In this article, we want to discuss Google My Business (GMB) SEO, using GMB for local search engine optimization, and the best way to rank on Google in 2021.
This year, Google plans to introduce a bunch of new features to its Google My Business product. These new features will become a vital marketing tool for all local business owners. Are you ready to get your business to rank on page one of Google? Let’s jump right in!
We will go over the main Google My Business (GMB) ranking signals and the best practices that you should implement to ensure your business ranks higher on the Google 3-pack. Taking these practical steps will help you generate more sales and get new clients!
Take note! You are going to drive more leads and sales to your business. So, turn off your phone and start taking notes because this guide will have references you need to leap your business into a new realm of exposure.
Step 1: Verification
Verify a listing and login
Start by signing into your Google My Business dashboard. If you don’t have a listing on Google My Business, go to google.com/business and apply online. Simply put in your business information and add your Google account. It is also free to apply!
If you don’t know if you have a Google My Business, go to Google and search your business name. If a listing pops up on the right side of Google page one, you have a Google My Business listing. If nothing shows up after repeat searches for your business, then you don’t have a Google My Business listing, and you have to create one. When you have made your account, login and head to the dashboard.
Step 2: Be accurate
Make all the information as accurate as possible
When you have logged into your Google My Business dashboard, go to the information tab on the right-hand side of your dashboard. Here is where you will find all your business information. All the information about your business that you added to Google My Business will show here.
If you have finally signed up for a new GMB property, you might have to update your company information as it might be outdated. It is vital to check that this information is accurate so that the consumers and Google know that this is all the relevant information about your business.
Make sure to add and verify that your primary business number is correct in the primary phone field. You will have the opportunity to add secondary numbers. Having more numbers is useful if you have a toll-free number where the consumer can contact you.
It gets highly recommended that you use your primary phone number if you use a call tracking number. If you don’t, you won’t be able to track any calls coming from your Google My Business listing.
Step 3: The Business Name
Make sure your business name is correct
When adding your business name, never use keywords in the hopes that you will rank higher. It goes against Google’s guidelines, and it will get considered spam.
If you have done this already, now is the time to correct it.
If you don’t, you may risk:
- Getting penalized after a manual check by Google.
- You risk having a competitor flagging your listing as spam which will cause your GMB listing to face a manual review by Google.
- There is a risk of external editing on your listing (unless your listing blocks intentional edits via GMB API)
Note that any user can at any time suggest that your listing needs edits. They can mark your business as closed or spam. To learn more about this, follow the following link:
If you need to edit your business name, click on the pencil icon right underneath the image at the very top of your Google My Business panel and modify your name if you have to.
You can get faced with three possible scenarios when adding your business address:
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you have to ensure that you add the exact address of your company’s location. No errors can get made. While this may sound apparent, many business owners have made this same mistake, costing them a lot of money in sales revenue.
It also gets recommended that you add a second address line. The second address line won’t affect your ranking – it will make it easier for the consumer to find you.
Remember that there are very few limitations. These ineligible businesses include:
- Rental or for-sale properties – These properties include vacation homes, model homes, or vacant apartments. However, leasing offices for sale or rent is eligible for verification.
- You don’t own or rent a location – these spaces get used for ongoing service, classes, or meetings and are ineligible for listing.
Google’s new features include home-based and service-area businesses. This means you can still list your company and have a GMB without revealing your address.
If you have a service-based business, for example, plumbing or a food delivery business where you serve people at their homes, you shouldn’t add an address to your listing. Instead, specify the areas that you offer your services to the consumers. You can choose the country, city, regions, and metropolitan areas. There are over 20 different alternatives to choose from for your listing.
If you have a location to offer your products or services and serve consumers at their homes, you can use the location and service area options in the panel.
It is essential to create a short name on your Google listing. There is a section on your dashboard that will allow you to do this, and it’ll simplify the way you connect with your consumers. They will then be able to find directions to your business, read reviews, and more!
Use your Google listing like you would your social media profile. Put it on your email signatures, Twitter, LinkedIn, and wherever else you think it might be relevant.
You can also ask your consumers to review your business by adding a slash review at the end of your name link. This link will get used whenever you ask the customer for a review, simplifying the whole review process.
You can add an appointment booking to your listing, depending on your business type.
This feature is an excellent opportunity if you are an appointment-based company. In your Google My Business panel, click on the pencil icon next to the appointment link option. All you will do is add a link in there pointing to the “contact us” page or other applicable pages on your website. You can also integrate the “book online” button to make it easier for you and your consumers to set up bookings. However, this can only get done with the approval of Google.
See a complete list of providers following the link below:
Step 4: The Services Listed
Make sure that the services listed are correct
All service-based businesses can include a list of the services you offer on your Google My Business listing. Your consumers will have a better idea about what you have to offer, and it is your chance to showcase your services in detail. You will also be able to add the prices and a 300-word description of each item.
All of which get displayed on your profile. While this feature will only show up on mobile phones – it is still a great addition to your profile. If you want to add a service, click on the Google My Business panel’s services option. There is a default category that Google will automatically create based on a primary category you had chosen when you registered.
If you want to add a service to the category, click on the “add custom service” button. Repeat the same process if you wish to add multiple services in the same category. When you have finished, click the “apply” button. When you want to add a price and description, then click on apply when you get done. Repeat these steps if you’re going to create another category with multiple services.
GMB Crush Tip: Make sure you’re mirroring your website, adding all available services and creating unique content to describe them all. Upload quality photographs and add prices to match the ones that show on your website.
Step 5: The Products
Add your products to your listing
You might also have an option to add product inventory directly onto your listing manually.
Small business owners who can’t use the product feed via Google merchant can list the products they sell with this feature. Here is how you can add a product: click on your Google My Business panel’s product option. On the screen that follows, select the “get started” button, add a product name, and create a relevant category. Add the price of your product and choose between a fixed price option or have a price range.
Next, add a description of up to a thousand words to describe your product correctly.
Choose a button type to add to your product and add the link pointing to where it can get found on your website.
Lastly, add your product photo. The ideal dimension is 720 pixels by 720 pixels. Make sure to save when you get done and repeat to add more categories and products.
