Google My Business continues to grow every quarter. In year over year comparisons, many businesses have seen increases in direct & indirect search results, as well as increases in map views. But not only have impressions increased for Google My Business profiles, but the system itself has also grown in sophistication. There are consistently new updates to Google My Business that both increase the uses of the system from a business standpoint and also can increase/decrease your listing’s ranking. The best advice is to stay up to date on developments with the software, so you are always aware of what is affecting ranking. But, there are some basic fundamentals of Google My Business that every company should be aware of.
What Not To Do With Your Google My Business Profile
Before we go into the best practices for your office, we should focus on practices that could hurt your rankings. Every year Google’s algorithms increase in their understanding of black hat tactics to improve ranking. And with those improvements to the algorithms come penalties. Also, some spammy black hat tactics also cause prospective customers to be suspicious of your company. So here are a few tactics that should not be a part of your Google My Business strategy:
- Opening Fake Listings: In order to have a Google My Business listing, you need a physical location and generally will need to verify it via the postal service. This is not an accident. Many companies try to beat the system by opening fake listings in their competitor’s areas. And although in the short term that sounds viable, it causes problems. First, if a customer tries to visit your fake location, they will probably report you. Your competitors can also report you for the practice as well. This strategy does not work long term and the penalties can really outweigh benefits. That is why you should only list in areas you truly are.
- Buying or Faking Reviews: Another bad practice is purchasing, faking, or manipulating reviews. It is not hard for Google to detect when reviews for your listing are fake. First, there is a growing list of fake review companies that Google tracks. Second, your customers may be able to tell if reviews seem paid for. Some companies tried to beat this by bribing customers with deals and promotions in exchange for reviews. Unfortunately, this can also be a problem, because when customers review to get a deal, that information will eventually spread and ruin your validity. In conclusion, the best reviews are from real customers
Good SEO Strategies for Google My Business
Now that we have gone over what not to do, you may be wondering what you should do. Truthfully, there are a lot of strategies to consider. And no strategy is one size fits all. Depending on your consumer base, industry, location, and other factors, you may need to tweak your strategy. For instance, a restaurant with a strong following in a busy part of a city may find that adding weekly posts to their listing with a list of their weekly specials is very effective. If that information is served exclusively on their Google My Business Listing and their Social Media they can expect return customers to follow both their profile and their social media accounts. Meanwhile, a plumber that serves a service area might want to focus on building out information on their listing instead of weekly posts. The only way to improve your listing is to test out strategies and focus on what seems to perform well. But generally, here are some tactics you should consider.
- Get Reviews: Reviews matter. Not only does Google take them into consideration in their algorithm, but customers are sure to look at your reviews. Although we mentioned that getting reviews through bad tactics is not good for your SEO, that doesn’t mean you should ask for reviews. Many companies find success by sending follow up emails or setting up a table in their store where happy customers can review. Don’t pressure your customers, and don’t offer any special incentives. This will backfire and lower your credibility. Instead, simply ask your customers if they would be willing to leave a quick review.
- Respond To Reviews: Whether they are 5 stars or 1 star, you should respond to your reviews. Thank your customers for good reviews and try to convert them into a second transaction by directing them to your website. Sometimes you may see negative reviews on your listing. There is no reason to overreact. Remember, your responses are public. Taking a professional tone and addressing the issue in the review can go a long way to showing other customers that your business is reputable. Honestly, most customers are aware that some negative reviews are unfair and are willing to take them with a grain of salt. Learn more about responding to negative reviews.
- Update Information: Do you have pictures? Do you offer multiple services? Do you serve clients in a service area? If you answered yes to any of these questions you should be adding this information to your profile. More information not only improves how Google understands your business but also how your customers do. You can add services, products, links for booking an appointment, menu URLs, images of your business and your products, and more. All of this information can improve your performance.
- Add Regular Posts: Posts are a Google feature where success can vary based on a variety of factors. But we recommend trying it and tracking how it affects your listing. A post can be anything from sharing a blog to encouraging users to call you, to offering a promotion.
- Add Special Hours: Stay on top of updating your hours for holidays even if you plan to be open. If you have ever searched on Google during a nationally recognized holiday you may have noticed a Google My Business Profile with the following “X Holiday May Affect These Hours”. That is because Google does not know if your business is open or closed. By marking your business closed you limit customers attempting to call or visit your business and possibly getting frustrated. By marking your business open you increase the chances that customers will visit your location during the holiday. Staying open when your competitors are closed can give you a competitive edge during a holiday, don’t miss an opportunity to maximize on that by marking your listing as open.
Contact Boston Web Marketing
As part of our SEO services, Boston Web Marketing offers online listing management including responding to reviews, optimizing information, posting, and following best practices. Learn more about Boston Web Marketing can improve your online presence by contacting a member of our team.