Things We Didn’t Know About Optimizing Google My Business Listing
We can all probably agree that the first step toward building an SEO strategy is claiming and verifying our local GMB listing. Not only does it increase our chances of showing up on Google’s services, but it also helps us show up in the organic, local search listings.
However, business owners often underestimate the power of having a Google My Business listing. While this may be a mistake for many reasons, it is still understandable to a certain extent.
The purpose of this article is to discuss all the important topics related to Google local business listing optimization.
Verifying our Google My Business listing
Before we jump into discussing ways to optimize our GMB listing, it might be a good idea to talk about claiming and verifying it in the first place.
How does one claim a Google My Business listing?
If our business qualifies for the GMB listing, the procedure is quite simple. All we have to do is visit Google My Business and enter information such as the name of our business, its address, business hours, phone numbers, as well as the types of payment we accept. There are many questions that we will have to answer to complete our GMB profile.
By the time we finish filling out the listing, it should contain all the data that enables our clients to find our business online. However, our work doesn’t quite end there. We need to ensure that our listing only contains information that is up to date. That implies frequent checking and occasional updating. In the following section, we’ll discuss in greater detail why regularly logging into the GMB dashboard is essential.
Suggesting an edit in GMB Listings
This may come as a bit of a shock, but the truth of the matter is that just about anyone can suggest an edit to our business listing. That implies anyone literally — our competitors included.
Namely, whoever clicks on our Google My Business listing will see the “Suggest an edit option”. What’s more, they will also be able to click on it and make whatever the change they want.
We must always be aware of the fact that the edits are by no means “suggested”. We will most probably not have the chance of approving or disputing them. Google does, in theory, send out notification emails, but most GMB users never receive them.
So the changes will go live the moment they’re saved, and we will probably not even get notified. Although this option might have its advantages for urgent fixes, it is not so difficult to imagine the dire consequences of an ill-minded edit.
Checking for updates in the “classic” GMB dashboard
By simply logging into our GMB dashboard, we should be able to see if any changes have been made to our listing. If we see an unexpected “Google Updates” notification, there can only be two reasons for it:
1. Google made some changes to our business listing for some reason (e.g. they found new information relevant to our business).
2. A Google user submitted an edit that got published.
The good thing is that Google allows us to inspect the changes that have been made to our GMB. By checking the “Review Updates” box, we are granted a chance to remove false or misleading information.
The “Know this place? Answer quick questions” option
This is yet another option that has raised a few eyebrows among business owners. Namely, it allows people familiar with our business to share what they know about it. All they have to do is click on the “Answer quick questions”, and they can start contributing.
Google will ask them a number of questions related to the way we do business. Depending on the span of their knowledge and what Google wants to know, they might have to answer from one to a multitude of questions.
Dealing with unwanted edits
In most cases, a simple re-edit of our listing would do wonders for our Google local business listing optimization efforts. However, there might come a time when dealing with a bogus edit surpasses our editing skills.
In such cases, we can reach out to the GMB community. By creating a post in the GMB forum, we can ask one of the Google Top Contributors for help. All we have to do is explain the issue we’re dealing with in detail.
Google local business listing optimization
If we’re running a business in a highly competitive industry, simply verifying our GMB listing is easy but will get us nowhere. If we want to outdo our competition, we ought to gain some SEO edge over them to help marketing.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss several strategies that we can use in Google local business listing optimization.
Google My Business posts are a kind of mini-ads that appear in the Knowledge Panel and on Google Maps. To create these social media posts, we have to choose the “Posts” option on our GMB dashboard.
The greatest thing about this feature is the variety of posts we can create. We can make event invitations, posts about sales, blog post descriptions, new product release announcements — even posting holiday messages is possible with GMB Posts.
What’s more, the feature allows us to get creative by including images, calls-to-action, links leading to other pages, etc. These additions are sure to attract searchers’ attention.
GMB Posts will take a prominent place in our business’ Knowledge Panel, so they’re a great way to stand out from the competition. Furthermore, Google will take it upon themselves to remind us when we haven’t posted anything in a while.
Generally speaking, GMB posts remain live in our listing for about a week. They’re particularly useful in mobile searches.
The only possible downside to this feature is that, at the moment, B&Bs and hotels are not allowed to make posts. However, considering the rate at which technology is advancing, that will probably change soon.
Adding relevant emojis to our posts
Considering the popularity of emojis, it’s no wonder that Google has started indexing emoji-relevant search results. With the increased use of mobile devices, the number of people using emojis to expedite the search has also been on the rise. Therefore, having an emoji somewhere on our GMB listing might give us an SEO edge over our competition.
In Windows, adding emojis is quite simple. We have to simultaneously press the Windows key and the period (.) or the semicolon (;) key. When we do that, we’ll get a list of emojis to choose from.
Although this strategy is relatively new and relatively untested, the idea of adding one relevant emoji seems reasonable.
The booking button
Any business owner whose company depends on customer appointments understands the struggle of keeping an up-to-date appointment list. Luckily, GMB has a solution for that.
