The Small Business Playbook for Local SEO

Learn how to get your business found on Google, generate more leads, and skyrocket your revenue with this free tool.
Written by
Emily Fairchild
Published on
April 15, 2024

Optimizing Your Google Business Profile

Chapter 1: How to Claim Your Google Business Profile

The first step to Google Business Profile optimization is to claim ownership and ensure you have access. This may seem obvious, but building a strong presence on Google begins with this fundamental step! Let’s walk through it together so you can start getting found on Google. 

How to Create a Google Business Profile 

To create a Google Business Profile, go to and sign in with the Google account you want to be connected to your business profile. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to add more users later!

Once you’re signed in, you’ll be able to see if a profile already exists for your business, or if you need to create a Google Business Profile. If so, click the first name that populates in the text box and let Google know what type of business you are.

Next, you’ll need to choose a business category. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, choose the category that fits your business the best. You can view a comprehensive list of Google’s business categories HERE. You’ll be able to pick more than one category later, too.

Pro Tip: Always follow Google’s prompts and be as specific as possible when submitting information. 

Your business description is one of the most important aspects of your Google Business Profile! This is the first impression for many of your customers, so make it a lasting one. Use this section to communicate what your business does and how you can help customers overcome their problems. 

Make sure your description adheres to Google Business Profile guidelines by avoiding keyword stuffing, spammy language, misspelled words, and grammatical errors.

Do: Summit Digital Marketing is a digital marketing agency that specializes in search engine marketing services (pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization, also known as PPC and SEO). We have an international customer base, with clients in over 75+ different industries across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Don’t: Summit Digital Marketing is the world’s best digital marketing agency that specializes in search engine marketing services. You’ll get rich with us, or get your money back. We have an international customer base, with clients in over 75+ different industries across North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Call us today for FREE marketing services for LIFE! 

Google will next ask you for your business phone number and address. Even if you don’t have a physical location, Google may need to send you a verification postcard in the mail to confirm you are who you say you are. Make sure you use reliable phone numbers and addresses for all sections.

Once your account is created, you will likely need to go through the steps of Google Business Profile verification. You can do this later, but your profile won’t fully display on Google until you are verified. Google will choose one of its multiple verification methods for your business, which can include:

Video: Ensure you’re on a smartphone or tablet before signing into your Google Business Profile by visiting and following the prompts to verify your profile. You’ll be asked to walk around and show different aspects of your business. If you don’t have a physical location, doing a tour of your company vehicle that clearly shows your logo and the tools that you use can often do the trick. 

Phone: For this verification method, make sure you have access to the phone number that you provided Google as the main contact number for your business, and be ready to answer the call when it comes. On the phone, you will receive an automated voice call with a pin, so have a pen and paper nearby. 

Mail: Google may send you a small postcard in the mail with a verification pin. If you don’t personally receive the mail for your business, make sure to notify the receptionist or office manager to be looking for this postcard, or they may mistake it for junk mail. 

Text: If this is your verification method, make sure your phone can receive text messages. If this setting isn’t enabled for some reason, you can reach out to Google Support here

Email: This is a rare form of Google verification, but still ensure you are regularly checking your email associated with the business profile for verification. If you can’t find it, try checking the spam folder.

While you wait for verification, you can finish filling out your profile and edit business details on Google! You can do this by clicking “Edit Profile,” and adding additional business categories if needed. Google recommends adding as few categories as possible. 

We recommend adding the following information to your Google Business Profile: 

  • Social Media Profiles 
  • Special Hours (Holidays or Other Closures) 
  • From the Business
  • Accessibility
  • Amenities
  • Crowds
  • Planning
  • Payments
  • Offerings
  • Service Options 

*Please note that all sections may not be available to you*

Next, navigate to “Edit Services.” Here, you can add custom categories to search business categories to let Google know what services you offer your clients. You can choose from Google’s suggestions, and/or add your own. 

Pro Tip: Think of what your clients may be searching for when they need your services – this strengthens your online presence and increases your likelihood of getting in front of the right audience.

Now, it’s time to add photos of your business. We recommend doing this when you initially set up your profile, but if not, now is the time. Photos are key in building authority and credibility with your customers (and with Google). This is also where you’ll add your logo and cover photo to keep your branding consistent! 

Once your profile is verified, it’s now visible to all Google users! Boost visibility even more by adding updates, posts, and replying to all reviews your profile receives. While this may seem like a lot of information, these details lead to the best Google Business Profile optimization!

How to Claim Your Google Business Profile (Or Gain Access)

In order to claim a Google Business Profile that has been already created, start by going to and clicking “Manage Now.” Type in the name of your business and click on the correct business name and address that populates.

Note: If you do not see your business, you can try searching for your business followed by the state or city it is located in and clicking “Own This Business?”

