You’re visiting from out of town and want to check out the local quilting or knitting shops. Or maybe you’re vending at a show when your card reader breaks. Odds are you turn to Google to find the local businesses you need. With 8.5 million searches a day and a 90+ percent market share, Google’s reach is undeniable. As the owner of a small business, you have an easy way to tap into this marketing beast: your Google Business Profile. Best of all, it’s free.

What is a Google Business Profile?

A Google Business Profile (or GBP) is a free listing for your business on Google’s platform. But if you’re imagining a simple listing of name, address, and phone á la the Yellow Pages (remember them?), you’re not even close. Yes, a Google Business Profile will contain that basic information – but it can do so much more. George Campbell, owner of Florida’s The Spot Salon, describes a Google Business Profile as “the most interactive business card you can have.”

A GBP affects how your business appears when customers do a Google search or use a Google map. It’s a way you can reach new customers, provide important information about your business, and it can help you rank higher in Google search results. After 18 years in business, George Campbell marvels, “I can’t tell you how often when asking a new client how they found about us the answer is ‘I found you on Google.’”

First Steps

Creating a profile is easy, with a user-friendly interface. Start by claiming your business at Enter your business name and whether you have a brick-and-mortar location, are online only, or a service provider. If you have a physical store location, you’ll be able to mark where it is with a Google map pin.

One important choice you’ll make is selecting a primary business category. Google uses the category to match up your business with searches. Google provides a drop-down menu with your choices (you can’t create your own category). If you can, pick a more specific category that describes your business (for example, instead of selecting the more generic “salon,” pick “nail salon”). If your desired category isn’t on the list, however, just select a more general one that describes your business. Some of the choices: yarn store, threads and yarn wholesaler, bead store, media consultant, quilt shop, jewelry designer – just type in a descriptive word and various choices will pop up.

Next, enter basic information like your business’s name, address, phone number, hours, and website URL. When adding this information, it helps to be as specific as you can, since potential customers will rely on this information when visiting or getting in touch with your business.

One important step before you can get started is verifying your business with Google after you’ve created its profile. You’ve probably interacted with other websites that use some kind of verification method to exclude scammers and other ne’er-do-wells. Although it adds an extra step to the process, verification gives consumers confidence that they can rely on GBPs. Google’s verification process varies based on the type of business, its location, and other factors; you may be able to verify that your business is legit via phone, text, email, or postcard. Keep in mind that it may take seven or more business days for Google to complete the verification process. It’s also not unusual for business owners to be asked to verify their business by multiple methods, so don’t be alarmed if you need to do so. Once you’re verified, your business listing will have a blue checkmark icon.

Marketing to the Max

Once you’ve created your profile, you’ll want to start building it out. Marketing consultant Zontee Hou recommends taking advantage of all relevant profile fields that are available to you. “From service options to accessibility details, the more information the better,” she advises. Add your logo and a cover photo to attract viewers; you can also post photos of your products, friendly staff, sales items, and more. There’s even a way to let customers know that your business is Black-owned, veteran-owned, or women-owned, or indicate that your business is LGBT-friendly. Go deeper by posting answers to frequently asked questions that might help drive traffic to your business.

Don’t stop there, though – take your GBP to the next level by posting frequently. You can update your customers on new inventory, advertise sales or special events, and let potential customers know about special offers.  “Customers will often check your Google Business Profile as their first source of information,” explains Hou. “Treat it like your digital front line. Keep your photos up to date and encourage your patrons to share not only reviews but also photos and videos. It helps to bring the space to life!”

And now it’s time to discuss Google reviews. As you know, customers can post their experiences along with a star rating that shows up in the business’ GBP. Good reviews with plenty of detail make your business more attractive to potential visitors. Your best customers may have already posted positive reviews, but it never hurts to gently remind good customers that their positive reviews help. You’ll want to keep an eye on new reviews as they are posted. It’s helpful to thank customers who leave positive reviews, but you should also consider responding to less-than-stellar reviews, keeping your response polite and brief.

Your GBP contains a Chat feature for messaging customers. (Don’t worry:  it’s optional, so if you can’t respond right away you can pause the Chat function or use an automated response.) You can message customers, responding to questions or thanking them for coming in. Google has a policy that you must reply to messages promptly or they may turn off the Chat feature.


Your GBP is not only a way to give out information to potential customers; it’s also a way to gather information about how potential customers interact with your company online. For example, you can find out how users find your profile on Google. Did a customer use the search function or did they find you via Google Maps? If via search, did they search for your business by name or by searching for a category of products or type of business? You can also see whether a customer searched for your particular brand or a type of brand related to your business.

Next, access data about behavior once a potential customer has found your profile, such as the number of visits and whether they called your business or requested directions. You can even sort the information by day/date to track a promotion or see patterns in your interactions. George Campbell’s business recently moved to a new location. In addition to getting the word out via his GBP, he got valuable insights from the free analytics provided on his GBP, seeing that since the move, his profile logged 97 phone calls, 693 interactions, 405 direction or map referrals, and 194 click-throughs to their website.


Like any social media tool, your GBP will require some care and maintenance to perform well. Here are some quick tips:

  • Use good-quality images – no blurry or badly lit shots. Get permission to use images that include staff or customers. Comply with copyright law.
  • Update your profile as needed. List holiday closings, seasonal changes in hours, weather closures, or other important day-to-day information.
  • Mix it up. Change photos frequently, highlight fresh products, and publicize coming events (and when they’re done, post pictures showing the fun your customers had.) Introduce new staff members or show your potential customers projects you’re currently working on. Zontee Hou suggests thinking of your profile as a social media post that will appear in your Google listing.
  • Although Google offers paid services in addition to the free tier, don’t rush into paying for additional services, advises George Campbell, who believes that the free services of a GBP are adequate for most or all users’ needs.

Your Google Business Profile is a versatile tool that can get your business in front of your customers’ eyes. Best of all, it’s free! Claim your profile, learn how to use it, and keep updating it on a regular basis to reap its benefits.

Carol Sulcoski

Carol Sulcoski


Carol J. Sulcoski is an attorney by day and a knitting author, designer and dyer by night. Her latest book is “Yarn Substitution Made Easy” (Lark Crafts 2019). She lives outside Philadelphia with her three nearly grown-up children and a fluffy orange cat.