Think of Google Business Profiles as the new phonebook, the place where your business absolutely must be listed if you’re going to attract customers in your local area and continue to build your presence. Without a Google Business Profile, your business loses a huge amount of visibility in the online world.
If you’ve never heard of Google Business Profiles, that might be because the name is fairly new. In the past, Google Business Profiles were known as Google My Business. It’s an online listing of businesses with all the pertinent information, including the street address of your physical location, your phone number and other contact information, a link to your website, and (maybe most importantly) reviews from customers.
Importance of Google Business Profile
Don’t underestimate the importance of a Google Business Profile. This isn’t some trivial online platform you can ignore. While some businesses can get away with forgoing a Twitter account or staying away from TikTok—these platforms might even be irrelevant to your business—you can’t say the same thing about Google My Business.
That’s because nearly every consumer relies on Google to find businesses they need to patronize. Think about the last time you needed to find a product or service near you. In the past, you might have reached for a phonebook and started to flip through the yellow pages. But today, you would open up your computer or phone and Google whatever it is you need.
Google then provides you with a full list of relevant businesses. From there, you can scroll through and find the one that best suits your needs or seems to have the most satisfied customers.
How does Google rank these businesses in its listing? Good question! Although it’s not completely transparent how Google orders them, there are two reasons that appear to be fairly reliable.
• Physical Distance
There’s the physical distance from the person who is doing the search. If you’re looking up options for Chinese takeout near you, Google is going to favor the restaurant that’s only a mile away over the one that’s five miles away. This is something that you as a business have no control over—you’re simply never going to have close proximity to every single potential customer out there trying to find you.
• Number and Type of Reviews
There’s the number of reviews you have. Or more specifically, the number of positive reviews you have. This is something that you do have control over. Businesses that have many positive reviews get higher rankings in Google searches, and why wouldn’t they? If people seem to consistently like a business, it makes sense that Google would give that business more prominence to people who are searching for what it offers.
While you could make a case for the appropriate number of reviews a business should have (a small mom-and-pop shop will likely never have as many reviews as a huge chain store), you can count on 50 reviews as a comfortable number of reviews to strive for, no matter what the size of your business. Having 50 reviews (ideally 4- or 5-start reviews) will help you stand out among competitors in Google listings.
Ask for a Review
“Wow,” you might be thinking. “Are you serious about 50 reviews? That seems like so much!” Before you start to panic, remember that most businesses with lots and lots of reviews didn’t get those by being passive. Many businesses are in the habit of asking their customers to give them a review on Google.
That’s not as much of an imposition as you might imagine. Most people are willing to drop a positive review for a business if they are asked to do so. If you feel awkward doing it as a business owner, try thinking like a consumer to give yourself some perspective. If you love a business and have always had great experiences patronizing it, would you be compelled to give it a Google review completely unprompted? If you’re like most people, probably not. But if a business you really liked asked you to do them a show of support by leaving a positive review? Well, sure, you’d do it if they asked! Other people are the same way. They don’t think to do it on their own, but they’re happy to help you out if prompted to do so.
While you’re building your presence on Google Business Profiles, remember that it’s likely only a matter of time before other digital listings gain prominence. For example, Apple creates business locations using its Maps app, and it could be very soon that Apple comes up with a business listing similar to Google’s. And in turn, Facebook will likely be creating its own business listing as well. Be prepared to list your business as soon as possible once these platforms come to fruition, and be sure to encourage your customers to leave you positive reviews.