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Google Business Profile: How To Set Up Optimize And Rank

Google Business Profile How To Set Up Optimize And Rank

Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business (GMB)) is one of the best free tools from Google that helps business owners manage their online presence. While having a GBP listing is a great first step to gaining some local exposure, optimizing for Google Business Profile takes your listing to the next level. It can offer a huge impact for brands that want to rank in local search. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know to get started with Google Business Profile and make the most of local search in your marketing efforts.

Editor’s Note

Google recently announced that it has changed the name of Google My Business to Google Business Profile. To date, there have been minimal changes to the tool beyond its new name.

Why Do You Need Google Business Profile?

One of the first places customers who need your product or service will start looking for solutions is a Google search. Whether they’re looking for an eco-friendly carpet cleaner or some stationery, most people enter their search terms directly into Google. These local searches will return three results from Google Maps, called a local 3-pack. Clicking on these will open a company profile.

Google reports that 46% of all searches have local intent. That means there are potential consumers in your area who need what you offer. If they don’t find you in local search results, chances are they will find your competitors. Why not take full advantage of this free opportunity to bring customers right to your door?

A Guide To Google Tools For SEO

Download this guide to learn how to make the best use of the powerful free tools Google provides to improve your SEO processes and performance.

How To Get Started With Google Business Profile

If you’re not sure if you already have a listing with Google Business Profile, the first thing you’ll want to do is do a Google search on your business name to verify. If your business has been around for a while, there may already be a listing associated with it. If that’s the case, claiming it is easy.

How To Find And Claim Your GBP Listing

One of the easiest ways to claim your business is through Google Maps:

  • Open Google Maps.
  • Type your company name in the search bar.
  • Choose your business from the results.
  • Click “Claim this business.”
  • Select a verification option and follow the steps you see on the screen.

If your search is empty, then it’s time to create your Google Business Profile. If your business is a service business without an established address, you will need to claim your profile through the following method.

Set Up Your GBP Profile

First of all, I want to clarify the difference between a Google business profile and a Google Business Profile account. You need a Google Business Profile account to access your Google Business profile. If you don’t have a GBP account, you’ll want to set it up before continuing.

Go to Google Business Profile and sign in with your company’s Gmail address. (If you don’t have a Gmail address associated with your business, start there.)

Complete Each Section Of Your Google Business Profile

Fill out your Google business profile carefully and thoroughly. The more information you provide in your profile, the better Google can match your business to local search queries, and the more your potential customers can learn about you from your business listing. Make sure all your information is accurate and keep it up to date.

A Couple Of Things To Keep In Mind:

You’ll want your business name to match your store signage to avoid confusion.

Enter your address exactly as it appears in other places on the web, such as your website and social media pages. Google can be particular about inconsistencies that make your business appear less credible.

List your regular and vacation hours. It’s important to be meticulous when indicating changes to your store’s hours. If your business listing suggests you’re open on Sundays and a potential customer shows up to find your doors closed, you’ve not only lost a sale, you’ve also lost credibility.

If you don’t have a physical address associated with your business, you can choose a service area. This is useful for landscapers, repairmen, and other service businesses that work primarily in their customers’ homes. To get started, select your primary service area, such as Los Angeles County, CA.

Write Your Description “Of The Business”

The description that appears just below your business name is an editorial summary provided by Google. There is nothing you can change here.

How To Optimize Your Google Business Profile Description:

  1. Use the 750 characters available and load key information in the first 250 characters. Make sure your description details what makes your business unique.
  2. Consider reusing content from the “About” section of your web page.
  3. This is the perfect place to add keywords that your audience might use to find a business like yours. For example, if you’re an optometrist, you might want to include phrases like “eye exam” or “walk-in eye exams.” Optimizing your GBP profile with relevant keywords increases your chances of being found by potential customers.
  4. Talk about what sets you apart from your competitors and what customers like best about your business. Do you have appointments for the same day? Do you offer easy online reservations? Let everyone know!
  5. Do not mention sales or prices. This is against Google Business Profile policies and may result in a profile being suspended.
  6. Do not include links or HTML.