Google will tell you who currently manages your profile by showing you a preview of their email address. If you do not recognize this address, you can request access and Google will send the profile manager an email with your request. If there is no response within three days, you will automatically gain access.

You will also receive an email from Google letting you know the request has been sent. Hold on to this email so you can check the status of your request in a few days. Once you have access to the Google Business Profile, you may be required to verify it to let Google know you are who you say you are. See verification steps in the previous section for more information.

Adding Users to Your Google Business Profile

If you would like other people to help manage your profile, you can do so by logging into the Google account you used to set up or claim your profile. Next, visit and either sign in or select “Manage Now.” Once you’re signed in, click the three dots in the right corner of your profile manager and select “business profile settings.”

Select “People and Access” then select the blue “Add” button.

Add the person’s email address, select whether you want them to be an owner or manager, and then click “Invite.” They will receive an email invitation in their inbox. Please note, that for them to be added to the profile, they must accept this invitation. Let them know to check all of their inboxes as it may go to spam. 

Chapter 2: How to Update Your Google Business Profile

Now that your profile is set up and ready for action, it’s time to update it with the most accurate, relevant information for your business. Outdated or incorrect information on your Google Business Profile is a red flag for many customers, signaling that you may be out of business or worse: indifferent to their needs. Let’s dive into the necessary steps you need to take to edit your Google Business Profile. 

Time For A NAP

NAP: Name, address, and phone number, that is. It’s impossible to grow your business and expand your presence online if you fail to cover the basics. Take this simple yet crucial step by ensuring the following information is up-to-date and error-free:

  • Business Name 
  • Address 
  • Phone Number

First, go to and sign in with the Google account you want to be connected with your business profile. Select “Edit Profile.” In this section, you will see a small pencil that you can select to update your business name, business address, and business phone number. 

Note: Make sure to hit “SAVE” after each item you update. 

Editing Your Business’s Name

Editing Your Business’s Address

Editing Your Business’s Phone Number

How to Update Google Business Profile (General Information)

Things change and people change, especially if you’ve been in business for years. If you need to update information on your GBP, follow these simple steps:

Go to and sign in with the Google account you want to be connected with your business profile.

Fill out the “Additional Information” section to be as detailed as possible to help your profile stand out! To do so, go to “Edit Profile,” then scroll all the way down to where you see “More - From the Business.” Select all that apply and then SAVE your selections. 

Adding, Updating, and Removing Photos and Videos 

It’s time to add some spice to your Google Business Profile! Here’s how to add, update, and remove photos and videos so you can provide a clear picture of your business to customers.

To update the cover photo for your business, go to “Add Photo” and then select “Cover Photo.”

Next, drag or select the photo you want to be the main image on your profile and click “SAVE.”

To upload additional photos to your business, click “Add Photo” and repeat the same steps listed above. Remember, uploading quality photos to your GBP is a great way to build authority and give your customers a look into your business!

To REMOVE a photo or video, go to the right panel, and on the first photo, click anywhere in the photo area.

In the left panel, select “By Owner” then scroll and select the photo/video you want to remove.

Click the trash can in the upper right-hand corner to delete the photo or video from your profile.

Pro Tip: Photos and videos must be between 10KB and 5MB and have a resolution of 720 px tall and 720 px wide. Content should be in focus and well-lit, with no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. Team photos, products, services, and images of interior and exterior spaces are all great places to start for quality GBP photos.

Editing Events, Special Hours, Closures, and More 

Depending on the nature of your business, you’ll have special events, hours, promotions, and more throughout the year. Make it easy for your customers to keep up with you and plan accordingly by posting regular updates, events, and offers! 

Go to and sign in with the Google account you want to be connected with your business profile. Select “Add Update.”

Next, select whether you’d like to add an update, offer, or event

Updates: Add necessary photos, description, and a CTA then click “POST.”

Offers: Add necessary photos, offer title, duration of the offer (start and end dates), and any additional details needed then click “POST.”

Events: Add necessary photos, event title, event duration, details, and a call-to-action button, then click “POST.”

To update “Special Hours,” go to “Edit Profile” and scroll until you see “Special Hours” then add any holidays or designated days the business will be closed. Press “SAVE” when you’re done. 

Pro Tip: For an even more in-depth look at updating special hours, check out our step-by-step guide to updating your GBP hours HERE

Chapter 3: Garnering Reviews on Your GBP

In business, reviews and reputation go hand in hand. Lean into your Google Business Profile reviews to improve search engine rankings and enhance the customer experience. Even in the age of Google, word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone anywhere, it just looks a little bit different. According to BrightLocal, Google was the most trusted review platform across all industries in 2023, with 76% of consumers regularly reading online reviews. 

