Back in June, we explained that Google My Business (formerly Google Business Listing) is a database of information that Google has collected about businesses. That information includes things like the names of the businesses, their hours of operation, physical location, customer ratings, contact information, and links to their websites or social sites. The database is like a big phone book, but with interactive elements.
Your company’s Google My Business listing is an important factor in your ranking on Google SERPs. In fact, some studies suggest that the signals from your company’s My Business listing are likely the most important factor for local SEO ranking. Between 2017 and 2018, these signals increased significantly in ranking importance, growing from 19% to 25%, and that importance has not decreased since.
The signals from Google My Business listings are so important to SERPs because the information on these listings feeds other Google tools. One example is Google Maps, which greatly impacts local SEO. Further, Google wants to return accurate, authoritative information to searchers. If your listing is updated regularly, then Google assumes the information is more accurate. And if the information is more accurate, the searcher is more likely to be happy with the SERPs they receive from Google.
But are there ways to optimize your Google My Business listing to improve your SERP ranking even more? Absolutely! Here’s how.
Update Your Information Often
The most important step in updating your information is being consistent. Make sure your business’ name is typed exactly the same way on your listing as it is on every social platform, website, profile, and so on. Kristen McCormick of WordStream even suggests, “using ‘st’ vs ‘street’ or ‘co’ vs ‘company’ consistently” because, “Google’s algorithm takes these inconsistencies into account when assessing your credibility.” Similarly, if your company’s name on your Facebook page doesn’t match the name on your Google My Business listing, the listing won’t pull that page into your listing. The same goes for any platform or page that doesn’t match.
Update/Confirm Information Often
Make sure you update or confirm information like your phone number or hours of operation often. Each time you do, Google receives signals that make it view your listing as more current and accurate. Plus, anyone can suggest edits to a Google My Business listing. If you find someone has altered your address, for instance, it’s really important you correct that information fast or customers may not find your business.
Plus, customers appreciate updates. They want to know about when you’re open, holiday closings, where you are, and how to contact you, and they don’t want to hunt or have to double-check that stuff.
Paying people to write fake reviews is also not allowed. Doing these things can backfire in a big way, too. Browser plugins like Fakespot can alert users and damage your credibility, driving away potential customers. Likewise, as SSS points out, too many questionable reviews will trigger a popup on your listing warning users not to trust your website or business listing.
In addition to getting reviews, it’s important to respond to them. Google registers this as engagement on your listing, plus users enjoy receiving a response when they leave positive reviews, even if it’s just, “Thanks!” But responding to negative reviews is even more important. An honest, authentic response that addresses any legitimate problems can sometimes convince users to revise their review. Even if it doesn’t, other customers will likely be impressed by your customer service.
Utilize Free Google My Business Features
Google My Business is actually stuffed with useful tools to help you make your listing successful. You just have to use them!
Share Google Posts
In 2019, Google Maps introduced a “follow” button that lets users follow their favorite businesses. Any time a business they follow updates their listing, users will receive notifications of that update. A related feature, Google Posts, actually works like a social media feed by allowing you to post updates or changes to your business, announcements about new products or services, or notifications about awards or achievements. These posts will appear with your business listing and will be sent out to your followers.
This might seem hokey, but a study by Moz showed that users really do interact with these posts when they appear in SERPs. And these announcements don’t have to be big or time-consuming. At TracSoft, we make a Google Post every time a new blog post goes live. Our results confirm what Moz’s study showed; users do interact with these posts, and simply posting a few times a month can dramatically increase your ranking.
Use Visual Media
We’ve written before (more than once) about the importance of visuals, especially in social media marketing. You should think of your Google listing as part of your social media marketing and treat it the same way, using eye-catching graphics to draw people in. Photos increase engagement. These photos can include interior shots of your office, the exterior of your business (which can be helpful for customers searching for your business in person), or images of products of employees.
If you really want to get fancy, you can incorporate video tours as well. Creating one doesn’t have to be hard since your My Google Business listing will walk you through the process of uploading these videos and even offer suggestions for how to make your videos really pop. Whether your video is as simple as a product demonstration, or something more complicated like a tutorial, these can be fantastic ways to grab customers’ attention.
Google Marketing Kit Can Help
Best of all, you don’t need fancy software to put together these graphics. The Google Marketing Kit has drag-and-drop tools that help you create interesting images you can use on your listing. (You can also create fliers, hand-outs, business cards, and more and order them directly through the site.)
One of the great features of My Google Business is the analytics it collects. You can see how well different Google Posts perform, track how many users find your website through organic search, and even see what keywords brought people to your site. This information is available in your My Google Business page under the Insights tab, but you can also connect your business listing to your Google Analytics account to have all your data automatically populate in one place.
Currently, My Google Business does record the number of people who click on your phone number in your business listing to call you. But that’s all it records—the number of clicks. However, Google has a new call tracking feature in beta testing that will record who called, when, how often, and whether they reached someone when they called. This, along with engagement from your Google Posts, offers businesses a unique opportunity for lead generation since you know these users are already interested in your business.
Use The Google My Business Web App With The Mobile App
Some users aren’t aware that there are two apps for managing your Google My Business account, a web-based app and a mobile app (on Android or iOS). To get the most out of your listing, you need to use both. This is because some features (like viewing your followers) are only available on the mobile version, while other features (like transferring ownership of a listing) are only possible on the web version.
Right now, the mobile app contains more nuanced information about who is visiting and engaging with your listing, and data from the new call tracking feature will only be available through the app. It also makes uploading pictures and video easier, and it can help you reply to reviews faster. However, editing your profile and sharing Google Posts will likely be easier (and result in cleaner copy) from your computer.
Unlock Higher Local Search Rankings Now
If you’re aiming to increase your rankings in local search, your Google My Business listing is the place to start. Not only does it directly feed the search engine’s algorithms, but users have come to rely on its convenience when choosing companies to do business with. Optimizing your listing will take some time. But it will also increase your rankings, improve your reputation, engage with clients more fully, and generate valuable leads.
And that’s time well spent.
If you’re looking for ways to unify your brand across your various platforms and channels, look no further than TracSoft’s digital marketing team. From Facebook and Instagram to YouTube and (yes) Google My Business, we can help you create a clear, cohesive brand and express that brand consistently across the web. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.