you need one?
Let’s start at the beginning and define what we’re talking about when we say “Google Business Profile” (Google My Business).
Google describes Google Business Profile as “…an easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To help customers find your business, and to tell them your story, you can verify your business and edit your business information.”
Company websites are also capable of accomplishing that task. However, the Google Business Profile tool allows businesses to create an extension of their websites specifically designed to improve a company’s visibility in Google search.
In layman’s terms, Google Business Profile is a Google-made tool that has an interface that allows companies to create a unique local profile, or “listing,” that shows all of a local business information (like address, phone number, reviews, photos.) and so much more. With millions of users searching specifically on Google’s search entities, it makes having a profile or listing within those platforms all the more vital to business success.
The tool’s interface allows users to manage their listing information, interact with customers and expand the way potential local customers see their business.
As we’ll explain, this profile or listing unlocks many benefits for your business and for local users searching for the product or service that a business provides.
Every business can claim a local listing in Google Business Profile. How optimized that GBP profile becomes, is up to the user.
Below are screenshots that may give a clearer picture on what businesses can expect from the functionality of the GBP tool and what type of control one has over how the listing appears in local search.
The “Info” tab in the Google Business Profile interface allows you to edit general business information such as “hours of operation” and special holidays your location could be closed.
The “Reviews” tab allows users to see the reviews that customers have left on your listing with the ability to respond to those reviews.
The “Photos” tab allows users to upload photos about their business or employees to show visuals. For B2C businesses, this is an excellent opportunity to showcase products.
Once a listing is claimed and created, all the information entered on the back-end, then populates onto the listing information as it appears in Google search results.
Here’s an image of DTC’s listing as it appears in the knowledge panel of a branded Google search.
Now let’s look at how DTC’s listing appears in a non-branded search in the Google “Local 3-pack” or “local pack”. These listings compete for top visibility for a given the search query.
Only when you click on the listings below the map can you see additional business information (see screen shot below).
This image illustrates how a listing appears in Google Maps with the corresponding map pin of where the business is located once users click for more information.
Now that we know exactly what the Google Business Profile is and what it looks like, we can talk about how it benefits local businesses.
Earlier we asked the following question…
What are the primary benefits of Google Business Profile and why do you need it?
Below, we will go into more detail regarding each primary benefit.
When you think of Google search, you think of the home screen (Google.com) and associated search bar. However, many users start their search using Google Maps.
In addition, when a Google search engine results page (SERP) appears there are different sections that are generated in different ways. Sometimes different bits of content are returned to the user such as a knowledge panel or a rich snippet answering a question within the SERP. Not every SERP is the same and not every section takes into account the same factors whilst being generated.
Let’s take a second to break this down further.
Here’s an example of a SERP for the local search query: “seo agency near me“
At the top of most SERPs is the ad section. These are Google ads generated based on many different factors and a bidding system where users pay Google every time their ad is clicked.
Usually when a search query is typed in that’s looking for a product or service “near” them or in a specified area, Google will generate a “local map pack.”
These are GBP (GMB) listings generated by location to the user and other local SEO factors. They are associated with a map pin that shows the location of the business (more on this to come).
The section shown above, represents the true organic section of the SERP generated based on SEO factors. These results do not include any location bias to the user.
In order to be considered in the local map pack section of a SERP, you need to have a Google Business Profile listing. GBP listings allow you to compete and rank in a completely new section of a search engine results page. Without a listing, Google cannot drop a map pin or show you as a business operating in a certain service area.
Which leads us to the next point: how to appear in Google Maps searches.
Having a local GBP listing allows users to find your business in Google Maps searches. This is a different entity that users can begin their search in, which can lead to more impressions for your business.
When you own and manage Google Business Profile (GBP) listings you’re able to share the following information with potential customers: business description, attributes, photos, videos and what are called “Posts.”
What is a Google Post? Google Posts feature an image as well as a description pertaining to a special or event about your business that is featured in the local panel as well as on Google Maps. Two great things to feature in a Google Post are specials and general business offerings like “convenient parking” or “free WiFi.”
Posts are an effective way to communicate your business highlights with those searching for your particular products or services in your area. The images and descriptions help portray your business to the user before they ever get to your actual website.
When it comes to customer-driven communications, GBP listings offer an opportunity for users to share their content and experiences via photo submissions, online reviews, and posing questions. As a business owner, these interactions allow you to glean customer insights including likes/dislikes, problems, as well as reviews.
At the end of the day, business listings offer insights and analytics that you can analyze to help you make better local SEO decisions. Here are some of the questions you can ask and answer from analyzing GBP insights.
To answer these questions, simply look at the “Insights” tab in your Google Business Profile listing to see how customers behave and where people are engaging. In reviewing that information, you can make decisions like…
The primary benefits of optimizing your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) listing are as follows: greater visibility in search results, better interaction points with potential clients, and deeper insights into your local audience needs, wants and questions.
Are you ready to get started with optimizing your local listing? Reach out to DTC, today!