The holiday shopping season is almost upon us and this year, 80% of consumers will be using a search engine to find information about businesses in their local area. They’ll be using voice assistants and mobile devices as well as desktop. Moreover, they expect to be able to find local businesses to fulfill their immediate needs! In fact, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day.

Your Google My Business profile powers much of your local listings in search. It provides critical information like store hours, address, phone number, website and more. Other information that helps consumers decide which listing will become their shopping destination–like in-store photos and customer reviews, for example–also comes from your GMB.

If you want your brand’s locations or franchises to be found and convert online lookers to in-store buyers this holiday season, this is the time to get your GMB profile up to snuff. Here are 5 important optimizations to get you started.

1. Fix Duplicate Listings and Ownership Conflicts

Duplicate listings and ownership conflicts, two of the most common listings issues, are the bane of local business. Duplicate listings are often created outside of the brand by searchers or aggregators, and you can never be sure which listing a prospective customer will see when they search for businesses like yours nearby. Worse, having all of this inaccurate information circulating around causes search engines to distrust information about your business, which can negatively affect your rankings.

Automating your local listings management is the most efficient and effective way to resolve these problematic issues and clean up your local profile. It has real, measurable business benefits, as well; one of our retailers saw a 41% increase in user sessions across its 1,000 locations, for example. See Duplicate Listings & Ownership Conflicts: Expert GMB Tips for Enterprises to learn more.

2. Update Store Hours for the Holidays

Listings with business hours get 13% more requests for driving directions and 42% more click throughs to their website, according to Google. Setting special holiday hours in your GMB profile means potential customers will always have the right information to get them in the doors.

Holiday Hours for GMB optimizations

Brands with hundreds or even thousands of locations can simplify this process of ensuring hours are correct across the company by using a single dashboard with Google My Business API integration to manage their local listings. No more bulk uploads or spreadsheets… now you can manage special hours, mark locations as permanently closed, manage business photos and more in one place, with those changes going live across Google in no time. Conveniently, when you set your holiday hours using the special hours fields on Google, the holiday text display will turn green letting searchers know they can rely on this confirmed data.

3. Optimize Your Image Data

Google Image Search is a powerful but often overlooked engine. In fact, more searches are performed on Google Images than on YouTube, Google Maps, Amazon and Facebook combined! People search Google Images more than 10 times as often as any search on Bing or Yahoo, and 40 times more than the number of searches on Facebook.

Distribution of US search

Photo credit: Moz

Use high quality, appealing images that give searchers a clear idea of what it’s like to actually walk into and shop in your store. People want to understand the experience you have to offer before they commit to visiting. Strip out unnecessary data to shrink your file sizes without sacrificing quality, and optimize your image data, labels, tags and descriptors for better Google indexing and ranking. You can learn how to do that here.

4. Get Local Ratings and Reviews

The things that real customers have to say about your business are far more compelling to prospects than any marketing message you could come up with. Thanks to Google, those online ratings and reviews are featured prominently on your local listings, as well.

Ask for local reviews and social check-ins from your customers in-store. Do this by reminding them with in-store signage or messaging on receipts to review your business. Providing a link to your Google My Business listing in email campaigns and ask your customers to share their good experiences (or to get in touch with you if it wasn’t a good one, which can help prevent negative reviews). You can also use Google Local Guides to generate content by having them post reviews and photos of your business.  

Remember, Google places a high value on searcher and customer experience. So, a greater volume of good reviews and ratings will positively impact your rankings and visibility, as well.

5. Audit Your Google Map Pins

When customers need to find your locations, are they getting to the right places? There’s really nothing more frustrating for a consumer than clicking for directions and being led to the wrong location. Further, all listings across the entire local ecosystem need to list the same address for each location, or you risk losing rankings, customers and revenue. Obviously, this is a massive undertaking for multi-location businesses; automation takes the legwork out of it.

Finally, close the loop with Local Reporting that rolls all of your GMB location data up into one enterprise level report with your most important Map Pack Insights and more. See performance metrics and insights across your citations, rankings, reviews, web analytics, engagements and more.

Will this be your best holiday shopping season yet? Get your local profile in order now. These GMB optimizations ensure you’re discoverable, ranking and findable when searchers come knocking just a few short weeks. To learn more, check out our Video Deep Dive with Mike Blumenthal and Mary Bowling.

Author Bio:

Krystal Taing is a Google My Business Gold Product Expert with extensive knowledge and expertise in local marketing and local search.

Get a head start with your FREE Local Presence Audit today.