Google My Business is both a free tool and a set of user interfaces that include a dashboard, local company profiles, and a volunteer support forum with that branding. Google My Business and its associated Google Maps form the core of Google's free local search marketing options for eligible local businesses.
Today we are learning fundamentally! Share this simple, comprehensive article with inbound clients and team members to get on the right foot with this all-important digital asset for local businesses.
An introduction to the basics of Google My Business
First of all, on the same page, let's learn what Google My Business is and how you can be a part of it.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a multi-layered platform that allows you to submit information about local businesses, manage interactive features such as ratings and questions, and publish a wide variety of media such as photos, posts and videos.
What is GMB Eligibility?
The authorization for inclusion in the Google My Business setting is regulated by the guidelines for the presentation of your company on Google. This is a living document that changes frequently. Before listing a company, it's a good idea to consult the guidelines to avoid violations that could result in penalties or the removal of your listings.
You need a Google account to get started
You need a Google account to use Google's products and you can create one here if you don't already have one. It is best for each local business to have their own business account rather than marketing agencies using their accounts to manage customers' local business profiles.
If a local business you're marketing has a large in-house marketing department or works with third-party agencies, Google My Business lets you add and remove listing owners and managers so that multiple people can be given different permissions to contribute can do listings management.
How to create and claim / review a Google My Business profile
Once the business you're marketing has a Google Account and has determined that it is eligible for inclusion on Google My Business, you can create a single local business profile by starting here and using Google's walkthrough wizard to to make a list.
When creating your profile, fill in as many fields as possible. This guide will help you understand how best to fill out many fields and how to use many of the features. Once you've provided as much information as possible, you'll be given options to review your listing so that you can control and edit it in the future.
Alternatively, if you need to list more than 10 locations in a company at a time, you can alternatively do a bulk upload via a spreadsheet and then request a bulk review.
Where your Google My Business information can be viewed
Once your data is entered into the GMB system, it will appear in various Google local search ads including the mobile and desktop versions of:
Google Business Profiles
Your full Google Business (GBP) profile will typically appear when you search for a business by its brand name, often with a city name in your search language (e.g., "Amy & # 39; s Drive Thru Corte Madera") . In some cases, GBPs will also show up for unbranded searches (e.g. “vegan burger near me”). This can happen when there is little competition for a search term, or when Google believes (rightly or wrongly) that a search term is intended to find a particular brand rather than a multitude of results.
Google Business profiles are extremely long, but a cropped view looks something like this: It's to the right of the organic search engine results:
Google Local Packs
Local packages are one of the main indicators that Google uses to rank and present the local business information in their index. Local packs appear whenever Google believes a search term has local intent (e.g. "best vegan burger near me", "plant-based burger in Corte Madera", "onion rings downtown"). The searcher doesn't need to include geographic terms in their phrase for Google to assume the intent is local
These days, a local package typically consists of three industry listings. You can click a card or click the View All button to view additional entries. Occasionally, local packages contain fewer than three entries, and the types of information Google contains in them vary.
Local pack results look something like this on desktop search and are generally above organic search results:
Google Local Finder
When a finder clicks the map or the "View All" link in a local package, they are redirected to the display, commonly referred to as the local finder. Many entries can be displayed here, usually paginated in groups of ten, and the searcher can zoom in and out of the map to see how their options change.
The URL for this type of result starts with google.com/search. Some industries, like hospitality, have unique ads, but most local business categories have a local finder ad that looks like this, with the results ranking on the left and the map on the right:
Google Maps is the standard display on Android phones. Desktop users can also search using this interface instead of using general Google search. At the top of the Google desktop ad, you'll see a "Maps" link like this:
Searches performed through Google Maps produce results that look pretty similar to local Finder results, although there are some differences. There is a clear possibility that at some point Google will consolidate the user experience and local packages will default to Google Maps instead of the local Finder.
The URL of these results starts with google.com/maps instead of google.com/search. On the desktop, the display of the cards rated by Google looks like this:
Most of it is managed in the GMB dashboard
Once you have created and claimed your Google Business profiles, you can manage most (but not all) of the functionality in your Google My Business dashboard. It looks like this:
The GMB dashboard contains components for the ongoing management of your basic contact information, reviews, posts, pictures, products, and other features.
