Google Maps displayed on smartphone and stuck on car windshield for navigation

Your Google Business Profiles Aren’t Fully Optimized If You Miss These 8 Things

Fully optimizing your GBPs in these eight ways will help you access the billions of people using Google Maps to earn calls, clicks, store visits, and brand awareness.

Where’s the nearest tire shop? Is my favorite burrito place still open? How far am I from the urgent care? Where can I see some comedy tonight?

When you’re stuck, hungry, in need, or crave a gut-tremoring laugh, you turn to Google Maps. 

Google Maps has over 1 billion monthly active users, with 41% of smartphone owners opening Google Maps at least once a week. This is where people discover the business that meets their needs — 84% of Google Maps searches are discovery searches, meaning most people aren’t searching for a specific store or brand. They’re starting with a flat tire, a grumbling tummy, a sprained ankle, or an ache for a chuckle or two. 

Your customers are using Google Maps, but if you’re not paying attention to your Google Business Profile/s (formerly Google My Business Profile), then people probably aren’t paying attention to your business. 

Fully optimizing your Profile in the following eight ways will help you access the billions of people using Google Maps to earn calls, website clicks, store visits, and brand awareness. 

1. Complete Your Listing

This tip might seem elementary, but take a stroll (er, scroll!) through Google Maps. So many listings are missing a phone number, website link, appointment link, hours, payment options, accessibility information, etc. These small pieces of information can build or tarnish a searcher’s trust in your business. Consider how a link to an old menu could set a diner up for disappointment if they specifically arrived at your restaurant to gobble up a fettuccine alfredo you no longer serve. A complete listing enhances the customer. An incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate one frustrates the customer. 

Google reports when you complete your profile:

Customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business reputable if they find a complete Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.

Customers are 70% more likely to visit and 50% more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with a complete Business Profile.

Would you choose the Costa Oil change location with no store images, appointment link, hours, store information, and one review from “Yoo Mamahouse2x?”

 

Costa Oil Change Albemarle Google Business Profile

Or, would you choose the Firestone Complete Auto Care location with a website link, appointment link, product search, hours, recent reviews, and additional payment and store access details?

Firestone Complete Auto Care Google Business Profile listing example2. Publish All the Google Post Types

Assuming your listing is complete, it’s time to attract attention and clicks! Use Google Posts the same way you use social media posts. Keep them short and post often. Google Posts show toward the bottom of your GBP listing but are increasingly being pulled into different areas of Google Maps. The more visually engaging your Profile is, the more likely a searcher is to click. They may also choose you over a competitor if they know you’re offering a discount or coupon on the service they need. 

For example, Offer Post titles show when you scroll through Google Maps. 

Information Posts and images are being pulled into the main header image area of Profiles. 

[Pro tip: If you have more than a handful of locations, use a listings distribution platform/partner to bulk upload and schedule posts to be published over time. Speed up the process by using your social media calendar — you can publish posts in your Google Business Profiles and on social media without the content being seen as duplicate.]

On left, Google Business Profile showing Google Post offer in Maps area and on right, Google Post with information pulled into header image area3. Add Videos

Record casual videos of your business interior, exterior, and people on the job. Videos automatically play when a user scrolls through businesses on Google Maps, and people will pause and engage with a Profile that stands out.

4. Add More Images, More Often

Businesses with more GBP photos get more clicks, calls, and direction requests. The data proves it! 

BrightLocal analyzed 580,853 images across 15,191 Google My Business listings and found that:

  • Businesses with more than 100 images get 520% more calls than the average business, while those with just one image get 71% fewer.
  • Businesses with more than 100 images get 2,717% more direction requests than the average business, while those with just one get 75% fewer.
  • Businesses with more than 100 images get 1,065% more website clicks than the average business, while those with just one get 65% fewer.

