Google My Business, now known as Google Business Profile, is a branding and marketing tool that has helped many small businesses scale up and compete with the big companies in their various niches. It enables businesses to create a profile on the biggest search platform through which users can interact with them.

Businesses can use this platform to generate leads, advertise their products and services, and direct traffic to their websites. It can also be used to answer questions and respond to negative and positive reviews. Moreover, a fully optimized Google Business Profile can be the door opener to massive sales.

Benefits of Google Business Profile to Small Businesses

Jeff Bezos once described Google as “a mountain. You can climb it but can’t move it” This could mean that the platform, though almost impossible to beat, could be used to attain greatness. All businesses can use the internet to meet their prospect, and Google is currently the most prominent internet platform. You can learn more about the benefits of GBP here.

This article is about claiming and managing your Google Business Profile. Creating a profile would only get you closer to your market; verifying is the primary key. It proves that your brand is reliable and can be trusted to deliver excellent services. Meanwhile, Google Business Profile management is the growth surety.

Creating a Google Business Profile

But before then, let’s create a Google Business Profile for your business. You can skip this stage if you have one already. Besides, Google Business Profile is the same as the Google My Business profile, which means you can move to the next phase if you create a GMB profile some years back. These are the steps to creating a Google profile;

  • On your browser, go to Google Business Profile Manager.
  • Click the signup button in the top right corner of the page to either sign in to your account or create one if you’re new.
  • Enter your business name and click Next
  • Search for and choose a category for your business. Then, click Next
  • Choose whether you have a storefront where buyers can come to buy products. If you have, select Yes; if you don’t, choose No.
  • Enter the areas of your business service. You can choose 20 different locations, but it helps to choose regions close to each other and not too far from your business location.
  • Enter your phone number and business website URL. The website URL field is not a compulsory one. You can fill in later when you finally get a website for your business.
  • Click Finish

Claiming your Google Business Profile

Verifying your business profile will earn you the Google trust mark. The verification always happens immediately after creating a Google Business Profile. And it could also be demanded when you change some vital profile information.

The verification can take different forms. It could be a text, a call, a video call, or a postcard. Google used to decide on the method for verifying businesses. But now, you’re at liberty to choose a method.

The verification could take seven working days for approval, after which your profile will become live and visible across all Google advertising platforms, including Google Search and Google Maps. If verification fails, Google will notify you, and you will do it again.

Managing your Google Business Profile

Managing your Google Business Profile encompasses many activities. It includes posting regularly, adding new product pictures, service deliveries, reviews management, and more. These things can be done properly at the appropriate time when the managing role is assigned to a person in the company.

Meanwhile, it’s not a big deal. Small business owners can manage their profiles. One or two hours weekly is enough to manage a Google Business Profile. Except for daily checks that may involve replying to messages and appreciating reviews.

The challenging part of this work is review management. Reviews can make and cripple your business. It’s the first thing that people check when they discover your business on Google. For this reason, you need to learn the art of review management. The following are the best practices for managing reviews on your Google Business Profile.

  • Do not argue, and apologize even when the customer is wrong

It comes first because it’s the hardest. Our natural human response to criticism and false accusations is to engage in an argument to prove our innocence. However, it would help if you resisted the urge because it won’t work here. Arguing with an angry customer will only lead to more negative reviews and portray you as a rude and unreasonable business owner.

This would be a big red flag for potential buyers who want to patronize your business. Instead, apologize to the angry reviewer and promise to serve them better next time.

  • Try fixing the problem

When a customer makes a negative review on your Google Business Profile, your main priority should be to correct the situation and make the customer happy. And that may include exchanging the product bought for a new one or gifting them a new product. Always offer to fix the problem when responding to negative reviews, even if the buyer doesn’t want you to amend the situation. It shows that you care for your customers and want the best for them.

  • Be consistent and brief

As mentioned earlier, there must be a scheduled time on your calendar for responding to reviews and listening to customers’ complaints and questions. It could be once a week, if not daily. People appreciate it when their complaints are responded to on time. Besides, Google users will think of your brand as a reliable one.

Also, when you reply, make sure it’s short. Long responses are often misinterpreted as a defense, even when you’re careful to use calm and kind words. Apologize briefly and offer a solution.

  • Don’t forget to say “thank you” to your positive reviewers

It has been observed that it’s easier for some small business owners to type a long defense in response to negative reviews than to say a “thank you” to their positive reviewer. They considered it normal to receive positive reviews for a job well done. Don’t be that kind of business owner.

Be the type that appreciates people who took their time to say nice things about your business on the internet. They could have ignored the review section and gone ahead living their lives.

