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December 22, 2021
The Google network of services provides many ways for businesses to get noticed online through search, social media, and other channels. Understanding how to use these tools to your advantage can help your company become more competitive for internet market share and customer attention. In this article, we discuss how the Google Business Account and Profile can help in-person businesses reach their audience online.
A Google Business Account is a web tool that allows you to create or claim a Business Profile for your company to share information across Google platforms, including the search engine. It’s also a channel to use for interacting with customers. Google may create unclaimed Business Profiles for certain companies based on information from around the internet using its algorithm and user network. The algorithm pulls information from sources like crawled web content, third-party licensed data, user-submitted information, and Google’s interactions with a local place or business.
When you create a Google Business Account, you can claim and verify your Business Profile. This gives you the ability to take control of the information that appears there to make sure it’s accurate and beneficial to your audience. Users can manage their accounts and profiles through the Google Business app, directly from Google Search and Maps, or through the Google Business website.
The terms Google Business Account, Business Profile, and Google My Business appear interchangeably in most articles, blogs, and support threads on the topic. To help clarify what we mean when discussing them in this article, we’ve provided a short guide:
If you want to update your Google Business Profile, yes, you need a Google Business Account. Though Google may create a Business Profile for a company on its own, claiming the listing with your Google Business Account allows you to customize and control the way the information appears in Search and Maps. Having a Business Profile makes your company more discoverable to potential clients or customers online by appearing above or on the first page of search results.
Even your local customers likely visit the internet first to look for new stores or services. A Business Profile can complement your website to get more visibility across Google platforms. It can also serve as a communication tool, allowing your audience to leave reviews and you to respond to them on the same platform. Other benefits include making it easier for consumers to find your products or services, establishing and maintaining an excellent business reputation, and providing a way for searchers to make comparisons among companies.
You can create a regular Google Account for your business and then use those credentials to sign in to the Google Business website and establish your dashboard. This is where you can create or claim your Business Profile and get information out to the public. For more information on creating your account and how to claim your business on Google, check out our in-depth guide on the subject.
Image via Unsplash by @nathanareboucas
Use these tips to help optimize your Google Business Account and Business Profile to make it search and user friendly:
There are many fields and options that you can fill out and select to complete your Business Profile through the Business Account dashboard. After you create or claim and verify your business, you can update information such as:
Input information for as many of these sections that apply to your company. It gives Google and searchers as much information as possible about your business all in one place. This makes for the most robust source possible and helps Google pick your profile for search results based on its three primary local ranking factors:
Depending on your industry or business category, you may have additional options on your Business Profile. You can choose up to 10 categories for your business that may unlock some of these features. As with the standard features, filling out as many of these as possible can help provide more information about your business to searchers and Google. Some additional options may include:
Your logo, tagline, and other branding elements make your company unique and recognizable to customers. Think about large name brands, their design elements, fonts, and company colors. Your business probably uses many of those things too in your signage or throughout your brick-and-mortar stores to give customers an aesthetic experience. You can bring those elements to your Business Profile by uploading your logo and a cover photo.
Doing this can help assure searchers they’ve found your company, not a similar one or one with a near name. This helps encourage brand recognition so that when searchers visit your store, find your social media, or click on your website, they know they’re looking at material from the same company across all channels.
Use these tips to help boost your local marketing online with a Google Business Account:
The Google Business interface includes many ways to connect with searchers and consumers. Some popular options are reviews, questions, and direct messaging. You can use a Google Business Account to set up alerts and learn when people are interacting with your content in search so you can react or respond as quickly as possible. By using these features, you’re more likely to connect with your audience and encourage them to engage with your company further. This could lead to more sales, conversions, or foot traffic to your store.
Think about your own searching habits. When you’re looking for a local business, whether something like a restaurant or a service-based company, what information is important to you? Likely, you’re looking for some specific piece of information. It could be the hours of operation, the services offered, an address for directions, or the website for more information. These are all things to highlight on your Google Business Profile to make it most valuable to the searcher. Updating regularly with new offerings, changing hours, or other announcements can also increase brand loyalty and trust.
Your Google Business Account gives you access to a suite of analytics tools specifically to monitor your Business Profile. This dashboard can tell you more about your audience and your profile’s performance in local search. One of the more interesting statistics is the ability to see the queries customers use to find your profile, and whether they located you through Search or Maps.