What should you post pictures of? This is where you can be both pragmatic AND fun. Post pictures of the location’s interior, exterior, and signage. Snap photos during the day and at night. Snap photos of your store in different seasons and weather. Rain or shine! 

If you have more than a handful of locations, use a listings distribution platform/partner to bulk upload and schedule images to be published over time. Similar to social media posts!

5. Post Q&A and Respond to Customer Questions

The Q&A feature was introduced in 2018 to empower users to inquire about and provide answers related to a location or store directly in the Google Business Profile. The Q&A feature allows the business owner or designated representative to address these queries directly. An ‘upvote’ function also enables users to signal the most valuable or precise response to fellow searchers. 

Anyone–including you, the business owner!– can ask and answer a question on a Google Business Profile. All a person needs is a Google account. Ask and answer customer FAQs here to help alleviate customer friction and get ahead of confusion. 

Consistently responding to Questions posted on your Google Profile sends a message to Google that the Profile content is regularly updated and the details are current. This practice enhances Profile visibility, potentially leading to better conversion rates.

6. Respond to Reviews AND Include the City, State, and Service/Product

The number, frequency, and star-rating of your Google reviews are factors in your local search ranking. The more reviews and positive ratings you have, the higher you’ll climb in Google Maps (all other factors, like proximity, being equal).

Do as Google says! “When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback. High-quality, positive customer reviews can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”

When you respond, however, say more than, “Thanks for the review, Kim!” Use the review response as an opportunity to get more keyphrases and brand details into your listing. 

Here’s an example. This customer left a 5-star review for Costa Oil in Bloomingdale, IL.

Google review of Costa Oil in Bloomingdale, IL

A better response from the Costa Oil owner would be, “Thank you for bringing your Toyota in for an oil change, Pat! We appreciate your business, and look forward to serving you again for an oil change in Bloomingdale or Mt. Prospect.”

The response shows the owner is paying attention to the customer’s service, vehicle, and location. 

You can even think about review responses like compliments. Would you rather your friend say, “Great job, Dan!” Or, would you rather they say, “You handled that flat tire with such patience, Dan. I was really impressed by how quickly you took action to fix it, even though the kids in the backseat were screaming for snacks. It’s hard to stay cool, calm, and collected in that situation.” You’d prefer the second compliment because it makes you feel seen and understood! 

Make your customers feel seen and understood, and let Google know you care (with a few keywords!).

7. Add Products with Branded Images

Add products manually or connect your product feed to your Google Business Profiles. 

Customers want to know what products they’ll experience before visiting your store. Displaying products in your shop through your Business Profile can help customers comprehend your offerings, ultimately persuading them to come and explore in person. Products can also spark interest where there wasn’t any before! And you don’t have to maintain a real-time inventory in this section. You can put pillar items or main product categories (such as T-Shirts or Couches), instead of individual items (such as a brown Ashely recliner). 

You don’t even have to be a traditional store to post product images and descriptions. In the following example, Walker Brothers Kombucha posted their drink flavors with detailed descriptions, call buttons, prices, and links to their main site. Consider that 720 people each month search Google for “walker brothers kombucha,” and those products are now seen by 8,640 people a year!

Example of Walker Brothers Kombucha Google Profile using the Product section8. Add Your Open Date

Adding your business open date will not improve your Google Maps ranking. It could, however, increase clicks and calls from your listing as it’s an indicator of trust and authority if you’ve been in business for many years. Would you rather have your car radiator fixed by a mechanic who’s been popping hoods for 20 years or one that’s been around for who knows how long?

Google Business Profile Years in Business Example

Do It All in a Listings Dashboard

If you manage one location in Google Business Profiles, doing all of the above is pretty quick! If you manage more than a handful of Profiles, you’re probably scratching your head at how you’re going to upload images, Q&A, Google Posts, and Products, and then respond to reviews in a meaningful way. The solution? Do it all in a dashboard, or work with a partner to manage the dashboard for you. See how easy these Google Business Profile enhancements could be with a GPO demo.

