A Guide to YouTube SEO
Google My Business aka Google Business Profile is a free, easy to use online tool provided by Google for small businesses.  With a Google Business Profile, businesses can create a listing to easily connect to their customers across Google Search and Maps, post updates and see how customers are interacting with their business on Google.

It is increasing important that businesses use their Google Business Profile listing to manage their online presence. If you are a local business, you must have a Google Business Profile listing. You need to optimize your Google Business Profile listing to reflect your service. Be sure to update all required information including website, name, phone number, street address (important for location in Maps) and work hours. Make sure you remain consistent with this information throughout the internet.

Why is Google Business Profile important 

Google is the world’s most widely used search engine. When users search for local businesses, Google prefers to refer to listings done on its own platforms.

Being listed on Google’s platform means that you get to compete for the first page results shown by the search engine when a user searches for local businesses that provide services similar to your business. And higher you are on the search engine result page, the likelihood of your business being discovered by customers increases.

RELATED: What is local SEO?

Manage your listing and interacting with customers

To be listed on Google Business Profile, a business has to be registered. When you sign up for Google Business Profile, Google will verify the listing with you. According to Google, businesses that verify their information are more likely to be considered as reputable by their customers. 

Google Business Profile also lets you add photographs to your profile. Businesses that add photographs to their profiles are more likely to get direction requests from consumers in Google Maps and more click through to their website than businesses that do not add photographs.

Local customers are more likely to refer to Maps shown in Google searches. This is where Google uses its location service. 

‘Near me’ searches and the importance of location-based searches

‘Near me’ searches are becoming increasingly popular with the on-the-go consumers. People visiting from ‘out of town’ are increasingly likely to type search queries in the browser ending in the phrase ‘near me’. When the Google Search Engine comes across a query ending with the words ‘near me’, the bots and the spiders access the business address on the business listing (on Google Business Profile), GPS data (location data on mobile devices), or the address data (on indexed websites) to match against the search query. The closer the location, the greater the chances of being displayed.

How do I use Google Business Profile?

You can sign into Google Business Profile.
To open an account, you need a valid gmail account. Once you
have signed into GMB using your gmail account, you will have to verify your
business with Google.
Your Google Business Profile dashboard will appear. Find the
red banner on top and click the ‘Verify now’ button on the top.
You can verify your business with Google via phone, text or
by receiving a postcard at the place of your business. The verification process
helps ensure that your business information is accurate across google. 
It also
prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing or modifying your business
profile. The verification process can take up to a few weeks.
Once you receive the verification code from Google, you can
enter it into your GMB dashboard and the edit your business profile. On your
business profile update your business name and hours of operation. You can also
add photographs and update any promotions you want to offer your customers.
It may take a few weeks for your information to be updated
on Google. To check how your business listing appears in Google Search, type
your business name and city in the browser.
Pro Tip:Make sure your business name and address on your Google Business profile is consistent everywhere on the web. Example: If you own Merchant and Sons is your legal name, you should not enter it and Merchants & Sons. 
Image credit: Google Business icon has been altered to fit scale
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