Choose A Category

Choosing a business category is an essential part of optimizing your Google Business listing.

When you choose a category,

  1. It will be easier to find in discovery quests. Google will match your category to relevant search queries, so choose carefully. Think of “coffee shop”, “restaurant”, “clothing store”, “grocery store”.
  2. Highlight the specific features of the category. Once you choose a category, Google will automatically present special features specific to that category, such as the ability to include a menu or customer ratings. The more your potential customers can learn about you from your Google Business listing, the more likely they are to choose you over the competition.

Be as specific as Google allows! Google offers over 4,000 business categories, so keep searching until you find the category that most accurately describes your business.

Secondary Categories

If your business belongs to more than one category, simply set your main category to match your main offering (e.g grocery store) and then choose additional categories that apply, such as “organic grocery store”, “delivery service”. groceries” etc.

Select Attributes

Once you choose a category, Google will list a number of attributes that you can select to add more detail to your business description. Attributes are special features that users may be looking for, such as “delivery,” “takeout,” or “free Wi-Fi.”

Once you have completed your profile, choose a verification option.

How To Verify Your Google Business Profile Listing

After you create your profile, Google needs to verify your listing. The most common way they do it is charmingly low-tech. They send a postcard with a verification code to the address on your profile. It may take up to five business days to receive it, but Google won’t show your edits until verification is complete. Once your business is verified, you’ll gain access to insights, analytics, and reviews. You can learn more about Google’s verification process.

Some businesses may be eligible for Google Business Profile Alternative Verification. If you’re a service business without a physical address, Google may allow you to verify your business listing by phone, email, video recording, or with Search Console. Unfortunately, you won’t be aware of available verification methods until you complete your profile.

Once you’ve verified your business, Google will publish your new or edited profile and you’re ready to start ranking in local search.

How Does Google Determine Local Ranking?

For the most part, Google classifies local listings on three values:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

A combination of these Google Business Profile SEO factors helps Google find the best match for local searches. For example, if Google finds a more relevant business that is further away from a searcher’s location, it might rank it higher than one that is closer but less relevant to the search query.

Let’s take a closer look at these local ranking factors to understand how they can affect your small business’s Google Business Profile optimization and SEO.


Local relevance refers to how well a local business profile matches what someone is searching for. When you add detailed information to your profile, you’re giving Google more information to match your business to searches it might apply to.


Distance considers how far away each potential result is from the location term used in a search. If a search engine doesn’t specify a location, Google will use what it knows about that search engine’s location to calculate the distance.


Prominence refers to how well known a company is. Sometimes Google will take offline factors into account to judge prominence. For example, famous landmarks, museums, or well-known retailers are likely to appear prominently in local search results.

Aside from obviously famous locations, Google determines prominence by attributing value to off-site links, articles, or directories. How many Google reviews and Google review scores are also taken into account in local search results Google will also take your overall search performance into account, so general SEO best practices are important, even for local businesses.

How To Improve Google Business Profile Optimization For SEO

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your business’ ranking in local search results. What follows are just a few Google Business Profile SEO tips. Combine them with your local SEO strategy to increase your chances of ranking for relevant searches.

How To Optimize A Google Business Profile

  1. Find And Fix Duplicate Google Business Profile Listings

At Victorious, we believe the logical place to start optimizing for local search is to make sure there’s nothing getting in the way of our clients ranking, like duplicate listings.

Why Do Duplicate Listings Matter?

Duplicate Google Business Profile listings are not, in and of themselves, a negative ranking factor. My main concern with multiple listings is that they can put you in the position of competing with yourself to be found in local search. In most cases, when there is a duplicate listing, it has been neglected and lacks solid information, reviews, and posts. Since Google doesn’t know which of your multiple listings is the one you want to post, it could choose a listing less carefully which affects how your business ranks in search and how potential customers perceive the value of your offerings.

Duplicate listings are also against Google Business Profile guidelines. If you don’t merge your duplicate, one or both of your business listings could be suspended.

Before you go ahead to merge duplicate listings, make sure there are no reviews that need to be migrated to your one true listing. Google has a valuable tutorial that walks you through how to move reviews between business profiles.