These pieces of information can help your profile strategy because they can tell you more about how people access your content. They can influence how you do other marketing tasks, too. For example, you may use the queries to frame an article for a content marketing campaign. If people find you most often through search, you may engage in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to reach more leads.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that helps your business, website, or content become more visible within local search results on Google. It can benefit any business with a physical storefront or location to help attract new clients or customers in a geographic area. Local SEO is like other types of traditional SEO you may perform on your website or with your content marketing to rank higher in SERPs. But, this type uses a proximity factor to help find the most relevant results near a searcher’s location.
For example, depending on where you search for the keywords “car wash” you may get different results for the best ones in the area. Local search has become more popular since people increased mobile device usage to make their queries. This makes local SEO important for any business with competition in its immediate geographic location. Optimizing for this local SEO can get you more attention from your audience. In the next section, we discuss more local SEO tips in detail.
Your Google Business Profile prioritizes sections within it based on the search term someone uses and the type of information most important to someone in the searcher’s demographic. How can it do this? Based on the algorithm for your industry or location and by collecting data from those signed in to their Google accounts when searching. This is one way the search engine optimizes your account and profile to expand the audience’s reach. Using these local SEO tips can help you capitalize on that optimization and appear in more search results:
Just like you would do for content marketing of any kind, make sure you include the right relevant keywords in your Business Profile. Doing this helps Google create its index and understand exactly what you’re trying to rank for or for what queries you hope your profile appears. Add keywords to your product listings, business descriptions, image captions, and review responses. Incorporate them naturally and use language that matches the queries for which you want to rank.
Being honest and accurate when filling out your business profile and across your channels may be one of the most important strategies to help your local SEO. Google uses this information to cross-reference sources and determine the legitimacy of your business. The more matches it finds, the more likely it is to recommend your company or business profile to searchers. This means making sure you add things like the right phone number or address without typos. It also means updating your business hours or other essential information when necessary.
In content marketing, we often talk about building trust with viewers and readers to develop and maintain an audience. For local SEO, you can also develop trust with Google through the way you use your profile to show the search engine you’re a viable business worth displaying in results. You can do this by keeping your information accurate, as we mentioned, but also by providing consistent updates.
To do this, you can encourage visitors to leave a review and then respond to them. You can also regularly upload photos or publish posts. By interacting with your audience, it tells Google your profile is responsive and that it’s worth recommending to searchers to fulfill their needs.
Use these tips to attract more customers to your business profile:
Did you know searchers view Business Profiles with photos as twice as likely to be credible and that they get up to 35% more clicks than those without? If your primary goal is to attract a bigger audience, share photos of your storefront, products, or events on your profile. This may be especially helpful in certain industries, such as food service or travel and hospitality. Sharing images of plated meals or guest rooms for hotels or other lodgings may increase the likelihood of securing a new customer.
Professional photos may look the most reputable to searchers, so if you’re able to hire a photographer, you may increase your engagement further. If not, you can learn how to edit your own photos using different tools and products to make them look more professional.
Sharing informational posts isn’t just for social media. Through the post option on your Google Business Account, you can tell searchers about new products, sales, events, or other offers. As with other types of advertising, you can share calls to action to encourage searchers or visitors to complete an action, such as visiting your physical store location or signing up to attend an event.
According to a study from Brightlocal, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. People use information from reviews to determine what other consumers really think about a company, product, or service. There’s a notion that a company’s marketing or advertising departments may only share the best attributes of their organization, but other customers or clients share the truth.
To provide that option and attract more people to your business, encourage customers and clients to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile. You can use a custom shortlink for your profile to make it easier to ask for these reviews through email, on your website, or social media. You can build trust further with customers by responding to all reviews: positive, negative, and neutral. Respond using accurate brand voice. Thank those who leave positive and neutral feedback and offer solutions when possible for negative reviews.
As a marketer, you’re always looking for ways to convert casual searchers or audience members into leads and then into customers. Using tools like a Google Business Account and optimizing it to get the most reach is just one way to do that. Taking advantage of these free tools can also help you free up money in your advertising budget while still increasing your reach and visibility.
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