The Booking button will not only help our business stand out but will also make our life easier. Instead of calling us or contacting us via social media platforms, our clients can book appointments directly from our GMB listing. The feature is particularly useful for businesses that are trying to get new clients.
The Booking button, however, will not just randomly appear on our GMB listing. We’ll have to reach out to one of the scheduling providers supported by Google. As soon as we’ve done that, we can start accepting reservations from prospective clients.
The GMB messaging feature
Undeniably, texting is by far the best way to stay connected in the world today. Google understands that. That is why they’ve developed a feature that allows our clients to send us a text message while they’re browsing our GMB listing.
To activate the feature, we have to log in to our GMB dashboard and click on “Messaging”. After that, we can set up the message our clients will receive, and we can add the phone number to which the messages will arrive.
An excellent substitute for adding our phone number is installing Allo app and creating an account. We can connect it to our GMB account, and the messages will arrive in the app.
Although it is a great way to keep our personal and business correspondence separate, we must bear in mind that this feature is new. At the moment, it is only available to mobile web users searching on Chrome. Mobile app and desktop users can’t take advantage of it just yet.
Q&A feature in GMB Listing
Questions & Answers is by far the most popular Google local business listing optimization tool. It lets our customers ask questions about our business. More importantly, it enables us to answer those questions. It is the perfect way to communicate directly with clients.
However, this feature is not visible on the GMB mobile app. The notifications of new questions will not even show up on the dashboard. Occasionally, Google might send out email notifications to let us know when a new question has been asked. Although it’s a vast improvement, it is still quite unreliable. To overcome this deficiency, we have to install Google Maps on our phone.
Another thing that we might need to pay attention to is the fact that about anyone can answer questions about our business. So, much like with suggested edits, we need to keep an eye on the possible abuse of the feature.
GMB online reviews
It is commonly known that Google approves of business owners encouraging their customers to write online reviews. These reviews will appear next to our GMB listing both in our Knowledge Panel and Google Maps.
This feature is beneficial both because it helps us stand out from the competition and because they affect our search result rankings. The only important thing is that we follow Google’s guidelines for GMB reviews.
Also, whether we like the review or not, we should reply to it. It shows both our current and our potential clients that we care about customer feedback.
Photos and videos
As business owners, we should understand that the visuals are what attracts people’s attention nowadays. Therefore, photos and videos have become an inevitable part of any local SEO strategy.
Humanising our brand through photo and video posts requires very little to no investment. Most of us have a smartphone, and that is all we need. We can either post visual content that we’ve created ourselves, or we can ask our clients to share what they’ve made.
The latter option, we know, is sometimes next to impossible to achieve. However, with the LocalPics feature, even that is much easier now.
Adding photos and videos requires us to log in to our GMB dashboard. There will either be “Add Videos” and “Add Photos” buttons, or the blue “+” sign in the upper right-hand corner. We can either drag the files into the upload area, or we can select them on our computer.
As for the length of the videos, we can post. Ideally, they should not be longer than 30 seconds. However, users have easily posted videos much longer than that.
Although it’s simple to use, this feature is not always as prompt as some other features we’ve listed so far. According to Google, it can take up to 24 hours for videos to display on our GMB listing. However, our experience has shown that most videos show up after only a few minutes.
One thing that is important to remember is that Google retains the right to remove any video content that does not seem relevant to our business. So we should make sure that the videos we post are taken at our place of business and are related to people who either work for or contribute to our business. For all other rules, Google recommends checking GMB Video Guidelines.
Your GMB Business descriptions
As of recently, Google enabled including a business description on our GMB listing. Google will review the description, so it’s vital that we stick to their rules.
In short, we are given 750 characters to describe our business. However, only 250 characters will show up in the Knowledge Panel, while the rest will get cut off. That means that we need to approach writing our business description very carefully. We ought to ensure that the first part includes all the essential keywords and all the information relevant to our business.
It is important to note that the description will appear in the Knowledge Panel on desktop computers, whereas it will be in the About tab on mobile devices.
Services and menus
If our business offers services, it is only logical that we share that information with our clients. For that purpose, we can use the Services List that Google had recently added to Google My Business.
At the moment, the free feature is available for businesses offering food and drink, beauty, health, and other such services. It gives us a chance to categorise the services that we provide.
To create our own “service menu”, we need to click on “Info” on the GMB dashboard Then, we have to Add or edit items. We can even describe them and determine the prices.
To get the most out of your GMB listing, you need to be actively engaged in maintaining it to help your business stand out in your location plus add a link to your website.
The more we interact with both regular and potential clients, the higher the ranking we get in all types of searches. For more information on ranking in search see an article on ranking SEO that explains the broad overview of business visibility in local search results.
New GMB features come out regularly, and we hope that this article has successfully discussed the importance of Google local business listing optimization.
If you want help setting up your Google My Business listing, Red Kite SEO provides a Google My Business optimization service. You can contact Red Kite SEO directly or visit their website for local search SEO for more information.