The GMB dashboard also contains the analytical functions known as GMB Insights. It's a very useful interface, although the titles and functions of some of its components can be opaque. Some of the data you will see in GMB Insights include:
- How many impressions were generated in connection with a search for your company name or location (referred to as Direct), general searches in which your company is not specified by name but relates to your offer (referred to as Discovery) and searches for brands that your Company leads (referred to as brand), carried out).
- Customer actions such as website visits, phone calls, messaging, and requests for directions.
- Search terms used that left an impression of your company.
There are several other GMB Insights features and I recommend this tutorial by Joy Hawkins to understand why reporting from this user interface can be contradicting and confusing. GMB Insights contains really important data, but the correct interpretation deserves its own contribution and a little patience with some imperfections.
When something goes wrong with Google My Business
If you are into GMB Marketing you are sure to run into problems and find that all sorts of questions arise from your day-to-day work. Google relies heavily on volunteer support on its Google My Business Help community forum. You can post most issues there in the hope of a public or volunteer response titled "Gold Product Experts".
However, in some cases you will need to speak to Google directly or fill out forms if you have problems with your listings. Download the free local SEO cheat sheet for reliable documentation of your various GMB support options.
How to Use Google My Business as a Digital Marketing Tool
Let's quickly and easily understand how GMB can be used as one of your most important local marketing tools.
How to Increase Local Business Growth with Google's Local Features
While every local business needs to take a differentiated approach to using Google My Business and Google Maps to market themselves, most brands maximize their growth potential on these platforms by following these seven basic steps:
1) Determine the business model (stationary, service business, private business or hybrid business). Do you need help? Give this guide a try.
2) Determine the authorization for Google My Business based on the business model and follow the rules set out in the guidelines for the presentation of your company on Google.
3) Before creating GMB Profiles, make sure you are working from a canonical data source that has been verified by all relevant parties of the company you are marketing. This means that you have checked and double-checked that the name, address, phone number, hours of operation, business categories and any other information you have about the company you are listing is 100% correct.
4) Create a profile for each location you market and request it. Depending on the business model, you may also be entitled to additional entries for practitioners in the company or for several departments in one location. Some models, such as B. Car dealerships are even allowed to have multiple offers for the makes of car they sell. Consult the guidelines. When creating your profiles, provide as much quality, accurate, and complete information as possible.
5) Once your listings are online, it is time to keep them under control. The administrative tasks include:
- Analyze selected categories on an ongoing basis to make sure you've picked the best and most influential, and be aware of any new categories that appear for your industry over time.
- Upload high quality photos that reflect inventory, services, seasonality, space and other features.
- Collecting and responding to all reviews as a core part of your customer service policy.
- Set a schedule for Google Posts and keep microblogging-style content posted on an ongoing basis to raise awareness of products, services, events, and news related to the locations you market.
- Fill in Google Questions and Answers with Company Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and provide simple answers to queries your employees keep getting. Then answer all incoming questions from the public on an ongoing basis.
- Adding Videos to Your Entries. Check out how even a brand on a budget can create a cool free video that comes from the GMB list features.
- You agree to keep your basic information updated, including any changes in contact information and times, and add special hours for holidays or other events and circumstances.
- Investigate and use additional features that might be relevant to the model you are marketing, such as: B. Menus for goods and services, product lists, booking functions and much more!
- Analyze the performance of listings by checking Google My Business Insights on your dashboard and using tactics like UTM tagging to track how the public is interacting with your listings.
Do you need help? Moz Local is the software from Moz with which you can continuously manage your entries not only on Google, but also on several local business platforms.
6) Ongoing training is key to maintaining awareness of Google introducing new features, changing platforms, and adjusting the weighting of various local ranking factors. Follow local SEO experts on social media, subscribe to local SEO newsletters, and take part in professional and street-level industry surveys to continuously evaluate which factors seem to be driving maximum visibility and growth.
7) In addition to managing your own local business profiles, you need to learn to look at them in the dynamic context of competitive local markets. You have competitors for every search term you want to increase your visibility for, and your customers will see different Pack, Finder and Map results based on their locations at the time of the search. Don't get involved in the goal of being number 1, learn to do basic local competitive exams so you can identify patterns of how dominant competitors win.
In summary, the right recipe is to provide Google with great and appropriate data at the start, manage all relevant GMB functions on an ongoing basis, and commit to ongoing local SEO training to create a growth engine, of paramount importance to the local people is brands that you market.
How to optimize Google My Business listings
This SEO forum FAQ is actually a bit tricky because so many resources talk about GMB optimization without enough context. Let's get this issue under control together.