How to Compile a List for Review Generation

To compile a list for review generation, start by ensuring that all your business information is complete and up-to-date across your online platforms. This optimizes your profile and makes it easy for customers to find you. Some of our favorite ways to generate reviews include: 

  • Following up with your customers after a purchase (email or phone)
  • Offering a small discount in exchange for a review 
  • Promoting a giveaway in exchange for a review 
  • In-store signage 
  • Building authentic relationships with your customers 
  • Implement call-to-actions on your website and social media channels

Review Generation Software 

Are you hesitant to get on board with review generation software? Think of it as reputation management instead. If you don’t have time to garner or respond to reviews, review generation software can streamline this process for you. Some of the top-performing software compatible with your Google Business Profile are: 

Responding to Google Reviews

Promptly responding to both good and bad reviews is the best way to acknowledge your customers and show them you care. Positive reviews are important (and amazing!) but the real work is done in how you handle the negative reviews. 

Negative reviews allow you to demonstrate how you interact with customers and how you resolve conflict. Handled correctly, negative reviews can paint your business in a positive light and attract new customers. In fact, the presence of negative reviews actually makes consumers trust you more. According to a study done by PowerReviews and Northwestern University, 85% of customers seek out negative reviews and use them to make more informed decisions. 

So, what’s the ideal response time for reviews? Search Engine Journal found that most customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within seven days. However, we recommend responding to reviews as soon as possible to increase engagement and build rapport.

Ask And You Shall Receive

Another obvious way to get reviews? Just ask! Asking in person, via email, and on social media are all great ways to garner customer reviews. Customers are more willing to leave reviews than you think, especially if you incentivize them. Consider giving them a small discount or entering them in a giveaway if they leave a review. This is also a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your audience and get repeat customers.

SEO and Reviews

Reviews don’t just matter to current and potential customers – they matter to Google, too! Businesses highly rated by customers are favored in the eyes of Google, meaning the more reviews you have, the more likely you are to appear in searches. Your reviews are a great place to include keywords in your responses, contributing to a stronger online presence and helping you climb the rankings.

Pro Tip: Work smarter, not harder. Reviews can serve as inspiration for social media content and present a great opportunity to highlight loyal customers! 

Chapter 4: Using Your GBP for FREE Google Lead Generation

Now that you know Google Business Profile better and how to optimize your listing, it’s time to get to the juicy stuff! Did you know you can use your local listing for free lead generation on Google? That’s right! Users can directly contact you without ever visiting your website. Every day, businesses and advertisers are fighting a battle against dwindling attention spans. So it’s important to remember: the easier it is for people to contact you, the more likely they are to become paying customers. Let’s explore these free Google lead generation features you should take advantage of as a business owner. 

Phone Calls

First up: good, old-fashioned phone calls. The primary way your potential customers will contact you is via phone call. Studies show that inbound phone calls have a conversion rate of 25-40%, meaning you have the opportunity to make a profit on nearly HALF of the calls you receive. For local businesses, Google’s Inbound Phone Call feature is a FREE tool that is indispensable to your lead generation efforts. In addition to using Google Business Profile to generate phone call leads, you can view and monitor call history to help keep track of ROI. 


You can generate more leads from Google Business Profile with different free lead generation form features, including general messages and booking abilities via Messenger.

General Messaging

Have you ever considered utilizing instant messenger or chat features for your business, but don’t want to commit to expensive software? Maybe you’re unsure if your customers will even use this feature! Before investing money in a chatbot, try turning on the Google Business Profile chat feature and message potential customers at any time! You can interact with customers about your specific products and services, send images for clarification, and even set up automations for when you’re away. 

Book An Appointment

Though it’s only available for certain business categories, the “Book An Appointment” lead generation feature in Google Business Profile is as good as it sounds. Through chat, users can book instantly. This tool has been so highly revered that in 2023, 43% of companies received appointment requests through Google Business Profile.

Exclusive Discounts or Offers

Who doesn’t love a good deal? Depending on your business model, you can showcase exclusive deals for customers who find your business online via Google Business Profile. This is also a great way to gauge the effectiveness of your local listing reach and test offers to customers who may not be familiar with your company or brand.

Chapter 5: Show Up On Google Map Pack with SEO and Ads

One of the most powerful tools in local SEO, Google Map Pack offers businesses optimal visibility and accessibility to potential customers seeking nearby services. The best part about Google Map Pack? It looks native to the other local listings, but puts your business at the top!

What is Map Pack? 

Map Pack refers to the most prominent position of Google Maps listings on a Google Search result. Internet users are looking for the path of least resistance, so Map Pack is a great tool for presenting your business information in an easy and visible location. Customers will be able to see exactly where your business is on the map, driving more traffic and leads to your business.