How To Merge Two Google Business Profile Listings

There are different ways to merge two company listings on GBP. To decide how to move forward, you’ll start with which of these categories your business falls into:

  • Showcase
  • service area business
  • Optional

How To Merge Duplicate GBP Listings For A Storefront

If your business has a physical location and the duplicate listing has the same address as your preferred listing, there are a few different factors that will affect what you do next.

Ask yourself these questions:

1 – Have Both Listings Been Verified?

Google cannot merge two verified listings.


2 – Do You Own Both Listings?

If you have back-end access to each of the listings, you’ll want to uncheck the listing you no longer want and skip to question four.

3 – Both Listings Are Verified, But You Only Have One?

If you want to merge a listing that you don’t own, the first thing you need to do is claim ownership. Please try to claim the duplicate listing. Google will then tell you how to get control of the existing owner.

4 – Is Only One Listing Verified?

If only one of the duplicate listings is verified, get the URL of each one from Google Maps, select the “support” link at the bottom left of your Google Business Profile dashboard, choose “contact us” and ask Google to merge the two listings. (Please provide the Google Maps URLs you collected).

If the duplicate listings have different addresses, follow these steps.

1 – Does The Duplicate Listing Present A Previous Business Address?

Contact Google Business Profile and ask them to mark the above listing as moved.

2 – Does The Duplicate Listing Have An Address That Was Never Correct?

Go to Google Maps, “Suggest an edit” and choose “Does not exist here”.

How To Merge Duplicate GBP Listings For A Service Area Business

This is a similar process to the one described for the store listings above, with a few differences.

If both listings have been verified, one will need to be unverified before they can be merged. If you do not own either listing, please contact GBP to claim ownership of both listings and request that they be merged.

If only one listing is verified, find the duplicate on Google Maps and “suggest an edit” as described in step two above, toggle the toggle next to “Place is permanently closed” to “yes”, select “Private” as reason.

Use These Google Business Profile Tips To Improve Your Profile For Search

The search is a zero, sum game. When a business rises in local search rankings, it is pushing other businesses down the list. Optimizing your GBP listing gives your business an edge, helping more potential customers find and choose your business over your competitors.

What Does an Optimized Google Business Profile Look Like?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this should clearly illustrate how important it is to optimize your Google Business Profile listing. Which one would you like to visit? Which one feels more believable? Which one do you trust the most?

How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile

Now that you’ve seen the benefit of GBP SEO (sometimes called Google Maps listing optimization), let’s look at some simple steps you can take to get your business seen and shine in local search listings.

  •  Add Photos

Photos are the best way to give potential customers an inside look at your business and inspire them to visit in person.

In addition to a cover photo and logo, I recommend you consider adding the following types of images:

  • Exterior Photos

Capture your storefront from different angles so customers can easily recognize your business. If you are open during the day and night, please upload photos of both.

  • Interior photos

Show search engines what the interior of your store looks like. Capture the atmosphere they will enjoy when they visit.

  • Product Photos

Share photos of some of your most popular items with potential customers.

  • Action Photos

Capture your staff interacting with your customers, serving with a smile, or helping you choose the perfect gift.

  • Food & Drink Photos

Showcase photos that will have search engines drooling over what you’re cooking.

  • Common Areas

Do you have a beautiful lobby? Cozy armchairs in your bookstore? Show what it’s like to spend time at your location.

  • Team Photos

Upload images that highlight the personalities of your team. Photos of you and your staff to add a personal touch and make them feel like friends before customers even walk through your door.

Technical Guidelines For Google Business Profile Photos

Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your photos are displayed to their best potential.

  • Format: JPG or PNG
  • Size: Between 10KB and 5MB
  • Minimum Resolution: 720px x 720px
  • Quality: All your photos should be well lit, in focus, and unfiltered.
  • File Names – Photo file names are a great place to incorporate keywords relevant to your business and location.

Geotag Your GBP Photos

If you really want to get an edge over the competition, go one step further and geotag your images. When you geotag your photos, you add geographic information, such as latitude and longitude, to the image file’s metadata.

Why Should You Geotag Your GBP Images?

