When you type in a business name, Google returns a business profile on the right side with basic information, including images, URL, hours of operation, and a business summary, among other things. You can claim this profile page and manage it yourself through the Google Business Profile Manager. It is a free, easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage your online presence across Google’s products, including Search and Maps. Google Business Profile Manager is the only way you can control the information that appears about your business on Google.
Note: Google will soon be moving this directly to Search & Maps.
You will need a valid Google account to begin, and the account you choose will become the “owner” of your business within Google’s products. Any @gmail.com account will work, or you may set up an account using your own email address. To create a Google account, follow this link: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp. Note that you can switch to using an existing email address with the link directly below the “choose your username” field.
Once you’ve logged into your Google account, you’ll need to verify your business. Verification is a security measure that Google uses to ensure that the people managing a business’s information online have some relationship to the business itself.
If your business has a listing on Google already, try a search on www.google.com or maps.google.com for your business name and click the link “Own this business?” in the profile for your business. (see screenshot for example).
This link will take you to the confirmation screen shown below. Check the box to indicate that you are authorized to manage this business and click “continue.”
Then you’ll choose how you will verify the business. Choosing by phone, by text or by email will send a confirmation code to the contact information listed. In some cases, these options may not be available to you and you will have to use the “by mail” option which sends a postcard with the confirmation code to your listed address. The postcard generally arrives in 3-5 business days.
You won’t be able to control or access many of the features of the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard until you are verified.
If your business is not already listed on Google Maps, you should instead visit the GMB site here: https://business.google.com and look for the ”start now” button which will walk you through the process of setting up your new business. You can also do this by “adding a missing place” within the desktop or mobile Google maps app.
Your Google Business’s Profile Menu includes a tab called “Products” and another “Services.” Through this tool, businesses can add specific products and services to their profile page. This allows small and medium sized businesses to quickly provide information to potential customers while enriching the quality of your listing in Google. This gives business owners the control to feature current Menus for their restaurants or showcase Products and Services their stores offer. If correctly implemented, this is another way Google allows businesses to set themselves apart in products like Search and Maps.
Businesses that sell products can feature specific products on your business’s listing. This allows you to not only showcase what your business has to offer but helps drive customer interactions. Whether on desktop or mobile, users will be able to scroll through your curated product listings as a nudge to go to your website.
When you begin, you will be prompted to add a product with “get started.” From here you can add an image, product name, category, price and description. You can also add a “call to action” button like “buy” or “get offer.” So not only can you use it to list products, you can also use it more marketing an offer. These can then be edited or deleted.
Adding services works the same as adding products, but with different data elements. You can also include a price if you choose. Once published, they can be edited and deleted.
Google My Business allows you to see the reviews of your business which users have created on Google. Within your Google Business Profile Manager, you have the ability to respond to reviews directly or flag something that may be inappropriate. You will find the “reviews” tab right below the “insights” tab on the left.
Why Reviews are Important
Reviews from customers provide valuable feedback about a business to the owner and other customers. Many consumers decide whether or not to engage with a business based on reviews left by previous customers. Positive reviews and interactions can help set your business apart from competitors. The quantity and quality of reviews are also an important ranking signal for your business in Google. Having a high volume of positive reviews can improve the discoverability of your business within Google products. Likewise, a drop in review quality can limit your visibility.
How to Respond to a Review
Click “Reviews” from the menu on the left. Locate the review you would like to respond to and click “Reply.” Once you have written your response, click “Submit” and it will be posted.
Responses should be concise and cordial. You want to avoid getting personal when responding to a review because responses are public and remain visible on the business’s Knowledge Panel. Try to keep your responses helpful, clear, and courteous. Remember to thank your reviewers, since each response can reach many customers. You don’t need to include incentives or advertisements. Reviewers are already your customers. Instead, you could tell them something new about your business or share something they may not have been aware of from their previous visit. Responding to reviews encourages your customers to post additional reviews.
Requesting to Remove a Review
You can flag a review as inappropriate by clicking on the three dots in the upper right corner.
