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Google My Business is an essential tool for any local business trying to spread their name online. It is also deceptively complicated. 

At first glance, GMB seems very simple and easy to set up. You just fill out a few forms, answer a few questions, upload a couple of pictures,, and presto! You’ve got a GMB listing. 

Actually optimizing that listing to ensure it appears in nearby customers’ searches, however, is where things get complicated. 

As usual, Google is remarkably non-transparent about how it ranks local searches.There are a few things that have become very apparent over the years. It is pretty much undeniable that having a lot of 5 star reviews will help you rank better. On the other hand, there is reason to believe some sections have absolutely no impact on your local rankings. To get to the truth of how the algorithm works, we have to look at data from tests.

Recently, MozCon speaker Joy Hawkins shared some findings her and her team have made from their own tests and data about what GMB sections help you rank better.

Which Google My Business Sections Affect Rankings

1) Business Name

Sometimes the simplest things can become unbelievably complicated. You almost certainly chose your business name well before making a listing, and you can’t exactly change it now. 

Unfortunately, this puts some businesses at a disadvantage while others get a natural step up. 

According to Hawkins, businesses with a keyword in their name get a boost in local rankings. There is one things you can do though.

As she explains:

“The real action item would be to kind of look to see if your competitors are taking advantage of this by adding descriptive words into their business name and then submitting corrections to Google for it, because it is against the guidelines.”

2) Categories

This is another section that seems like it should be very simple. You can check up to 10 boxes that match your business, including everything from Aboriginal Art Gallery to Zoo. Where this becomes tricky is ensuring the categories you choose remains the most accurate for your business. 

Hawkins’ team found that Google is updating it’s list of categories between 2 to 10 times each month on average. In some cases, they are adding new categories that may be a more specific match for your business. Other times, they may entirely remove categories they feel are irrelevant or unnecessary. 

Either way, it is up to you to keep your business categorized properly to protect your ranking.

3) Website

The vast majority of listings use the homepage of their website as their primary website listing on everything, including Google My Business. It makes sense, and it works perfectly fine. 

What Hawkins’ found, though, is that some businesses actually benefit from choosing a more specific page of their site. For example, businesses with multiple locations can link to a specific location page to specify exactly which store you are directing them to. 

In this section, there is no agreed upon best practice. Instead, Hawkins says to test several pages over time to ensure you are maximizing your exposure. 

4) Reviews

I mentioned it up above but it bears repeating. The number of positive reviews absolutely affects your ranking in local search results. 

There is a small catch, however. According to the what Hawkins’ team has seen, increasing the number of reviews on your listing may have diminishing returns.

“So for example, if you’re a business and you go from having no reviews to, let’s say, 20 or 30 reviews, you might start to see your business rank further away from your office, which is great. But if you go from, let’s say, 30 to 70, you may not see the same lift. So that’s something to kind of keep in mind.”

Still, reviews have consistently been shown to be a major ranking factor AND they improve the click-through-rate of listings. This is obviously an area you will want to invest some energy in. 

If you want to learn a little more about how these sections impact your rankings or you want to see which fields have absolutely no effect, you can read Joy Hawkins’ original post here.

Google My Business has long let businesses mark their profiles with the special services or offerings your business provides in the real world. But, what about your online services?

When it comes to GMB attributes, online services have been the glaring omission for many businesses.

That is finally changing, as Google is introducing four new attributes you can add to your GMB listing – all of which highlight online services you provide. 

The four new attributes appearing for use in GMB profiles include:
Online care

  • Online appointment
  • Online estimates
  • Online classes

Anyone can add these attributes to their listing. Once added, the tag may appear in search results when relevant. 

For example, here is how the “Online Care” attribute appeared in a search result:

These attributes join the long list of existing tags businesses can add to their listings, including “WiFi available,” “outdoor seating,” “cash only,” and many more. 

With many consumers still preferring online or contactless shopping options, these tags can be an important tool for signaling that you can help. 

