Google Business Profiles were first launched in June 2014 by Google but under a different name – Google My Business. Championed as a ‘local business’s best friend on the Internet’ it is designed to help local businesses and national companies be found on Google. 
A report by Google in 2021 found that 60% of people using smartphones were more likely to contact a business directly through Google Business Profiles (GBP) using the ‘click to call’ button. The report went one step further by reporting that most shoppers will have used GBPs as their main way of contacting a local business. 
 What is a Google Business Profile? 
A Google Business Profile is a company or organisation’s free, online, easy-to-use directory listing on the internet. Businesses can create a profile about themselves that includes their contact details, opening hours, a profile of their products or services, images, reviews and other information that helps them promote and manage their online presence across Google. 
Google has a 91.4% share of the search engine global marketplace. Google Business Profiles is a highly useful tool for local businesses, helping them gain an advantage. A GBP can be linked to a website and social media channels, optimising vital keywords and phrases, enhancing your online presence and building credibility through online reviews. 
The benefits of a Google Business Profile 
Not only will your business appear in Google searches; it will also appear in Google Maps and Local Pack listings – that’s the list of businesses that appear under the map displayed in Google. It is a crucial part of a company or organisation’s SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy as it is a search engine results page and part of Google’s ranking system. 
It is a highly visible form of online marketing that helps businesses reach their target audience more effectively. 
It allows your customers to leave reviews about your business – a ‘word of mouth’ recommendation is local businesses' most powerful marketing tool. With 93% of potential customers influenced by online reviews, online reviews are a key factor in an SEO campaign. 
Delivers valuable insights into how your listing is perceived online. Google Business Profiles’ range of tools provides a detailed overview of your company or organisations’ online performance, including views, search queries, where your audience is from, the level of engagement and how many clicks there are on the website link. 
It’s free and easy to use. 
When you consider that 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, it’s surprising more businesses are not making the most of this underrated, underused local marketing tool. 

Managing your Google Business Profile 

As with any marketing activity online, it’s important to keep your Google Business Profile up-to-date and relevant. Editing a profile is quick and easy, which means that you can update information as it happens. For example, if you are changing your opening hours over a bank holiday or seasonal period, you can adjust them online instantly. 
Businesses can manage their photos, keep them fresh and relevant, add any new products or services to their profile, create Google Posts which can be linked across social media channels, and publish promotional offers. A key part of managing a profile is to respond to online reviews, good or bad, to stay connected to your local audience. 
Google regularly updates the listing categories for Google Business Profiles. There are currently approximately 4,000 categories, representing hundreds of business types. This enables companies and organisations to personalise and tailor their online directory listing, ensuring it is as accurate in describing their business as possible. 

How to create your Google Business Profile 

Setting up a Google Business Profile is simple to do. To get the best out of your listing, you will need to do the following: 
1. Claim your business profile and create your profile account. 
2. Follow Google’s prompts and complete each section of your GBP account. 
3. Be as accurate as possible with your contact and location details. 
4. Choose your primary and secondary categories from the list of categories. 
5. Select the attributes that are relevant to your business. 
6. Verify your Google Business Profile. 
7. Write a detailed description of your business. 
8. Add your products or services, including product/service descriptions. 
9. Enable your profile to collect and respond to online reviews. 
10. Upload product/service/business images. You can also add videos and podcasts. 
11. Set up messaging, so people can ask questions about your products/services in a one-step process, i.e. without having to go to your website or another messaging channel. 
12. Add any special offers, discounts or promotions. 
13. Add blogs, articles and listicles regularly. These can be linked to your social media channels, too. 
14. Manage your business profile – schedule weekly reviews of your profile into your diary; add new information, product, photos, blogs and publish Google posts weekly. You can also remove information that is no longer relevant, such as promotional offers. 
Google uses Business Profiles to rank businesses in online search queries, providing users with local information pertaining to their search requests. By keeping listing information of the highest quality and remaining active, Google is more likely to show your business in local search queries. This will generate greater website traffic, boost online visibility and ultimately increase sales. 
A Google Business Profile is one of the best free online marketing tools that any business, particularly local businesses, should be optimising to increase performance. 
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