How do we love Google? Let us count the ways… it’s the ultimate matchmaker for motivated, on-the-go consumers seeking local answers to their immediate needs. Four in five people use search engines to find information about their surroundings. Moreover, 50% who conduct a local search on their smartphone will visit a store that same day.
Your Google My Business dashboard enables you to put your best foot forward on each new online ‘date’ with a local searcher, even across brands with hundreds or thousands of individual locations. Recent changes and updates to GMB are giving local marketers greater control. This extends to managing local business listings, more capabilities for creating engaging content, and increased the online visibility of each of your locations.
Here are a few of the Google My Business updates we love the most for enterprise and multi-location businesses:
1. You Can Now Edit Your Menu Listings in GMB
One recent change that restaurant brands are sure to fall in love with is the ability to add structured menus that display on your mobile search listings. Previously, you could add a menu link within your GMB dashboard; now you can show your menu titles, descriptions and prices right on your mobile listing.
You’ll find this functionality under the ‘Info’ tab for each of your locations that is eligible to use this feature. As one early user noted, it doesn’t seem to be available to supermarkets and bakeries, although it could be useful for those who offer catering. This is an upgrade we’d love to see in future.
Learn more about enterprise local solutions for restaurant marketing.
2. You Can Engage Searchers with Videos on Your Local Listing
Consumers love video; in fact, 4x as many customer would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. There is also evidence the increased engagement time on landing pages is a positive SEO signal. Having videos on a GMB listing may also increase engagement time on a listing which could also be a positive local SEO signal.
Some businesses reported seeing an option to upload videos in their GMB dashboard as early as January 4th and shortly afterwards, Google officially announced the new feature. As GMB Community Manager Allyson Wright shared, you can use add videos up to 30 seconds in length. Here’s what it looks like to consumers:
Customers can upload videos to your location profiles, as well. It can take up to 24 hours for videos to appear, and you do have the ability to flag any inappropriate content uploaded to your GMB.
Looking for ways to beef up your locations’ local 3-pack listings? Learn more here.
3. Local Guides Are Showing Your Business Some Love
Local Guides are the over 60 million mobile consumers who are literally putting business information on the map via their shared photos, videos, recommendations and location information updates. Google has incentivized this type of sharing with a points system that rewards users for uploading information about businesses like yours. How can you connect with and engage your Local Guides so they’re inspired to share their love of your locations online?
First make sure they (and everyone else) can find you everywhere you need to be, especially in the local 3-pack. Here are a few organic SEO strategies that’ll help improve your 3-pack rankings, as well.
Next, understand who your Local Guides are and what types of information and experiences they’re looking for when they enter your business. Google wrote a great blog post about the 7 types of Local Guides you might encounter; from the trailblazers who love to put unlisted places on the map to the advocates who champion the businesses they love, you’ll find them all here.
4. Improve Relationships & Conversion with GMB Q&A
The Q&A feature in Google Maps lets anyone ask questions about your business, which you then answer or let other consumers do it for you. You also have the ability to ask and answer questions you think might be useful to local searchers.
Your Q&A is managed within your GMB dashboard, and it’s not a feature you can opt out of. So how can you manage this feature at scale and put it to work for all of your locations?
Give someone at the location (ideally the franchisee or manager) ownership of its GMB profile and have them regularly monitor for new questions and reviews. Each one is an opportunity to engage a potential customer, while feeding relevant, interesting information to Google and future searchers.
While we don’t know how impactful Q&A may be in affecting your rankings, anything that helps to increase your visibility and reputation at the local level gives you an edge.
We <3 Planned Improvements to Google and Bing’s Featured Snippets
Both Google and Bing have exciting improvements in the works that are sure to improve your ability to connect with your local consumers. In his first blog post for the Google team, search expert Danny Sullivan promises that “because featured snippets are so useful, especially with mobile and voice-only searches, we’re working hard to smooth out bumps with them as they continue to grow and evolve.” Interestingly, Google is also considering expanding the scope of featured snippets so they show for near-match queries as well as exact. If this comes to fruition, it could be a fantastic tool for local marketers.
For their part, Bing is certainly working on providing more Intelligent Answers that solve more complicated queries for searchers. On some queries, you’ll be offered multiple results that tackle the query from different perspectives.
In summary, we love that both major search engines ultimately strive to provide the best search experience for local consumers. There are no blackhat tactics or trickery required; smart local strategy and technology to scale your best efforts wins the day.
Want to learn more about local SEO tools? Don’t miss these 5 local strategies you need to lock down for 2018.
Karisa Macias has extensive expertise in local search, digital marketing, and technology.