What you will learn in this post:
- Why optimizing your enterprise’s online presence for Google is necessary for both local search engine optimization and increasing consumer engagement and trust.
- Why Google aims to be the single source of truth
- The importance of acquiring more reviews (both first- and third-party) and leveraging them for an increased aggregate star rating.
- The additional features and tools Google My Business currently offers, and how to take advantage of them.
Google, while not the only search engine in the market, has evolved to become the single source of truth for online searchers. With over 92% of searches taking place on Google, you want your business reflected properly on the platform. In fact, optimizing your brand’s immediate appearance for Google inquiries is more important than your website itself. In the research we have conducted with clients, far more consumers will see your listings than will click through to your website, at a 60:1 ratio. Another study found 61.5% of Google mobile searches resulted in no-click, according to research by Sparktoro, a growth of 11% in two-and-a-half-years.
In other words, as an enterprise, understanding how Google’s algorithm operates and how consumers use the platform is critical for your success. Your Google My Business (GMB) listing, in particular, may be the first and only thing a search user will see before deciding to visit your location. Here are some tips for optimizing your local business listings on the world’s dominant search platform.
1. Make Your Local Listings More Informative
For better or worse, we want immediate gratification. As Google’s algorithm has improved, consumers have gotten used to finding the exact answer or information they are looking for with minimal effort, especially when making local inquiries. Indeed, four out of five consumers use search engines to find local information, and half of smartphone searchers visited a local store within a day of conducting a search (Google).
Therefore, your local business listings and ads should have all of the information consumers need to make a decision. On your Google My Business listing, include anything that most customers would ask about. In addition to the obvious details like your name, address, and phone number, include your hours of operation, goods and services on offer, discounts or special offers, images or videos, etc.
2. Round Up and Reveal Your Reviews
Google My Business listing sometimes features local reviews. By having a solid local strategy and presence in place, the likelihood that Google will begin to better understand your business and begin to show these reviews increases. This is a good thing. Most consumers will seek out reviews of your business before making a decision anyway. Plus, acquiring more reviews (both positive and negative) will help increase your search engine visibility.
3. Increase Your Aggregated Star Rating
Reviews offer more nuanced takes on your business, which many search users appreciate. However, consumers also want a quick glimpse into your overall local reputation. Your aggregated star rating, which is based on consumer ratings and reviews, provides this crucial first impression. Stacking up positive first-party (not third-party) reviews will allow you to boost your aggregated star rating with the proper schema markup (“AggregateRating”).
Of course, Google has certain rules for how enterprises go about acquiring reviews, and not all of these reviews will necessarily be positive. Utilizing local search marketing services can help you gain more reviews the right way.
4. Utilize the Tools Provided by Google My Business
In addition to providing space for your NAP, reviews, and images, Google My Business offers a number of other tools for local search optimization and user engagement. For instance, when creating your GMB profile, you can choose a business category that will help users and Google’s algorithm determine the types of goods and services you offer in your area. Some of these categories also have specific features, such as menu tabs and reservation links for restaurants and booking buttons for health and beauty services.
One of the most prominent aspects of your Google My Business listing is the Knowledge Panel. Your Knowledge Panel is essentially a blast of public information broken up into sections that you can or cannot control. Included in this panel are NAP info, maps, directions, reviews, images, Google Posts, Google Q&A and much more. It is worth taking advantage of the aspects you can edit within your Knowledge Panel, such as your description, hours, website button, etc. to make them not only more accurate and up-to-date, but also engaging, easy to navigate, and the single source of truth.
Embracing the Google Evolution
Google’s systems are dynamic, constantly reacting to and influencing the most recent consumer search trends. It may be difficult to keep up with these changes, but instead of focusing on the ways in which this Google evolution affects your clickthrough rates, focus on streamlining the complete customer journey with the local SEO tools currently at your disposal. Additionally, audit your current set of KPIs, as they might not be optimal for your decision-making.
Want to learn more? See where you stand today and learn how to improve local search visibility, customer experience, and in-store traffic across your hundreds—or even thousands—of locations. Click here to take advantage of Rio SEO’s free Local Audit.
Krystal Taing is a Google My Business Gold Product Expert with extensive knowledge and expertise in local marketing and local search.