With Pointy, merchants simply plug a small box into their barcode scanner or install the Pointy app on their point of sale system, which surfaces the products that they sell directly into the “See what’s in store” section of their business profile on Google Search. Since Google introduced this functionality a few years ago, Pointy has been one of their key partners, helping thousands of local merchants display this data within Google.
For more details check the link below:
Step 6: Business Hours
Add the correct opening and closing business hours
It is best to avoid adding extra opening hours in hopes that Google will rank you higher than other businesses. All this will do is mislead your consumers, and you might risk getting negative reviews. Consumers could show up at your business only to find out that you are closed.
We have seen some businesses do this, leading to them having a manual review of their opening hours from Google. How will they do this? They can call your business at random in the hours you specified. What then? If your business is not open at that time, you will risk your listing getting banned.
It is also a great idea to integrate opening and closing times over the holidays and special occasions, such as Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day, or if you’re out of town and you won’t be operational. Once again, this could risk you having getting more negative reviews from frustrated customers.
You already know when the holidays are so our advice is to set it up now for the rest of the year so you won’t have to worry about this happening.
GMB Crush Tip: Right after updating your operating hours, create new Google posts showing all your offers, events, or content related to your brand. One single post can generate a lot of buzz when it is creative and engaging. Whenever you do a significant update to your listing (without breaking Google My Business guidelines), we found that the Google posts generated more views and clicks to the business.
Keep updating your opening hours for special periods to:
- Avoid frustrating your customers
- Receiving negative reviews
- Be rewarded by Google
Audit your competitor’s special opening hours. If your competitors didn’t provide any special opening hours, consider including those opening hours to your operational schedule, and BOOM, increase your chances of appearing in the first few results on those special periods.
Step 7: NAP consistency
It is essential to ensure that your Google My Business entity has your NAP (name, address, and phone number) displayed on your site. The NAP on your website must be consistent with your Google My Business profile. When you feel confident to take it to the next level and separate yourself from the competition, you can add locally structured data to your website.
When you are doing structured data, you have to use the proper syntax. Google and other search engines have certain expectations you must meet. Seek help from experts if you are not confident doing it yourself.
Your NAP Consistency refers to the accuracy of the location-based business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number across all the listings. Local directories, social media profiles, and websites must all match. Having consistently accurate information is important for your Google My Business SEO.
One of the main elements of staying consistent with your information is your company’s homepage URL.
The foundation of your local search engine optimization strategy is NAP consistency. Consider this “table stakes” or the minimum requirement to play in your local search engine game.
In order to ensure that citations are accurate, it is important for you first conduct an NAP Audit.
What are common local citation issues that come up?
Incorrect information in a citation
If you have already changed your phone number and address without updating the directory listings or evening inheriting someone’s old phone number or you end up pushing incorrect information through data aggregators. This is incorrect information in a citation. The search engine will receive mixed signals when the local citations have incorrect business information.
This can cause Google and other search engines to rank your business lower than others.
Multiple listings for the same business across the same directory
Search engines will see your business’s duplicate listings (dupes) as misleading, and it will cause mistrust. Having duplicate listings will also confuse the consumer as they won’t know where to leave a review and which information to trust. Managing multiple listings with bad data, can also get sourced as originals which can cause more duplicates that will leave you in a worse citation problem than what you had.
Unclaimed and unfinished citations
With these scenarios, you can hurt your local listing rankings. For search engines to view your listing as correct and improve your rankings, your job is to ensure your citations are accurate and that you complete every field.
Use services like Brightlocal, track local citations, find new sites, and spot NAP problems before they become a problem.
According to the latest trends, the local Google algorithm seems to allocate less weight to local citations and progressively more to your website, your GMB and for this reason any change applied to your site can affect your GMB ranking, if your GMB is associated with it.
Next to NAP consistency, Zane Clements from zanet.co.ku shared his insights of overall consistency importance with Google my Business. Let’s see what he has to say:
After studying the Algorithm and spending much time looking at what Google is trying to achieve my view is you meet Google at the destination rather than keep trying to catch them up.
So 3 things I think Google is trying to achieve and you “the business owner” can get there today and wait for Google to join you as they slowly achieve it through the algorithm.
Google wants regular content and consistency. This will boost any Google Business profile and rank higher on Google Maps – why? because it produces useful reliable information to the user. So for a business owner, it would be shrewd to regularly update your posts, offers and products. GMB crush is a great way to see what the competition is doing on this (plug for you)
See my article How To Rank In Google Maps 2021 (13 Tips To Boost Your Business)
In 2021 E-A-T will be ever more apparent in Google results and the Google 3 pack or map pack. What is E-A-T? It stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. These 3 areas are becoming hugely important. So GMB users should put all the information in the backend you can, eg established dates, correct categories, many honest reviews, links to other indexes, and social media NAP (Name Address, phone consistency) Google My Business has several functions that will encourage the proof of your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. To do this for your own business listing I wrote a detailed guide called What Is E-A-T SEO In Google Business Ranking Terms?
Attributes are always being added by Google. you need to keep an eye on this one in 2021. COVID has brought lots of new facilities and changes to Google My Business in 2020 and Google wants more upfront details and rewards updated listings in 2021
COVID Health & safety and greater usability are more evident
• Factual attributes, like Black-owned, outdoor seating, or women-led
• Subjective attributes, like whether your business is popular with locals
See Google My Business 2021: My 7 Predictions
Zanet Design Ltd
Step 8: Categories
Choose the right categories
Choosing the right business category when you create your listing is vital for your business’s rank in Google maps. Your primary category tells Google what your business is all about, so choose carefully to ensure you attract the right consumers and rank high.
To select a category, find the category option in your Google My Business dashboard under your business name. With many categories to choose from and some closely related, it can be easy to make a mistake.
To enhance your Google My Business listing, make sure you use the right cluster of categories. Don’t select too many categories – you want to use a certain amount of them and in order.
When having three good optimized categories, it’ll specialize your GMB listing to make it easier for Google to read your data and rank you high.
Next, open the GMB Crush Chrome application. Launch a search and find your top competitors that are ranking on the Google 3 pack. Reverse engineer the primary categories they are using and find the hidden ones.
Pay attention to which primary and additional categories the top 3 Google map rankings are using. Also, note in which order the categories are in. Now you can start to try the different combinations they use and identify how search engines weigh each cluster of categories. With this data, you can determine which sequence of primary and additional categories have the top rankings!
