The Ultimate Guide to Google Business Profiles in 2024

Table Of Content

Summary

A Google Business Profile is a free tool from Google that helps businesses appear on Google Search, Maps, and Shopping. It’s crucial for small businesses trying to attract local customers to start their digital marketing journey by claiming, setting up, and optimizing their Google Business Profile.

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Introduction

In a world that’s becoming increasingly inundated with less-than-useful AI-generated content, it is imperative for small businesses to strengthen their online footprint. If you own a small business serving local customers, a Google Business Profile is the fastest and easiest way to start establishing or enhance your digital presence. As we move into 2024, a year that may see AI taking over the way we search, leveraging your GBP becomes crucial for your business to stay ahead of your local competition, connect with a wider audience, and transform how you interact and engage with your customers.

Why Should I Listen to You?

My name is Sam Sarsten, owner of Thencan Designs, an up-and-coming digital marketing firm in Bend, Oregon. When I started my web design company I quickly realized that small business owners didn’t need a new website, they needed more clients! So I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours learning about local SEO so I can better serve my small business owner clients.

Along the way, I’ve learned that a Google Business Profile is the fastest, easiest way to reach more local customers. Having set up and optimized numerous GBPs, I’m eager to share my insights. If you have questions or suggestions at any point in this article: here is my email. Just click that link, send me an email, and I’ll get back to you as fast as I can.

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What is a Google Business Profile?

A Google Business Profile is a free tool provided by Google designed to help businesses manage their online presence across Google, including in Search, Maps, and Shopping. This platform allows businesses to succinctly list crucial elements such as their location, contact details, operating hours, and services

Key Functionalities

Google Business Profile functionalities are diverse, catering to the multifaceted needs of businesses in the digital age. We’ll take a more thorough look at these later, but here’s a quick peek at some of the key features:

Connecting with Customers

One of the most significant aspects of a Google Business Profile is its ability to connect your small business and your customers. Through the platform, businesses can interact directly with customers via reviews and messages. This interaction not only builds trust but also provides valuable feedback and insights into your customer needs and preferences.

Listing Products and Services

GBPs enable businesses to showcase their products and services directly in their profile. This is especially beneficial for small businesses, offering a platform to showcase offerings, complementing a website (or being used prior to investing in a website). The product listings can include prices, descriptions, and photos, giving potential customers a comprehensive view of what your business has to offer.

Posting Updates

By using this platform, it allows a business, like yours, to post updates, offers, and events. Research indicates that Offer Posts attract more attention from potential customers than other types. You want to ensure that you also post any promotions or events. Remember that the more you post (we recommend once every week or two), the better the algorithm gets to know your business and its products or services.

Insights and Analytics

Your GBP provides valuable insights, helping you understand customer interactions with your profile. This data includes information on how customers found the business, the actions they took on the profile, and general trends in customer engagement. These insights are invaluable for refining your marketing strategies and understanding customer behavior.

Who Qualifies for a Google Business Profile?

Businesses that serve customers in-person, at the customer’s location, at a neutral location, or hybrid businesses (that have location, but also serve customers elsewhere) generally qualify for a Google Business Profile. Online-only businesses do not qualify for a Google Business Profile. It can be confusing, though, so read on for more details.

Criteria for Eligibility

Not all businesses automatically qualify for a Google Business Profile. The primary criteria revolve around the nature of interaction a business has with its customers. Here’s a breakdown of these criteria:

Physical Location

If your business has a physical location where customers can visit, you’re generally good to go. This is a core requirement for businesses like retail stores, restaurants, and clinics.

Service Area Businesses

You’re also eligible If your business operates within a specific area and offer services directly to customers at their location. This includes services like plumbing, landscaping, or home cleaning services, etc. Working from home and servicing clients at neutral locations, like coffee shops, usually meets these criteria.

Hybrid Businesses

Entities that have a physical location but also provide services at customer locations qualify too. Examples include a restaurant that offers catering services or a cabinet maker that has a local shop but also does installation at their clients’ homes.

Authenticity and Accuracy

Google emphasizes the authenticity of the information provided. Your business must accurately represent its name, location, services, and other relevant details. It is more important than ever to not try to “game” the system. The algorithm is getting smarter each day. Focus on wise local SEO tactics, rather than tricks to get ahead.