Connecting GBP and Google Ads 

Sign in to your Google Ads account. Note: make sure the email address you used to make a Google Ads account is connected to a business profile you manage. Click Ads & assets > assets > blue plus button > location.

Choose “our locations” if you are linking to a Business Profile you are the primary owner of or “affiliate locations” if you are trying to link to the business profile of the store that sells your products. For this example, we will choose “our locations.”

Click on the “Select a Business Profile Manager” drop-down menu.

Choose the appropriate Business Profile and “save.”

Check To See If the Profile Is Connected 

To see if your Google Business Profile is properly connected, click Admin > Linked Accounts to confirm. 

Your Google Maps sponsored listings will look like this:

In order to show for these placements, you need to do a few easy steps.

Linked Your GBP Listing with Google Ads

In Google ads, go to Tools & Settings -> Data Manager. Select “Google Business Profile”, go through the steps and select the appropriate account.

NOTE! You must be an admin on both the Google Ads account and GBP account to link them.

Enable Your Location Assets In Campaigns

To enable your location asset, go to the campaign you want to enable it for. Click “Ads & Assets” -> “Assets” -> Locations

Click the blue plus button. Select “Our Locations” then select to correct GBP.

If You Have Multiple Locations

If you have multiple locations and want to only target certain locations you will need to set up a location group. 

Tools & Settings -> Shared Library -> Location Groups. Name your group and select the locations you want to include. In your campaign, you can then go to associations and select a location group as that campaign’s location asset.

Chapter 6: Maintaining Your Google Business Profile

If you run a business, you know the work is never quite finished! After claiming your Google Business Profile, updating your hours and information, and optimizing your profile for the cherry on top, it’s crucial to keep your momentum.

Maintaining Your Google Business Profile 

With any ongoing initiative, you want to ensure you’re consistently moving the needle forward and not resting on your laurels. The same goes for GBP! Create a cadence that works for you to post to your Google Business Profile so you can continue to build your online presence and increase customer engagement. We recommend setting (at least) a quarterly reminder to confirm and update business information, making major updates as needed. But of course, the more you post, the better it is for your business!

Posting on Your Google Business Profile 

To get into a good posting flow on GBP, you need to understand the three different posts you can make: updates, offers, and events.


Share important or timely information with your customers such as limited-time offerings or a newly renovated space. Updates can be shared as standard posts, photos, or videos and include the option for a CTA button (which we highly recommend using!). 


Communicate special offers, sales, and discounts with ease! This type of post requires a title, a specified start and end time, and a “view offer” button. With each promotion, you can include helpful information such as links, coupon codes, terms and conditions, etc. 


Like offers, events require a title, start and end time, and can include an action button or any pertinent information to your event.

Staying Up-To-Date With Google

Not only is it crucial to be on top of updating your Google Business Profile, but you also have to do some keeping up with Google, too. Google’s innovation and growth are never-ending (it is Google, after all), meaning there will be inevitable changes and updates that you need to take into account. 

Algorithm Updates

In order to optimize the user experience, Google rolls out thousands of minor changes each year. Though these changes are typically unnoticed by users, Google occasionally implements major updates that require businesses to pivot. Search Engine Journal has compiled a comprehensive list of Google’s updates since 2003, highlighting the ones that have impacted SERPs the most.

Google will notify users of any major changes to its algorithm, so make sure you’re staying up to date with any communication on the platform. Be prepared to evolve with the platform to provide your customers the best experience possible and continue growing your online presence. 

What To Do If You Have Multiple Locations 

If your business has multiple locations, Google Business Profile is an especially valuable tool for your marketing efforts! Local SEO enables various locations to show up on Google Maps and in search results, allowing your customers to find the most convenient location for them. 

Managing multiple locations is a breeze with Google Business Profile. Go to “Manage Locations” and add all of your locations, including as much detail as possible. Be sure to differentiate your hours, products, services, photos, etc. for each business. The more detail you’re able to provide, the easier it will be for your customers to find the right location! 

Consistently post to each location to continue building trust and authority with your audience. Frequent posting also enhances the prominence factor of your business, putting you in front of the right local audience. 

Pro Tip: If you have 10+ locations, you can take advantage of Google’s bulk location management.

By taking these steps, you can skyrocket your visibility not only online, but in your local community as well. 

Get Started With Local SEO

Congrats on making it through our Local SEO Playbook! You’ve learned the importance of Google Business Profile optimization and how it can help you get found online, but what comes next? 

We understand you may not have the time or resources to focus your energy on Local SEO, optimizing your Google Business Profile, or other digital marketing aspects of your business. Summit’s in-house team of experts is here to help and would love to connect on a digital marketing strategy that works for YOU. Get a FREE proposal today!

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