Once you have optimized your categories, hit the apply button and keep track of how it impacts your rankings.
GMB Crush Tip:: When Google releases Google My Business SEO updates, we have found spammy and ghost listings ranking in the top of the 3 pack. We highly recommend waiting about a week before committing to the changes. This gives the search engine time to weed out the spam.
As reported by this article, Darren Shaw has done some insightful research showing that category confusion is a real thing. Darren Shaw did a test in January 2019 to see if adding completely different (un-related) categories to the listing for Whitespark would make a difference in ranking for the keywords related to internet marketing.
Adding completely odd categories like hot dog stand, hair removal service, gazebo builder etc did result in a sizable drop in ranking. Rankings were restored once he removed the categories.
Step 9: Attributes
Add attributes to your listing
Attributes are specific features that show the consumer what you have to offer them. For example, a hotel will add wheelchair accessibility, free Wi-Fi, and pet-friendly to their listing. These attributes show on your Google My Business panel and will be available according to your business stock.
Step 10: Dates
Add the date when you are opening your business
Add an opening date to your listing so your customers know when you opened your business.
When you have been around for a few years, it builds trust with your customers. If you only plan to open your business anytime up to 12 months, you can still create a future opening date and put it on your listing. This date will only show 90 days before the actual opening date.
Remember to select the Verify Later option when you create your listing, just if Google shows it unnecessarily. If you want to add the opening date, click on the pencil right next to the opening date option, fill in the details and click, apply.
While the “Opening date” feature is available to all businesses, eligible services businesses may find the “Years in Business” label in Search.
Step 11: The Description
Adding the description to your GMB listing
You need to create a compelling description for your listing that will guide visitors to the page so they can see what you are about. This description is similar to the about us page of your website. Make it captivating and interesting.
Will keywords in your Google My Business help your ranking?
According to old news related to older Google My Business documents, adding keywords to your description will help your ranking and increase your visibility.
Without any official statement or warning, they removed this information from the support documentation.
Since we don’t know if the keywords in the description will be effective, we highly recommend auditing the Top 3 ranking results and strategize your description according to the highest competition.
If you need to know how to analyze the competition descriptions in-depth, download and install the GMB Crush app for free and get started!
Consider your GMB description as your meta description for your home page. It is highly valuable and can increase or decrease the number of visitors you receive.
What are the general rules when writing your description?
- You only have 750 characters
- You are unable to add any links to the description
- The description must be captivating to attract consumers
Depending on what you want to tell your customers, we have compiled a recommendations list for you to adhere to:
Be Transparent With What You Do
Effectively describing what you do in your description is the most essential information you must entail in your description. If the consumers’ attention gets grabbed, they will want to know more about your business and see if you have what they want. Keep it short but give enough detail, so your message gets clarified.
Show What Makes You Exceptional
Why are you different from your competition? Why should the consumer buy from you and not others? Highlight these answers to give your company an exclusive upper hand.
Business History (If It’s Relevant)
If you feel your company’s history is relevant to the industry you work in or to your customers, give a brief description. Your company’s history can be an exciting piece of information to help the consumer understand your products or services. If it does not apply to you, it is best to leave it out of the description.
The very first lesson you need to learn is that there is such a thing as keyword stuffing! Putting in too many keywords is a terrible SEO practice, so don’t try to stuff as many keywords as you can into your description. Instead, analyze your competitors – those at the top of Google’s page and see how they optimize their content. Focus on the 1-2 most valuable keywords to get the highest number of potential consumers to your business.
Valuable keywords will also help your organic ranking, and consumers will notice that your business is relevant to their search.
The Significance of a Good Call to Action
Write a good Call to Action – a command verb to get the consumer to follow the link. Be clear and concise with the call to action. There is not much space, so it is your job to ensure that you get your point across.
Be resourceful and creative!
What You Shouldn’t Put in Your Google My Business Description
Now that you have all the essentials for your description, there is information that you should avoid using.
Offers or Sales Pitches
As much as you want to use a sales pitch to increase your sales, it is against Google’s policy to add any offers in your description. The company description should be just that – about the company and nothing more. Google will go so far as to deny your description while it is under review.
Even though you wouldn’t do this, publishing false information is a big no-no. Google has a straightforward policy, and it’s best to follow the rules and comply.
Links and URLs
While it must be tempting to add some valuable URLs to your description, Google will send you straight back to the beginning and deny your request.
Prohibited content should be something we all know, but to ensure we cover everything, here goes.
There may be no:
- Hateful speech
- Sexually explicit speech
- Illegal or offensive
This speech will get rejected, and it may even cause Google to review the whole account’s validity.
Step 13: Photos
Optimize your Google My Business Photos
Are you aware of how many consumers will do business with you because of your photographs? Well, up to 60% of consumers will tell you that the images grab their attention. These stats are why your photos on your Google My Business profile are the most vital aspect. Consumers are visual shoppers, and adding them to your listing will elevate your listing. Your images tell the consumer what they can expect when doing business with you.
Depending on the market you are in and the category you have chosen, what you decide to do will vary from business to business. Upload all the images that are the most relevant to each category, following these simple rules:
- Convert your viewers to customers with quality photographs
- Avoid poor quality pictures
- Have them look good and inspiring
- Try to avoid using stock images
Google puts photos in different categories for your business listing:
Your Logo – The logo on your website must match your social media pages. Google recognizes consistency across platforms as it builds trust. Here is a quote from Google that should get noted:
“For businesses that have their basic information (phone number, hours, etc.), the Business Profile will highlight the logo.”
The Cover image – The image on your email header, YouTube header should all match and ensure that it is creative and unique to make you stand out from the crowd.
“In some instances, this action doesn’t guarantee the cover photo populates as the first image for your business.”
Added photos – Photos that you can add are pictures of the inside of your store, employees, the products you sell or performing the services you offer. Add an exciting photo of an award that your business might have won or the specialized equipment you use – anything to validate your business and continue to build trust and relationships with your community.
Some standards need to get met when it comes to uploading photographs on Google:
Format: JPG or PNG.
Bare Minimum resolution: 250 px tall, 250 px wide.
