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This Google Business Profile Guide will walk you step-by-step through the important elements to ranking your business online using Google Maps.
The GBP or Google Business Profile, formerly GBP or Google My Business is a free service that acts as an online business profile for local companies and brick and mortar stores of all kinds, including national brands. A GBP listing may be shown as a part of the search results; triggered when people online are searching for (“Googling”) businesses, products and or services and allows people to leave reviews, build trust with prospective customers, and greatly increases your potential for customers to find your business.
The area within the search results where the GBP appears can go by several different names.
Let's look at some interesting facts about Google & Business Profiles.
Even more interesting is why it is so beneficial to rank within the first 3 positions in Google Maps - which can only be achieved if you have a GBP profile.
For these reasons, GBPs are critical for any service area business that wants to compete in their local market. For local businesses, top SEOs agree that GBP's, and the Map Pack in particular, are the most important part of the local search results. The Map Pack is where a searcher can quickly and easily see your NAP (business name, address, phone number), business hours, website URL, reviews, photos and even driving directions.
The process for creating your GBP is simple! The first step is to create or claim your Google My Business, Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and create the account! Name your business, select the primary business category, fill out your services as prompted and complete verification; this can be done in a number of ways but the most common ones are postcard, email, phone, and video verification. Once you have claimed and verified your listing, you can begin to fill out your business information and optimize your Google business listing for the greatest conversions, which we will get into below.
If you have participated in the SEO world, you have undoubtedly heard references to the term ranking. As you learn more about how things work, it can be confusing to understand what “ranking” really means.
We find it very useful to use the idea of antennas as way to explain how GBP rankings work. As a part of the setup process of the GBP, you establish an address as the location. This address acts as the specific location of your antenna, and at this location your signal (or ranking) will be strongest. The further you move away from the address of your listing, the weaket the signal gets . You have two options to improve and strengthen your signal.
As you optimize your Google Business listing, your antenna, it grow little by little. For each new review, post, citation, and on your antenna will get a little stronger. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do this yet, we are going to spend a lot of time in this guide explaining our GBP optimization strategies. One way to think about your business competitors is to see them as signal interference for your antenna. Generally speaking, the more densely populated a city is, the more competition or interference will be present to disrupt your signal.
Excellent question! In our agency, it means ranking in the Map Pack for a collection of keywords that have high buyer intent across an entire city. We often see that the definition of ranking is inconsistent in the SEO world, so let’s clarify a few things.
E-A-T you can read all about it in the guidelines that Google has released to the public! Its most basic principle is that Google’s goal is to show the most credible and proximate listings to searchers based on the keywords they search. For example, if a searcher wants ice cream in Kansas City, they don’t want to be shown results for Mexican food in Kansas City. Which GBP listings actually show up in the Map Pack depends on a complicated mix of many factors. We can group the ranking factors into 4 major categories which directly relate back to the E-A-T Policy:
Activity on your Google Business Listing helps to improve the relevance of your listing in the Google’s complex algorithms, showing that you are an active business that searchers want to find. Activity includes (but is not limited to):
Even posting on your website in the form of relevant blogs or updates can be considered activity.
Proximity simply stated is your business’ physical distance relative to the person searching. Google has made it very clear that proximity of the searcher to the business location is a major influence on the search results and whether a business is shown in the Map Pack. However, proximity is not the only factor, so applying the correct SEO strategies, you can outrank other listings even if they are closer to the searcher. Some of these strategies include increased activity, higher user engagement, website traffic, providing high-quality content, and local signals.
User engagement is the third major category Google uses when determining GBP rankings. Engagement factors important to Google include:
Website visits also count towards your user ‘engagement’ and are measured and considered when ranking on google.
Optimization is a mix of completing the GBP listing with the best quality information as well ongoing activity like reviews, citations, and content.
In this section, we will go into best practices for getting and optimizing Google Business Profiles.
Always send the request for the GPB from a trusted gmail.Example:
Good if you have access to the business storefront or equipment because Google has the opportunity to see your actual work environment.
Our favored method for verification because they are less likely to be suspended due to the postcard arriving at the physical address for the business.
Good but not ideal for long term listings because they are less trustworthy.
Good & often offered if you have google search console attached to the email you used to set up your GBP.
Can be done through google search console by connecting your website analytics to the platform. Google cross references this informationand can verify the owner, triggering instant verification.
Google has attempted to weed out spam Google Business Profiles over the years. The primary way that Google determines if a GBP is potentially spam is how it is named.
Many businesses choose to include keywords in their GBP name. They do this because having your primary keyword/service in your name can be a major ranking factor. This is because when a potential customer searches for a keyword like ‘towing’ they will be matched not only by proximity, but relevance, and Google will therefore return results for listings that have ‘towing’ in the name.
As we’ve mentioned, optimization can really be divided into two categories. We have the initial setup and then the ongoing stuff that never really ends.
The steps needed to acquire a listing are covered more in the section below. Within the GBP admin management area there are many opportunities to add information about your business. Completing all of this information will positively influence your ranking within the search results. As a bonus to you we have included our agencies’ GBP Checklist that we use to get into the Map Pack. We break down our best practice principles for you below.