  • Learn from repeat criticism

A person’s negative review may be out of hate or misinterpretation. But when many people say the same thing about your staff, price and services, it’s simply the truth even if you don’t see it the same way. You are to listen and make the necessary corrections.

Using the Google Business Profile Dashboard

Google tool dashboards are always easy to understand, and this is no exception. The updated bar contains all you need to manage your business profile effectively. If you still find it difficult to understand, these are brief descriptions of each section and what you can do with them.

  • Post

Even in that tiny space given to your profile on Google search, you could update your customers about discounts and promotions, upcoming seminars, events, and changes in your company. This section is where you prepare your posts and submit them for review.

  • Info

The details you provided during your registration are saved in the Info section. If any of the info changes, you can correct it in the section. Perhaps you didn’t add your website URL during registration; you can enter it in the website URL field when you have one.

  • Insights

The insight section gives your profile performances in the most easily understandable form. You can see how people interact with your business on this page.

  • Reviews

All reviews received by your business are saved here. You can respond to reviews in this section.

  • Message

This is a chat platform in your business profile manager to interact with your customers. All messages sent by customers can be viewed and responded to in this section.

Other sections include photos, products, services, websites, and users. You can figure out what each one is about by exploring their page. The photo area contains your logo, cover photos, and all your photos. You can advertise your products in the product section and create custom services on the service page. Make the best use of these tools and scale your small business to one of the most patronized in your local areas using Google platforms as your advertising medium.

FAQs about claiming and management of Google Business Profile

How do I manage my GBP in Google Search?

You can also optimize your business profile to receive more clicks on Google searches. Firstly, complete your business info section. Then, fill out all the fields for Google to populate more information about your business on their listings. Also, ensure that your profile’s opening and closing hours are correct and accurate.

SEO methods also work for optimizing business profiles on Google listings. Using beautiful post images and sparkling product pictures will attract more clicks. You can also boost your visibility by using keywords in your posts. Also, make local posts that discuss events and festivals within your service regions.

What should I do when my GBP gets suspended?

  • Know the seriousness of the suspension

Before you start taking action to reinstate your account, you need to understand the type of suspension placed on your profile. The hard suspension is difficult to reinstate. And when you finally do, you may have lost all reviews from your customers. A profile on hard suspension has been removed from the Google listing and won’t be seen by users.

The second type is soft suspension. The profile, though visible on search and other Google platforms, cannot be edited or managed. It’s probably disabled and in an unverified state.

  • Correct all misconducts that may have happened with the profile

When business profiles get suspended on Google, owners and managers usually think of the Google reinstatement form as the only thing that can restore the profile’s activeness. Though it’s a crucial step in reclaiming the profile, it’s not the first thing to do. Before filling the form, you should try your best to determine the reason for the suspension. You could even get it fixed by correcting the anomalies and misconducts that caused the suspension

Business profiles are usually suspended when;

  1. Their business name on the profile contains a keyword and does not correspond to the name on their signage, business card and advertising boards.
  2. They claim to open 24/7 but do not.
  3. The address on the profile points to a virtual office or co-working space
  4. The address is changed
  5. The business has multiple profiles on Google listings
  6. One of the user’s accounts has beenĀ  suspended
  7. They have violated Google quality guidelines

Check for these problems and fix the one applicable to your business profile. Doing this may reinstate your profile after some working days. However, you can proceed to the next step if the account is not reinstated after many working days.

  • Contact support and fill out the Google reinstatement form

Contacting support can be done anytime, but I think it’s a good practice to begin by making corrections from your side. After you have made amends, you can write the customer support and fill out the reinstatement form.

Why is the information about my business constantly changing?

Be calm if your business information is constantly changing on your Google Business Profile. It does not signify any harm or means that your account has been hacked. Firstly, you should know that the users assigned to your accounts are not the only persons that can edit your profile info. Your customers and competitors can also edit your profile.

Every GBP has a “suggest an edit” hyperlink. You may not have noticed, but it’s there. Anyone can click on this and make an edit. However, whenever an edit is submitted through the link, Google will review it and notify all the users connected to the account before publishing the edit.

Also, it can change because Google collected different info from another source. Google is aware that business info changes regularly, and most times, businesses forget to update their info on GBP. Therefore, the company collects updates from other sources, such as your app or website connected to your GBP. The company does this to serve users accurate and correct information.

The other reason for this is Google AI. It helps businesses to update the opening hour info. Because of all these reasons, you must have someone managing your GBP. This person will look out for Google notifications and ensure that the info on the GBP is updated and remains as specified by you.

Claiming and managing Google Business Profile is real work and worth the effort. Businesses should not slack in doing everything required to manage their profile. And if you find the work too demanding, you can hire Premlall Consulting to handle it.