What Businesses Should Know About Google Business Profile

By Ashley Orndorff, aka Marketing Geek Google building sign

Since its release in 2014, Google My Business has been through several iterations and redesigns. Features have been added and removed, re-added, re-worked, and more. And, in 2021, it was overhauled again into Google Business Profile. Get up to date and informed with what businesses should know about Google Business Profile:

1. The History of Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile has an interesting history as it evolved from Google Plus into Google My Business, and then into what it is now.

Google Plus as a Social Network

Google Plus was first released in 2011. It was an attempt to compete with Facebook. As Facebook continued to gain popularity since its release, Google attempted several times to create a Google-owned social network that could compete. Google Plus was Google’s fourth attempt to enter social networking and was the only attempt Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took seriously at the time.

After several years, Google no longer referred to Google+ as a social network. It was not considered a front-end social network product anymore. Instead, it was considered a platform to integrate social across Google products. This supposedly took Google Plus out of competition with Facebook and other social networks without removing the social aspect. That may have been Google’s stance on it, but for most users, it was a social network. For businesses, it had started to become information and reputation management with a social network add-on.

Details aside, Facebook remained on top as the largest social network in the world. Google Plus was unable to dethrone Facebook, especially when it came to businesses using Facebook. In fact, it was in the process of being shut down and was slated for a permanent shutdown in August 2019.

What Happened to Google Plus?

When Google first launched Google+ back in 2011, there were Google+ profiles for personal use and then separate pages for business use. Then, businesses had Google+ Local followed by Google Places for Business, which were both attempts to better integrate local search with Google Plus. In 2014, Google launched Google My Business.

Just a few years later, in 2018, they announced Google+ would be shuttered completely for consumers. This would remove all Google+ profiles and pages, but Google My Business would remain. Many sources believe this move to shut down Google Plus is partly due to the slow growth and poor performance of the platform and also due to a massive data breach that occurred earlier in the year. The shutdown of the platform, profiles, and accounts associated with it is slated to continue throughout 2019 with a plan to be closed permanently by August 2019.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business launched in 2014 and replaced Google Plus. It combined Search, Maps, and what used to be Google Plus into one dashboard for your business. Signing up for Google My Business allowed you to manage the information provided in the map listing that appears for your business in local search results.

You could also verify your business, add photos, share posts, and more to help make your company easier to find and more discoverable in general. In terms of managing the listing information for your business in Google, Google My Business was a tool you needed to be using. It also didn’t hurt that it is a tool owned by the search engine with the most market share.

What is Google Business Profile?

Google Business Profile is the new name for Google My Business. Google made the switch towards the end of 2021. All of the useful features of Google My Business are still there, for now, plus some features to make it easier for businesses to manage their information in Google search results. Just make sure you follow Google’s guidelines to avoid having your listing suspended from Search.

Google Business Profile is all about allowing businesses with single locations to manage their information more efficiently directly from Google Search, Google Maps, and respective apps. Google also has plans to retire the Google My Business app for single locations completely sometime in 2022.

According to Google, the existing Google My Business interface will transition to “Business Profile Manager”. The plans are for this interface to primarily support larger businesses that need to manage multiple locations, including marketers that need to manage locations for multiple businesses.

2. Improve Visibility in Local Search

As search engine algorithms continue to improve and personalize results, location makes a difference in what shows up. Using Google Business Profile to add and verify your business information allows you to improve your chances of showing up in the map listings and further associate your business with your service areas.

Using Google Business Profile, you can add categories to your business to identify your industry and service types. You can also define your location and service radius to give visitors and Google a better idea of your geographic location and business reach.

Not only does this help Google show your business for searches in your service areas, but an updated, optimized business listing also gets more engagement from your potential customers. A study by Ipsos Research showed increased clicks, calls, visits, and more for businesses with updated business profiles in Google. In particular, they found businesses with updated, optimized Google Business Profiles outperform businesses without or with outdated listings in the following ways:

  • They are 2.7 times more likely to be considered more reputable.
  • Updated listings get 7 times more clicks.
  • For businesses with a physical location, they are 70% more likely to attract visits.
  • Updated, optimized listings are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase.