Focus on In-Person Customer Interactions

Google Business Profile aims to connect customers with businesses offering physical interaction. This focus ensures the relevance and usefulness of the information provided to customers searching for specific services or products in their local area. This is why a Google Business Profile is an integral piece of any local SEO strategy – especially for small businesses.

It’s important to note that businesses which operate purely online without a physical location or direct customer interaction are typically not eligible for a Google Business Profile. There are also some interesting exceptions and strange edge cases. If you still have questions, check out Google’s business eligibility and ownership guidelines for more.

In summary, the eligibility for a Google Business Profile is largely dependent on the nature of a business’s interaction with its customers. When thinking about your business’ Google Business Profile, you should be focusing on how to best serve your customers in your local area. By paying attention to this, you can leverage this platform to significantly boost your online visibility and customer engagement, which can ultimately lead to business growth – which we always like!

Google My Business in 2024

Google My Business was introduced as a free tool designed to help businesses manage their online presence across Google’s various platforms back in 2014. Over the years, this tool has become integral for businesses seeking to increase their visibility and engage with local customers online. In 2021, Google rebranded Google My Business as Google Business Profile. Generally speaking, when you read articles or watch videos discussing GMB, they’re referring to GBP.

SEO Pro Tip

Keywords from the former Google My Business platform tend to attract 10x more traffic than GBP keywords. However, we believe Google will begin rewarding Google Business Profile-optimized articles as it transitions to using SGE in 2024.

What is SGE?

Search Generative Experience (SGE) uses generative AI responses in Google search results to provide results. It attributes sources, like websites, and will likely lead to an increase in zero-click searches. (Don’t worry, we’ll dig wayyy deeper into SGE in future posts!)

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Setting Up Your Google Business Profile

Creating a Google Business Profile is a fairly straightforward process, but it requires attention to detail to ensure your business is presented in the best possible light. The more complete and optimized your Google Business Profile, the more likely it is to rank higher in local results.

Let’s begin with a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Google Business Profile

Sign In to Google: Sign in using the account you wish to associate with your business (i.e., probably not 420friendlydude@gmail.com).

Visit the Google Business Profile Manager: Navigate to the Google Business Profile Manager website by visiting https://www.google.com/business/

Add Your Business: Once the website linked above loads, click the Manage Now button that in the top right-hand corner.

Name Your Business: This will be the business name that shows up on the various google services we’ve talked about so far. Ensure this matches your businesses name.

SEO Myth Busted

Keyword stuffing in your GBP Business Title is ineffective and discouraged. However, including relevant keywords can be beneficial if they are part of your legal business name or branding, such as your logo. Be cautious, as Google may suspend accounts that appear manipulative. Consider obtaining a DBA or updating your branding to include key terms, but avoid forced keyword insertion.

Business Type:  Here is where we choose the type of business you run and it’s referred to as your Primary Business Category. It’s so crucial that you get this right, as it’s the number 1 most important ranking factor for your Google Business Profile, according to local SEO experts.

Choosing the Right Primary Business Category: This is crucial to classify your business accurately and show up amongst your competition. The best way to find the proper category for your business is checking what your competitors have for their business. Here’s how:

Go to Google Maps and search for what you do in your area: “landscaping in bend oregon.” Notice the categories will be listed under their star rating. In this example, there are several options you can choose, but the businesses ranking highest chose “Landscaper.” Don’t be cute. Don’t be unique. Follow suit! You will list your secondary categories later on, which we’ll touch on further down in this post, and that’s where you can be unique.

SEO Pro Tip

One key factor to keep in mind is you don’t want to put areas that are more than a two-hour drive away. Remember that your Google Business Profile is for attracting local customers.

Enter Your Location: If you have a physical location customers can visit, add your address. If you serve customers at their location, a neutral location, or you have a hybrid business, be sure to specify your service area. If your service area is larger than a single city, you can add more than one. If you work from home, you will have to put your home address, but you’ll have the option to hide it later.

SEO Myth Busted

Do not use a PO Box or a coworking space as your business’ location. That is probably the fastest way to get your GBP flagged and delisted. Seriously. Don’t do it! You can hide your home address and service area businesses can (and do) rank high all the time. I’ve personally had clients rank #1 on the Map Pack with a service area business.

Add Contact Details: Provide your business phone number and website URL. These details will be publicly available in maps and the search results. I’ve worked with several businesses that may not have these set up yet – that’s okay. You can add this later, but you want to fill these in as soon as possible.

