Often referred to by local SEOs as “your new homepage”, Google My Business offers many benefits to local businesses. Along with these benefits are an equal amount of issues.
In this chapter, we’ll be focusing on the benefits and how to use them.
What about the issues?
One of the biggest issues with Google My Business is the sheer amount of spam. Some industries are more affected than others.
There’s an entire chapter dedicated to Google My Business spam.
Another issue echoed by many in the industry is the reliance on Distance as a major ranking factor.
For some industries, it makes a lot of sense, for instance;
- Coffee shops
- Gas stations
- Pizza delivery
- Grocery stores
You get the picture. In most of these categories, the distance from the searcher to the physical location makes sense.
Now, should the distance from the searcher to physical locations matter as much for these categories?
- Addiction Treatment Centers
- Law Firms
- Assisted Living Facilities
I would argue that distance should play a much smaller role in determining rankings for these business categories.
Reviews and traditional SEO signals like content, on-site SEO, and links should play a larger role when determining ranking.
There are likely more categories that could be on to this list but I digress.
Let’s move on from issues.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Unfortunately, having keywords in your business name impacts rankings, a lot.
Should you add keywords to your business name?
No, it’s against Google My Business Guidelines.
You can, however, create a DBA (Doing Business As) that NATURALLY includes a keyword or city name.
We only recommend a company obtaining a DBA in circumstances such as;
- No idea what the business does based off of the name
- Competitive industries prone to this tactic and high amounts of GMB spam
If you’re a retail store, you should use your complete address on your Google My Business Listing.
If you’re a Service Area Business (SAB), there are different scenarios to consider.
Scenario 1: The address used to verify the listing is the business owner’s home address. You will want to remove the address from the listing and add services areas (more on service areas below).
Scenario 2: The address used is a brick and mortar/commercial/industrial office for the business. IF the address is in a central part of where you want to rank AND you allow customers to come to your location, keep the address. You’ll also want to add service areas. This will be a hybrid listing. You service customers at your location as well as at their homes.
Scenario 3: The address used is a brick and mortar/commercial/industrial office for the business. IF the address is NOT in a central part of where you want to rank, remove the address and add service areas. We have tested this on a couple of different clients that fit this scenario and noticed gains in the zip codes the client wants to rank in. In this scenario, you should always test. Remove the address for a period of time and see if there are any ranking changes. Better yet, if you notice a larger increase in lead volume in locations you weren’t getting much traction in before then it’s a win. Don’t forget about seasonality.
Designating your service area:
You can add 20 different service areas to your listing. You can use states, counties, individual cities, or zip codes. Stick to zip codes. If you cover a larger area, you can use cities or counties.
The page you link to is going to affect rankings. Don’t believe me? Try changing your website link on your listing from (likely) your homepage to a blog post on your website. 9/10 your rankings are going to start dropping within a few days.
This happens because most of the links your website has are pointing to the homepage.
If your business has different seasons like HVAC, you may consider changing the website link according to which season you are in. Links are very important but so is the relevance of the content on the linking page.
If you’re a multi-location business, you should link to the dedicated location page for each listing.
You should also test to see what happens when you link to the homepage instead. If your website has a poor internal linking structure, your rankings aren’t going to do very well. If rankings stay the same but leads drop, then change it back and start working on more internal as well as inbound links to the location page(s).
The primary category you choose has more weight than the additional categories you add to the listing.
What primary category should you choose?
Do a search for your main keywords and note the category showing in the listing. This is a good indicator of what primary category you should use.
What about the additional categories?
In the previous example, the #1 map result was De Paul Treatment Centers.
Open a new tab and do a search for the business name + Portland.
Click on the map area to take you to Google Maps.
Right click and select “View Source”
Do a Command F (Mac) or Control F (PC) and type in the main category.
The 3rd instance (line 148, about 5/8 down the page) will show you the other categories that listing has.
In the screenshot above, you’ll note that this listing is also using Mental health service & Alcoholism treatment program as additional categories.
Repeat this process for your other competitors.
Once you’ve finished this up, go over to Pleper’s Google My Business Category List Tool to find more categories. If you find 1-2 more categories to add that your competitor’s don’t, bully for you.
Will adding more categories hurt my rankings?
You can’t outrank a shitty reputation – Blake Denman
Reviews can make or break a business.
There’s a separate chapter on crafting a review strategy, head there if that’s what you’re looking for.
Reviews impact ranking.
Not the total number of reviews.
Not your average review rating.
It’s a combination of the two along with the content of the reviews.
100 5-star reviews that have little to no context will have little impact.
You should respond to all reviews, too.
Google My Business recommends this.
Don’t share the canned “Thank you name for the review, we appreciate your business!” crap, own that hard earned review.
No, including keywords in your review replies are not going to help your rankings, stop it.
PRODUCTS & SERVICES:
When you arrive at your Google My Business Dashboard, you’ll see Products & Services as options. If you have Products, add them. If you have Services, add them.
Does this help ranking?
Based on several tests we’ve done along with other local SEOs, it does not.
It does NOT mean you should neglect to add them. Adding Products & Services can help you get new business.
If a potential customer is engaging with your listing and finds what they are looking for, they might convert.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS:
A Google My Business listing with no photos and videos is like a ship with no motor or sails.
You float along in the middle of the ocean hoping someone will see you.
You should add photos as often and as many that are suitable for your business.
Having good photos & videos CAN help rankings but help with getting new leads.
Isn’t that what this whole thing is about? New business?
Don’t add stock photos or videos.
How to add photos & videos to your Google My Business listing and photo guidelines:
Why should I retype everything out when the answer is already there in plain English?
Oh, more content = more SEO. dumb.
You should be using GMB Posts if you aren’t yet.
Aim for at least once a week, 2-3 times per week if you can.
If you’re publishing on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you can publish the same content on your GMB to start.
You can add up to 10 photos or videos to your post.
Posts (excluding events) have a lifespan of 7 days before archived.
Add a Call-to-action on each post.
There is a very minor and temporary ranking benefit according to a few limited tests.
Your mileage will vary.
For the time it takes to create a GMB Post, make the investment.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Users can ask questions to your GMB listing. Users can also answer these questions.
You need to pre-populate your Google My Business Questions & Answers.
While logged in to a separate Gmail account, ask your own listing your most Frequently Asked Questions.
After, log into your GMB listing and respond to each Question as the Owner.
Kind of. Questions & Answers that have the highest upvotes appear higher.
3 upvotes on a Question and the question will show in the main area of the feature.
The highest upvoted answer will show first.
Upvote your own questions and answers.
Have some of your friends or family do the same.
You’re providing potential customers with great information and they should be able to see it first.