Don’t flag a review just because you don’t like it. Here are some guidelines when it’s appropriate to request a deletion.
Reviews should not be used as advertisements. If a review has links to other websites or phone numbers, it can be removed. Reviews from multiple accounts with the same content are considered spam. If a review is off-topic or is based on someone else’s experience, the review can be flagged. Reviews are not meant for political or social commentary or personal rants. A review should be honest and unbiased. Reviews should not come from the business owner or employees of the business and should not be on behalf of others. If a review has inappropriate content it can be flagged for removal: illegal or copyrighted content, sexually explicit material, personal and confidential information, or hate speech.
The functionality available in the Info tab of Google Business Profile Manager may not represent any flashy opportunities, but making sure your basic business information, including name, address and phone number, are all up-to-date and correct in your listing can make a world of difference for your business and where you show up in search results.
Your business category can make a big difference in where and when your business is visible inside of the Google ecosystem, so don’t take the choice lightly. You will sometimes see that you have more than one category present, but the top one is your primary category and the one that matters most. The others will often help clarify the primary category, and can expand the opportunities for your business to show up in search. Make your primary category the broadest term and use secondary categories to clarify where you have specialized offerings.
You will need to choose from a pre-existing category from Google’s list (there are more than 3,000 categories available in the U.S. so there should be something that works for you). Aim for the one that is most accurate, if your specific niche isn’t included. Resist the temptation to choose something funny and stick to what’s relevant.
For businesses that cater to travelers, hours can be particularly important because people want to be sure they aren’t wasting time heading to someplace on the wrong day. Imagine for a moment that you are visiting a place you’ve never been before and are confronted by a choice between visiting two highly desirable restaurants for lunch. But it’s a Monday and you don’t know whether either location serves lunch during the week. You turn to Google for the answer and it turns out that one location has its hours posted (and they’re open!), but the other does not include hours in their listing. If you’re the restaurant that doesn’t have hours listed, then you’ve just lost some business to a competitor who is doing a better job maintaining their information online.
Even if you are doing a really good job of maintaining your hours, there is one special trick to keep in mind: Holiday hours. Google’s algorithm knows when there are major holidays that may cause businesses to alter their hours (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, etc.), and the system will send notifications to businesses about updating their hours for the holiday. These emails seem innocuous but can present you with a competitive advantage, if you are a business that stays open on some/all holidays.
Of course it’s important to have a link to your website included for your business listing. This doesn’t just appear in search results. The information also appears across a range of different Google products, including Maps, the Travel Guide, and many more.
The business description is a great opportunity to showcase the unique aspects of your business and differentiate yourself from your competition.
One key to writing a great description is to show people why you’re special rather than telling them that you are special. That sounds simple, perhaps, but it’s among the most common mistakes businesses make in copywriting. Every place says its the best. But there’s a big difference between saying you’re a hotel with the best sheets compared to explaining to a potential customer that you spent three years testing different sheet manufacturers to find the perfect thread count and manufacturing process. Obviously that’s an extreme example, but it will be more effective to explain the why and how of your unique value proposition rather than just trying to tell people that you are great.
One other tip for descriptions: Incorporate keywords that people might use to find your business in search. Don’t jam the same keyword in repeatedly. But if you’re a restaurant, don’t just leave it at “one of the best restaurants in Palm Springs” and call it a day. Incorporate relevant information that would help attract specific customer segments. Are you vegetarian-friendly, pet-friendly, gluten-free, or meat-loving? Do you have a full bar? Do you only serve local beer? What are your specialties? Make sure to highlight that information in natural ways in the business description. It can positively affect where and how your restaurant shows up in long-tail searches (searches that include 3+ words, which tends to indicate users looking for specific information rather than broader discovery searches).
Insights is the section of Google Business Profile Manager that provides valuable data and analytics about your business’s visibility in search results and Maps as well as user interactions with your information. Data is available in increments of one week, one month, and quarterly. In most cases, Insights is the ONLY source for this information. You can’t access these metrics from anywhere else including Google Analytics.