Verification: This step can be either very easy or quite challenging. Let’s start with the easy stuff. Sometimes, Google can verify your business based on what it can see online and you get insta-verified – that’s always great. Other times, you might just have to click on a text or use a code that’s texted to your phone. For a very long time, a postcard was sent to your business address. You’d enter the code once it arrived (in about five business days) and you were good to go.

The most popular (and tedious) Google Business Profile method is video verification. It sucks so much that I’m not even going to delve into here, but I’ve created a video where I actually show you exactly how I would verify my service area business through video verification in a YouTube video (that’s coming soon!). Check that out and then come back for the rest of the article.

If you don’t verify your business, it will not be publicly visible… which totally defeats the purpose. So, make sure you get this done.

Complete Your Profile: After verification, complete your profile by adding essential details like operating hours, business description, and photos.

SEO Myth Busted

Contrary to popular belief, the GBP business description is not a ranking factor. However, Google seems to keep using the business description in more and more places. That’s why lots of SEO experts are recommending abandoning keyword stuffing in the business description and focusing solely on writing for human beings (and maybe still a little to generative AI).

Tips for Optimizing Profile Information

Provide a Complete and Accurate Address: This is essential for businesses relying on foot traffic and local search visibility.

Upload High-Quality Photos: Photos should represent your business well, showing your products, services, premises, and team. Do: Follow the dimensions recommended below. Don’t: Use stock photos – the algorithm can tell!

Google Business Profile Logo Image Dimension [2024]

The recommended size for a Google Business Profile logo is 720 x 720 pixels with an aspect ratio of 1:1. Ensure you have a minimum resolution of 250 pixels tall by 250 pixels wide. The size of the photo should be between 10 KB and 5 MB.

Google Business Profile Cover Photo Dimension [2024]

For a Google Business Profile cover photo, the recommended dimensions are 1024 x 575 pixels, maintaining a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Google Business Profile Posts Photo Dimension [2024]

The recommended size for a Google Business Profile Post photo is 1200 x 900 pixels with an aspect ratio of 4:3. You can follow this for general photos uploaded to your Google Business Profile, as well.

Google Business Profile Posts Video File Size [2024]

The maximum file size for a Google Business Profile video is 75 MB. The length of the video doesn’t matter, but you have to get the video under that size – which will likely require using compression software.

Craft a Compelling Business Description: Highlight what makes your business unique, your history, and the services or products you offer. As I mentioned earlier, your customers will be seeing this description in several places, so it’s imperative that it’s written as if you’re talking to your ideal customer rather than writing to optimize every word for SEO.

Regularly Update Your Profile: Keep your operating hours, contact information, and services up to date, especially during holidays or special events.

Importance of Accurate and Engaging Content

Accurate and engaging content in your Google Business Profile not only helps in SEO but also in building trust with potential customers. It provides a first impression and can be the deciding factor in whether customers choose your services. Regular updates and interactions, such as responding to reviews and posting updates about your business, keep your profile dynamic and engaging, which can lead to increased customer interaction and business growth.

Google Business Profile Management

It is a well known fact that Google rewards activity over time. Again, let me reiterate: Google rewards activity over time. To do that, you must manage our GBP – but how do you do that?

Best Practices for Posting Updates

Consistency is Key: Regular updates maintain an active and engaging profile. It would be optimal to post at least once a week to keep your audience informed and engaged. Though, posting every other week is a fine goal for a smaller business.

Promote Offers and Events: Use your profile to promote special offers, events, or new product launches. This not only attracts attention but also provides a direct incentive for customers to choose your business. Also, Offer and Event Google Posts have been shown to cause the most engagement.

Share Engaging Visual Content: High-quality images and videos can significantly enhance engagement. Showcase your products, services, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business.

Leverage Local SEO: Include relevant keywords in your posts that align with what your local customers might search for. This can improve your visibility in local search results. Do this by including local cities and towns, or locations that only locals (and algorithms) would know.

Respond to Reviews and Queries: Engage with your customers by responding to reviews and queries promptly. As these responses are public, ensure they reflect your business professionally. Additionally, ensure that you’re interacting with each review by pressing the thumbs up button. This demonstrates excellent customer service and can positively impact your reputation.

Strategies for Listing Products and Services Effectively

Clear and Concise Descriptions: Provide clear and detailed descriptions of your products and services. This helps customers understand what you offer and can aid in decision-making.

