Taking care Of Your Google My Business Listing: It Matters!

 On a bleary eyed, early doors, Thursday 11th March, Ray was the featured as Member of the Week at our Giraffe Networking gathering. He was a bit flummoxed trying to think about what to do, usefully, for the 15 minute presentation slot we are given.

However, over the past few days we had been working on a client's Google My Business (GMB) listing. The business had set up its new listing months ago and got it verified with the usual postcard and PIN code. At some point, many days later they had had second thoughts about business names. They had also been puzzling over how they were going to manage things alongside their other venture that shares the same home base! So then, they set it up again… on a second Google account.

After not receiving a verification postcard for the second listing after several weeks, they contacted us for some assistance. I had a look and went through the various processes to transfer ownership and control of the verified listing to the new Google account so that I could merge the two and get rid of the duplicate listing issue (important because it contravenes Google's terms of service). That process was almost finished but something kept tripping us up and it took a lot longer than similar de-duplication issues in the past. Happily after phone support for GMB was restored we got the issue resolved.

So, there was the topic I needed for this morning's presentation. How important it is: to take care of your Google My Business listing. I also happened to come across a quiz published by Bright Local, a software platform for managing client's Local SEO that I use… a lot!

I plucked 5 questions that suit the UK based audience. Issues that might have impacted my colleagues over the past weird year! The pandemic changed a lot in everyday life and business. But, there was much else going on in the digital marketing world, unrelated to that pesky virus, that people need to be aware of too.

Give Over With That Jargon!

To get you warmed up, here's a little jargon buster video before you actually take the quiz: 

 The Newton's Cradle Mini Quiz On Google My Business 

So, here's the quiz below: It's in the form of a Prezi presentation. Click the little left and right arrows at the bottom to progress through.

If you took the quiz, The answers will be at the end of the article.
Today's winner Paul X from a well known company in Carlisle won the M&S voucher with the mind boggling score of 2/5 😊 LOL!

 Cool Cats get The Category Right!

 That result highlighted the fact that knowledge about these listings is limited. Like most people we are all busy and we tend to get familiar with the bare bones that we need to do to get something up and visible. And then we have to move on to more urgent, important matters.

Hold up a minute! There is very little that is more important in local digital marketing than getting the category of your GMB business listing right! Last week, while working on a client's listing we discovered that their listing had a primary category that was unrelated to their trade. Categories are a pain.

Google nowadays only allows you to choose from a pre-set list. It's especially important to get your primary category to be as close to what your business "is" as Google explains in its additional guidelines for choosing categories:

You can add several additional categories if they will help searchers but generally, I would suggest no more than 5: as it's the primary category that you need to focus on optimising for.

 The Name Game

One of the Achilles Heels of GMB listings is that having keywords in your business name – and therefore in your GMB listing title is powerful. The problem is that many businesses add keywords to their GMB business name to tap into that influence. This is "keyword spamming" your listing. It works well… but it can get you completely "invisiblised" (a technical term I've coined!).

If a competitor is always ahead of you and they have used this tactic. Their GMB listing name is not their proper business name. So, in my alter ego, I am "ClimbHigh SEO". If my GMB listing was titled "ClimbHigh SEO Cumbria", Oliver or Gareth who are competitors in this field would be quite entitled to complain to Google that I was breaking their terms and conditions and have my listing removed!

Not recommended! So, don't do it folks! And if you do… no whinging if your listing and with it most of your website authority too… is "invisiblised"!

 Proximity: Please Stand So Close To Me!

If you want to be a nerd or a digital zombie, walk round Carlisle with a search for "coffee shop" on your phone. As you move around – knocking old people like me to one side in your zombified digital state, the results will change with your position. Being the business that's close to the searcher does help.

If you are a business on the edge of Carlisle, Newcastle, Glasgow or Manchester, sadly there's nothing you can do to change that: save moving closer to where most searchers are. It's not going to happen is it! You will simply have to make other efforts to come up in searches.

 Are You Using Google My Business Effectively?

GMB and its console have become much more than simply a business directory as Google tries to take more control of the space on a results page.

Posts: You can now post updates as a social media alternative or addition to your console. Here is the update style of post. You can also post offers, events, products and Covid-19 updates.

 More Features OfGoogle My Business To be Aware Of 

The short video below gives a quick overview of some of the other features that are important in your listing..

 What Else Is new In Google My Business?

 Lots changed in the past year as businesses adapted work practises to help bring infection rates down. Many suffered, but there were enormous opportunities too. Here are a few changes that may become more noticeable as we come through the pandemic and move into recovery.

 Years In Business Label

Longevity is a pretty important trust factor for shoppers and potential clients of a business. The screen grab of a listing for hairdressing businesses in Carlisle has this label on all 3 local pack candidates. This is why it matters to include your start-up date in the info section of your listing.

 

Community Feed

This is only available in the Maps app on your phone and is intended to socialise the local digital environment. It seems to provide a platform for showing off reviews, local news and information from Google's growing tribe of local guides. Initially it will only really be a thing for food businesses, but there is talk of it widening its scope to community centres and venues. Those in the know are suggesting that is potentially the reason to invest time and effort in GMB posts.

 

Expanded Messaging Features

  For quite a while, people have been able to message businesses directly via the Maps phone app. Up until recently, the business owner could only reply from the phone app. This functionality has now been extended to anybody logged into the right Google account on any device. Apparently messaging rates on GMB have mushroomed over the course of this year. One for foodtakeaway vendors to be aware of, particularly if you are already in the groove with Facebook messenger.

 

Suggest An Edit

We mentioned the problem of keyword spamming business names earlier I this piece. The suggest an edit function is one way to tackle the problem. In America, the function has received some updates so that making changes is easier, the process is explained better, there will be a facility for saying WHY the edit is being made, and you are also warned about potential consequences of actions. For instance, when you upload photos to a business' profile, you will see a warning that the photo appears with your name!

We haven't seen these screens appearing in any UK profiles yet but suspect they will be here very soon.

  A New Look To Google My Business Insights

In the UK, the new interface is still just in beta as far as we can determine and it looks like this.

It displays a simplified set of graphs and charts and here we are looking back 6 months instead of 3; as was the case in the Old interface.  It's a quite nice summary instead of the multiple graphs and charts in the Old Interface.

However, a feature we can expect to see soon in the UK is a feature that highlights call and message performance and  can help you identify who called your business if you missed the call. These features seem to have been spotted by a couple of eagle eyed Twitter users in the USA during December 2020.

 In Conclusion

Google are clearly moving to have their finger in the pie on almost every aspect of the search results pages and are clearly making a big play for local SEO now. So if we want to be seen and convert those potential visitors - it is well worth getting your listing checked over and updated. 

Who actually tried to answer the quiz questions?

1. c           Google had to make other search engine options available in the SERPs to tackle the fallout from losing an anti trust court case in the EU.

2.          In response to the Covid 19 disruptions Google stopped the ability to Publish new reviews, reply to reviews and new Q&A.

3.          Google didn't add Free Consultations. It did add Covid 19 updates, new attributes relevant to the crisis and a temporarily closed flag.

4.          In the trial of a paid option for Google My Business, the designated partner badge was called "Google Guaranteed".

5.          The most powerful combination of factors (and hence the problem with keyword name spamming: Correct primary GMB category, keywords in the Business name, proximity to the searcher.


We hope that the quiz and the article have helped to deepen your understanding of one of the more important local SEO tools that's out there.

Ray Cassidy

The proof is in the pudding...
 

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Thursday, 15 April 2021

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