Quality: The image you use must have no significant alterations in focus to ensure validity. It must be realistic photographs of the products, services, and store that you are portraying.
Size: In Between 10 KB and 5 MB.
Suggested resolution: 720 px tall, 720 px wide.
AI technology is becoming more and more intricate. Google is using AI tech now more than ever to understand what businesses are and what they offer. It is not just the content from business’ web pages but also analyzes all the images from their Google My Business and website.
That’s why it is so important to know. Google will use these images as they do the text to identify you and confirm your legitimacy. They will identify who you are, what you do, and match your business with what people search on Google.
For more about Google’s processing images using AI, try this new tool:
If you want to establish a trustworthy and credible appearance on your GMB, you should:
- Review the images that get added to your profile by the public
- Optimize your images
- Remove the images that aren’t relevant to your business anymore
Get into the habit of updating and examining the images to ensure your GMB and website is 100% optimized.
To be sure that all your images are keeping intact the exif data, we recommend uploading photos directly from your mobile phone. This can be done by clicking on “Add a photo” button in review snippet section:
Google will tell you that you can’t control every aspect of Google My Business. So, we must focus our energies on managing and changing the things we can.
Even Google says that you cannot control all aspects of Google My Business. That is why we should do all we can to focus our efforts on controlling and changing the things we can.
Step 14: Virtual Tour
Add 360-degree Tour
If you have a building that you do business in, doing a 360-tour is essential for showing customers what you have to offer. Hotels, mom n pop stores, antique stores, etc., are examples of businesses where customers would love to get a good view of the facilities before they book.
You won’t need to break the bank on this free promotion.
The GMB Crush Tip: If money is tight, all you need to do is use your phone and the Google street view app. It takes no time at all to do, and voila! You have a great view of your business inside and out. Phones today are more equipped than ever to take amazing photographs, so get shooting and add them to your listing.
Now, you only have 30 seconds to speak, so ensure that you get your message across correctly, and the consumer will know what they are going to see. Ensure that you have added the correct title on the video too.
Google has the following requirements for the videos: https://bit.ly/3sFuQ35
Step 15: GMB Paid Ads
Drive Paid Traffic to your GMB
Simply link your Google My Business account to your Google Ads or Merchant Center. Everyone uses Google Maps for directions and landmarks. It only makes sense that Google would incorporate advertisements. Any business can use this great feature to promote their business in a few easy steps.
You might have seen these ads while driving around using Google Maps. Well, you may want to consider this option with how many people use Google Maps. It is an excellent way to increase engagement and drive sales.
If your business depends on foot traffic to increase your sales, you should invest in local search ads to turn your business into an overnight sensation.
Google offers three main types of Local Ads:
- Search results ads
- Promoted pins
- In-store promotions
Let’s discover where to find the Google Maps app, create a more in-depth description of each and how you can implement them.
Adverts in the Search Results
If you were to search for a product or service on Google Maps, it comes up with the nearest businesses and bases the results on your location and their ratings.
If your goal is to be at the top of the search results, you can apply to the Google Guarantee program and/or paid local search listings in Google Maps.
Promoted pins are a different type of paid ads and are a terrific way for you to get noticed by potential consumers when doing their searches. What’s excellent about promoted pins is that bold pins will pop out directly on the map as they use the app. The user doesn’t have to be searching for anything to see it.
You can get the attention of potential customers who aren’t looking for you, and it can lead to an increase in your business’ visibility which in turn increases sales.
These are promotions where you can place an ad on your business page that tells the visitor of promotions you are running.
The GMB Crush Tip: Be sure to include engagements from other sources apart from your Google My Business listing to increase your visibility. Target local areas and create ads with links to all your accounts.
If you have extra money in your advertising budget, consider creating a Facebook Ad campaign to advertise your Google My Business URL directly.
Get the Google Chrome app called Gather Up (https://app.gatherup.com/). All you should do is put in your business name in Google search and launch Gatherup at the same time.
The app will automatically open a new page, and you can get the URL of your Google My Business listing. A bonus on Gather Up is that it is FREE!
Step 16: Reviews & Ratings
Power up the number of your reviews and ratings
Reviews are so important in today’s GMB world considering that the number one ranking signals is proximity.
According to studies, 86% of consumers will read the reviews for local businesses.
Why is that?
The community trusts each other’s opinions! Have you ever read 5 or 6 bad reviews of a restaurant and decided to get fast food instead? At least you know what to expect. Reviews are one of the most noteworthy drivers of consumer clicks in local search engine results.
When you have finished a transaction with a client you worked well with, ask them to leave you a Google review. The more great reviews you have, the higher you will rank and the more consumers you get.
What to do often:
- You can encourage keyword use in the consumers’ reviews
- Make sure you reply to all reviews within 24 hours and naturally use targeted keywords in the responses.
- Keep an eye on your competitors’ (Top 3 on Google) reviews, how many they have, and their average rating using the GMB Crush app.
In a few clicks, you can launch a GMB audit. You can compare your business and determine how far you are from the top 3 listings on Google in terms of ratings and the number of reviews they have. Gather all the data and create strategies to increase the number of reviews you are getting and ratings.
How can you get more online reviews?
- Contact the consumer and ask them if they are happy with your service and any feedback. Send them a link to the review section on your listing, and if they wouldn’t mind leaving you a review.
- Us the short link review if you have already claimed the Google short name.
- If your short link is not working, create a short video using Loom to show your customer how to leave a review and give them a big thanks for using your services.
- Try forcing them to leave a review
- Don’t ask people to give you a fake review
- Settle any kinds of disputes under the reviews
All the above looks bad to the consumer.
Step 17: Faq
Ensure your FAQ Section is Optimized
Google My Business has another great feature that can give you a leg up over your competitors if your listing is well optimized.
Anyone can ask questions on your listing concerning your business which anyone can answer. These responses can be misleading to your potential customers and hurt your reputation, so it is essential to pay attention to these responses in 2021.
How can you avoid this?
Respond to questions people ask within 24 hours. If you fail to monitor it often, it can result in leads getting lost, and potential customers with the same questions will read the reviews and assume these are the correct answers. You can see some shocking answers that aren’t true concerning your business, such as the wrong address getting posted by someone else. These answers can also get voted on by pressing the like button.
