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 An incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate one frustrates the customer. 

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.

Office with podcast equipment

Brian Rutledge to Host Webinar with Marchex

Is your company looking for ways to spend less time and money driving traffic to your websites? GPO’s Brian Rutledge and Marchex’s Brian Craig (a.k.a. Brian-squared) present a proven and effective solution in the webinar, “How to Increase Revenue from Local Business Pages,” for boosting revenue from web traffic.

The two industry leaders will explain how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains the key driver of site traffic, and how you can leverage SEO to drive quality traffic without breaking the bank.

And yes, SEO remains a driver. As Hubspot points out…

Organic search equates to 94% of all web traffic, and the first position on Google search results has a 34% click-through rate for desktop and 35% percent for mobile.

Brian-squared will explain how tracking calls from organic local pages can deliver an exponential digital reward.

If you’re a franchise or multi-location business that utilizes local web pages as part of your digital marketing strategy, you may be able to boost performance from these pages.

Sign up today! Join Brian-squared on February 19, 2020 at 10:00 AM PT (1:00 PM ET) to learn how you can:

  • Optimize inbound call traffic to business websites
  • Leverage call tracking from organic pages
  • Increase revenue from organic web traffic
Scrabble Letter Tiles

Why BERT Is a Big Deal, But Also Not a Big Deal

We are both fascinated and intimidated by artificial intelligence. We feed AI by seeding search engines with billions of queries every day. We even try to teach AI to flirt and end up with weird but endearing pickup lines like, “You’re so beautiful that you say a bat on me and baby,” and, “You look like a thing and I love you.” But — we also stiffen at the thought of AI stealing our jobs.

As digital marketers (and especially at GPO), we rely on Google’s AI-powered algorithms to get our content and ads in front of the right users at the right time, even if the user’s query isn’t an exact match to the words in the content. We expect the search engine to understand the purpose and value of our content. Most of the time, it does. BERT’s goal is to help when it doesn’t.

To understand BERT, you need to understand NLP

Computers are great at reading text but not good at understanding language.

Natural language processing (NLP) works to bridge the gap between reading and understanding.

Researchers have already developed NLP models that help computers understand specific types of language. Examples of successful NLP include entity recognition (being able to tell the difference between a person, time, organization, location, monetary value, etc.) and sentiment analysis (recognizing attitude and tone).

Moz’s Britney Muller explains that each piece of successful NLP is like a kitchen utensil. Your whisk is excellent at whisking, but don’t ask it to chop. Likewise, your food processor can slice and dice and grind, but don’t expect it to grill a sandwich like a panini press!

BERT is the one kitchen utensil that does it all — the Swiss Army Knife of kitchen tools!

So, what’s BERT?

Instead of looking at the meaning of words one-by-one and in consecutive order, BERT looks at words in relation to all the other words in a sentence.

“BERT models can therefore consider the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it,” notes Google.

Here’s an example of a search engine result page (SERP) that Google tested with and without BERT.

As a human, if you saw the query, “2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa,” you’d probably recognize that a Brazilian wanted to travel to the U.S. and needed a visa. Before BERT, Google wouldn’t get that. It would return a news article about U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil.

Search query example before and after BERT algorithm updated
Google search result example before and after BERT algorithm update. On the left, Google totally misses the importance of “to.”

BERT, however, grasps the nuance and placement of “to” and serves a result for tourists traveling to the United States — just what the searcher wanted!

Going forward, Google estimates that BERT will impact one in 10 searches in the U.S., and primarily improve long-tail conversational queries where prepositions and context are pivotal to accuracy.

What does that mean for you? Next time you ask Google if you can pick up medicine for someone at the pharmacy, Google will show you a result titled “Can a patient have a friend or family member pick up a prescription,” instead of general results about filling prescriptions.

That said, BERT still needs some fine-tuning.

BERT’s great, but not perfect

BERT is still far away from understanding language and context in the same way that we humans can understand it, believes Allyson Ettinger, Natural Language Processing researcher at the University of Chicago.

Ettinger found that the BERT model “struggles with challenging inferences and role-based event prediction–and it shows clear failures with the meaning of negation.”

