Have you ever wondered how Google knows to show you a store or service near your location, even if you don’t add ‘near me’ to your search?
This isn’t search engine magic. Many local businesses shown in search results will have done one simple thing: they claimed their Google business listing.
You too can harness this powerful SEO weapon—and get your business in front of people looking to buy products or services close to your location.
Update: In December 2021, Google updated the local search algorithm to place more prominence than ever before on proximity as a ranking factor. Aptly nicknamed the Vicinity Update, this algorithm change also decreased the value of adding keywords into the business name within Google Business Profile.
Am I eligible for a Google business listing?
Google My Business launched in 2014 as a one-stop shop to help local businesses shine. In its official announcement, Google said it was created for businesses as “a free and easy way to find and connect with your people, wherever you are.”
Since the 2014 launch, Google has renamed this local business tool a number of times. Most recently, Google My Business has been rebranded to Google Business Profile (GBP).
Not all businesses are eligible, so before you rush to get started, you’ll need to confirm that you qualify for a Google business listing.
You don’t need to have your own business website to claim your Google business listing. In fact, with Google Business Profile, you can create a mobile-optimized website at no cost.
Why do I need a Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile is a free tool, so you can set it up yourself without eating into any marketing budget. In return, it offers a range of benefits that will increase your business revenue by helping you make more sales.
1. It will get your business seen more in searches
Google tells us that four in five people use search to find a local business, and local search ranking factors studies prove that listings information directly influences how visible your business is in Google’s Local Pack, Knowledge Panel and Map results.
So think of your Google business listing as a dating profile. It’s your opportunity to win over both Google and local consumers by sharing everything that make your business unique:
- Who are you? The basics, such as your name, location and opening hours.
- What do you do? Business categories, both primary and secondary.
- Why should I choose you? Add a compelling description, fancy images, and show off your online reviews.
All of this data tells Google what you do and where you’re located, helping it to decide when and where your business should be shown to users.
2. It will encourage more customers to choose your business
As a local business, the chances are that someone else sells the same items or has the same expertise within your town or city.
Google business listings offer people an easy way to compare similar service providers and retailers. Listings are standardized, so searchers can quickly narrow their selection down and decide who best fits their needs.
This makes a Google business listing an invaluable SEO tool to get seen by people who are new to the area, or a local who needs a product or service for the first time.
3. It will show off your reviews
It’s no secret that online reviews are a powerful sales tool. They’re the digital age’s word-of-mouth recommendation, giving people valuable intel about where to spend their money.
Feedback from peers is highly valued when trying to assess an unfamiliar business, and can push a not-so-sure consumer into a confirmed customer.
A Google business listing makes it quick and easy to reply to reviews and easily monitor what’s being said about your brand.
4. It will give you insight into your audience
The Google Business Profile dashboard includes an ‘Insights’ section. Just as the name suggests, this offers you useful information about your audience’s behavior and your business performance in search.
This data can tell you whether users are looking specifically for your business name, or finding you through other search terms. Insights also make it possible to keep tabs on what action consumers take after seeing your profile, such as requesting directions or making a call.
Our Google My Business Insights study dives into what you should expect to see, and how you can use this data to improve.
Please note that the Business Profile dashboard is currently limited to six months’ worth of data. If you’d like to look further back, then BrightLocal’s GMB audit tool offers access to 18 months’ worth of Insights data.
How do I set up my Google business listing?
Embracing your free Google business listing is an easy way to win new customers, and step one can be accomplished with a quick Google search.
Simply check if a listing already exists for your business. If it does, you can claim the listing. If it doesn’t, you can create one:
- Sign in or create a Google account.
- Type in your business name, plus town, city or zip code into the search bar.
- Now, look for a Local Knowledge Panel. This is a box that sits to the right of the search results. You’ll see an image, map, and address information.
- If you don’t see a listing, go to https://google.com/business/ and follow the step-by-step instructions.
- If you do see a listing, click on the link titled ‘Own this business?’ and follow the on-screen instructions.
- If you see a listing but it’s already claimed by someone else, click ‘Request access’ and follow the on-screen instructions.
With your listing claimed, you now need to verify it. This checks your credentials so that Google can confirm that you’re the correct owner of the listing:
- Sign in at https://google.com/business/.
- Click ‘Verify now’.
- Select the verification measure you prefer. Options may include being sent a postcard to your business address, an email, or phone call.
What happens next?
Once you’re claimed and verified, the next step is to take some time to completely fill out your listing.
Doing so will mean that you’ll be much better placed to compete for business in your local area, and so drive more traffic to your website or physical store.
- If you’re ready to go ahead, then read our guide on completing and optimizing your Google business listing profile.
- BrightLocal Academy also has a free course on getting to grips with GMB if you’d like some more support before getting stuck in.
What about Apple Maps?
Once you have conquered Google Business Profile, you may want to turn your attention to Apple Maps. When you’re ready, check out our comprehensive guide on How to Add or Claim an Apple Maps Business Listing.