The answers with the most votes will show first in your Google My Business listing. If the person writing the response uses the right keywords that match the query, Google will give your business listing more visibility.
The Best GMB FAQ SEO Practices:
- Make sure to monitor your listing often and get noticed
- Ensure that you have enabled alerts on the questions and answers in the GMB settings
- Create a list of frequently asked questions and answers about your business and post them in your listing
The GMB Crush tip: If you are unsure what questions people ask about the industry you are in or about your business, audit the “people also ask” section in the Google search. Use all the most popular questions that consumers are asking. Add the questions and answers to your panel.
Explore Quora and local forums to ensure that the answers found there match the ones on your listing when they do a standard search. Answer all the negative questions and statements professionally and formally. Give the question with the most relevance to your business a vote so that it’ll display in your panel.
Step 18: Post Strategy
Create a Powerful Google Post Strategy
To improve and optimize your strategy, create SEO-friendly Google My Business posts.
Encourage more organic clicks by posting to Google. These posts must have a call to action to urge the user to click on the link.
Creating great-quality posts is the key to your post strategy. Brock Misner recently shared his thoughts with us on this important topic, let’s see what he has to say:
The top-ranking factors in 2021 for Google my business and local SEO is authority and relevancy. Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving and it is our job as SEO professionals are not only to understand the algorithm today but what the algorithm may look like in 6 months. In 2021 I believe holistic SEO is going to be more important now than ever. Google wants to deliver the best search results to its users, and we need to do a better job of not trying to exploit the algorithm but give Google the tools it needs to better understand your business.
Some really good questions to ask yourself are:
- How well-known is your business locally?
- Does your company have a positive reputation with past customers?
- Can Google find your NAP or business mentioned on other sites?
- Are you properly utilizing social media?
It is no longer good enough to just have more reviews than your competition, better photos, or more backlinks. Become the expert and authority in your local industry. My highest recommendation in 2021 is to create great content around your products or services and have a strong brand presence online. Content always has and still is king! Creating great content such as videos, articles, blogs, and even images can have a drastic impact on your local SEO. Also, think about the customer journey that’s relevant to your industry. What are the things people are looking for when they begin to look for your product or service? What are the common questions you hear people ask? Not only will this help you increase your local exposure, but this will help you increase your conversions.
Let’s discover how posts can effectively increase your SEO endeavors:
- Getting organic clicks from your CTAs will increase your rankings
- Have links from one place on your site to another to increase traffic
- Make sure all content is geo-relevant to your topic
- Increase phone calls and inquiries of your location from outer cities that’s close to your current location
Continuously update and load fresh content that will bring the consumers to your website over and over. You will begin to rank higher and higher because of consumer engagement from them interacting with your website and listing. A high click rate from your Google My Business listing to your website gets called a behavioral signal. These signals get triggered by their clicks.
It is important to have good pictures to go along with your optimized content and short descriptions at the bottom of your panel.
Stand out from your competition and extend your panel’s size so it is functional for mobile devices. Use this feature as often as possible in 2021 because most Google searches get done on mobile devices. When you have good photographs, it increases engagement and makes the content more eye-catching to get the viewer to click through.
How do you upload a post?
Go to your Google My Business panel and choose one of the three options:
- What’s new
Select the one that is most relevant to the content you are posting and create the post.
A post can be up to 1,500 words, and only 20 of them will show up on your panel. That is why it is necessary to make the first 20 words count. These posts will only last seven days, and the events will
stay posted until the event is over. Don’t forget to put in your call to action on the events post and what’s new.
Every post must have a high-quality picture, and we recommended the images be 1,200 by 900 pixels. If you can, use videos as they are more effective than a photo.
The GMB Crush Tip: All the queries, from the insights section, are great opportunities to get GMB posting ideas. because it’s almost like Google gives you the keys to the kingdom.
It tells you these are the queries that are giving your Maps listing
impressions and if you use those more, you will get even more impressions.
Step 1: Extract all the different search queries that have given your Maps listings
Step 2: Put them in a spreadsheet.
Step 3: Give your content marketers that list of keywords and then have them work
the content into a posting routine, posting schedule for your GMB posts.
Before diving deep into your posting strategy, use the GMB Crush app to do an audit. This audit will show you what posts your competitors’ posts and their frequency in the last 90 days.
It is vital to understand how frequently they post and how it impacts the top 3 spots.
All you must do is download the GMB Crush app and choose the property from Google Maps. Next, launch a search and gather all the relevant data:
- Create an appropriate content calendar for the posts on GMB
- Ensure that all the content on GMB is creative and unique
- Use keywords appropriately and remember not to keyword stuff the content
- Embed inbound links to geo-relevant websites for the targeted geolocations
- Integrate outbound links to all relevant locations in your GMB posts
- Ensure that you have more posts than your competitors in the top 3 spots
- Don’t post less than the businesses in the top 3 spots
Creating an Impactful Experience with Rich GMB Media
Embedding attractive GMB posts to the blog posts of your website can help you increase engagement signals across all your social media elements. Your click-through rates will also be enhanced with this strategy!
Your email marketing campaigns and Google My Business posts should work together to create a cohesive advertising message. Your GMB post offer is important, so the next time you send out an email campaign make sure it’s on your list of priorities.
Let’s explore how this strategy can increase your SEO efforts:
- Having organic clicks from the call-to-action button can build up your page rankings.
- Increase traffic and engagements to the other GMB posts.
- Simple conversion funnels will leverage high-value GMB post offers.
- Invite user activity from your current organic channels to a particular GMB post to drive traffic.
- Ensure your GMB posts are creative and engaging to bring users back to your website.
If you have a high click-through rate on your Google My Business listing to your current website, it gets considered a behavioral signal. It is YOUR job to make your GMB posts highly engaging and retaining the users so that you can be successful. The more people begin clicking on embedded GMB post links, the higher Google’s local search rankings will grow because of “behavioral signals.”
This makes up one of 8 ranking factors for google local searches.
You need to follow three essential steps to improve your GMB post engagements and retention to keep users coming back for longer!
- Focus your strategy on communicating exclusivity (available only on your GMB post channel), and limit all the non-essentials. If you overwhelm the users with too much information, it will create a barrier to retention.
- Offer users time-sensitive incentives. These incentives work the best when you encourage daily visits. For instance, reward users every day when they visit your most recent GMB post updates within the first week of your promotional campaign.