Categorize for Clarity: Organize your products and services into categories if you offer a wide range. This makes it easier for customers to navigate and find what they’re looking for.

Update Regularly: Keep your listings up to date with current pricing, availability, and new offerings.

Highlight Unique Selling Points: Emphasize what makes your products or services stand out, such as special features, quality, or price points.

Secondary Categories: As we talked about above there are secondary categories, these play a crucial role in enhancing your visibility and relevance in search results. By accurately selecting these categories, you ensure your business is discovered by the right audience, matching their specific search queries and needs. Remember that competitor research we did earlier in the post? Take all those other categories that were showing up and, if they’re relevant to your business, be sure to include them!

Utilizing Features Like Menus and Attributes for Specific Business Types

Menus for Restaurants and Food Services: If you run a restaurant or food service business, utilize the menu feature to showcase your dishes. Include descriptions and prices and update the menu regularly to reflect seasonal items or specials.

Attributes to Highlight Features: Use attributes to highlight features of your business that may appeal to your target audience. For example, if you’re a pet-friendly café, make sure to add that attribute to your profile.

More From the Business: This is an often-overlooked area that needs to be filled out. Are you a woman business owner? Put that! Are you a Black business owner? People are searching for that and wanting to support Black-owned businesses. As people become more aware of where they make their purchasing decisions, Google has added attributes to help customers find the businesses that best align with their values. If these apply to you, do not miss out on this opportunity!

Service Lists for Professional Services: For service-oriented businesses like salons or law firms, list your services clearly. The nice thing about this section is you can manually enter your services, so if you have unique services, you can highlight them here.

Use Booking Features: If applicable, use booking features to allow customers to make appointments or reservations directly through your profile. Ensure that this links to something where they can book, this can be as simple as a landing page that has a contact us button.

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Now let’s look ahead at what Google Business Profiles will mean in 2024 and beyond…

Google Business Profile in the Era of SGE

Google is about the completely change the game when it drops SGE in the first half of 2024. You may think this is bad news for your Google Business Profile, but it turns out that your GBP is your direct line to the generative AI answers that Google will soon be presenting above the regular search results.

So, as we progress into 2024, Google Business Profiles are set to integrate more and more closely with cutting-edge developments like Search Generative Experience (SGE). This integration signifies a leap forward in how businesses can leverage Google’s sophisticated AI capabilities to enhance their online presence and customer interactions.

Understanding SGE and Its Impact on Business Profiles

SGE represents a major advancement in search technology, offering a more intuitive, AI-powered search experience. For businesses, this means that their Google Business Profile could become more dynamic and responsive to customer queries. With SGE, when potential customers search for services or products, Google can provide more comprehensive, contextually relevant results that include deep insights into your business offerings.

The Emergence of Zero-click Searches

One of the most exciting (and terrifying) aspects of SGE is its ability to simplify the process of discovering detailed information about a business. Most people are scared that the generative AI answer will be so good that users will never get to their site.

However, think of this example: a customer is searching for “best coffee shops for remote work in Bend Oregon.” The results they receive could be a nuanced overview, curated through SGE, highlighting your coffee shop’s features, such as high-speed Wi-Fi, ample power outlets, and a serene ambiance conducive to work. This level of detail goes beyond traditional search results, offering a richer, more engaging user experience, and might get them sitting at your coffee shop faster than ever before! To show up in the results, though, you’ll need to stay ahead!

Customized Responses to Complex Queries

SGE also excels at handling complex, multifaceted queries, providing responses that synthesize a range of information from across the web. For example, if a user searches for “sustainable practices in local businesses,” SGE can generate a comprehensive snapshot of your business’s eco-friendly initiatives, collating information from various parts of your Google Business Profile, website, and YouTube channel. This not only saves time for the user but also showcases your business’s unique attributes more effectively.

A Look Ahead

As we anticipate these advancements in 2024, it’s clear that the integration of SGE into Google’s search results are coming. It can be scary, but your Google Business Profile will likely offer your business unprecedented opportunities to enhance your online visibility and customer engagement. By effectively utilizing these advanced features, businesses can expect not only to meet but exceed the evolving expectations of their customers in the digital landscape. The future of online business discovery and interaction is here, and it’s more intuitive, comprehensive, and user-friendly than ever before… but only if you stay ahead.

