Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool launched in 2014 to help local search performance for companies of any size. It signaled a move away from sponsored listings and directories with more autonomy and creativity passed to businesses to market themselves locally.
By simply providing your address, trading hours, and phone number, you can improve customer contacts and gain eyes on your business. This may lead to a drop in clicks to your key informational pages, but an increase in conversions is the key factor in growing an online presence. Therefore, Google My Business can be highly beneficial to an SEO growth strategy as around 46% of all Google search queries are local.
From Google’s point of view, it has helped them drive “zero-click” results which are where a user satisfies their query from the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and does not have to click through to a site.
How are GMB listings used by Google?
Google uses the GMB listings for a plethora of reasons. It is crucial to understand the reasons to ensure your listing meets any criteria set by Google. Below are some ways in which the listings are used.
- The basis for credibility: Location and contact details rank highly within the algorithm.
- Simplified access: Helps to provide a resolution to a query as quickly as possible.
- Collation of reviews: Helps to provide users with information to decide if the source is trustworthy.
- Provide contact information: Allows Google to achieve their zero-click results and gives users an option to satisfy their query.
- Set as a reference point: Gives the option for the user to click through to a website that is highly likely to give them the information they require.
SEO features of Google My Business
GMB can benefit your SEO in many ways due to the importance that Google has placed on it. Significant advertising investment has been made into the GMB by Google, and its influence on SEO has grown.
Here are some ways in which your SEO will benefit through Google My Business.
Appearing in Local Listings and Google Maps
Any type of search query that includes location intent such as “Vegetarian Restaurants” or “Florist Near Me” will result in a Local pack on the SERP, including local businesses that can best satisfy the user’s query.
While a GMB listing does not guarantee inclusion in the pack, a fully optimised listing will give you a better chance of inclusion. In turn, this can lead to traffic increases which will be worth the effort.
Google My Business reviews
Reviews are a wonderful way to drive traffic and give users peace of mind that the product or service they may purchase will be of the highest quality. GMB makes reviews easy to find and places a star rating next to each business name.
In an online environment where fraud is prevalent, the inclusion of quality reviews helps build user trust and confidence.
Presentation of information
A GMB listing gives the user a window into your site and can act as a pre-home page. Crucially, it can provide more information than a normal snippet which will set your business apart from the competition.
While the normal metrics of conversions such as CTR may reduce, good GMB practices should increase the chance the user will interact with your business.
This is also helped by the optional addition of a question-and-answer section that gives more information and presents an opportunity to answer other potential queries on a different SERP that may not include your site.
Reporting improvements through GMB Insights
Insights (a tool within Google My Business) tracks several factors, such as how users find your brand and where the listing is being viewed.
By properly understanding users, you can identify the reasons behind a loss in customers or how to gain a foothold in a difficult market.
How to take advantage of Google My Business
While the above advantages can lead to improved search performance, this can only be leveraged long-term by regularly updating your GMB profile. Below are a few steps to guide you through this.
Google My Business Posts
Google posts are 100 to 300-word entries that can include photos, videos, and CTA’s (call to action), which help lead users through to your site. These will be organic clicks that can help your overall site metrics and leverage traffic to focus on high-conversion pages.
The main advantage of posts is that you can directly control local messaging to many potential customers. Whether you want to promote an event, highlight exclusive offers, or explain why you are different from the competition.
The key thing to remember about Google Posts is that they only last seven days. This means a consistent effort is needed to make sure posts are updated and provide engaging content.
Image search, dependent on your sector, can be a powerful tool in driving search performance. Any business that sells a product can capitalise on image search to a degree. Not only does it help SEO, but it also allows you to present your company in a way that words cannot. While images on GMB are currently limited between 10 KB and 5 MB, it is unlikely any business will reach that naturally.
Google My Business Reviews
As previously highlighted, reviews are an important part of a Google My Business listing. To fully take advantage of them, a business needs to respond to them consistently.
Not only can responses be placed against positive reviews to help build relationships, but they can also be made to negative reviews to explain any issues and show a willingness to engage. A URL is also created for you to share with clients to leave a review quickly and easily. Bringing in the five-star reviews will aid in catching the attention of users.
With Google placing great emphasis on trust and transparency, it is important to gain these reviews naturally and always respond to negative reviews in a polite and timely manner to protect the representation of your business.
Keep your GMB practices consistent. If you have multiple sites where you provide your products and services, create a GMB listing for it. The individual tendencies of users mean that creating listings casts as wide a net as you can to capture all the users regardless of search variation.
Effective use of Google My business can become a part of a successful SEO growth strategy. The importance that it takes within a strategy can vary from business to business. A small local business can leverage its GMB profile to create strong local awareness and use it as a free communication channel to the market.
GMB can be scaled up for larger projects where a business has multiple locations and needs a vehicle to deliver a consistent marketing campaign. If you have any questions or are looking to begin maximising your Google My Business presence, please do not hesitate to contact us here.