3. Add Photos to Your Page

Images, especially on social media, increase engagement. Social media posts with images tend to be “Liked”, retweeted, favorited, and shared more. Blog posts with images also get more engagement and shares. The same holds true for your Google Business Profile.

As you’re filling out and adding information about your business using Google Business Profile, also add relevant and interesting photos too. Business listings with photos receive 35% more clicks to their website and 42% more requests for driving directions.

4. Engage with Customers Using Reviews, Posts, and Questions & Answers

There are several ways to engage with customers and potential customers using Google Business Profile. You can add photos, which can help your listing stand out. You can also respond to reviews, share posts, and answer questions about your business.

Aside from making sure your general business information is correct, three sections of your business profile worth getting familiar with are Reviews, Posts, and Questions & Answers. With these sections, you can connect with customers and potential customers in a personalized way, share important and relevant information, and answer questions your customers are asking.

Manage and Respond to Reviews

Reviews make a difference for your business and affect your online reputation. It’s important to be monitoring and responding to online reviews to keep your business’s reputation intact, identify potential issues, and resolve any customer complaints.

Anyone can leave a review for your business on Google and the only way for you to respond directly to those and engage with those users is to do so directly in search using Google Business Profile or through the Business Profile Manager.

Share Posts

With Google Business Profile, you can create posts and updates directly from your business listing in search that will be shared directly with Google Search and Google Maps for users to view when they find your business listing. Simply search for your business name, check out the listing in the right sidebar, scroll down to where the posts and updates are featured, and click “Add update”. As long as you are searching from the account that is a verified manager of the page, the edit options will be available to you.

Posts are great for sharing information about events, products, or services. However, they are not permanent and expire after 7 days. The exception to this is event posts, which may expire sooner or later depending on how long the event is running. On mobile, there is a historical tab that shows past posts. But, once posts have “expired”, they no longer show up under your business in the search results.

You don’t want to go overboard with these as they are meant to be short, timely, relevant, and useful to your customers, but you don’t want to ignore them either. Google Business Profile posts have a maximum word count of 300 and can include a photo, clickable call-to-action, and date ranges if your post is about an event. When your business listing shows up when someone is searching, active posts will appear in a card-like format below the listing.

Only a few are shown at a time, but up to 10 can be featured in a carousel. It’s important to keep in mind that more is not always the best option as some businesses see more engagement with just one active post at a time. So, you’ll want to make sure you’re trying it out and testing to find what works best for your business. When used strategically, posts can enhance your listing and increase customer engagement with your business.

Monitor and Use Questions & Answers

Your customers have questions about your business and now, with the Questions & Answers section of your Google Business Profile, they can get answers. This section shows up as part of your business listing in search and allows customers to see questions that have been asked, answers given, and gives them the ability to ask you questions directly through your business profile.

It’s important for you to stay on top of these questions and provide answers in a timely fashion for several reasons. As with responding to reviews, it’s important for customers to feel like you are listening and for other potential customers to see that you are actively responding.

Also, anyone with a Gmail account can respond to questions even if they’re on your business listing, which means you need to be on top of responding to them in order to be a part of that conversation. As a note, you currently cannot include links to a webpage, email addresses, or phone numbers in answers. These items are considered “restricted content” for this section and can cause your answer not to be shown.

5. Analytics are Built-In

Not only can you integrate your Google Analytics account into your Google Business Profile, but there are analytics built into the platform as well. When you search your business name or “my business” in Google, you will see some information under “Your business on Google” and you can dig in further as well.

With the rollout of Call History, you can see valuable information like how many people called you using the number in your listing, visited your website from the listing, requested driving directions, viewed your photos, and more.

There are also snapshots about how customers searched for your business and where they found your listing, whether in search or through Google Maps. You can find most of this information in Google Analytics as well, but Analytics focuses on the performance and interaction of your website, not your listing. The insights provided by Google Business Profile focus specifically on your listing performance and interactions there to provide more segmented detail.

Google Business Profile can be a valuable part of your overall marketing strategy. At the very least, a complete, optimized business listing in Google needs to be included. It’s integral to your business’s listing information and local presence in the search results.

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