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Conclusion

As we continue to be bombarded with AI-generated content in 2024, the value of a well-crafted Google Business Profile cannot be overstated for small business owners. It’s a pivotal tool in your arsenal, serving not just as a digital storefront but as a dynamic platform for engaging with customers and expanding your reach.

The key takeaway here is the immense potential of this tool to elevate your business. By meticulously setting up and optimizing your profile, you open doors to enhanced visibility, improved customer interactions, and a stronger local presence. Remember, it’s not just about listing your business; it’s about bringing your unique story and offerings to life in a way that resonates with your audience.

Moreover, this platform offers invaluable insights that can guide your marketing strategies and help you understand your customer base better. By leveraging these insights, you can tailor your services and communications to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your customers. This isn’t just about maintaining an online presence; it’s about thriving in a digital ecosystem where customer engagement and visibility are paramount.

In conclusion, your Google Business Profile is much more than a listing; it’s a reflection of your brand’s commitment to visibility, transparency, and customer engagement. As you continue to grow and adapt in 2024, let this tool be a cornerstone of your digital strategy, helping you to connect with your community, build lasting relationships, and drive your business forward. Remember, in a world where online presence is synonymous with business success, your Google Business Profile is your digital handshake with potential clients. Make it count!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Google Business Profile?

Google Business Profile is a free Google tool allowing businesses to manage their online presence, including in Google Search and Maps.

Why is Google Business Profile important for local SEO?

Google Business Profile enhances local search visibility, helping businesses appear in relevant local searches on Google.

Who can create a Google Business Profile?

Any business with a physical location or service area is eligible to create a Google Business Profile.

How do I set up a Google Business Profile?

To set up a Google Business Profile, sign into Google, search for your business, and follow the prompts to claim or create your profile.

What are the key features of a Google Business Profile?

Key features of a Google Business Profile include managing business information, customer reviews, posts, insights, and messaging on Google.

How does Google Business Profile help connect with customers?

Google Business Profile allows businesses to interact directly with customers through reviews, Q&A, and messaging on Google.

Should I post updates on my Google Business Profile?

Posting regular updates on Google Business Profile keeps your profile active and informs customers and the algorithm about the latest offers, news, or events.

How useful are insights from Google Business Profile?

Insights from Google Business Profile help understand customer interactions and preferences on Google, guiding marketing strategies.

What are some common pitfalls in setting up a Google Business Profile?

Inaccurate information, neglecting customer reviews, and infrequent updates are common pitfalls when managing a Google Business Profile.

Does Google Business Profile integrate with Google Maps and Shopping?

Google Business Profiles appear in Google Maps for local searches and can link to Google Shopping for product listings.

What are the best practices for handling reviews and messages on Google Business Profile?

Responding promptly and professionally to all reviews and messages on Google Business Profile builds customer trust. Also, don’t forget to hit the thumbs up button.

What are ideal photos and videos for Google Business Profile?

Use high-quality images of your products, services, and premises on your Google Business Profile. Do not use stock photos.

What are some tips for optimizing Google Business Profile?

Use relevant keywords, complete all sections, and regularly update information on your Google Business Profile.

What is the impact of Search Generative Experience (SGE) on Google Business Profiles?

The introduction of SGE may highlight active and well-maintained Google Business Profiles in more personalized and interactive Google search results.

How do I effectively list products and services on Google Business Profile?

Clearly categorize and describe your offerings with high-quality images and accurate pricing on your Google Business Profile.

How do I choose the right business category for Google Business Profile?

Go to Google Maps and look up your service “near me” and note the category below the star rating. Pick the category that the majority of your highest-ranking competitors are using.

Can businesses without a physical location use Google Business Profile?

Yes, service-area businesses can specify their service areas and use Google Business Profile effectively.

What is the role of Google Business Profile in overall digital marketing strategy?

Google Business Profile boosts a business’s local online presence and credibility, complementing other digital marketing channels.

What is the recommended update frequency for Google Business Profile?

Regular updates, at least once a month, are recommended for keeping your Google Business Profile relevant and engaging. Every other week is typically best for small businesses. Once per week would be the most.

How can I improve my Google Business Profile’s ranking on Google Search?

To improve your Google Business Profile’s ranking on Google Search, ensure your information is accurate and complete, regularly update your profile, respond to reviews, and use relevant keywords in your business description and posts. Regular engagement and quality content on your Google Business Profile are key to enhancing visibility on Google.

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