New York city street

When Will Google Fix My Street View Image?

When Will Google Fix My Street View Image?

Back of the Peace Eye Care BuildingOnce upon a time…Nashville’s Peace Eyecare gained a new patient. This patient searched for the office on Google and was presented with this Street View image (left). Not very helpful, right? The patient wondered whether she was headed to a legitimate optometrist, or to an underground speakeasy that dealt in gold teeth and excised molars.

Storytime aside, Google captured this image in April 2014. Why they chose to drive around the back of the building as opposed to the front is anyone’s guess, but hey, Google does unexpected things all the time (like update your business’s address, mark it as closed without your permission, and taking really bizarre Google Street View images).

This is one of many examples of moments Google just doesn’t get right. Thankfully, the search giant is updating a whole host of Street View images and has published a Street View update schedule for the year that includes which countries, states, and cities it’ll be visiting. Is your area on the list?

Before the end of 2017, Google will be trekking through Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Google isn’t right 100% of the time. Who is? Unfortunately, slips like this can damage a business’s foot traffic and brand awareness. If one of your business’s locations has an incorrect Street View image, you can do one of three things: wait for Google to make another pass in front of your business; manually edit the image through Google My Business; or reach out to GPO for help managing your listings.

Yes We're Open Sign

Links Are Hot, Reviews Are Smokin, but Proximity Is Smoldering

Links Are Hot, Reviews Are Smokin, but Proximity Is Smoldering

There are dozens of factors at play when it comes to visibility in local search, factors that seem to ebb and flow in importance with every confirmed (and unconfirmed) algorithm update. In Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, industry experts come together to help businesses and marketers make sense of these factors, narrow their focus, and gain a better understanding of what drives local search results.

The survey speaks to what it takes to make it in the local 3-pack and gain high visibility in local organic search results. (And if you’re not sure where these coveted spots are, just take a look at the below screenshot.) We encourage you to grab a cup of coffee and dig into the extensive survey results. While your coffee brews, read on for a quick overview of the survey’s top findings.

Example of local map pack results and local organic results

Local map ranking factors

This year’s results show a shake-up in factors that affect local 3-pack results.

  • Proximity to the searcher is the new number one ranking factor in local search results. If your location isn’t actually close to the searcher, it’s going to be tough to grab a spot in the 3-pack.
  • Proper Google My Business category associations and quality structured citations remain foundational to gaining visibility in the local 3-pack. Accuracy is a must.
  • Review signal importance increased over the past year, suggesting that Google is rewarding businesses with a higher quantity and variety of reviews.
  • Link signals (including the quality and quantity of inbound links to a site) took over as the second most important group of ranking factors.

Local organic ranking factors

Ranking signals for localized organic search results didn’t see as big of a shake-up as local 3-pack signals.

  • Link signals remain the most important category of ranking factors in 2017, with “quality/authority of inbound links to domain” surpassing “domain authority” as the primary ranking factor.
  • “Diversity of inbound links to domain” and “quantity of inbound links to domain” both increased in importance.
  • Click-through rate from search results and having a mobile-friendly/responsive site remain two of the top ten ranking factors.

So what? Ah, where do we start! Local search expert Darren Shaw summed up the survey results in plain language pretty well. In his blog post announcing the survey results, he wrote:

“You need to have a physical location in the city you’re trying to rank in, and it’s helpful for it to be close to the searcher. Then, make sure to have the proper categories associated with your listing, and get your citations built out and consistent on the most important sites. Now, to really move the needle, focus on getting links and reviews.”

Moz’s findings underline a business’s need to engage in a variety of activities in order to compete for a few precious spots in the local 3-pack and the first page of organic results. Businesses with higher relevance, stronger link profiles, more reviews, and an impressive accuracy rate will rank in a wider radius around their business and eat up a larger percentage of the local search pie.

Got that cup of coffee ready? Browse the full survey results here.