Google uses calculations called "algorithms" to determine the order in which companies are listed for public viewing. Local SEOs and local business owners are always working to better understand the secret ranking factors in the local Google algorithm so that the locations they market get maximum visibility in packages, finders and maps.
Many local SEO experts believe that there are very few fields that you can fill out on a Google Business profile that actually affect ranking. While most experts believe that the company name field, primary category selected, linked website URL, and some aspects of reviews may be ranking factors, the internet is full of confusing advice on "optimizing" service radii, business descriptions etc. and other characteristics with no evidence that these elements affect rank.
My personal point of view is that this conversation about GMB optimization is important, but I'd rather think more holistically about the features that work together to drive visibility, conversions, and growth than speculating too much about how a single feature will perform may or may not affect rank.
Regardless of whether answering a GMB Q&A request provides a direct head start or writing a post moves a searcher further down the buyer's path, or selecting a different primary category increases the visibility for certain search queries or the response to a review to show empathy, win back an unhappy customer. you want everything If it helps business growth, it matters.
Why Google My Business plays an important role in local search marketing strategy
In mid-2020, Google's global search engine market share was 92.16%. While other search engines like Bing or Yahoo still play a role, their share is just tiny compared to Google. We have seen a shift in this dynamic with the supposed development of an Apple search engine, but right now Google has near-monopoly search rights.
As part of Google's massive search share, a company representative stated in 2018 that 46% of queries were local in intent. It is estimated that Google processes 5.8 billion requests worldwide every day. By my calculation, this would mean around 2.7 billion searches are made every day by people looking for goods, services, and resources nearby. It's also good to know that according to Google, searches in support of local business increased by 20,000% in 2020.
Local businesses that want to capture the proportion they need for these queries to be visible in their geographic markets need to know how to integrate Google My Business Marketing into their local SEO campaigns.
A definition of local search engine optimization (local SEO)
Local search engine optimization is the practice of optimizing a company's web presence to improve visibility in local and localized organic search engine results. It is central to providing modern customer service to ensure that today's businesses can be found and selected on the internet. Small and local businesses make up the largest corporate sector in the United States, making local SEO the most widely used form of SEO.
Local Search Engine Optimization and Google My Business Marketing are not the same thing, but learning to use GMB as a tool and asset is key to growing local business because of Google's near monopoly offerings.
A full local SEO campaign involves managing the many components of the Google My Business profile, as well as managing entries on other location data and review platforms, posting social media, producing and distributing images and videos, and having a strong focus on that Organic and local optimization of the company website. Comprehensive local search engine marketing campaigns also encompass all of the offline efforts a company makes to be found and selected.
When trying to prioritize it can be helpful to think of the website as the number 1 digital asset of most of the brands you market, but GMB marketing will be number 2. As part of local search engine marketing, the focus must be on the customer and his or her satisfaction in every phase of online and offline advertising.
Focus on GMB but diversify beyond Google
Every aspect of marketing a brand contains pluses, minuses, and pitfalls. Google My Business is no exception. Let's break this scenario down into four parts to get a realistic representation of the terrain.
1) The positive
The most positive aspect of GMB is that it meets our criteria as an owner and marketer to help local businesses get found and selected. Ultimately, this is the goal of almost all marketing tactics. Google's massive market share makes its platforms an unparalleled place to compete for customer attention and choice.
What Google created is a marvel of technology. With a modest effort, you can use GMB to digitize a company so that it is always present to the community, enable conversations with the public, generate loyalty and support everything from inventory development to quality control, and build the kind of online reputation that this enables brands to become local well-known names in the offline world.
2) The negative
The most obvious negative aspects of GMB are that because of its dominance, problems like listing and reviewing spam are affecting the quality of results. Without a real competitor, Google hasn't demonstrated an internal will to solve problems like these that have real implications for local brands and communities.
A dry eyes assessment of Google's local strategy finds that the company is increasingly monetizing its results. GMB profiles are currently free, but growing programs like Local Service Ads point the way to a more expensive local SEO future for small businesses on tight budgets
Finally, local brands and marketers (as well as Google employees) are increasingly facing ethical concerns about Google that have made them the subject of strikes, public protests, major lawsuits and government investigations. When you dedicate your professional life to building diverse, inclusive local communities that value human rights, there can sometimes be a profound disconnect between your goals and those of Google.
