Welcome to my Q&A session talking about the Google Business Profile Benefits by Pete ‘The SEO Guy’ from Plymouth SEO Services.
Google Business Profile is one of the best free tools any local business owner can use to be found by more people and grow their business.
That’s why the blog posts I have on this site showing you how to set it up correctly are some of my most popular ones. And it’s why I get lots of questions from local business owners on this subject as well. And there are some that I get all the time, so in this article, I’m going to answer 7 of the most asked questions that you probably have about Google Business Profile (Or Google My Business as it used to be called)
So, if you don’t already know, Google Business Profile is a way for you to list your business directly with Google and you can include your business category, your address, your phone number, your website, all your services products descriptions, photos, videos, working hours…all that good stuff.
And doing all that helps Google to see you more clearly and if you do it right they’re going to show you to more people looking for a business like yours.
The best place to be found in Google search for a local business is the map pack (Top 3 results in local business Google map results), so don’t skip this if you want to be found here and get a lot more clients, leads, enquiries and customers.
So let’s get right to the questions:
[QUESTION 1] The first one is by far the one I get asked the most or at least some variation on this: “I verified my business without an address because I don’t have an office. How does that negatively affect my ranking on the map results?”
[ANSWER 1] Google gives you an option here so you can either list your address publicly or you can choose to hide it. Maybe you work from home and don’t want people knowing your address and turning up at your house.
Now, there is a lot of conflicting opinions out there on this topic, but I’ve worked with hundreds of local businesses and can tell you categorically that if you don’t list your address publicly, you’re going to get a ranking penalty from Google for that.
Now, how much you’re going to get hit is hard to say because there are so many other variables at play here and if you have just a little competition, you might be able to get away with it.
But I can tell you that it does negatively impact your rankings to some degree, which is why I always encourage and recommend to my clients that you make your business address public.
It really does help with local SEO, including things like citations, which includes the address and are a major local SEO ranking factor.
And if you’re a plumber or an electrician, people won’t come to your house to hire you. They will call you or email you, so I really wouldn’t worry about it, as the benefits massively outweigh the negatives (Of which there are hardly any).
[QUESTION 2] “Any tips for a business with one website and multiple locations?
[ANSWER 2] Great question and this is another question I get asked a lot. If you have multiple locations here’s what you should do: First you want to create a separate page on your website for each location served and then treat each of these ‘location pages’ like their own home page with unique benefit-driven content. You want images, testimonials and all the usual stuff.
Don’t just do what most people do and just throw something up with a bunch of local keywords and photos of random landmarks in the town.
Remember, if Google is sending people to this page and it’s the first interaction they have with you, you want to make a good first impression.
So make those pages and then on the same Google Business Profile account, you add in your location separately.
Then you link each location to the corresponding location page for it.
[QUESTION 3] “Do you need a website to use Google Business Profile?”
[ANSWER 3] The technical answer is no, it’s not a requirement to use it, but if you want to rank your business on Google to get more leads, enquiries, calls and customers, then you’re going to need one.
You see, Google still treats your website and what’s on it as a huge ranking factor. They want to see that you’re a real brand and an authority in your business niche and a business without a website just makes them regard you as not being serious about what you’re doing.
And to get your business in the coveted Map Pack (Top 3 businesses that show on Page 1 in the local business map results for the service you provide), you will need to optimise your website to mirror back a lot of the stuff you put into your Google Business Profile profile, like your business name, address and phone number (Known as the NAP) and other things like your GMB category and keywords.
And of course, the #1 major factor affecting all of SEO, including local SEO, which decides whether you show up in the map listings at all is good quality backlinks from other websites to your website, so if you don’t have a website of your own, you can’t get those links.
[QUESTION 4] “My business appears in Google search when I type in my business name and shows my location. However, if I search under ‘dog walker near me’, it’s not showing me as listed and I don’t see my name on the map either. I was told it was because I have not had reviews yet. How do I show up in the map results?”