- Focus on personalizing your rewards and content to segment your audience.
Here are five ways how you can segment your audience.
- Provide your content to the user wherever they are in the sales process.
- You can provide content targeting their interests and the industry.
- Deliver according to where they are from.
- Deliver according to the sources they came from.
- Deliver according to their behavior.
When you know how to segment the audience for personalization, you can provide the consumer’s experience and the type of content they want. It might not be possible to deliver 100% unique personalization, but it can become more accurate the more you do it.
The top-ranking factors in 2021 for Google my business and local SEO is authority and relevancy. Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving and it is our job as SEO professionals are not only to understand the algorithm today but what the algorithm may look like in 6 months.
In 2021 I believe holistic SEO is going to be more important now than ever.
Google wants to deliver the best search results to its users, and we need to do a better job of not trying to exploit the algorithm but give Google the tools it needs to better understand your business.
Some really good questions to ask yourself are:
How well-known is your business locally?
Does your company have a positive reputation with past customers?
Can Google find your NAP or business mentioned on other sites?
Are you properly utilizing social media?
It is no longer good enough to just have more reviews than your competition, better photos, or more backlinks. Become the expert and authority in your local industry.
My highest recommendation in 2021 is to create great content around your products or services and have a strong brand presence online.
Content always has and still is king! Creating great content such as videos, articles, blogs, and even images can have a drastic impact on your local SEO. Also, think about the customer journey that’s relevant to your industry.
What are the things people are looking for when they begin to look for your product or service?
What are the common questions you hear people ask?
Not only will this help you increase your local exposure, but this will help you increase your conversions.
Step 19: GMB Messaging
Read and reply to messages
When the consumer can contact you directly from the GMB panel, you can generate more leads. To add this feature, go to the Google My Business panel and enable the messaging feature, and it will automatically add the messaging option on your listing. The messaging option will also display on your Google Maps.
Just remember that the consumer will expect you to reply to their messages promptly.
Don’t take this feature lightly. If you aren’t responsive using this feature, proceed with caution. Google says that if you don’t respond to the messages you receive within 24 hours, they will take away the messaging button on their own.
Download the GMB app and enable the feature.
After downloading the app, you can receive notifications of these messages. It has an easy setup, and all you need to do is log in with the same information you use for your Gmail account on your listing.
Remember that customers can message you whenever they want at any time of day. You can set up a custom welcome message that will automatically get sent when someone messages you. To set up the automated message, proceed to the bottom of the app’s screen and select the more options button. Choose the settings tab and then edit your welcome message option to write your message.
Step 20: GMB Followers
Increase Your GMB Followers
Users can follow your business through the business listing, so whenever you post new content, whoever is following your listing will get a notification.
Since this is a new feature, it offers many opportunities to engage potential consumers and send a welcome offer to existing clients to follow you. The only place you can set this up is via the Google My Business app. All you need to do is log into the app and hit the customer option button at the bottom of the screen. Next, hit create a post and scroll below the image placeholder, and hit the welcome offer option.
Add a video or image with a title of up to 58 characters. The description is optional but recommended, and you can add up to 1,500 characters. Post your terms and conditions with a link to your website and click on preview. Once you know all the content is correct, click on publish. After that, anyone that is following the link will receive the welcome message.
Communicate that anyone who follows you will receive a special offer. Let everyone know through your email communication, your website, and all your social media platforms.
Sit back and see engagements increase and followers grow!
Step 21: GMB Website
Create Your Google My Business Website and Optimize All Content
Who all wants to get found on Google to gain traffic and followers? Medium to small business owners, freelancers, digital marketing companies, and many more! The best solution to getting this visibility is building your website and introducing your offer the best way you can.
Websites will rank well if they:
- Have fast loading times, and the website will function without any errors
- Deliver relevant information that relates to the specific SERP
- Provide the customer the information they need at any point in their journey to guide them to a sale.
Advantages of Google My Business Websites:
- Save money by not having to use a hosting site
- Since there is a responsive design, your site will automatically be compatible with mobile devices
- If you make any changes on Google My Business, it will automatically change on the website
- The Google My Business website can easily get managed
- You can choose a URL that will match the company name
- If you already have your website and want to boost your local ranking, a Google My Business website will be ideal.
Why Is Google My Business Essential for Local Businesses?
In 2018, MOZ, an online marketing service, investigated the most critical factors necessary for local rankings for the second time. For example, rankings such as “dentist + city name” or “doctor in the region.” They discovered that Google My Business ranking rose from 19.01% in 2017 to 25.12% in 2018, but we feel these data are still valid.
Some factors that were considered essential had now decreased in relevance, for instance:
- Social Media (3 %)
- Links (16 %)
- Reviews – this refers to user ratings (15 %)
- Citations – Sources from industry services (11 %)
- Clicks and dwell times (10 %)
According to this study, some factors decreased by 14%. These factors include the correct name, keyword use, address, and phone number.
Google seems to allocate less weight to local citations and pay much more attention to your website schema and the NAP details displayed on your website.
Some Rules Differ for Local Search Queries Compared To Transregional Ones
Remember that if you want your site to rank transregional, the on-site signals are still over 25%, and link signals just under 28%. If you aim your products or services at a transregional market, you must get Google’s attention with broad information.
The GMB Crush Tip: If you are using the GMB site or an official site, ensure all content gets optimized. Gather data from your competitors’ hidden categories and their posts’ frequencies using the GMB Crush!
Be sure to:
- Produce content that’s length is up to Google’s standard, such as those created by the top 3 spots.
- All content must get optimized with the most relevant keywords that the top 3 spots are using
- Content must have geo-relevant mentions for the location that you are targeting
- Consider all the above recommendations and optimize the linked page from your Google My Business.
Run a quick A/B test if you don’t know if you need to modify your content. This test will show you how an optimized piece of content linked to your Google My Business property will improve your ranking.
Regarding Your Google My Business Website, Ensure To:
- Optimize the header with your primary keyword and location
- Based upon our previous suggestion, create an optimized piece of content
- Add outbound links to authority local sites or local map locations
- Add all outbound links to social accounts and link them back to Google
- All content must be the same on your site and the GMB site
- After you publish your GMB site, make sure it doesn’t replace your official site that gets linked to your main GMB property
GMB Crush Tip: When you get traffic to your GMB website, your impressions and clicks will begin to increase, which in turn will increase your rankings. Bring local traffic to your site using local PR, ads on Facebook and Instagram,Youtube and Pinterest.
