Major corporations tend to dominate the market in terms of competitive keyword searches and search results, but that leaves a significant opening for small businesses in terms of search engine optimization. Instead of competing in terms of keywords, small companies can look towards attracting customers in their local area.
 
Every small business can take advantage of and improve local marketing with Google Business Profile

What is Google Business Profile?

Google offers a business listing service to help organizations gain more visibility on the platform. Anyone that owns a business with a physical address can create a GBP listing. However, to gain further control of the listing including the ability to edit or update information, users will need to create a Google Business Profile account.

How to Activate Your Google Business Profile

Activating your GBP account is entirely free and straightforward. The only requirement Google has in place is that the business needs to have face-to-face interaction with customers.

Step 1
Log in to the Google account that you want to affiliate with your business. We recommend creating a master Google or Gmail account for your business administration and security needs, and not using your personal account.

Step 2
Once you're done creating the account, visit google.com/business, and click on the "Start now" option in the top right-hand corner. This will allow you to create your business listing or to link to an existing business listing.

Step 3
Create your listing or update your current listing. Start by inputting the name of the business, the address, and other relevant details. Once you're done filling in the address, you have a couple of different options to select, go through the remaining options and choose what best pertains to your business and business location.

Step 4
After you're done with all of the above, move on to selecting your business category. Selecting the proper category is essential as it tells Google the type of customers you're hoping to target.

Step 5
The final step in the process is finish up the profile, add a phone number, and link to the website. Once you're done with that, you can move forward with the verification process.

Verifying Your Listing on Google

After creating the GBP listing, the next step in the process is verifying the listing. There are several different methods through which local businesses can verify their profile.

There are a variety of options, but we recommend using the option that is quickest, which is typically verifying through phone call or email. 

Verify Through Postcard
Businesses can choose to verify their listing through a postcard sent in the mail. Log in to the Google Business Profile account and select the “verify through postcard by mail” option. Enter in your contact name and current address. The postcard will reach in five days and make no changes or edits to the business profile. Once you receive the postcard, take out the code, log in to GBP, and verify it according to the instructions.

Verify Through Phone
Some businesses, if they're eligible, can verify their listing through a text message to their phone. Those that are eligible will select the “verify by phone” option when they begin the verification process. Enter the correct phone number, and you'll receive a text within a few minutes. Once you receive the text, enter the code, and verify the listing.

Verify Through Email
Some businesses are also eligible through verification by their email address. On the verification page, eligible local companies will see this option. Once they click on the option, they'll receive an email in a few minutes. In that email, there will be a button that will ask you to confirm verification.

Verify Through Bulk
This option is for businesses that operate in more than 10 locations. Franchises can easily apply for bulk verification. On the verification page, click the "Chain" option. On this page, there will be a verification form that will require specific details about the business. After filling all these out, Google will review and process the claim. It can often take up to a weeks’ time to complete this process.

Updating your GBP Listing

Once you're done with the necessary verification procedure, it's time to take advantage of the Google Business Profile platform. On the dashboard, you'll notice all the business listings that are associated with the account. Select the listing you'd like to update and click on the "Info" option to begin editing the listing.

Name
Any changes or errors in the name of the business can be rectified here. Names should typically be short and sweet. A good rating with a minimalist name tends to attract a lot of customers to businesses.

Location
This section will contain the exact address of the business. It incorporates the ability to add a Google pin so that potential customers know exactly where they can find the company.

Photos
These are very important to increasing customer engagement and climbing higher up the Google search rankings. The more photos of the business you add, and the more pictures other people post, it will help garner more attention. Ideally, local companies should include pictures of the location, the staff, and the exterior to attract customers.

Contact Information
Email address, phone, and/or website information goes here. Regularly update this section if you make any changes in the contact information of the organizations.

Specials or Deals
Google Business Profile also provides opportunities for local businesses to highlight any deals or specialties that they offer. The right deals can be a potential avenue to capture the interest of new customers.

Attributes
Google will suggest any options and categories for organizations to attach to their business listing. These typically contain features such as "Free Wi-Fi," "Wheelchair accessible," among others. It's an excellent opportunity for local businesses to provide a snapshot of the services that they offer.

How to Use Google Business Profile for Marketing

Increasing Engagement
The Google Business Profile showcases your address, rating, contact, website, and general business description. Upon expanding this portion, consumers will get to see the full profile of the business.
 
This profile will also contain any potential questions that customers ask. You can use GBP to update and respond to any of the items on the listings. Frequently responding to these questions and queries will generate interest in the business and offer credibility in the eyes of potential new customers.
 
Higher levels of engagement will result in a potential growth to retain older customers and attract newer ones.

Provide Information
One of the best things about Google Business Profile is that it allows organizations to describe themselves. The GBP dashboard will enable businesses to input their hours, contact information, website, pricing, attributes, and prices into their listing. An ideal business listing will provide a complete summary of all the services and qualities of the business.

The change to Google Business Profile from Google My Business is more than a rebrand. Google has made it easier to verify and update your profile by making it editable within search. Instead of logging into your profile and making changes within a separate dashboard, you can update your profile directly from search. In other words, login to the account you've set up your Google Business Profile with. Then, search for your business name. From there, you can make changes or additions to your profile.

Learn About Performance
The dashboard is still useful for gathering data. Click on the "Insights" tab once you've logged into your GBP profile. The analytics reveal the different queries customers use to find the listing. It also showcases the performances of the listing's photos in comparison to other profiles in the category. From insights you can also see if users found you through direct or discovery searches and what action they took on your profile (i.e. a website visit, phone call, click for directions, etc).


Using Google Business Profile for SEO

One of the most enticing features of creating a GBP is that it's dynamic. Companies don't have to waste time before trying to adjust their listing. To make your business perform better in terms of SEO, you can follow a few simple tips.

Engaging in Local SEO
Google ranks all the ads and websites based on a complex algorithm. The same applies to business profiles. Organizations can take advantage of this algorithm by incorporating keywords and optimizing their rank in local results.

Keywords
While using Google Business Profile, organizations can incorporate relevant keywords throughout the profile. Use these words in the description, reviews, answers to questions, and any posts that the organization publishes. It's essential to ensure that incorporating these words feels natural and doesn't feel forced upon the customers.

Maintain a full profile
The rank of business listings also depends on the amount of information that they contain. Profiles that have more information will rank higher than profiles that contain less information. This applies even when ratings are involved. Organizations should take advantage of this feature and always maintain a complete business profile.

Building Trust with Google
Google's algorithm for ranking the business profile is adaptive. The more time the business profile spends active, while delivering meaningful engagements, the higher the ranking will go. Another way that businesses can signal to Google that they're active is by posting regularly. Companies that put in the time and periodically update their Google profile find themselves in the higher search ranks.

Build Your Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile is a must-have to significantly boost the chances of local businesses thriving in the industry. Setting up a Google Business Profile account is the only way to manage a business listing on the platform correctly.