Why create a Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile (GBP) has gone through several names over the years, most recently going by the moniker of Google My Business (GMB), and is sometimes erroneously referred to as Google My Business Profile, Google My Business Account, or Google Business Account. While the name has changed over time, the function has remained the same.
Google Business Profile allows business owners to manage the online presence of their business. When your customers search for your business or service on Google search or within Google maps, Google pulls local results in what is known as a “map pack.” The businesses which show up in this map pack all have profiles within GBP.
It’s possible that a listing already exists for your business, even if you haven’t made it yourself. Google allows for crowdsourcing – essentially permitting customers to create temporary listings for the businesses that they frequent.
However, it is important to create and maintain an accurate listing because nothing loses customers faster than incorrect information! An old phone number, out of date physical address, or incorrect business hours will quickly frustrate new customers and cause them to do business elsewhere.
On the flip side – a well maintained profile is a great way to showcase your business – complete with photos of your business, a list of your services, and convenient ways for your customers to get in contact with you.
How to verify your business on Google
Whether your business is already established and has an unclaimed listing on GBP or its new enough that you’re not yet listed, there are a few things you need to create/verify your GBP listing:
Make sure you have a Google Account for your business
Your business should have its own Google Account associated with it. While you could technically use your personal Google Account, it is better to create a dedicated account to associate with your business.
If you don’t already have an account for your business, go to accounts.google.com and select Create account and choose For my work or business from the drop-down menu.
If you have an account, sign into it.
Determine if your business already has a Google Business Profile
If your business already has a Google Business Profile, then it is important to not make a new one! Instead, you’ll want to claim the existing profile.
To check for an existing listing, simply search Google for your business name. If you have a relatively common name, you may need to add a local modifier to your search. For example, while ‘Cut Throat Marketing’ only turns up our business, if there were several CTMs across the nation, we might need to search for ‘Cut Throat Marketing Columbia SC.’
If your business already has a listing:
If you see a listing for your business, simply click the Own this business? button. This will take you to a page where you can request access to the profile.
The process of requesting access sends an email to the existing profile owner. You can see a snippet of their email address at the top – and this can be a handy way to spot whether or not you are already the registered owner of the profile and had simply set it up under a different email address.
While rare, if the profile was registered by someone not affiliated with your business, you may need to contact Google Customer Support. We recommend requesting access two or three times first, and once it is clear that the process is not proceeding you should reach out to support. They will provide you with alternative verification methods to help you gain access to your listing.
If your business does not already have a listing:
For businesses without an existing listing, you will need to create a new one.
Start by going to business.google.com, logging in, and providing Google with your business name. Google will ask you a series of questions about your business in order to get your profile set up.
For this initial onboarding process it’s best to simply choose the best description, even if it isn’t a 100% fit. You will be able to refine your business listing later and none of these choices are permanent.
Verify ownership of your business
Once you’ve provided your business’s basic information to Google, you will come to the verification process. The options for verification will vary depending on how much information Google already has about your business.
In some cases, your verification options may include a phone call or email allowing you to get your profile activated immediately! However, more commonly you will need to give Google your business’s physical mailing address (not a P.O. Box) and they will send you a verification card in the mail.
The verification card will arrive within 5 to 7 days, and will include a verification code. Go to the website indicated on the card and provide the code when prompted.
Note: It is not unheard of for the verification card to fail to arrive! If you don’t receive the card in a week, we recommend requesting it again.
Customizing Your Profile
Even before you’ve verified your profile, you are able to add your company’s details such as business hours, business description, and photos of your business. You should include as much information as possible here – specifically highlighting your business location, business category, the products or services you offer, and any accolades you may have won.
Photos are a great way to show customers your business and highlight your products and services. At a minimum upload your logo or picture of your store front for your cover photo.
Note: For business hours it is important to set the correct customer expectations. If your business does not have someone standing by the phone 24/7, then don’t select the 24-hours option!
One feature that you may want to consider is Google’s built-in business messenger. This is a great way to get more leads, however it requires that you check your Google Business Profile inbox on a regular basis.
If you are not going to commit to this, then it is better to leave this option disabled! An inbox you don’t check is where leads go to die! A unified inbox is a great way to make it easy for customers to get in contact with you via alternative channels like Google’s business chat without adding to your workload.
Google Business Profile Perk: Free Website & Google Ad Credits
All Google Business Profiles come with an optional, free “website” although we use this term loosely as you only have very limited control of the website’s structure. If your company does not have a website this is a great choice – a basic website is better than no website! However, if your business already has a website then you should skip this option.
Note: Google presents the option to pay for a domain name for your website, but you should know that you do not have to pay for a domain name to get your free website! If your website’s domain name is not of great importance to you at this time, you should skip the paid options.
At this time, Google is offering free Google Ad credits for new businesses. This is almost certainly worth considering, however a detailed explanation of Google Ads best practices is outside the scope of this article.
Congratulations on Your New Google Business Profile!
Once you’ve completed your GBP all you need to do is wait for your verification letter to arrive. After verifying your business, potential customers will be able to more easily find your company on Google Search and Maps. Not only will they have an easier time finding your company, but they will be able to leave customer reviews, see your business address and vital business information like your hours of operation and service area.
Having a GBP is the first step towards improving your local search engine optimization. Ready to take your GBP profile to the next level? Check out Part 1 of our guide to optimizing your Google Business Profile!