Adding location metadata to your images helps search engines associate that photo with a specific location. Why does this matter? People often add location-based keywords to their search queries, such as “gift shop, times square”, and establishing a strong association between your business and your location will improve your visibility in local SERPs. Don’t forget that photos show up in search results too and using a geotagging strategy for your images increases the likelihood that yours will top the list.

GeoImgr is a free tool that makes it easy to upload your photos and add geotags and (and keywords!) to the EXIF ​​data of the files. I recommend that you add this location and keyword data to all images you share on your Google Business Profile.

1 – Add Your Products And Services

Adding products and services to your Google Business Profile allows you to showcase your offers and increase customer engagement. It’s especially helpful to add products and services if your company name doesn’t adequately describe your offering. When it comes to SEO, this additional information gives Google more to assess how well your business matches search queries in your area. Learn more about adding products and services to your Google Business Profile listing.


2 – Engage With Your Customers

Now that you’ve set up your GBP profile for search success, you’re ready to get on with the work of creating a rich and engaging experience for loyal customers and future customers.

3 – Post To Your Google Business Profile

Just like posting regularly to your social media accounts keeps customers interested and engaged, posting to your GBP profile is a great way to keep everyone up to date on what’s going on with your business.

How Often Should You Post To Google Business Profile?

Google Business Profile listings no longer expire after seven days, so the importance of continual posting is not as important as it once was. However, I recommend that businesses post to GBP once a week or at least once per month. Unlike a social media feed, the goal is not to add a collection of posts but to keep your profile current and up-to-date.

What Should You Post On Google Business Profile?

There are essentially three types of information that are useful for companies to share on GBP.

  • Events: Craft night? Jazz lunch? Free makeovers?
  • Offers/Specials – You can’t share this information on your profile, so it’s perfect for a Google Business Profile post. Two-for-one sandwiches? Referral discounts? Sale of samples?
  • Announcements: New product arrivals? Unexpected closure? Anniversary celebration?

What Goes into A Great GBP Publication?

Keep these five things in mind when creating a post to share on Google Business Profile.

1 – Choose A Post Type

See above.

2 – Add A Photo Or Video

Photos should be simple, in focus and well lit. The vibrant colors really jump off the page and grab attention as people scroll through the local SERPs. Post photos must be at least 400px wide by 300px tall in JPG or PNG format.

Videos must be no larger than 100MB and can be uploaded in several different formats.

3 – Write A Title

Describe your event in 4-5 words and no more than 58 characters.

4 – More Details

You can use up to 1,500 characters to describe your event/offer/announcement but try to keep it between 150-300 characters.

5 – Call To Action

Don’t leave people wondering what to do next. End your post with a clear call to action that tells them to “Learn more,” “Book now,” or “Schedule an appointment today.”

ask and answer questions

Have you ever noticed on the product pages of a certain online mega-retailer (hint, it starts with AM and ends with ZON) that there is a section for questions and answers? GBP makes the same functionality available to your business.

The ability to ask questions and get answers can be the deciding factor in whether a customer chooses your business over a competitor. It is very important to pay attention to this section since, as you can see in the previous example, anyone can answer them. As much as we love local advocates, sometimes their information can be incomplete, inaccurate, or worse, lack the grace you could employ when interacting with potential clients.

While there’s no way to turn off the Q&A feature on your business profile, there are a few things you can do to stay on top of what’s being posted there.

  • Configure alerts. Getting notified when someone asks a question will help you be the first to answer.
  • Generate your own Qs to A. Make a list of some frequently asked questions, then ask, answer and upvote on your own profile. Google not only allows it, but encourages it. Do you want to know what is even better? Keep your keyword strategy in mind when asking and answering questions. (No keyword stuffing, please.)

Get Google Reviews For Your Business

Google’s official stance on responding to reviews is that businesses should…

“Engage with customers by responding to reviews they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback they leave about your business.”

Google goes on to say…

“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve the visibility of your business and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”

Responding to both positive and negative reviews build trust with your customers and with Google. Because Google wants to recommend the most credible businesses to its customers, it places a lot of emphasis on business owners going above and beyond to engage with reviews publicly.

