The biggest SEO tip we have for local businesses, make sure your Google business profile is ready to go. So what is a Google business profile and how do we optimize it? Let’s talk about it. You may have heard it called a Google My Business Profile, which is its previous name. In a nutshell, a Google business profile is one of the listings people find on Google when they look for your business. When you Google a local business on the Google Results page, you will likely see three things. One, potentially ads running for that business or for a competitor. Two, search results that hopefully show that local business, and a Google Business Profile. That Google Business Profile is Google’s effort to make sure that the business is listed correctly on Google. When people talk about search engine optimization or SEO, they are mostly meaning on Google and not necessarily other channels like Bing or Yahoo. This means that when we think about SEO, we need to think about what does Google care about. Well, using the tools that Google develops is a great way to do the things that Google cares about. All of this is why if you are a local business and you have not secured or updated your Google business profile, you are making a huge mistake.

Let’s talk about how to claim it, and if you’ve already claimed it, some things you can do to optimize your profile. To claim your profile, search for your local business on Google. You might very well see a Google business listing for your business already locatable through a Google search, and you can go through the process of claiming that listing so that you can take control of the information. That will likely involve a phone call or a piece of mail coming to your business from Google. Google has been working to make the verification process harder, however, to keep businesses legit on Google business listings. So this may take a little bit longer than you might expect it would. It can also get way more complicated if you do not have a traditional business address. If you work under an assumed business name or you don’t receive mail at your address, it becomes more difficult to get verified. Google has been then implementing things like video references to help make sure that your entity is legit. Once you have claimed your business profile, be sure to take the time to fill out all of the relevant items recommended by Google.

The business category, contact information, and things like websites should be no brainers to fill out. The first thing you want to be careful about is selecting the right category of business, whether that be a physical business or a service area business. Physical location businesses are for businesses that serve clients at their location. Service areas are for businesses that go to customers’ homes or businesses to provide that service. It’s like the difference between a traditional dry cleaner and an HVAC repair shop. Traditional dry cleaners, you must drop off your clothing, so it’s a physical location. HVAC repair companies, they come to your home or they come to your business, which makes it a service area business. But to take it to the next level and improve your listing and your visibility in the Google ecosystem, add pictures to your profile, add videos, add updates, seek out customer reviews, and then fill out any additional categories that the Google business profile has options for that fits your business. We also offer this word of warning. Google business profiles can be very touchy. Google has a propensity to suspend accounts if they think for some reason the account is being spammed or being manipulated in a way that’s spammy.

To protect yourself from this, make changes slowly. Too many changes too quickly or significant changes like name or address can flag your account for review or even get it suspended. Even things that you might not think of can get you in trouble, like be careful of how many accounts you have attached to your profile. Less is better. Also, customer reviews are great, but don’t get fake reviews. Google is not very communicative about why it might suspend your profile. From our personal experience, a client’s profile was once suspended, and the best answer we got after talking with Google was that one of the client’s emails attached to the account was flagged as suspicious. Of course, there was no reason for this, but we are at the mercy of Google like we are most of the time. Fake reviews can come through incentivizing people with money or paying for bots or offering a trade for reviews. If Google becomes aware of any of these, they can and will suspend your profile or remove it altogether. Losing a Google business profile can be a significant damage to your business. Over time, the value of your profile grows as you gain more views and relevance in search engines.

Imagine the damage to your business if suddenly no one could find you on Google at all. A final note, we suggest making a task or at least an annual calendar reminder for maintenance on your Google business profile. At least once a year, you should revisit the profile to make sure that your hours are up to date and that you’ve interacted with reviews and that nothing significant has changed on the profile, and add some new photos. This will help keep the profile relevant and make Google happy. Aren’t we all just trying to make Google happy? And one more thing about hours. Recently, a Google search business conducted a study and found that open hours for certain businesses did affect their search engine results during their closed hours. Why is that? Well, likely because Google is looking to constantly improve the way their results are shown. If you’re looking for a pizza place at 10:00 PM on a Friday, why would you want to see listings for ones that close at 8:00? The world of Google is always changing. Are you paying attention? Or do you have a partner who is? If you don’t have a Google business profile set up, you might need to talk with a marketing agency.

We’d love to chat with you. Please reach out to me at to get a conversation started today.

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