Step 23: Behavioral Signals
Recognize the Influence Of Behavioral Signals On GMB Rankings
Google is a giant and has a lot of our behaviors and data about every company in history. They have been slow to use this information to inform local search rankings, but it appears that will be changing because of algorithmic updates.
There are specialists in the local search ranking factors who have said that the signals are about 11%. Although included in the 11%, are many competitive difference-makers.
Google has a clear image of the users’ behavior, making it the blackest of Google’s algorithmic black boxes. Therefore, much of the behavioral ranking signals below will significantly affect local SEO and the SEO of Google My Business in 2021.
Google’s primary objective has been to show the world as precisely as possible online. When humans interact with our business online and across platforms, data is collected, and Google can determine what’s real and what’s robots. As these real-world data gets gathered, it will begin to grow in the algorithm for ranking.
Steve Toth from localseo.help shared his opinion about real-world signals with us:
“In mature markets where there is genuine activity from the public actively visiting businesses, calling them, searching for them (on desktop, mobile phones, through voice), driving to them, taking pictures, leaving reviews etc.
All these “real-world” signals continue to become more powerful because they are more difficult to game. It’s hard to imagine why Google wouldn’t rely on this data as users become more accustomed to interacting with local businesses this way.”
Let’s discover some of Google’s behaviors to inform local rankings – from the old to the advanced.
Where the user is searching from and their arrival to the destination:
Google has always found it simple to track the user’s location from their mobile devices. Surprisingly, they are good about doing so on desktops too. Doing this tracking might seem “primitive” The outcome in the algorithm is quite straightforward.
The distance between the business and the user will affect how well Google ranks the companies for that search. The closer the user is to the business, the higher it will rank.
Looking past the numeric rankings, Google will categorize the businesses that are in the area:
Branded search volume
A branded search is when the consumer has searched you by name. Branded searches are like citations. If the information can get corroborated by Google’s database, it is an interest or an endorsement in that business. A branded search is an indicator for Google of the consumers’ awareness and your popularity. Internet users perform these searches regularly, which is why it is the most democratic ranking signal.
Looking past just the number of times a brand name gets searched in a given geographical area, another important part is those brands’ context. If you are offline or take a holistic approach to your marketing strategy, branded searches will get favored over yours. Doing this helps Google understand the offline world. It might not be highly accurate, but it is a short-term solution to solve consumer needs.
The talk about Click Through Rate (CTR) in organic searches is endless as a ranking factor. We here at GMB Crush believe that CTR is a vital ranking factor and other engagement signals. The more people who interact with your platforms, the more Google will recognize and trust your brand.
As users begin to click consistently on your listing or website after performing a search, it will start to show in future searches. Your Click Through Rate is a step up from a branded search. A CTR indicates to Google that the user finds your listing or website relevant to their inquiry.
Google has never shared, and most likely will never share, how their ranking factors work. They have done everything they can to conceal this information. That is why SEO practitioners believe there is a mechanism involving CTR relative to the position on the page. The first couple of listings will always get the majority of the clicks.
You will improve your Google My Business Click Through Rate by posting high-quality content, pictures, videos, and powerful descriptions along with a call to action on it. Your GMB listing may have fewer options on it, but with a list of excellent reviews, you can stand out between your competitors and rightfully earn a fair share of the clicks.
Google products, such as Gmail, YouTube, Search, Maps, and many more, the accounts infrastructure gets unified since they introduced Google My Business. Essentially, we are now all logged into every platform at all times across all devices. Most devices such as Google Home and Android require that you log in to your Google accounts before you can even use them.
Every Gmail address is a representation of a unique persona or entity. Therefore, Google can track us across all devices – from our YouTube to Maps, to Gmail – it is all connected.
Google will define this “persona,” so to speak, based on the actions and activities we perform using Google, which means we are getting tracked. What we do across platforms on different devices informs Google about our behaviors. This tracing is not uncommon behavior, and it is reasonable for Google to follow our on-SERP and clicks online for an improved user experience.
Through its perpetual location-tracking of Android users and iOS users with Google Maps installed for the last couple of years, Google has an almost complete picture of our Offline behaviors.
Examples of Google Tracking
Let’s explore some ways on how this happens:
- The websites you have recently visited will rank higher the next time you search in the same category and location area.
- When you know the location, your phone will inform your desktop search results from the same account.
- When other businesses and websites communicate with your Gmail account, you could rank better when keywords get searched in the same category.
Search results are becoming even more personalized between individual searchers and the keywords they use. Google makes it difficult to track keyword rankings because each person sees different results.
Strategically, this means that you need to do whatever you can to engage with your customers and give them a reason to return to your website, click on the links in your newsletters, and share your business’s information with their friends through email and text messaging. Google is most likely monitoring all those visits and shares.
Knowledge Panel interactions
Google is going to keep displaying more knowledge panels since their launch of the Google Knowledge Card.
According to case studies performed, the click throughs to websites percentage has dropped to below 50%. This drop doesn’t necessarily mean that the searches are no longer clicking at all – it means that the clicks are occurring in knowledge panels and Google My Business.
Your business’s relevance and engagements get stronger because of the Knowledge Panels click throughs from the inquiry. This is a signal that the user wants to interact with your business.
We recently had input from Kyle Roof from Page Optimizer Pro, let’s see what he has to say about knowledge panels:
This is a quick tip for newer GMBs / businesses that don’t have a knowledge panel yet. You can use this tip to get more mileage out of your GMBs to help Google understand your business.
After you complete all the things needed for a well optimized GMB, go to Wikidata and create an Item page for your business. Wikidata is like Wikipedia, but without all the words. Do not do anything promotional in Wikidata, you should focus on the entity data of your business.
Fill out as much in Wikidata as you can. While there isn’t a specific property in Wikidata for a GMB, in an “Identifier” statement you can put in the url to your GMB as a “sameas.”
Google offers mobile click-to-call functionality since getting introduced in January 2010. In a short four years, in February 2014, 40% of users were using it.