Create A Review Response Strategy

When someone leaves a review about your business, don’t keep them waiting for a response. Having a response plan helps you respond quickly and courteously.

How To Respond To Positive Reviews

  • Say thanks! Show her appreciation for taking the time to leave her a nice review.

Hi Sam, thanks for sharing your experience. I can’t wait to see you again!”

  • Be specific. A generic response is better than no response, but a response that touches on something the customer specifically said in their review helps them feel heard and appreciated.

“Those are our favorite donuts too, Sara! Thanks for stopping by!”

  • Invite them back. Show gratitude for their support and let them know you’re looking forward to serving them (and your friends!) again.

“I’m glad you stopped by, Khalil! I hope to see you and your friends again soon!”

How To Respond To Negative Reviews

  • Apologize and thank them for their comments. Negative feedback is an opportunity to do things better. Thank them sincerely for their input and let them know you’ve heard them.
  • Be nice. This is a public conversation. Being defensive will reflect negatively on your customer service skills. Don’t argue with customers or blame them for the situation.
  • Take the conversation offline. Publicly thank them for their feedback and let them know you will be contacting them directly to resolve the issue. Do not contact immediately with a direct response. If you do, the rest of the world will think you are ignoring their complaint.
  • Keep it short and sweet. There is no need for a long-winded answer. Be courteous and concise.

“I am very sorry that we have not lived up to your expectations, Marta. I’d love to get this right. Call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx to discuss how Il Ristorante can better serve you.”

Set Up Messaging

The Google Business Profile messaging feature allows searchers to send a text message directly to your phone from your business profile. This is a great way to demonstrate your responsiveness and commitment to customer service. You can enable messaging from your Google Business Profile dashboard. Read the guidelines for using the messaging feature.

Monitor Your Results

Keep in mind that there is no magic formula to optimize your Google Business Profile. As with any other of your marketing efforts, it’s essential to continually evaluate your results, experiment with new ways to stay top of mind with your customers and re-establish your position at the top of local search results

You can see how your Google Business Profile listing is performing directly from the Insights section of your profile. You can view and track:

  • How many people have visited your website from your GBP list?
  • How many people asked for directions to your location?
  • The search terms used to find your listing (which can help you further optimize your business listing)
  • How many people have called your business from your profile?
  • Other actions based on your profile buttons (like order now, book online, etc.)

What you can track in your business listing may change over time as Google commits to providing more features.

How To Make Changes To Your Google Business Profile

Keeping your business listing up to date is vital to building trust with potential customers. Google allows you to make changes to your business profile as needed but doesn’t implement them instantly.

How To Change Your Address And Other Information In GBP

You can make changes from your Google business account or directly from Google Search or Maps. No matter which method you choose, your changes will show up across all Google properties, so there’s no need to submit changes through Search and Google Maps.

Making Edits Through Your Google Business Account

  • Login to your account and click “info” on the sidebar.
  • Choose which edits you want to make. You can update your address on your company list and add a new phone number if needed.
  • Hit “apply” after each edit you make.
  • Your changes will appear as “pending review”.

Every time you change your address, you will need to re-verify your business before the change takes effect. Your new address will become effective once you complete that second verification.

For other changes to your profile, Google says it generally reviews Google Business Profile edits within 48 hours. You will receive a notification at the top of your profile account saying that your profile has been updated. If your changes were not approved, you will receive a similar notification. However, instead of enacting changes, Google will display an “updated” status next to unaccepted changes.

Making Edits Via Google Search Or Maps

You can also update your Google Business Profile listing directly from search or from Google Maps.

  • Make sure you’re signed into your Google business account and do a search for your business.
  • Open your profile and click on “edit profile” and then “business information”.
  • Once you make a change, hit save and then continue with your next edit.
  • Your changes will now be “pending review”.

As with the previous method, you will need to re-verify your account if you change your address. Other changes will generally be accepted or rejected within 48 hours. Sign in to your Google Business Profile account to check your status.

Set Special Hours In Your GBP

Do you close or change your schedule for vacation? If so, you must update your Google Business Profile by setting special hours. That way potential customers will always have the most up-to-date information for your business.

