When was the last time you optimized your Google My Business (GMB) listing? According to LSA Insider, 56% of local business haven’t claimed their GMB listing, while those that have, haven’t fully optimized it or forgot about it. In spite of the fact that 82% of people use search engine to find local information, many GMB listings remain unclaimed and unoptimized.
A study from Brandmuscle found that 57% of the listings are self-managed by local businesses due to reasons such as lack of resources and guidance. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start optimizing your GMB listing. Since new features are ever-so-often introduced, there are always new ways to optimize your GMB listing further. In doing so, Google is effectively pressing all local businesses (whether their digital marketing is agency-managed or self-managed) to regularly monitor, change, and update their GMB listings.
In recent months, Google My Business has been undergoing pivotal tests and changes, transforming the nitty-gritty parts of GMB. Think of this as Google trying to take the best parts of the soon-to-be shuttered Google+ service and integrating them across their platform. GMB is not just a place to poke around for basic information, proper management of a listing has become an integral part of any local SEO strategy. In 2018, Google introduced dozens of new features to help refine data clutter and enhance user-experience, changing the way users search and browse content online. Google is showing information more than ever before, giving users less reasons to click through websites and different accounts. Hence, the announcement of Google+ shutting its doors wasn’t exactly a complete loss for the company as it doesn’t hinder the accessibility and function of other Google platforms, such as GMB. In fact, the exit of Google+ doesn’t affect your local business’ SEO. Instead, the exit of Google+ allowed for bigger opportunities to come about, allocating some features of Google+ into different areas of other Google platforms, such as GMB’s Google Post (which we will discuss later).
There hasn’t been a dull moment in local SEO this past year. Today, there are several ways to improve your chances of being found on search engine result pages (SERP); and with GMB being one of the most powerful SEO strategy you can endeavour to leverage your local business, there should be no reason for you not optimize this free tool beyond its capabilities. GMB optimization can increase your chances of appearing in Google’s Local 3 Pack, Google Maps, Local Finder, and your overall organic ranking on SERP. What would be the use of a GMB listing if it doesn’t lead you to more business? Let’s talk about five ways you can further optimize your GMB listing:
- Google Posts Google Posts is a mini “social-media” feature within GMB that can be used to optimize your profile and stand out from your competitors. Use Google Posts as a method to communicate to your audience in a 100-300 word blurb with the latest news or announcements, such as upcoming events, promotions, and product releases. For a visual and engaging appeal, Google Posts allows you to add images which can grab the reader’s attention. However, image dimensions should be compatible with both the knowledge panel and Google Maps.
- Product Collections If your business sells products, GMB’s Products feature may be right for you. A few months ago, GMB rolled out their Products feature, which enables businesses to build Collections of their products. This feature is only available for mobile devices, but with 93% of worldwide mobile searches occuring on Google, you reaching most of your audience. Google recommends a minimum of three collections that consists of a maximum of five products; this can help businesses refine and categorize their products in an orderly fashion.
- Questions and Answers Unquestionably, Google Reviews is one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO, as it can offer testimonials and improve the visibility of your business. With 88% of consumers trusting online reviews, prominently displayed ratings and reviews on your GMB listing will help forecast the health of your business. And just when you thought you had learned how to communicate and appropriately respond to Google’s ratings and reviews, what about Google’s Q&A?
- Subjective and Objective Attributes In 2018, Google introduced Subjective and Objective Attributes on GMB to expand their Google Insights for Search. Expanding Insights allow business owners to provide more information of their business and use it to help them achieve their local SEO marketing goals. Managers of every GMB have the option to add or edit their Objective Attributes, which are essentially facts about their business. Objective Attributes are what will help your customers know more about your business and what your business offers. For example, your business accepts credit cards or offers late night food. Objective Attributes are part of the Attribute feature that business owners can control.
- Services “Does this business offer such services?”