Accessing Google Insights Data
Sign in to your Google Business Profile Manager account at business.google.com, click on the business name, then click “Insights” in the left hand navigation.
How Customers Search for Your Business
This chart shows how customers search for your business inside Google’s products.
The green portion shows customers who found your business information using your business name or address. These are people who already know your business and searched for it specifically. You can think about this as searches which surfaced your business profile in the knowledge panel of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page.)
The blue portion of the chart shows customers who found your business using a category, product or service search. These are people who didn’t specifically know your business, but found it as the result of a general search such as “seafood restaurants near me” or “attractions in Palm Springs CA”. Think of this as searches which surfaced your business in a local pack, along with other relevant businesses.
The small yellow section “branded” is a relatively new addition, and shows the percentage of customers who found your listing when searching for a brand related to your business. This can be a brand name which is in a similar category. For example, someone searched for “Illy” but your local coffee shop was surfaced in a local pack because they also serve that coffee brand. Or, it can be the brand name of a product (or service) that you sell. For example, if someone searches for “Trek bikes” and your bicycle shop is surfaced because it’s one of the brands you carry.
What do do with this information
Generally speaking, this chart will show a mix between direct and discovery (if you want a broad average to compare yourself against). If your chart shows significantly less of one or the other types, consider what you might do to increase those searches. In this example chart, direct searches are quite high. Direct searches are influenced by your online and offline marketing campaigns — basically “brand awareness”. The blue portion on the other hand is significantly lower, so we should look for ways to influence “discovery” type searches. These can be influenced by modifying or adding categories to your business profile, and optimizing your website content for specific keywords (SEO). Branded searches are harder to influence because they encompass several types of search behavior, and are probably best interpreted as a sub-set of your “discovery” searches.
This chart shows the number of times your business information was surfaced in Google’s products including both SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) and Google Maps. This includes knowledge panel displays of your business profile, exposures in local packs, map searches and map mini-pin displays. It’s important to monitor this chart over time to watch for dramatic changes in your exposure. Note, according to Google’s support documentation these numbers are per user. In other words, if someone sees your business information in search, and then clicks to maps, they’re only counted as one view here.
The first thing to pay attention to here is the volume of exposure, which is typically many times larger than the traffic to your website. This is not to imply that website visits and views of your business information in search or maps are equal — visitors to your site are an important, qualified audience. However, because your business information is viewed in these products thousands of times a day, this chart illustrates how important these products can be to your business.
Secondly, you want to monitor this chart over time to look for dramatic shifts in your exposure numbers. In this particular example, there’s a big jump in exposure for the business in mid January, the exposures nearly triple from the first 45 days to the last. This is obviously a good situation, but the reverse can also happen. If you see a sudden drop in your exposures, it can mean that there’s a problem with your business listing. For example, your negative ratings and reviews are on the rise — or it can mean that there’s an issue with your business profile, such as missing or incorrect information. It’s best to be able to detect these drops right away so you can take corrective action.
This chart indicates what customers did after they found your listing on Google. “Total actions” is the tally of all of the actions that customers took on your listing during that time period. Customer actions are broken down into visit your website, request directions, call you, or view photos. You can slide your cursor over a specific date to see how many actions took place on a particular day. Keep in mind that all of these actions are from the knowledge panel about your business so visits to your websites doesn’t match your entire website traffic — only people who clicked the “website” button in the knowledge panel about your business. Likewise, phone calls only represents mobile users who clicked on your phone number (or the “call” button) in the business profile.
These actions represent valuable conversions for your business. Requesting directions, as an example, is a very strong indicator that someone is going to visit your place of business. Use the “Visited your website” data to compare to your organic traffic numbers in your website analytics. You’ll be able to roughly determine how much of your traffic is from your business profile vs. your organic search rankings. In most cases we’ve found this number to be significantly higher than businesses expect.