3) The trap
Managing your Google-based assets takes time, but don't let yourself be all of the time. Because local business owners are so busy and Google is so ubiquitous, a trap has developed where it may appear that GMB is the only game in town.
The old saying about eggs in baskets comes into play every time Google has a frustrating bug, monetizes a formerly free business category, or lets competitors and lead generators park their advertisements in the area you thought your place was. Sometimes Google's vision of local just doesn't match reality, and something like a missing category or undeveloped feature that you need gets in the way of fully communicating your company's offerings.
The danger is that the walls of Google can be so high that the boundaries and limitations of the platforms can be confused, like anything that makes up local search engine marketing.
4) The road to success
My article on Google Feeding, Fighting, and Flipping was one of the most read here on the Moz blog in 2020. With nearly 14,000 unique pageviews, this message is one that I'll double down to in 2021:
- Give Google everything it needs to see the companies you market as the most relevant answers for people in close proximity to branded locations so that the companies you advertise become top local resources on the Google index.
- Fight spam in the communities you market to so you can root out bogus and out-of-question competitors and protect neighbors from fraud, and take and build key positions on the issues that matter to you and your customers an affinity for the public and for a better on future in which you will work and live.
- Transform the online scenario where Google controls so much local business fate into a one-to-one environment where you are in full control of creating customer experiences exceptional enough to keep repetitive business and WOM – Gaining recommendations outside the GMB loop. Turn every customer Google sends you into a keeper who comes straight to you for multiple transactions – not Google.
GMB is important, but there is still so much to see! Let yourself be listed on several platforms and participate intensively in your reviews. Add generous value to neighborhood websites next door or on old-school forums that are only used by locals. Forge B2B alliances and join the Buy Local movement to become a local business lawyer and community sponsor. Help a reporter. Assess whether image, video, or podcasting media can bring your brand to local fame. Extend your email base considerably. Be part of the home delivery revitalization, fill the hungry yearning for bygone quality and expertise, or invest in your website like never before and take the plunge into digital sales. The options and possibilities are tempting and it suits any local brand.
Key Factor: Don't get stuck in the world of Google – build your own with your customers from a place of openness to opportunity.
A look into the future of Google My Business
By now, you've probably decided that investing time and resources in your GMB assets is a fundamental necessity in any local business marketing. But will your efforts pay off in a long time? Is GMB built to last and where is Google going with its vision of local?
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Google My Business is here to stay, although it could be renamed as Google has renamed its local functions a lot in the past. Here are eight developments that I believe we can see in the next half a decade:
- As mentioned above, by default, Google could put local packets on Maps instead of the local Finder, which makes the network a bit tidier. This is a good time to start learning more about Google Maps as some aspects of it are very different.
- Pay-to-play visibility is becoming increasingly popular in packages, bio cards, and cards, including lead generation features and trust badges.
- If Apple Maps manages to scare Google, Google may invest in better spam filters for both listings and reviews to defend the quality of its index.
- Location-based image filters and search functions will increase. So take a picture of your inventory.
- Google will continue to make advances in local commerce by showing sales from real-time inventory and possibly even starting to take commissions from them. The brands you market have to decide whether to sell through Google, their own company websites, or both.
- Google could publish a function that shows the depicted delivery radii of stationary brands. Home delivery is here to stay. If this is relevant to the brands you market, now is the time to get started.
- Google has a limited window of time to see if Google Messaging can be rolled out as a key platform for brand-consumer communication. The next five years will be significant in this regard, and brands that you market should be debating whether to invite Google to their conversations with customers.
- Google could add public comments to Google Posts to increase their interactivity and encourage brands to make more use of this feature. Nextdoor has this functionality in its posts and it's a bit of a surprise that Google isn't doing this yet.
What I don't see on the near horizon is a real commitment to better one-on-one support for the local business owners whose data make up Google's large and profitable local index. While the company has significantly increased the amount of automated communications it sends to GMB listing owners, Google's vision of being locally open-source DIY-free-for-all still seems to be where it is developing companies.
So your job is to keep an eye on both the best and the worst aspects of the amazing Google My Business platform and take as much control as possible over how customers experience your brand in the Google realm. This is not an easy task, but with ongoing training, supportive tools, and a primary focus on customer care, your investment in Google My Business marketing can bring exceptional rewards!
Ready to continue your local SEO training? Read: The Essential Local SEO Strategy Guide.