Google tracks phone calls as part of their behavioral signals to determine a Google My Business account’s authority and rankings.
While a phone call indicates that the user is interested in your business, it is an even stronger indication that they plan to visit when they request driving directions. It is the strongest digital signal that your business is the most relevant to the users’ specific inquiry.
Google Ads introduced in-store metrics in 2014 for this very reason. The consumer’s purchasing journey is becoming more and more complex, and Google wants to give businesses the ability to see how much in-store foot traffic their location is getting based on PPC ads.
Up to date, Google has measured over 1 billion store visits. Google recently announced that it is making in-store visits available to manufacturers, such as auto manufacturers, to track their store visits to dealerships.
If you want to track your store visits, all you have to do is contact your Google Ad accounts manager.
Not everyone can track their store visits. You need to meet some requirements to do so:
Not every business can track store visits yet – there are a few requirements. You must:
- Have many physical store locations in an eligible country
- You should have thousands of ad clicks and a lot of store visits every month
- Have a linked account between your Google My Business and Google Ads account
- You should have enabled location extensions
The conversion data in your store will give you a better understanding of which campaigns and keywords are working. You will also know which devices send the most customers to your Google My Business store so that you can increase your ROI by optimizing your account. The consumer doesn’t always have to purchase from you, but you will know if they visited because of clicking on one of your ads.
These in-store conversion rates are calculated based on anonymous data gathered from consumers whose location history turned on.
If you need more information relating to this topic, follow this link!
The GMB Crush Tip:
A patent from 2011 suggests that Google has been including driving directions requests as a ranking signal.
This could have an impact on the way people use their GPS devices and might force them to start asking for more information about how long it will take before they get there, which would make sense given what we know from other sources relating to searcher behavior patterns in general.
The researcher showed results between driving directions and the number of reviews. He said that there was a “clear correlation” between the two. Unlike the graph shown in Figure 1, Ted Ives eyeballed and reproduced these numbers which are depicted below., and if you fit a power law curve to it, the R squared value is *astonishingly* high, at .9865:
Illustration 1: Picture from coconutheadphones.com
We can clearly see that driving directions are beneficial for ranking purposes. There were no reviews for the 22.5% of places the researchers had direction inquiries for – so there is great potential for it to give you better coverage.
While we have not experimented with this to verify the claim, we believe this is how Google operates. Google provides minimal information on this topic, but they have telegraphed that they will be if they are not already using it.
Let’s explore the best practices that were proposed by the paper. These are based on how Google guards against people “gaming” their system regarding the reviews and links as signals.
- Driving directions must be from authentic machines and unique users.
- Users use both mobile and desktops to make driving direction searches.
- Getting searches from the business location is not helpful.
- There must be direction searches from different locations and distances.
- The driving directions must be from wherever the consumer can be found.
- The driving directions should be timed naturally and matched with the consumers’ search patterns.
- If you have received many reviews but not many direction searches, it can get flagged as review spam.
- There must be a mixture of search entry paths for driving directions on Google:
- By searching the address
- By searching for the product or service and selecting the business’s entry, then click “directions.”
Bookings (where available)
Google has allowed users to make bookings to restaurants, hotels, and flights straight from the Knowledge Panel because of their partnership with websites such as Expedia, OpenTable, and many more. According to Jennifer Slegg, Google will be expanding this feature to include wellness and fitness categories through partnerships with booking services. With the new Appointment URL feature, you can create your very own booking buttons. Google is also working on payment features so that consumers can complete a purchase straight on the local Google My Business account with different payment options.
Knowledge panel bookings
Since Google offers in-SERP interactivity with businesses straight from the Knowledge Panel, it will reduce the number of clicks to the website and collect data on how the searchers view the company. All this data will influence your ranking, but only Google knows how much.
Business’s Data Aggregation
Google will aggregate the location data from anyone it can. Whether the user has searched for a business or not, data is collected and put on the front of that business’s Knowledge Panel. This technology will track how long someone stays at a business and whether it is busier or slower than usual. All this offline tracking is what helps Google offer a “closed-loop” to advertisers. It shows if online ads are leading to offline visits.
At GMB Crush, we believe that offline visits help Google identify which local business is popular and relevant.
Surprisingly, Google has had a hard time finding success in its mobile payment space. Google Wallet was a complete failure, and Android Pay continues to lag. Even Samsung Pay is far behind Apple Pay in terms of functionality and efficiency. Therefore, you can’t ignore the data produced from 24 million customers – especially in industries where there are many transactions, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and clothing shops. Just the amount of Android Pay transactions will indicate the offline popularity of any business.
Google is not just looking at those mobile payments – they are looking at all charges. In early 2017, Google tracked over 70% of consumer purchases when they teamed up with credit card companies. Today in the United States, this partnership is now subject to a federal privacy complaint. There are few privacy advocates in all government branches, so there is not a lot of aggressive uproar concerning this issue.
The transaction volume will usually favor large businesses with many consumers, but the past has shown us that Google will favor small businesses in local search results. We expect this personalized and high-quality signal to play a role in business rankings moving forwards.
Since Google launched its algorithm in 2008, there weren’t many ranking factors that played a significant role. As a whole, though, we see the accumulation of factors is gaining more influence than other pieces of this ranking puzzle.
Together, these metrics and customer reviews signify a sophisticated and robust algorithm based on engagement. Google is shifting the local algorithm in this direction, and we all support this outcome.
Chris Palmer SEO thinks the same about this, and had the following to say:
“User generated signals apart from proximity are the top ranking factors in 2021 for Google My Business. These signals include most notably customers searching your brand , clicking your listing and then leaving a review. Clicks and traffic equal GMB rankings period!”
Local searches are becoming a multi-faceted paradox over the last few years. The algorithm is evolving and rewarding businesses that are interacting with their consumer and showing real-world behavior. Technical tactics are getting rewarded by the SERP interface, like Schema markup and rich snippets.
While Google’s algorithm is sophisticated, local businesses are learning and implementing SEO strategies, making it even harder to rank. Organic search results will still be an essential part of the consumer acquisition channel in the future. However, Google changes its algorithm over time; this guide will still help put your business on the map! It doesn’t matter what comes next. Increase your visibility by implementing these strategies today!
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