This chart shows on the map where people are requesting directions to your business from. The breakdown on the left is contextual to the zoom level on the map. If you zoom out, you’ll get a breakdown by state or even country. Zooming in will give you neighborhoods. If you zoom closer, you’ll get a breakdown by postal code, which is what’s shown in this example. The purple colors on the map correspond to the number of requests, with darker colors indicating a higher number of requests from that geography.
You can use this map to explore the reach of your business and to better understand your audience and market. If you are running targeted campaigns, you can also use this map to evaluate the effectiveness of those campaigns. For example, if you have some outdoor advertising in a particular part of town you might compare this data to see if you have a higher percentage of directions requests from that area. Conversely, you might find that certain areas produce more requests for directions than others and tune your marketing spends accordingly.
Phone calls allows you to see when and how many times customers have called your business from your profile listing. You can view the trends either by “Day of the week” or “Time of day.” for one week, one month or one quarter at a time.
Examine this data to see if it aligns with your expectations about your busy and off times at your business. You might use this data over time to adjust staffing or to make adjustments to your hours.
This graph shows views for the photos in your business profile over time (in blue) versus the average views for “businesses like you” (in red). You will also frequently find a note at the bottom of this chart which summarizes how you stack up against your competitors. In this particular example, the business has considerably more views than similar businesses. The frequency of adding new photos appears to be an important ranking factor for business profiles in Google’s products.
Use this information to get a feel for how you’re performing versus your competition. If the red line is higher than your blue line, you have a great opportunity to boost your exposure in Google’s products by adding some new images. Remember that’s it’s not a total volume game, it’s also about the frequency that you post photos. So while it can be helpful to upload a new set of a dozen or more photos, you also want to think about creating a schedule for uploading images each month. See our in-depth article on photos here for more detailed information about how this can improve your visibility. In this particular example you’ll see that there is large drop in views at the end of February. Don’t worry about these anomolies, they appear frequently in this data set. While we don’t have an explanation as to why, they don’t appear to be related to anything your businesses is doing or not doing, but rather represents gaps in the collected data.
This is a comparison of the balance between photos supplied by you (the owner) versus photos supplied by your customers. This balance is compared to an average for your business category, labeled “businesses like you.” It’s quite common to have a much larger percentage of photos coming from customers. Unlike the previous chart, this isn’t a measure of photo VIEWS but rather of the number of photos that are associated with your business profile, which appear in your photo gallery.
Note: Sometimes others post images that are not of your business, poor quality, illegal, etc. If you find this, open the image and look for a flag icon in the upper left corner. Select the icon and another page will open where you can submit a deletion request to Google.
There are actually two things to look at here — one is the total number of photos posted. You’ll note here that this business owner has just slightly less than the average number of total photos. If you see a significant difference between your total images and the total for businesses like you it can indicate an opportunity to improve the quality of your business profile by adding more photos. Secondly, you can look at the ratio of owner images to customer images as compared to businesses like you. In this particular case there’s a higher percentage of owned images present versus the competition. While there isn’t an “ideal” ratio, you should keep an eye out for major differences in how your business is represented versus your competition.
This is a relatively new addition to GMB Insights. This table shows the most popular search terms or phrases used to surface your business information. This is particularly exciting because this kind of detailed, accurate information about how people search for and find your business hasn’t been available in Google Analytics since 2013, and isn’t available anywhere else outside of Insights. To be clear, these are queries that produced your business information in a knowledge panel or local pack (not queries that produced traffic to your website as was the case with Google Analytics prior to 2013). This is extremely valuable information about your business that can’t be found anywhere else.
There are several uses for this information, the first of which is to evaluate these search terms against what you percieve your businesses strengths are. For example, you might find that something you think your business is well known for isn’t represented here. In that circumstance you should look at ways to optimize the content on your business profile and website to better reflect those particular services or products. Conversely you might find that keywords you didn’t think were particularly important to your business are driving views of your information. You can use these keywords to tune your PPC and display advertising spends, knowing what kinds of keyword are the most successful for your business exposures.
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