“Think Globally, Act Locally” is a famous environmental quote, urging people to consider the global consequences of acts made in their local communities for the greater good.
Paraphrasing the quote, in this blog we aim to focus on Google my Business (GMB), explaining its huge impact on local SEO and encouraging business owners to pay closer attention.
Do business owners and marketers need more local focus?
No doubt. Google My Business is a platform that all business owners and digital marketers need to use to its fullest potential. Having a well-optimised GMB listing and leveraging all the features can drive customers to your bricks and mortar store as well as to your website.
Don’t forget that 50% of users triggering a local online search are willing to visit your store on the same day.
The use of mobile search and maps is on the rise (mobile internet access surpassed desktop back in 2016, Statcounter), and Google has said that with over half of their searches happening on mobile, almost one-third of all mobile searches are related to location. So, if your business has a physical location you NEED to be on maps (at least Google & Apple Maps).
All we need to do is look at the search trend over the 5 years for “near me” searches:
People expect businesses to be on maps and brands to have a business listing with contact information. If this isn’t you, you are losing business.
But first things first, what is Google my Business?
GMB is a free and user-friendly tool allowing business owners to manage their online presence in Google Search and Maps. A complete and accurate GMB profile is very important for local SEO. This is because it will allow you to appear in the search results for local queries regarding the products/services your company offers (e.g. coffee shop in Farringdon).
It’s also a very powerful tool for targeting mobile users. According to the latest researches, nearly 60% of search queries are now made from mobile devices. Keep in mind that for local-related queries triggered by mobile devices, Google will display the GMB listings above the fold. Being invisible or absent means that your business is losing a chance of greater online visibility.
What is Local 3-Pack?
After a big update in local search results, Google shows only 3 businesses as a local pack in the search results.
How do you rank in the Local 3-pack?
According to Google, the three, key ranking factors are:
Google determines the ranking based on how well a listing matches the searcher’s query (relevance), how far from the location the user is (proximity) and how well-known the business is (prominence). On top of that, a well-optimised, verified listing which displays accurate information, has quality photos and manages its online reputation (reviews) will have good chances to rank.
Google keeps adding new features in GMB, allowing business owners to interact with potential customers in a variety of ways. Here are our top 5:
- Google Posts
- Booking (hotels and restaurants)
- Videos and Images
- Q&A section
1. Google Posts
In our opinion, one of the most underused features is Google Posts. This feature allows business owners to interact and communicate (competitions, company news, product promotions etc) with the customers. Additionally, the length of Google Posts can be up to 1500 characters, allowing you to add a call to action button linking to your preferred landing page.
GMB also gives access to Google Posts data (impressions and clicks), so it will be easier to evaluate the performance of each post.
Put simply, Google Posts act as mini ads within a GMB listing. And the best part? They are totally free of charge and make each listing stand out even more. See our post below as an example.
2. Reviews – Manage your reputation
Having high-quality positive reviews will enhance your business’ visibility and at the same time will encourage new customers to visit your business. Peer recommendations and online reviews are trusted by most users.
Managing and responding to these reviews in a professional manner will show that your company values and respects its customers.
3. Book an appointment
Another new feature of GMB that is recently available. It’s great for businesses that encourage customers to book an appointment. With this new feature, the customer can:
- Book an appointment
- Place an order
- Reserve a table
- Search for items
- View your menu or list of services
4. Videos and Images
GMB always updates its platform with new features. Business owners are encouraged to upload images showcasing the interior, exterior, 360, product and the team, or videos.
5. Questions & Answers
Google’s Q&A feature allows users to ask a question within the GMB listing. This is a great and instant way for brands to interact with customers and resolve their queries. However, if business owners neglect to reply to these questions, some users will attempt to reply on their behalf, providing unwittingly inaccurate information.
GMB also offers the opportunity to create for free, a very basic website for small business owners who don’t have enough resources to launch their own site.
Google is constantly updating and adding to the Google my Business platform. Our specialists are plugged-in, ensuring we are the first to know when new features are introduced. If you would like to talk with us regarding SEO and improving your visibility in local SEO and maps reach out to our SEO specialists.