There are many ways local businesses can market their products and services. However, every tactic varies in preparation time, cost and, most importantly, return on investment (ROI). The best strategy for local business owners is to focus the bulk of their marketing efforts on the areas that give them the biggest bang for their buck. Why put a bunch of effort and cash into tactics that won’t yield significant sales revenue?
We created this article series specifically to identify the tactics that generate the best ROI and explain why they’re so important. The first article in the series focused on local search engine optimization (SEO) and the importance of ensuring your business gets found on Google when someone is looking to buy.
In this article, we look at Google Business Profile. You’ll learn what it is, how to manage it and much more. After reading, you’ll be able to assess the completeness and quality of your company’s Google Business Profile account and begin to strategize how it can be improved.
And don’t miss the third and final part of our series on local marketing, which covers website design and development.
What is Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile (GBP), which you may have heard of under its previous name Google My Business, is the account a business owner uses to manage their business’s presence on the various Google properties that exist. It serves as an online listing that tells the business’s story to people searching Google.
As we detailed in part one of this series, a strong local SEO strategy is important to help your business rank in the Google Map Pack when a searcher performs a location-based search. It looks like this:
As you can see, the Google Map Pack displays key business information, including hours, ratings and reviews. It also displays the locations of the featured businesses on a map. This information is pulled from Google Business Profile.
If someone clicks on your business name in the results, it will open your complete GBP listing, which looks like this:
This is also what will display if someone goes to Google and searches for your exact business name (not URL) as listed on your GBP.
Google Business Profile consists of many sections to help searchers learn about the business. They include:
- Maps listing
- Ratings & reviews
- Phone number
- Questions & answers
Later in this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into a couple of these items that are especially important to get your business discovered and on buyers’ short lists of solution providers. But first, we want to explain why Google Business Profile as a whole is on our list of key areas for local businesses to focus on.
Local SEO & Google Business Profile: A Dynamic Duo
As mentioned in part one of this series, 54.4% of organic search traffic comes from the top three results. However, as important as it is for your business to rank in one of the top three spots, you must consider zero-click searches and their impact on the way people get answers to their questions. Zero-click searches provide searchers with the information they are seeking without requiring them to click to another property, aka website. The Google Map Pack is an example.
Google aims to either get businesses to pay for ads, which appear above organic listings, to get in front of buyers or keep web traffic on their platform longer as opposed to quickly and easily directing it to business sites for free.
There has been some debate about how much zero-click searches have impacted organic traffic. Some reports said nearly 65% of Google searches in 2020 ended without a click to another web property. A more recent article said the percentage was closer to 25%.
Regardless, it’s critical to focus on both local SEO and GBP to maximize opportunities. The following statistics help emphasize this point:
- 93% of local searches now feature Google Business Profile listings [Source: STAT Analytics]
- 49% of businesses receive more than 1,000 views on Search per month
- 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.
How Do I Manage My GBP?
To start managing your Google Business Profile, you first need to claim your business. This verifies that you are the true owner of the business. Once you’ve claimed it and received approval, you’ll have full management privileges over the account and can make edits and post content.
When managing your GBP, make sure you do the following:
- Fill out every information field
- Keep your account updated with accurate information
- Respond to the reviews you receive
- Frequently upload high-quality photos and create posts
If you need help claiming or managing your GBP, a marketing agency or SEO company can help. Check out the step-by-step breakdown in our article How to Give Your Marketing Agency Access to Your Google Business Profile.
What are GBP Posts?
Posts is a section of the Google Business Profile first introduced in 2017 where business owners can post various types of content, such as promotions, news and educational material. In its current form, the post feature enables you to include text (up to 1,500 characters), photos and an optional button with one of six calls to action (CTAs):
- Order online
- Learn more
- Sign up
- Call now
GBP Posts give you another way to grab the attention of searchers and tell them a little bit about your business without requiring them to click over to your website, although they do have that option with the button. Examples of what you could post about include:
- Newsworthy items about your company or industry
- Teasers of insightful articles on your blog
- Employee showcases
- Product or service overviews
- Upcoming or ongoing sales/promotions
Here’s how posts appear on Google Business Profile:
It’s a good practice to create new content to post frequently. At least once a week is ideal. Keeping your profile populated with fresh content signals to buyers (and Google) that your business is active and thriving.
Why are Google Reviews Important?
By and large, people don’t like listening to sales pitches, especially early in the buyer’s journey. They prefer to take matters into their own hands and do the research themselves to find the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. For most buyers, reviews factor heavily.
- 97% of consumers said that customer reviews influence their purchasing decisions — Spiegel Research Center
- 72% of customers won’t take action before they read some reviews — Testimonial Engine
- More than half of consumers won’t use a business if it has less than a 4-star rating — BrightLocal
This is why having Google Reviews, specifically positive ones… and lots of them, is so important. It offers a variety of benefits:
- Shaping online reputation – Reviews impact how the public perceives your brand. They can be positive, negative or neutral, and the quantity of each influences public opinion about how much trust can be put in your business to deliver quality products/services.
- Providing customer feedback – Star ratings and accompanying review comments provide a pulse check on your business’s performance. You can learn what is working well and what isn’t and take what you learn to make improvements.
- Increasing local search visibility – Reviews help Google assess the trustworthiness and authority of businesses. So, the more reviews you have, the more content about your business Google will have to review and the more opportunities you’ll have to rank for relevant keywords.
- Standing out from competitors – We’ve established that reviews matter. You can stand out from the competition if you collect numerous positive reviews and your competitors don’t have many reviews on their GBP.
How Can I Get More Business Reviews?
So, how can you get more business reviews on Google to establish yourself as the clear leader in your industry in your local area? Providing quality products, services and customer support certainly help. However, you should also be proactive in urging people to review your business with 5-star reviews. You just need to ask.
Reviews can be solicited:
- In person after an in-store purchase
- Over the phone
- Via a request on a receipt/invoice
- Via email
- With a newsletter or e-newsletter callout
- With a social media ad or post
- Via text message
You can use a review link generator to make it as convenient as possible. They allow you to create and share a link or QR code that customers can use to be directed right to the section where they can leave their reviews. Examples of review link generators include Podium, BrightLocal and Whitespark.
For more information, read our article on business reviews.
Should I Focus on Google Maps, Too?
Claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile, accumulating reviews and frequently posting content provides the added bonus of strengthening your presence on Google Maps as well. Not everyone relies on Google Search to find local businesses. Some people who perform “near me” kinds of searches do so in Maps. Doing so returns results like this:
If you follow suggested optimization practices related to local SEO and Google Business Profile, your business should feature prominently on Maps as well.
How Else Can My Local Business Get Better Marketing ROI?
Local SEO and Google Business Profile should be focal points of any local marketing strategy due to the great ROI they can provide. For even more information on GBP, read our article Google Business Profile: What You Need to Know.
Of course, you don’t want to overlook your website. After all, it’s your digital storefront where you hope potential buyers eventually land. We wrap up our three-part series on local marketing by looking at website design and development. You’ll learn about the components of a good website and get the scoop on what visitors look for in a site. Check it out!