someone holding a phone and using google maps to demonstrate the new google business profile

A Google Business Profile is a critical component of any local marketing strategy. Google itself has become so ubiquitous in everyday life that even local businesses need to make it a part of what they do.

Indeed, the search giant isn’t necessarily known for insider insights. Search engine optimization (SEO), in general, is often a mix of skill, experience, trial and error, and luck. However, they regularly share information on what has become known as the “near me” phenomenon. Searches for “near me” with some combination of “can I buy” or “to buy” rose by 500% between 2015 and 2017. There was over 900% growth in searches for “___ near me today/tonight” in the same timescale.

While Google has remained predictably tight-lipped since then, it’s not difficult to correlate the importance of local search visibility. Up to 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices in 2021, and there was a jump of around 30% in mobile traffic from 2017 to 2019 alone. Google handles 96% of mobile search queries.

In short, businesses of all sizes need to harness the power of Google Business Profile, and they need to do it well.

Incidentally, for brands already using Google My Business for their local SEO, you’ll find that your work has carried over. The change to Google Business Profile took place in early November 2021. The launch of additional features accompanied the name change, but any work already carried out on the local profile remains available to users.

To reiterate, it’s rarely enough merely to have a Google Business Profile. It’s generally far more beneficial in both the short and long term to put in the effort to make it as outstanding as it possibly can be. Here are five great tips for doing just that:

1. Keep Your Basic Information Up to Date

Whether positive or negative, most people trust Google. If their listing says a business is open at a given time, they expect that to be the case. While perhaps unfair, if the information proves inaccurate, some people will hold that against the business itself rather than Google.

Google Business Profile provides extensive opportunities for companies to supply information that will be useful to customers. This spans opening times, addresses, contact numbers, and any other basics that help a business to succeed.

2. Add Plenty of Photos

Businesses often overlook photos, but there’s one crucial consideration: Anyone can add images to a business profile. So, companies can trust customers to provide professional shots of their interior, exterior, and products, or they can take matters into their own hands.

Most businesses end up with a healthy mix of both, which often works out well for a comprehensive profile.

Given that the goal of local SEO is to ensure businesses appear as prominently as possible in local searches, brands shouldn’t underestimate the impact of their best shots appearing in Google Image Search either.

In another rare case of sharing internal data, Google itself stated that customers are 42% more likely to request directions to a company that includes photos in its profile and 35% more likely to visit the website. Since arriving at the premises and landing on the website are incredibly positive signs for conversions, photos are clearly worth the effort.

3. Stay on Top of Customer Interactions

Google hasn’t always had it easy in its ambitions to become a source of business reviews. While the functionality has been in place for over a decade, many customers seemingly continued to prefer the likes of Foursquare, Yelp, and even Facebook as platforms to share their feelings on a business.

However, the growth in Google reviews has been explosive, to say the least. By 2017, it had already overtaken the competition. With Facebook’s market share on the decline – more on that below – and Foursquare a different proposition (although surprisingly still highly popular in Vervology’s native New York), Google faces relatively little competition as the local business review destination of choice.

While business owners can’t control what customers write, they can engage. For example, the “Customers” section in Google Business Profile enables users to view and reply to reviews and messages and keep abreast of questions asked in the Q&A section.

4. Ensure You’re in the Right Categories

Relatively few small businesses have the privilege of being household names, even in their local areas. They already have their regulars and don’t need to spend time on Google to keep them coming back. Their efforts are far better spent on keeping those customers happy.

People won’t search for “Dave’s Repair Shop” in most cases. Instead, their query will look more like “mechanic near me.” Google will eventually work out how a business fits into its category system, but there’s no need to leave it to chance.

The category choice can hugely influence how and where a business appears in local search listings, so getting it right rather than leaving anything to chance makes sense.

5. Make Regular Posts Part of Your Routine

Google controls 92% of the search market. Conversely, no single social network holds more than 70%, with some reports suggesting that even the mighty Facebook – still the most prominent social network in the world by market share – is noticeably on the decline.

This means that any business that spends time posting to social media should probably post to their Google business profile. Social media marketing is thriving and cannot be ignored, but it’s fragmented. Whether your audience spends most of its social time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or anything else, they probably use Google for search.

What Google Business Profile has over social networks in this context is intent. Searchers will often see these posts when browsing locally or following up on specific queries. That’s in stark contrast to most social networks, where the bulk of traffic comes from people scrolling mindlessly without any particular plans.

Go Pro with Your Local SEO

Like most marketing tasks, finding the time and resources to fulfill a company’s potential can be challenging. Moreover, convincing customers that a business is a perfect choice to meet their needs requires not only time, but skill and experience, too. However, local SEO benefits apply to businesses of all sizes – and even those that operate over relatively large geographical areas.

Many customers are inclined to shop local, even when a local business is a website rather than a physical location. So reassuring them that you’re nearby, even if you never meet face to face, can hugely accelerate trust and relationship building.If you want your business to stand out as a local hero, the Vervology team is on hand to make it happen. From creating and optimizing your Google Business Profile to ensuring your website and promotional materials provide an extra warm welcome to local clientele, we’d be delighted to discuss how we’ll take your digital marketing efforts to a whole new level!