Once we have the setup complete, we begin the ongoing optimization process. The truth is that optimization never ends. The more optimization, the better we can rank, so we make this a fundamental part of our agency ranking strategy. We will cover more of these in depth later in this guide. A few examples includes reviews, posts, photos, citations, etc.).
Google Business Profiles optimization is something most local businesses struggle with. This is great news for someone with the right tools and strategies to outrank competitors.
Well informed Digital Marketers know that having positive reviews online is a massive bonus to any business. Positive reviews bring in more business and simultaneously rank you higher online… Who wouldn't want that?
Plus, nearly 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as a recommendation from people they know. The best part is you can design the way that people leave reviews as well as how you reply to them in order to influence Google to favor your GBP listing.
No, we are not referring to fraudulent reviews!
Never place, create, or order fraudulent reviews. Fake reviews are strictly against both Google Terms of Service and could potentially lead to Google suspending your listing. We recommend enticing your customers to leave reviews that are descriptive and also encourage you or your clients to respond to reviews more effectively overall..
Encourage your customers to leave reviews.
Create review sequences with automations via LeadSnap or Zapier including with
Reply to Reviews as soon as possible.
Google Questions are an important part of your free Google Business Profile. Google Questions are intended to help people answer common questions related to your business including specific services offered and service areas. It is important that you have filled out this information and engage with potential customers who leave questions on your Google Business Profile.
Think of Google Business Questions as a type of FAQ page. One of the most common SEO practices is to include FAQs on websites that target the main keywords of their business. Google Questions have the same impact as a FAQ and help to keep your business profile relevant.
Posts are another free feature of your GBP. Think of posts like your businesses' best way to distribute information about events, discounts, offers,and updates to your potential customers. All Google Posts are indexed and shown purposefully to the people that have chosen to follow your business updates and all potential customers searching Google for your services.
**Google has recently been more strict about what is allowed in a Google post and they can be rejected or removed down without warning for a variety of reasons. Google is also making an effort to purge the use of generic stock photos to represent business online. If you are adding images to your GBP & GBP Posts they should be unique photos.
Rankings can vary dramatically from one side of town to another. This is due to geolocation in the antenna example mentioned previously. We use a number of strategies to influence hyper-local rankings. In other words we can target very specific part of town or neighborhoods where we want to rank better. Before we can take action on what areas we need to improve, we need to understand where we we’re ranking weak and where we we’re strong.
This is an actual spreadsheet from our pre-LeadSnap days. You can see we were tracking our rankings by zip code.
This was incredibly useful for us, but as you can imagine it was tedious and time consuming, especially when we started to scale to dozens and even hundreds of listings. At the point it became unsustainable, the LeadSnap Heat Map was born!.
The Heat Map is a secret weapon for any agency or business that values ranking well in GBP area of the search results.
In the picture below, you see a color coded square with numbers sitting on top of a map. The numbers represent the ranking at that specific geolocation on the map. In the locations that have a 1, the GBP is ranking first. The top 3 locations are always green on the heat map results because they are the ones that are showing up first - third in the local search results for that specific keyword. If you are not in the top 3 Map Pack results, you will be competing with all of your other competitors for the 30% of calls that do not come from the Map Pack.
For the agency owners, Heat Maps are a phenomenal tool for prospecting & closing new clients. LeadSnap covers these strategies in depth within the coaching library available as a bonus to subscribers of LeadSnap.
The website that you have connected to your GBP will affect ranking! The best way to assist your GBP in ranking is to add meaningful and relevant content to your website. When Google crawls your website they understand and connect the information there with your other Google Properties, including your GBP.
A website citation is when your business’ Name, Business Address, Phone Number and website url is posted online by another site, company or directory.
Let’s be clear, Google does NOT like the idea of setting up multiple locations for a service area business unless there are multiple crews serving the area. However, we have heard through the grapevine that people have done this with great success and created tons of business by employing this strategy.Here is a video where this strategy is discussed in depth
Benefits of the Multiple Antenna Strategy:
You will rank better for the words in your GBP name. Having multiple locations (or antennas) allows you to specify different keywords to target for ranking. *Be careful with this as you need to keep in mind the best practices from naming.
Without activity in your gmail/email associated with your GBP, Google will eventually send emails asking you to sign in or else they will disable your account; effectively disabling access to your GBP. This can create challenges for any business or agency owner. To avoid having your account disabled, we’ve found it best to sign in at least once every 3 months and be active in the account. It is best if you are able to sign into your gmail account at least once a month.You may find it helpful to keep a calendar with a schedule to sign into your existing gmail accounts.
Tracking and monitoring your GBP’s is essential for long term success. If they don’t get theregular activity and love they need their performance and ranking will decline.
When you connect your Google Business Profiles to LeadSnap, you have all of these valuable metrics in a single dashboard. Alternatives to LeadSnap include Google Sheets, Notion, and various other organizational tools available on the market.