How to Set Up a Google Business Profile
You may not realize it, but you likely view Google Business Profiles daily. If you’ve ever looked up a business and clicked a button to call them or read their reviews or looked at their hours, you’ve visited a Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profiles are free and allow you to share important information about your business, such as hours, location, photos, services, and products. Having a profile allows customers to write reviews, post their own photos of your business, ask questions, and even place online orders.
With so many features and benefits available on a platform that nearly all people use daily, why would you NOT set up your Google Business Profile? It’s truly a must, so let’s get yours set up, shall we?
Step-By-Step Google Business Profile Setup
To get started, head over to the Google Business Profile page and click the “Sign in” button in the top right of the screen. For future reference, once you have your profile set up, you’ll visit the same link (or search for “Google Business Profile”) and click on “Manage now” in the top right of the screen.
Next, type in your business name and press enter. Fill in your business name and business category. When you begin typing your business category, you’ll need to choose from the list that appears. You can update the category later if needed.
It will ask if you want to add a physical location that customers can visit. If you choose yes, it will take you to a screen where you can enter your address. If you choose no, it will take you to a screen where you can indicate where you serve your customers. You’ll add your phone number and website URL (if you have one) on the next screen.
The next screen asks you if you want to receive updates on Google Business Profiles. This is not required, of course, but could be helpful (and you can always opt-out).
Now it’s time to enter your mailing address. This used to be a crucial step because the only way to verify a profile was via a code mailed to you on a postcard that you would need to enter into your profile. You still need to enter an address; however, Google now offers alternative ways to verify, such as by phone, text, email, video recording, and video call. No matter how you choose to verify that you are indeed the owner of your business, be sure you don’t skip this important step. If you don’t verify your account, your profile will not be active and you won’t be able to enjoy the plethora of benefits that come with having a Google Business Profile.
Why Does Google Need to Verify Your Business?
Anyone could attempt to claim your business as their own. They could post random photos, add incorrect hours, put the wrong URL, and a whole host of bad stuff. You definitely don’t want that to happen! That’s why Google requires that you verify your business before your profile is published.
If you choose the postcard method, enter your contact name above the mailing address that is auto-populated by the previous screen where you just entered it. Then click the blue “Mail” button. After clicking the button, you’ll see a message that says, “Postcard is on its way! You’ll get a postcard with your verification code and next steps in about 5 days.” Click the “Continue” button and you can begin to customize your profile with your hours. You can skip adding your hours during setup and do it later, but don’t forget to do it. When you toggle the day to indicate that you are open, you’ll need to enter the times you open and close, and then repeat this step for each day.
You can also choose to allow customers to message you through Google. It’s automatically toggled to “On” but you can toggle it off, skip it, or click “Next” to keep it on and move to the next step. Next, you’ll add your business description, or you can skip it and do it later from the main dashboard.
The photos section comes next, and once again, you can add some photos now or skip it and add photos within the dashboard.
Google offers a wide range of services, one of which includes advertising. It should come as no surprise that they want you to run ads (a.k.a. spend money), hence the next screen that asks if you want to “Claim your $500 free advertising credit.” On this screen, you can click the button to claim it or simply click “Skip” if Google ads are not part of your marketing plan at this time.
Whew! You’ve done all the hard work of getting your profile set up. The next screen tells you that your profile is ready for you to make updates and edits, but that those edits won’t be visible until your profile has been verified. In other words, if you chose the postcard method, don’t forget to look for that postcard in the mail. It’s easy to think it’s junk mail when it arrives, but please resist the recycle bin. When you click the “Continue” button, another reminder shows up stating, “Your verification postcard should arrive within 5 days. Use the code on it to finish verifying.” You can disregard all of the postcard verification information if you chose another verification method.
How to Verify Your Google Business Profile with the Postcard
You may not run to the mailbox as excitedly as you do when a gift arrives, but getting your Google My Business verification code is still something to look forward to as it is going to make your profile live for all the world to see.
When the postcard arrives, head to the Google Business Profile page and click the “Manage now” button in the top right. On the left side of the screen, scroll down to the “Get Verified” tab. You’ll land on a screen where you will input the code on the postcard. Then click the blue “Verify” button, and you’ll be set!
The Google Business Profile Dashboard
On the Home tab of the dashboard, scroll down to see a snapshot of search performance, reviews, and more. Or, use the tabs on the left side of the screen to:
- create a post (similar to a blog post on your website, but this post will be posted on Google)
- add or update information about your business such as hours, location, phone number, services, products, and a link to book an appointment
- view insights about your search performance
- read and reply to reviews
- read and reply to messages
- add photos and videos
- add products
- add services
- create a website (this is for a Google website, so if you already have a website or plan to build one, please skip this tab)
- add users who can access and manage your Google My Business profile (I recommend adding at least one more owner, if possible, and a manager)
The remaining tabs in the dashboard include creating ads, getting a Google Workspace account, adding another business, viewing all of your businesses (if you have or manage multiple Google Business Profiles), settings, and support.
Keeping Your Google Business Profile Updated
You’re all done setting everything up and verifying your profile. Now it’s time to sit back and watch the customers roll in. Ha – wouldn’t that be grand?
There’s a lot of work that goes into building and growing a business, from maintaining a website to posting on social media to providing superb service. Managing your Google Business Profile is indeed yet another task to add to your ever-growing to-do list. But, it’s an important one that is free and takes only a little effort to update it.
If you add as much information as possible during setup (or shortly after), keeping it updated simply requires updating your hours for holidays and other closures; making sure your services and products are updated and accurate; and responding to questions and reviews. You can take it a step further by creating posts, uploading more photos, and adding additional information that might help attract even more customers (i.e. if you have outdoor seating or offer curbside pickup).
By now, you can see the many reasons why a Google Business Profile is so important. I hope you found these instructions helpful, and I look forward to seeing your profile online when I look you up. If you have any questions or need assistance setting up or optimizing your profile, comment below or get in touch with me here.