[ANSWER 4] OK, so there are a lot of factors that go into the Google algorithm to decide who shows up and in what order, and I recommend reading my Google Ranking Factors post to learn more about that. As to reviews, they are important, so make sure you get in the habit of asking all your happy clients to leave you a 5* review. Maybe offer an incentive to give you a review, like 15% off your next dog walk. And make sure you reply to them all personally in your Google Business Profile page, as potential clients will be reading them, as does Google 🙂
But why is this person’s site not showing in the search results? Honestly, it could be anything from not filling out their Google Business Profile page correctly, their website having no trust or authority with Google yet (or even worse it’s been marked as spam due to poor quality SEO), the competition may have better SEO with great On Page SEO, backlinks, Citations etc.
It’s never about one thing, to be honest, it’s normally about a bunch of little things that need fixing to start building trust and authority with Google. Contact Us if you would like us to do a free website review to show you what needs to be fixed on your website.
[QUESTION 5] “How important is the actual content of the about and service sections for Google Business Profile SEO?”
[ANSWER 5] You should use every space and section Google gives you. If it wasn’t there, they wouldn’t think it’s important, so my advice is to add the maximum number of photos, videos, add posts every week, add products, announcements, reply to reviews, add special offers etc. But DO NOT ever try to stuff keywords in there or you will feel the mighty wrath of Google if they thing you are trying to spam them. That goes for writing content on your home page as well. Make it natural and 100% readable for your visitors and end-users. You have been warned!
[QUESTION 6] “Can I use a co-working space or office to receive a verification letter for a Google Business Profile profile?”
[ANSWER 6] This seems very specific, but I get asked this a lot (Normally from business owners trying to cheat Google into thinking they have a business presence in a location when they don’t). So, let’s put this one to bed once and for all. You have to give Google an address, even if it’s not going to be publicly displayed and the reason for that is they need to verify that you are located where you say you are, so they send out a verification postcard. You then need to get a code off of it to finish your registration process.
Otherwise, you could say your business is anywhere and try to cheat the system, which doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run, as the prospect soon learns you’re not local and gets annoyed (leaving a negative review) and if Google finds out (and they will), they will close your GMB account and suspend you (And good luck trying to get them to open a new one again as they have a very long memory!).
Google is very clear on this. They do not want you using a co-working space, virtual office or a PO Box as a business address, but if you are using a co-working space in an office, you can risk it and use it as your registered address if you want. You may be fine but be warned that if Google finds out, you may get suspended (DO NOT even consider using a PO Box).
If you’re serious about your business, try to find just the smallest and cheapest office space or even share an office space with another business close to the location where you want to rank for.
[QUESTION 7] “How long does it take to notice the changes in search results when you optimise your GMB profile?”
[ANSWER 7] If you mean how long before actual changes that you make, like updating your phone number or the info you change within your profile? How long before those are reflected? That should happen within a few hours. If you’re asking how long will your updated efforts take to actually change where you show up in the map search results, then that depends on a lot of things, like the level of competition for your business and how much trust and authority you have built up with Google.
If you’re a new business, it isn’t going to happen overnight. There are lots of different local SEO factors involved, but let me share with you a recent case study of ours: Brand new business, new website and new GMB profile in a highly competitive business niche. We got them to the #1 position in both the local Map results AND the organic search results for over 12 main keywords (searches people use to find the service they provide) within 3 months.
Now, bear in mind we are professional SEO specialists with over 20 years of experience, so do not expect to get the same results (6-12 months is more realistic, but the rewards are worth it, as being in the #1 spots will at least double your business guaranteed), but that is an indication of what can be done if you know what you’re doing. Contact us or check out our SEO Pricing page if you’d like us to do the same for your business.
Check out our last post Why Do I Need A Website? and also keep an eye open for our next post, which is coming soon.
Do you want more website traffic, enquiries, leads and customers for your business, but just want someone to do it all for you?
No problem. Just contact me and I’ll show you how we can help, leaving you to focus on growing your business.
We guarantee to get you on page 1 of Google and offer a great ROI. We’re SEO professionals with over 20 years of experience and offer a money-back guarantee and no contracts. We also provide a free SEO audit of your website so you can try us out first at no risk to yourself.
Our only goal is your success, so get in touch with me if you want us on your team.
Pete Skuse (The SEO Guy)
Plymouth SEO Services – Let’s put your website to work for your business