Google My Business (GMB) has been rebranded as your Google Business Profile. With the announcement of this change came the release of new features and enhancements to Google’s local search profiles for businesses.
What does this mean for multi-location and enterprise brands?
In this guide, you’ll learn what’s new and find a complete breakdown of your Google Business Profile, with tips and resources for optimizing each area.
What is A Google Business Profile?
Google Business Profile is the new name for the Google My Business program and your local business profile.
Google’s local search presence offering has gone through several iterations over the years. First came Google Places in 2004, the search engine’s alternative to the traditional print yellow pages. The Google Local Business Center launched not long after in May 2005, giving businesses a way to control their listings in Search and Maps.
Even back then, business attributes were an important part of the search experience that helped businesses stand out and assisted local consumers in finding just the right location to meet their needs. Google said at the time,
“Google Local now also offers reviews of businesses and additional information about establishments such as hours of operation, payment types accepted, WiFi availability, restaurant menus, hotel amenities and more.”
Google Maps and Google Local merged later in 2005, then along came Google+ in 2011. For a while, Google+ Business Pages and Google+ Local Pages had to be managed separately. Thankfully, that was remedied in 2012. Although Google+ failed as a social network, it did provide the foundation of the single sign-on that enables us to control many Google products from one email account, a functionality we still use today.
In 2013, Google Places for Business launched with a much more user-friendly interface. And in 2014, Google combined both the Google Places for Business and Google+ Local experiences into a single UI called Google My Business.
In the years that followed, the Google My Business team tested and added new features and capabilities constantly, and the platform matured into the indispensable marketing and local SEO tool it is today.
We’re going to dig into why that is and which areas you really need to focus on to make the most of it. But first, what’s changed?
GMB Becomes Google Business Profile
On November 4, 2021, Matt Madrigal announced on behalf of Google, “To keep things simple, ‘Google My Business’ is being renamed ‘Google Business Profile. And in 2022, we’ll retire the Google My Business app so more merchants can take advantage of the upgraded experience on Search and Maps.”
“The existing Google My Business web experience will transition to primarily support larger businesses with multiple locations, and will be renamed ‘Business Profile Manager,’ he added.
This update gives brands the ability to request verification and resolve other types of issues directly from the Search experience, as opposed to in a separate UI.
Now, if you search for the location on Google while signed in to an account connected with it, any issues with verification, suspensions, or other critical issues will appear. You’ll also see cards representing areas of the profile that can be edited directly from Search.
Once these updates are fully rolled out, from Google Search and Maps you will be able to:
- Complete account setup
- Request verification
- Respond to reviews
- Make changes to key business information such as hours and address
- Resolve suspensions
Now, if all of this sounds like a manually intensive process, that’s because it is. Whether via a dedicated interface or through Search and Maps, managing hundreds or even thousands of local business profiles this way just isn’t feasible.
Multi-location brands have long used enterprise local SEO software as a single source for managing multiple Google profiles and local listings, tracking rankings and conversions across the local ecosystem, monitoring and responding to reviews, and more.
Now, let’s take a look at the important parts of your Google Business Profile that you can use to show local customers – and search engines – that you’re the best answer for relevant queries.
Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
Make sure you’re maximizing the visibility of each location by fully optimizing your profiles. Verification is an important first step; see Bulk Verification for Enterprise & Multi-Location Brands for help.
Business Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)
There are many reasons a large brand might use different name variations. However, it’s important that each location’s name is in keeping in line with these Guidelines for representing your business on Google. Failing to do so can result in issues with verification or even a profile suspension.
Decide whether you want to use call tracking from your profiles, and make sure you have the correct address and map pin.
Your primary business category is essential, too. You can choose up to 9 more relevant categories. However, different attributes and features will be available to you based on the primary category you’ve selected. See this resource on selecting your primary business category for more.
Proper Business Categorization
Is your location a physical place customers can visit, or do you serve customers off-site within a specific region? It’s essential that you get this right, as Google can suspend a service area business for improperly using its Google Business Profile.
If you own a plumbing business out of your home, for example, you do not want customers showing up at your door. Properly setting up as a service area business will help you avoid issues with verification and provide a better searcher experience.
Key Location Information
Your business information will impact both your online visibility and the actions visitors can take upon seeing your listing. Pay close attention to these areas:
- URL: Link to an optimized local landing page, not the brand homepage.
- Make use of any Menu, Appointment, Order Ahead, or other vertical-specific specialty attributes available.
- Hours: Keep hours of operation up to date and use Special Hours and/or More Hours as needed.
- Attributes: Use attributes to proactively provide information that answers consumers’ most common questions about the location and its amenities. See restaurant attributes here, for example, as opposed to the attributes available to financial services brands.
- Brief description: Make good use of this limited space with local content, rather than a generic brand statement. Help people understand exactly why this particular location is the best choice.
These fields require ongoing monitoring and occasional updating, as Google may make changes to key business information based on user suggestions, inaccurate listings elsewhere online, and other factors.
The Q&A section of your listing is an important place to monitor customer interactions. It’s also a great place to see frequently asked questions so that information is front and center on your profile when customers are looking to learn more about that location.
This feature is similar to Facebook Messenger in that it enables the customer to communicate directly with the business through their listing in Search. Google Messaging is an opt-in feature, so you can leave it turned off if you choose. If you do turn it on, make sure it’s monitored closely so anyone who sends a message gets a reply within 24 hours.
Local reviews are an integral part of the search experience. They not only serve as social proof that can help improve conversions but are factored into your local search rankings, too. Make sure you have permissions-based monitoring and triage in place, and that each review gets a response. Learn more in 5 Key Local Reviews Opportunities for Enterprise Brands.
In addition to your logo and cover photo, brands can add local images that are not only eye-catching but also provide important information about each location to help searchers decide. High-quality photos of the location’s interior, exterior, team, products/services, and surrounding streetscape help set the stage for the searcher’s conversion to real-world customers.
From The Business
This 750-character description is another opportunity to share what makes this location unique and help it stand out in search. Use this space to call attention to features that weren’t covered in attributes and other fields.
Posts are a great way to share offers and deals, promote upcoming events, and regularly engage searchers with richer, detailed information. Consider this a Facebook post that shows up in search results and on your local listing. Google Posts are such a great tool for brands that we put together a free e-book on how to make the most of them – get a copy here.
Executing Successful Local SEO Strategy At Scale
Google Business Profiles are an integral part of your local search strategy, and managing this at the enterprise level comes with unique challenges of scale. Learn more in these helpful resources:
- The Anatomy of a High-Performing Landing Page
- 2021 Local Search Consumer Behavior Study
- The Local Marketer’s Guide to Google SERP Features
Or, get more targeted recommendations for your brand’s local SEO strategy with a complimentary audit of your local search presence.