Further, you can also add a call-to-action (CTA) button to your post to enhance user-interaction. And to further optimize your listing, mobile users have the ability to sign up or buy directly from their phones through the post. Ensure to include a tracking link within your CTA button, as this can help determine your ROI. Make sure to test and refine your posts to determine if they deliver results!
|An example of a Google Post with an image and CTA in GMB’s Knowledge Panel.|
Interesting fact: To enhance user engagement, GMB is also padded with Emoji Search, a new feature with a growing popularity that can help optimize your listing. Simply adding an emoji to your Google Post can help your ranking in local results. For instance, including a hamburger emoji within your Google Post may increases your likeliness of people finding your hamburger restaurant. Emoji Search isn’t suitable for all businesses, but it’s interesting to know what other forthcoming trends are in store for GMB to further improve Search and potentially your business.
Related Article: How to Craft an Effective CTA
For every Collection, GMB allows you to input a Collection name (max. 58 characters) and description (max. 1000 characters), which you can use to your advantage and apply keywords that can assist your local SEO strategy. Pay close attention to your relevant keywords and avoid keyword stuffing, as it can counterintuitively affect your local SEO. Moreover, you can further edit each product by its price, description, and image. The more detailed information you have of your business, the better it is for your SEO.
Google’s Q&A is a feature within GMB that further amplifies Google’s love for user-generated content. The Q&A section allows customers or potential prospects to ask or answer questions directly on the business’ listing. Similar to Google Reviews, the question has voting component that will determine its rank on the Q&A section. Business owners can also respond to the questions and flag any inappropriate or irrelevant comments. Similar to Google Reviews, the Q&A section has the capability to positively and negatively impact your brand. However, use Q&A as an opportunity to communicate directly with your customers or prospects to help your brand’s reputation.
The amount of questions in the Q&A feature depends on your type of business, but on average, 32% of all locations had at least one question. Majority of questions are often answered by other users or left unanswered, so make sure you don’t leave any questions unanswered as this can negatively affect your business. Therefore, it is important to regularly monitor your Q&A feature as it has the ability to help the customer choose to do business with you instead of a competitor. A component that can help tackle this problem is having notifications for your Q&As. Google improved this area by allowing notifications to be sent from Google My Business to your email if any new questions are asked.
Related Article: Five Ways to Ask for Referrals and Reviews
On the other hand, Subjective Attributes can’t be controlled by the business, but instead are placed in the hands of other users. Subjective Attributes provide a different way for businesses to know what their customers think of their brand; therefore they are heavily opinion-based and are shaped by customers’ experience in the business, such as the “feel and ambiance” of the business. In that case, it’s crucial for business owners to check their Subjective Attributes as it can help them be aware of the things they need to place special focus or improvements. GMB’s attributes can enhance your GMB listing to better match your business to relevant searches.
As if Google doesn’t already answer enough questions, they want to answer all questions. Similar to GMB’s Product Collections feature, Google rolled out Services as a GMB feature. Services can be used for all types of businesses from hotels, restaurants, dentists, to marketing agencies; and are used to list services of your business in a categorized manner. In this feature, business owners have the ability to name each category and service, as well as a detailed description of every service including its price. Services are only available on mobile devices, but may soon be added to desktops. GMB’s Services feature allows businesses to provide immediate information to prospects, which is great for Google, but will this benefit my business? The Services feature is still in its infancy, and it’s early to understand if it demonstrates a solid conversion benefit, but providing as much information of your business to viewers may help increase conversion. Monitor your Google Insights and analytics to test if GMB’s Services feature works for you.
Updating and optimizing your GMB listing once doesn’t stop there. In fact, optimizing your GMB will never stop. You have to regularly update GMB or neglecting it can lower your ranking on SERP. An optimized listing increases engagement, including questions & answers that will encourage you to post more. Especially with Google continuously introducing new features, it’s important to regularly test and monitor both your listing and Google Insights to stay on top of your local SEO strategy.
Overall Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use yet robust tool to help market your brand as it allows you to provide an abundant of information to your customers in one pass and let them dive deeper as needed. In turn, your customers are more likely to support and convert when they are easily informed and accommodated. Check out our other blog posts for more marketing strategies and our services to help boost your branding, customer engagement, online presence, and more.