Over the years, Google has made it easier for you to reach your potential clients – particularly those local to your business. Generally speaking, consumers who search for a service using the terms, ‘near me,’ without a particular company in mind, will likely look at the businesses who rank in the top positions of the search engine results page (SERP). They will also be more prone to interacting with the business whose Google My Business (GMB) listing is displayed at the very top of the SERP.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you optimise your website for local searches. Unfortunately, 56% of companies have yet to claim their local business listing on Google, which means that they could be missing out on a relatively simple way to manage their business information, build brand awareness and gain a whole lot of web traffic. A whopping 82% of smartphone shoppers conduct ‘near me’ searches.
Recently, Google announced additional updates that allow you to enhance your listing even further, which are now being rolled out. This blog will give an overview of what features GMB has on offer to help get you and your business up to date and on the local Google search map.
If you’d like more insight into how to optimise your GMB listing, click here to read our advice.
Short names, or short links, have been added to the GMB feature with the aim of giving businesses a simpler way of making their GMB profile more accessible. Currently, this feature has only been adopted by 1% of all active GMB merchants.
The shorter name/link must fit between 5 and 32 characters in length and can contain your business name, location, brand, or any other description. For example, you can use your name along with your location, such as @CheltenhamSEO. Be mindful that you can also only change your short name three times a year.
To create your short name:
1. Sign into Google My Business and select the location.
2. Click ‘Info’ from the left-side menu, followed by ‘Add Profile Short Name.’
3. You can then enter your short name.
Once applied, your name will show as ‘Pending,’ and the short URL will then show on your business profile once it’s ready.
Cover Photos and Photo Displays
Businesses can now select a header image, meaning that they can choose the photo(s) that will be seen when they are searched. Previously, the GMB owner did not have much say in which image Google chose to display, so this is great news.
As well as this, you’ll soon see carousel or slide show style photo displays, plus the addition of captions, which will help you tell the story behind your photos. A study conducted by BrightLocal revealed that 60% of consumers said ‘local search results with good images captured their attention and pushed them towards a decision.’
Google has advised businesses to upload a minimum of three exterior photos and three interior photos to their GMB.
Adding Your Logo
If you’ve submitted your business’ core information (address, phone number, opening times, etc), you will have the option to display your business logo on the upper right-hand side of your profile.
To do this, you will need to:
1. Sign in to your ‘Google Admin’ console. Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).
2. From the ‘Admin Console’ home page, go to ‘Company Profile Personalization’.
3. Select ‘Custom logo’.
4. Click ‘Choose File’ and select the file containing your logo.
5. Click ‘Upload’.
Google has launched a website which allows you to aid the promotion of your local business on GMB. You can access social media posts, stickers and posters that are generated using information pulled directly from Google review content, star ratings and your profile’s core information. These posts make great content to share on your social media channels.
These features are extremely useful for businesses with positive reviews on Google, as they allow for the management of your reputation and encourage interaction with your business both online and offline.
In October 2018, Google launched a ‘Follow’ button that appears on business listings in the Android Google Maps app, following the removal of Google+. This allows customers to view the GMB post in their ‘For You’ tab.
Businesses now have the opportunity to reward following customers by providing offers, coupons and discounts to use offline. Beware that users will not see exactly what the offer is until they follow the business listing.
Manage Bulk Reviews
From August 16th, Google has added a new feature that allows users to manage reviews in bulk for multiple listings. This means that you’ll be able to view, respond to and flag all reviews at once – a dream feature for GMB users.
Although it should be noted that this feature is only available for location groups with no more than 500 locations, and is not available for organisation accounts.
While this is only a small change, it is certainly welcomed by the SEO community as managing reviews on each individual listing can be time consuming. Just log into your account and click ‘Manage Reviews’ from the side menu.
Hotels Can Add More To Their Listings
Hotels can now add more to their GMB listings, as Google has now made it possible for users to edit ‘services’ and ‘amenities’ in the ‘Hotel Attributes’ section of Google My Business. Please be aware that this can only be done from your desktop, not the mobile app.
Google provides summaries of a hotel’s amenities and services for customers to view from search results, but now that this can be modified by the hotels themselves, users are more likely to see factually correct information. Previously, owners of hotel sites would not be able to change it themselves.
Regarding services, you can add a range of features to your listing to offer search users a more in-depth idea of your hotel. The options include housekeeping, baggage storage, wake up calls, elevators, gift shops and more.
Signing up to GMB is completely free and certainly worth the effort if you want to plant your local business firmly at the top of the SERP. Google is constantly rolling out new specifications for their GMB feature and it is vital you keep an eye out for the most recent updates, so that your business can continue to expand its online presence.
Today (on July 5th 2019), users have already detected sightings of a more visual and user friendly interface when they log in to their GMB account. We’ll be monitoring for any further progress so we can keep you fully informed.
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