BERT can’t understand what things are NOT. For example, BERT knows that a Robin is a bird. Great. But when asked to predict what a Robin is not…BERT also predicted a bird.

BERT struggles with layered inferences, too. For instance, you can search for “what state is south of Maine,” and you’ll get results for South Portland, Maine, when the answer you wanted was “New Hampshire.”

Can you optimize for BERT?

Nope. There’s no magic potion for pleasing BERT. You can’t optimize for it, but you can write towards it.

“The only way to improve your website with this update is to write really great content for your users and fulfill the intent that they are seeking,” recommends Muller.

Similar to the June 3 algorithm update (and most other broad core algorithm update), BERT is about improving relevance and enhancing Google’s ability to connect search queries to the right content. It’s not about targeting specific websites or verticals.

Google’s recommendation echoes Muller’s:

Dani Sullivan's October 11 2019 tweet about Google and content quality

Looking ahead

Google believes you should be able to search in a way that feels natural to you. BERT gets us one step closer to AI having a real degree of language understanding, and leaps and bounds closer to seeing SERPs that are so relevant to our query that we can’t help but say, “You look like a thing and I love you, Google.”

Row of hands holding a mobile phone

57% of Search Traffic is Now Mobile. Are You?

57% of Search Traffic is Now Mobile. Are You?

Mobile search on Google now represents about 57% of all search traffic, says a new study from BrightEdge.

The study also finds that the same query on the same search engine generates a different rank in mobile and desktop 79% of the time.

That means that while you may have visibility on page one of Google when searching a key phrase on desktop, you likely won’t see the same results when you search on mobile and vice versa.

For listings in positions 1-20, 47% had mobile and desktop rankings that were not the same, reports BrightEdge.

So what? Google has already indicated that the mobile-first index is imminent, and not in a “somewhere over the rainbow” kind of way. Having a responsive site is the first of many steps in having a truly optimized mobile user experience. The next step? Understanding the intent behind customer’s mobile searches vs their desktop searches.

How are your customers using mobile to find you? Once you can identify and differentiate between desktop and mobile demand, you can produce separate mobile and desktop content that resonates on multiple devices. And where organic visibility or CTR differs between devices, you can use your knowledge to optimize for the device that’s more important to your customers.

This is one reason we differentiate and track desktop vs mobile organic traffic and engagement—to provide you with a clearer picture of how well you’re reaching your mobile customers. If you’re ready for a deeper dive into device-specific keywords and traffic, send us a note. We’re here to help you build the mobile foundation you need for the future!

Baseball stadium

Why the Practice of Search Needs Strategic Vision

Why the Practice of Search Needs Strategic Vision

Online Visibility Starts With Your Vision

It may be easy to think that to achieve favorable search results on Google, Bing or Yahoo, simply putting up a video, blogging or posting to Facebook and Twitter will get the job done. However, to achieve optimal results, the combination of search marketing, organic search engine optimization, and social media necessitates a cohesive strategic vision. Moreover, this vision is not an end-game approach, but rather an ongoing and flexible process. The need for flexibility stems from the constantly shifting changes in search algorithms and consumer behavior. We are often asked at Get Page One how each of these components operates in tandem to reach results.

While the answers are not always simple, search engines begin the course of online visibility through a complex combination of factors. More than just heading tags, anchor text, backlinks and advertisements, each component in the search process works together to develop placement on search engines, where the best place is, of course, top visibility. Ideally, through the progression of increasing views and interaction, organizations convert search results into consumer demand and new sales.

In a sense, it is akin to a professional baseball team playing for a World Series title. Each element, from pitching and hitting to defense seemingly operate separately. However, these components do not win championships by operating independently. The manager must know when to bunt and steal bases and when to pull the starting pitcher and rely on the bullpen.

Likewise, search marketing, SEO, and social media marketing all seemingly function as separate entities. Yet, each has its own objectives. Choosing the right keywords, effective use of ad elements such as targeting and call-to-action, engagement through social networks and measuring results are just a few pieces of the puzzle.

On the Internet, you want to be in the right place at the right time, when the consumer is looking. Each building block in the practice of search marketing helps to realize this goal. Optimal search results typically occur when each building block combines within a comprehensive strategy. Therefore, like a World Championship baseball organization, achieving top Internet ranking is a team effort.