Generate Organic Visits for Google Business Profile

Google Business Profiles are easy, effective and free for generating organic visits. All small businesses who meet their in-person must absolutley have one. To maximize organic visits to your GBP, pay attention to these fields.
Written by
Jennifer Chu
Published on
July 8, 2024

If you're the owner of a small business that has a physical location, optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP) is a must. Getting more organic visits can drive increased customer awareness, more foot traffic to your store or office, and ultimately, higher sales. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to generate more organic visits to your Google Business Profile.

What is a Google Business Profile (GBP)?

A Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business, is a free tool by Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. It usually appears on the right hand side of search results.

Nory Camp Google Business Profile

The information in your GBP profile is also what shows up in the Local Pack or Map Pack, which lists the top 3-4 results in a local search.

Nory camp local map pack

Without a Google Business Profile, a business has a lower chance of showing up in Maps and Search.  A Google Business Profile also lends legitimacy and credibility to your business.

Customers are 2.7x more likely to consider a business reputable if they find a complete Business Profile on Google Search and Maps - Google1

Create Your Google Business Profile

If you don’t already have a GBP, it’s quick and easy to create one.

But first, confirm that you meet GBP’s eligibility requirements:

  • You cannot have an online only business.
  • Your business must be able to meet your customers in-person during your stated business hours.
  • If you do not have a storefront or office, you must be able to meet customers in-person elsewhere
    • Note that previously, Google My Business (before the name change) required that businesses have a physical address. This is no longer the case, you don’t have to have a storefront. You could have a home appliance repair business that visits customers onsite at their locations.
  • You must be the owner of the business or a representative of the business that is authorized to manage the GBP

Here is more information on GBP requirements.

If you meet all of the criteria above, you can create a free GBP online here.

To setup your GBP, you’ll be asked a number of questions. You should answer the minimum set of questions to complete your profile.  Once completed, Google must verify your profile. Verification can take up to five business days, and showing up in search results can take up to several weeks. If you specified a physical address, Google will mail you a postcard that looks something like this:

Google Business Profile postcard mailing for verification

Optimize Your Google Business Profile

To grow your Google Business Profile audience, you’ll want to optimize for these fields which are known ranking factors:

Google Business Profile Ranking Factors

Here are the GBP fields that impact ranking and therefore matter most:

1. Business Name

You cannot change your actual business name, and Google advises not to stuff keywords into this field that are not already in your business name. However, I’ve seen plenty of profiles that show business names with additional descriptive text. You may be able to get away with adding in 1-2 words to the field to help with ranking.  For example, a business who offers a summer camp should have the word “camp” in there.

2. Categories

You can choose up to 10 categories for your business. The primary category, of which you can select one, is by far the most important.  You can choose up to nine secondary categories; choose as many as you like, but make sure the categories are relevant to your business and do not cause any category confusion.
Google has over 4,000 categories you can choose from, and this keeps changing every year.

3. Website URL

If your business has one location, then entering your home page into the Website field is fine.
If you have multiple locations, you’ll want to create a Business Group, where you’ll be prompted to add any additional locations and enter the associated NAP and URL info. Here’s where you would enter the specific location page URL for each location.

4. Reviews

Review ratings matter for obvious reasons. But quantity of reviews is also important for improving prominence.  More reviews and positive ratings can help you appear in more local searches that are further from your business location. This study indicates that having more than 10 reviews has high impact, with diminishing returns after that.
Additionally, recency of reviews impacts rankings. Therefore, periodically getting new reviews can boost or maintain visibility in search and maps.


Best practices for getting reviews:

  • Regularly request reviews from your customers via email or text
    • If you have a low volume business, where you may have high touch engagement but across just a limited number of customers, asking for reviews is especially important
  • If you can, time your review request with milestones where customers have had enough time to evaluate (and delight in) your business.
  • Provide your customers with a review link so the review gets directly posted to GBP, Yelp or other platform relevant to your business
    • Sending surveys and Google Forms can help you get private feedback, but publicly posted reviews are what will help your rankings
  • If you’re concerned about getting positive ratings, you try identifying satisfied customers through conversation, informal feedback or net promoter surveys (NPS).
    • To those satisfied customers, send them your review requests.
    • To those unsatisfied customers, follow up with them personally to learn more and address any issues. You can use this as an opportunity to improve and, better yet, turn them into a promoter of your business.

Whether you receive positive and negative reviews, you should always respond promptly to those reviews. Google will notify you via email of any reviews you receive on your GBP.

5. Services

Services became a ranking factor2 in local search in 2022. Not all categories have pre-defined services that you can add, but Google continues to add more. It’s best to check regularly for new pre-defined services and update your profile accordingly.

Custom services also impact ranking, but to a lesser extent.

6. Hours of Operation

“Openness” is another new ranking factor as of last year3.  When your business is open, you are more likely to rank highly. We don't recommend you game the system by keeping 24/7 hours, but rather maintain accurate hours through the season and summer when you can be responsive to inquiries.

Other GBP Fields

While these fields may not be ranking factors, they are important for helping people locate your business, understand your business and engage with you.

  • Check that all the information provided on the profile is correct. This includes your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). Your NAP information should be the same across your GBP, website and any other directory listings.
  • Depending on your business, high quality photos can be an important part of telling your story of who you are and what you do.  Photos of the interior can reassure people that this is a real business with a real location.  Exterior photos can help people find your place, if the entrance is difficult to find. Photos of your products or services help people preview what they might get if they transact with you.
    • But photos themselves don’t improve rankings4
  • Business description have no affect on ranking, but it can help users understand your business.
  • Add links to your social media accounts on your GBP profile, so audiences have a way to follow your business or engage in the format they prefer.

GBP fields that have no impact on rank or engagement

If you have the staff, resources and time to fill out all information, keep it updated and active, and maintain for accuracy, then go ahead and do so. But for most small businesses, we have to prioritize where our efforts go. Here are the fields that are least important. They don’t impact ranking, and they appear below the fold where engagement would be more limited.

  • Q&A
  • Posts

Monitor Your Google Business Profile Performance

Regularly check the performance of your GBP profile through Performance, formerly known as Insights, which shows you data on how customers found your profile, the keywords they searched, and how they interacted with your profile. Perhaps some keywords or categories drive higher quality users or users more likely to purchase. If so, consider tweaking your profile to test those hypotheses.

Conclusion

Google Business Profile is a free, easy and effective tool for local marketing. All local businesses should have a GBP. Pay attention to the most important elements, like Name, Categories, Website, and Reviews so that you have the best chance of showing up in local searches. Regularly track and monitor your GPB Performance and what competitors are doing in their GBPs, and continually re-evaluate what's working and what needs adjusting.

Related Articles

SEO 101 Series

  1. Content (Part 1)
  2. UX (Part 2)
  3. Authority (Part 3)
  4. Technical SEO (Part 4)

SEO Rich Test: Beyond Just Keywords

Business Startup Checklist

Reference

1 "Complete your Business Profile on Google", Google Business Profile Help, Pulled July 7, 2024

2 E. Rule, "How Google Business Profile pre-defined services can impact local SEO", Search Engine Land, May 25, 2023

3 K. Hines, "Google Confirms ‘Openness’ As Local Search Ranking Factor, Search Engine Land, December 15, 2023

4 J. Hawkins, "Does Adding Photos in Google My Business Increase Ranking? [Case Study]", Sterling Sky, October 4, 2021

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