Six years after its initial release, Google My Business (GMB) remains the trusted ally of local businesses. Google is notorious for making unannounced upgrades to their platforms - and the latest string of changes to GMB is no different. June 2020 updates have been implemented because of the surge in demand for online retail as we all stay home and spend more time (and money) from behind our screens.
A GMB account is more than a business listing. It allows companies to connect with customers across Google Search & Maps - and find the right business at a time where their purchase intent is primed.
The four new GMB attributes offer businesses a way to inform search users of their online offerings including online care, appointments, classes, and estimates.
An optimised and up-to-date listing makes the users search experience easier and more memorable, ultimately leading to more enquiries, leads and sales - and potentially lifelong customers. Un-optimised profiles have the potential for damaging your brand - just imagine losing out to a competitor simply because they were easily contactable through their listing?
So, how do you optimise your GMB profile and make the necessary changes for this latest rollout?
How do I optimise my business for Google in 2020?
First - claim or create your listing
If you already have a live listing, you can skip this step. If you're unsure if you are eligible for a GMB listing, or if one already exists for your company, then simply type your business name, address or other relevant information into your Google search bar and have a look at the results. Does a knowledge panel pop up to your right? If it does, and the information correlates with your business, claim the listing by clicking the "Own this business?" link (on desktop) or "Claim this business" link (on mobile). Once verified, you can continue on to optimisation.
If you have not found a listing you can claim, or you've not setup your GMB profile yet, navigate to google.com/business/ and click on the "Manage Now" button to get your listing set up.
You will need to sign in with a valid Google account (Gmail or Google mail); try to use an email address from your actual business domain if possible. Once you're signed in, follow the instructions to create a new listing and ensure you carry on to point #3 below to get your profile fully optimised so you can start seeing the leads roll in.
If you already have your GMB profile set up, simply log in and start having a look through the content that you've already populated throughout the listing.
1. Claim your name
GMB short names were only launched in April 2019, but they're already getting an update. One of Google's November 2019 updates included a more visible placement of this short name; it is now displayed in your listings' 'About' section. Businesses can use this feature to promote key landing pages and generate leads through their profile.
Short names are designed to make your business easily discoverable for local users. Best practice is to include a name that users would easily and typically associate with your business. Before short names, finding businesses was a cumbersome task with long strings of URLs, but it's now a quick and easy process.
Adding this short name (or custom name) to your GMB profile along with the location (especially useful for businesses with multiple locales) helps with promotion and of course makes it easier for customers to remember. The ability to satisfy Google's requirements for trust signals and relevance, along with providing the user with an enjoyable and easily navigated experience are the only reasons you need to optimise this section of your listing.
2. Optimise your NAP (name, address, phone number)
This may seem common sense, but the most up-to-date contact details are crucial to the optimisation of your listing. In fact, any incorrect information displayed in this section could potentially cause major damage to your rankings. If a user wants to contact you through your displayed listing and fails to reach you due to outdated phone numbers for instance, they're likely to just seek out another business that is easily contactable. A wrong address could lead a user to decide you are not within their preferred location, and an un-optimised name could confuse the user and cause them to lose trust in your company - or simply not remember you.
Further, when securing links in directories - you'll want to ensure the information they are linking to is accurate and in-date as far as possible. What's worse than securing a directory link to the wrong details? The potential loss of leads and sales that follows.
3. Be descriptive about what you offer
The 'Info' section allows you to add an up-to 750-character description on your business. Avoid referencing any promotional material here - it should rather reflect your unique selling points (USPs), your ethos and vision and of course an outline of your brand story.
The more you can tell users (and Google) about what you have to offer, the better.
As always, use the right keywords throughout and avoid keyword stuffing - just follow the best practice guidelines Google has developed over the years.
4. Responsiveness & engagement
GMB is a hub that helps you to gain an insight into what your customers thoughts are after interacting with your business. Users can leave star-rated reviews, and this is an excellent opportunity for you to monitor and respond to both positive and negative feedback. Being responsive and engaged will help build trust with both users as well as Google - and will also help you to understand how you are performing in terms of customer relations.
Reviews have the power to help your site rise or raze. This makes it worthwhile to allocate some time on thanking users for positive reviews and investigating and responding to negative reviews.
5. Optimise for online attributes
The newest feature of GMB is the online attribution function. Numerous businesses have pivoted their brick-and-mortar based offerings to provide online solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Google has recognised the need for these features to be highlighted in results. Four new attributes (online care, appointments, classes, and estimates) achieve exactly that.
Online care highlights the services ordinarily offered in-person - counselling, for example - which is now offered virtually. Highlighting this offering is essential for businesses who have moved from in-person services to online, a change which current and new users may not be aware of.
Online appointments allow businesses to control the amount of people in their physical space at any given time, and further allows safety measures to be implemented. This attribute can also be used to schedule virtual appointments where no physical interaction is required.
Online classes are especially useful for those businesses offering virtual training, conferences, and seminars. You can further optimise this by including calls-to-action and links to other events on your landing page associated with online classes.
Online estimates enable companies to provide quotations and estimates for services they plan on carrying out in-person, or to allow them to provide you with a pricing guide for products that may have price fluctuations thanks to the changing economy.
How to apply online attribute changes to your GMB profile:
- Sign into your GMB profile and select the location you'll be adding these attributes to
- From the menu, click Info
- Navigate to 'Add Attributes' and click Edit
- Browse through all the available options for your business or search for 'online' to bring up these new attributes
- Click 'Apply' once you've added the necessary info.
We know that these changes can be tricky to navigate at the best of times, but we also appreciate that there's never been a more important time to highlight the way your business is continuing to operate during a time of crisis. We've underscored some of the best ways to optimise your listing but remember - this list is not exhaustive.
Part of the Dark Horse difference is our unmatched service offering which includes GMB optimisation. We've got the experience and knowledge to implement the best changes and updates to your listing. We're here to help you successfully navigate unchartered waters - to make you money and boost your profits. We're ready when you are.