Google shares how to set vacation hours here.

You can follow that same process if you need to close your business for a few day

If you offer seasonal hours, you’ll want to change your hours of operation using the process for editing your information above. Set a reminder on your calendar to update your business hours so you don’t forget to change it. For example, if you have a plant nursery that has reduced hours during the winter, set reminders to change your hours on your calendar the day before the new hours go into effect and the day before they return to normal.

You can also create a GBP post to announce your seasonal hours before they go into effect so potential customers know about the update.

If you need to close your business for seven days or more, you will need to mark it as temporarily closed. Update your “About Business” section so potential customers know when you’ll reopen.

How To Fix GBP Problems


Google can suspend a business listing if it thinks it goes against its guidelines.

  • You’re not eligible for a Google Business Profile
  • Your company name is wrong
  • You have multiple business listings
  • You have posted prohibited content

To reinstate your Google Business Profile account after a suspension, first identify any potential issues. Read the Google Business Profile Guidelines to see if your profile has inadvertently broken any of its rules. Google will not provide you with a reason for suspension, so take your time during this process.

Once you’ve found potential problems, it’s time to fix them. You can make changes to your Google business profile from Google Search, Maps, or your business profile page.

Once your information is correct and you’ve removed any potentially problematic content, you can request to have your business listing reset. You will need to answer a series of yes or no questions before the reinstatement form will appear.

On the reinstatement form, you will need to provide your email, your business name, and your address or service area. You will also need to explain why you believe your account should be reinstated. Google offers the possibility to attach files to this form. If you believe your account was suspended due to issues with your name or address, please attach photos of your location to help with the business listing reinstatement process.

If for some reason your Google Business Profile still doesn’t reset, please double check your profile to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and then appeal the decision by replying to the email you received regarding your reset request. Submit images of your store (if you have one) and a description of what your business does to Google.

Reactivating an account can be a time-consuming process that can be avoided by making sure you adhere to Google’s guidelines from the start.

Manage Google Users Or Editions

Because Google allows all users to suggest edits — and makes edits itself — you may be notified of potential changes to your profile information.

When you look at a Google Business Profile listing, you will notice that each one says “suggest an edit.”

Clicking on “Change name or other details” allows users to submit changes for a business’s:

  • Name
  • Category
  • speak to
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Photos
  • About section

Thankfully, Google won’t just remove your business listing because someone marks it as closed. Instead, once Google has received user edits or has found information contradicting your current profile, you will get a notification at the top of your business profile page.

The information, that Google has edited will be color-coded or feature strike-thrus to make it easier to spot. If you see an orange phone number, for example, that means Google is suggesting that change. If you see strike-thurs on your text, that means your data was replaced.

Once you’ve noticed edits to your profile, you can choose whether to apply them or keep your original information.

To avoid user or Google edits, keep your information up to date. Make sure your name, address, and phone number are the same across all of your listings and that your hours are correct.

How to Maintain Your Google Business Profile Search Optimized Profile

You’ve probably concluded by now that Google local business listing optimization isn’t a one-and-done task. It’s an ongoing part of your local marketing strategy that requires upkeep to continue reaping maximum benefits from it.

Make sure you have a plan to:

  • Update information regularly
  • Publish posts and upload photos every week.
  • Ask for reviews and respond to them.
  • Answer questions.
  • Respond to messages.
  • Keep current with new features.

As with any other part of your on-page or off-page SEO strategy, your Google Business Profile strategy should begin and end with bringing value to existing and prospective customers. It’s Google’s mission to connect searchers to the best solutions to their needs through detailed and credible information. Everything you do to make it easier for Google to find that information and trust it will ultimately serve your business and customers.

Need Help?

Even though Google Business Profile optimization isn’t difficult, it does take time, and many businesses opt to bring in an SEO agency to support them with local SEO services. If you do bring in help, I have a step-by-step guide that will show you how to add a new user to Google Business Profile.

If you’re not sure if working with an SEO agency is right for you, reach out, and we’ll talk about how our SEO services can help your business get the attention it deserves.

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