I recently created an online course, “Mastering Your Google Business Profile.” From my experience, it seems most business owners with a Google Business Profile are confused about what it is. I hear them call it their Google “Page,” thinking that it must be like their Facebook business page. Although there are a few similarities, a Google Business Profile is a very different entity than a Facebook business page. I believe that if business owners had a better understanding of what a Google Business Profile is, and how the system works, they’d be able to use it better for their success.

Here is a list of forty basic facts about the Google Business Profile system.

  1. It’s a local business directory based on physical locations and a preset list of categories (much like the Yellow Pages).
  2. There must be a primary category assigned to the Google Business Profile, but additional categories can be added if they are relevant to the business.
  3. A physical address is a key requirement for the listing to exist, but the address does not need to be publicly visible – such as for businesses that travel to customer locations instead of having a storefront or office for customers to be received.
  4. It’s primarily tied to the Google Maps system, which is why a physical address is a key component.
  5. The physical address must be an authentic business location. P.O. boxes, mailbox rentals, and virtual offices are not allowed.
  6. If a business address is publicly visible, it must always have clear signage and be staffed to receive customers during the stated business hours.
  7. Business locations can be added to the system through the Google Maps interface.
  8. When a business owner creates a new Google Business profile, a verification step is required before the location can be seen live in Google Search or Google Maps.
  9. Google will state the method of verification required from a list of standard methods it uses, which can include a postcard code being mailed to the address, a video upload from the business owner, or another method.
  10. The business name used must be a real business name and should not be an altered version that adds location names or keywords in an effort to acquire an advantage in search results.
  11. By hosting this system, Google gains in two ways: It allows them to gather and serve useful data (which is the mission of Google Search and Maps), and it’s a way to stimulate engagement with business owners so they might consider paid advertising through Google Ads.
  12. Google owns the directory and is the ultimate decider of what content appears.
  13. Google gathers local business data from many sources, including websites, other data collection companies, online directories, business owners, and the general public.
  14. Anyone in the public can suggest an edit to a GBP, such as a change of business name, location, hours of operation, or other edit (they must be logged into their own Google account).
  15. Anyone in the public can write a review, add a photo, upload a video, or click “ask a question” in a Google Business Profile (they must be logged into their own Google account).

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  1. If Google collects data about a business’s existence at a particular address, it may create a Google Business Profile for it whether the business owner wants it or not.
  2. There is no option to delete a Google Business Profile, but there are options to mark a business as temporarily closed or permanently closed.
  3. A business does not need to have a website in order to have a Google Business Profile.
  4. Business owners do not always have access to a Google Business Profile’s admin panel, although Google has systems in place to grant it. (Unfortunately, problems occur when businesses change hands or marketing helpers don’t designate ownership status properly in the Google Business Profile.)
  5. If a business owner has access to the Google Business Profile admin panel, they can change the business information – although Google must approve the changes. They can also do things like create an update post or special offer, include product or service information, and turn on useful features like call reporting or messaging/ chat.
  6. There are two levels of Google Business Profile access – owner and manager.
  7. Owners and managers can make post updates, upload photos or videos, reply to reviews, create offer or event posts, add FAQ info in the Google Business Profile, and more.
  8. A manager can perform most tasks in the admin panel, but only an owner can add or remove access for others.
  9. Links to social media profiles can now be added to a Google Business Profile.
  10. A link to an appointment setting or booking page can added to a Google Business Profile.
  11. When it comes to reviews, there are five things that business owners can do if they have access to the Google Business Profile: They can ask for them (along with a link); they can click “Like” under them; they can reply to them; they can share them; and they can report them to Google if they think there is a content policy violation.
  12. Google sometimes deletes or filters out reviews because of detected policy violations.
  13. If Google’s signals indicate that a review might not have come from an actual experience with the business, or that it was placed to manipulate the ranking system, it may delete the review under the “fake engagement” policy.
  14. Once a review is removed, it cannot be reinstated.
  15. “Review gating” is the practice of soliciting reviews only from customers who are likely to give a positive review. It goes against Google’s policies, and if Google detects that this practice is in use, all reviews for a business might be removed.

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  1. Google’s crawler bot (called the Googlebot) scours the entire web, which includes finding references and reviews to local businesses on other local business directory websites.
  2. Google sometimes makes reviews from other local business directories visible in Google Business Profiles.
  3. Local business ranking in search results is based on three general factors: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
  4. Relevance relates mostly to the category(ies) chosen and products or services specified.
  5. Proximity relates to the location the searcher is searching from or the location area they are searching about (E.g., “mechanics in omaha”).
  6. Prominence is a determination by Google of how prominent and credible a business is by weighing an enormous amount of data. This includes data collected from the business owner, the general public, crawling the entire web, and other data collection companies from which Google buys data.
  7. The ranking system — especially in terms of prominence — is much more extensive and sophisticated than people realize. Be wary of anyone over-simplifying it or claiming they can control it. Google Business Profile rank manipulation tends to be the dominion of hucksters and scammers.
  8. It’s good practice to add information in as many places as possible in the Google Business Profile and ensure it’s up to date.
  9. Best strategy for business owners: Use various online means (including GBPs) to truly serve your visitors, prospects, customers, and the public as much as possible.
  10. Worst strategy for business owners: Invest time and money trying to manipulate the system and pull schemes based on rumors of what Google likes or favors.

In Closing

Through Google Business Profiles, some businesses get an enormous amount traffic at no cost whatsoever. It can be highly profitable. Some business categories are not very competitive and relatively easy to start ranking high for. Others are much more competitive and challenging when it comes to ranking. However, the ranking principles are based on common sense factors. Just as a good reputation must be earned over time, so is high ranking and success with Google Business Profiles.