Google-ize Your Business

When you’re looking to maximize your digital presence and your marketing budget, taking advantage of free tools should top your priority list—as long as those tools offer the potential for high visibility.

Google Business Profile is one of those free tools for businesses that cater to a local clientele. Along with a strong SEO program for your website and a strategic social media presence, the Google Business Profile offers a great way to generate leads from people actively searching for local service providers.

Leah Severson, an Indianapolis portrait photographer who also teaches digital marketing for photographers, explains that when you optimize your Google Business Profile, you’re giving your business a leg up in local search, since it’s one of the few platforms specifically designed to promote local businesses. “If someone is shopping online for local businesses, they’re most likely doing it on Google because they can get very specific results,” says Severson. “When you optimize your Google Business Profile, and you get it to the top of the search results, it’s a lot easier to keep your online presence at the top versus, say, social media, where you post something today and then tomorrow it’s gone.”

The Google Business Profile is like a mini website dedicated to your business. 


Google Business Profiles are the listings that show up in the middle of the screen when you search for a local provider. Google prioritizes these listings in organic search because they keep you on the Google platform versus clicking out to another website, as you do when you click one of the links in the regular search results. That’s why these listings are showing up more and taking up a larger section of the screen in Google’s search results.

The beauty of the Google Business Profile is that it’s like a mini website dedicated to your business. You can provide all kinds of information about your business, show images, display reviews, answer FAQs, even make social-media-style posts to update people about your business.

“A top-ranking factor is the number and quality of reviews. So cultivate reviews from your best clients.”

Leah Severson

The first step is to claim your Google Business Profile at A series of prompts will lead you through the verification process, which can sometimes be done via email, but may require a snail mail verification. (Yes, the world’s largest Internet company will mail you an actual postcard to confirm you’re a legitimate business with a physical address). Some business owners are now being required to do a video verification.

Once you’ve claimed your listing, fill out as much information as you can. You can list your contact information, hours, services offered, and much more. The more complete your listing, the better it will be and the easier it will be to find your business.


  • Complete your profile. Answer all the questions, upload pictures, add videos, fill out product descriptions, put in your hours, and answer your frequently asked questions.
  • Turn on messaging. This feature allows potential customers to contact you directly from your Google Business Profile. Yes, you will get some spam, but it’s worth it.
  • Solicit reviews. “A top-ranking factor is the number and quality of reviews,” says Severson. “So cultivate reviews from your best clients.” Google will provide you with a custom link to send to clients, which will take them directly to your profile to leave a review.
  • Respond to reviews. Once people leave you a review, respond to them to show that you’re engaged and addressing any concerns. Your response could be as simple as thanking people for their reviews. This is more important than you might think; not responding to reviews or messages can hurt your Google rankings.
  • Fill out the Questions & Answers section. This section allows anyone to ask a question about your business and anyone to answer it. You can also populate this section with questions that focus on your main services and the things you want to do, essentially steering the conversation to topics you want to cover.
  • Add updates. There’s a button on the Google Business Profile dashboard to add an update. These are almost like social media posts that allow you to add up to 10 photos, a description, and a link. Use these updates to post details and pictures from a recent photo session, as you would in a blog post. To speed up this process, you can repurpose content you’ve created for social media or blog posts. “Copy, paste, and post to maximize your efforts,” urges Severson.
  • Add an offer. Google Business Profile lets you create a special offer that will appear on your Google listing for free. This is a great way to promote things like a new client offer or limited-time promotion.
  • Schedule an event. Do you stage seasonal promotions or host special events at your studio, like photos with Santa or a fall foliage portrait special? Add these as events to appear on your listing.
  • Edit your profile. When things change at your business, update your profile. Keep your hours current, including around the holidays. If your contact info changes or you alter your services, make sure the info on your Google Business Profile is current.
  • Get more reviews. For best results, this should be a routine, ongoing process. Your rankings and perception among your audience will be better if there’s a regular progression in the number of reviews, not a big upload all at once. This can be a red flag, as some unscrupulous businesses pay for fake reviews that often show up in a large onslaught all at once. “The best way to do it,” says Severson, “is whenever you’ve completed your service to a client, ask them for a review. Keep doing that consistently with your happy clients and your reviews will build organically over time.” You can also go back to old clients and ask for reviews. Just do so in batches so the reviews come in steadily instead of all at once. 
  • Stay engaged. For best results, don’t just set it and forget it. Maintain a presence and let your audience know you’re actively involved. Add new pictures on a regular basis. Add posts. Answer questions. “You can do this once a week, twice a month, whatever you can manage,” says Severson. “How often is ideal? More than your competitors.”

Is all this work worth it? Definitely, says Severson. Not only does it provide one more highly visible Internet listing for your business, it can attract a substantial source of online traffic from people who are interested in your services. As an example, Severson shared that in the five months leading up to the interview for this article, her Google Business Profile received 967 profile interactions, and 745 people clicked over to her website from the Google Profile. Those are all viable leads, and they’re free once you’ve invested your time in setting up and maintaining your profile—no extra ad fees or pay-per-click charges, just traffic to your business.  

Jeff Kent is editor-at-large. 

Tags: marketing