How To Add Attributes To Your Google My Business Listing

The process of adding attributes to your current GMB listing is quick and easy. Simply follow the steps below:

  • Sign into the Google My Business app or website
  • Select the location you would like to manage if you have multiple locations
  • Click “Info” from the menu
  • Find “Add Attributes” then click “Edit”
    • Here you can either scroll through the list and select those which apply to your business, or search for specific attributes
  • Once you have selected all the attributes you wish to add, click “Apply.”

It is important to note that you may not have access to specific attributes depending on which industry you are in. For example, home repair services like carpenters or plumbers are unlikely to find the “Online care” or “Online classes” attributes.

Google is asking businesses to update and revise their Google My Business listings if their operations have been affected by the spread of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus.

The company released a new help document listing ways companies can use GMB to update customers, including sharing updated business hours, ensuring phone numbers are accurate, and even using business descriptions or Google Posts to provide more detailed information.

To raise awareness of the recommendations, Google has placed a prominent alert at the top of all Google My Business-related support pages which reads: “If your business is affected by COVID-19, update your profile to provide the most accurate info. Learn more.

What To Do

If your business has been affected by COVID-19, Google recommends using your GMB listing to update customers by doing the following:

  • Change your business hours: If your business hours have changed, update the times when you’ll be open or closed. The hours will show when the customer visits your Business Profile, and they’ll know exactly when to visit.
  • Update your business description: Explain whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19. You can share information about any extra precautions the business is taking, if you’re providing any extra services to the community, or whether you’re experiencing delays.
  • Create a post: Share more detailed and timely updates about what’s going on with your business through Posts. For example, add information about what products and services you have available, and link to other resources. You can continue to use Posts to directly communicate with your customers on a regular basis as your business changes.
  • Update your phone number: Make sure your phone number is correct so that customers can reach you.

Keep Your Customers In-The-Know

Updating your Google My Business listing should always be a first step when making changes to your business, whether that means changing your business hours, moving locations, or just launching a new promotion. This is especially true during issues of public concern, like the ongoing coronavirus spread, when even regular customers may be checking your listing for the latest information.

Mask icon courtesy of Freepik

If you have claimed a short name for your Google My Business listing, you may want to be on the watch for a new bug which is causing some GMB listings to be suspended. 

Short Names for GMB were first introduced back in April as a way for businesses to create unique URLs for their Google My Business listings and easily differentiate individual locations in search results. 

However, a wave of reports suggests that some who claimed a short name for their legitimate listings are being suspended and removed from search results entirely. 

It is important to note that the issue does not seem to be affecting all Google My Business listings with short names. Still, the issue is widespread enough for many agencies to be sounding the alarm. 

Specifically, Joe Youngblood started alerting others about the issue last week, including sharing screenshots from a Facebook group where those affected were speaking out. 

As you can see, the issue only affected 2 of more than 10 listings the person above manages, with other listings using short names being entirely unaffected. 

The initial reports of the issue began early last week, but new cases are still being reported this week. SEO professional Lily Ray says one of her listings was suspended yesterday, almost immediately after adding a short name to the listing. 

While Google has not officially confirmed the problem, many say they have been able to get their listing successfully reinstating when notifying the search engine. 

With all this in mind, you might consider holding off on adding a short name to any of your Google My Business listings until the bug is fixed. If you already have a listing with a short name, it would be worthwhile to check that it is still properly showing in search results and has not been suspended.

The latest update to Google My Business’s listings makes product catalogs even more powerful by displaying them in both desktop and mobile search results.

Since October 2018, when they were first introduced, product catalogs on Google My Business would only appear in mobile search results.

To add your products to your own listing, all you have to do is upload a form in the ‘Products’ tab called to the product editor. Once added, all items in your catalog will be eligible to show in results for relevant searches that bring up your Google My Business page.

The catalog appears within the ‘Products’ tab of your GMB listing shortly after uploading it.

As always, the new GMB feature is free to use with your Google My Business account. The only requirement is that you have claimed your business listing.

While the new feature does bring product catalogs to desktop search results, they are still not viewable directly within Google Maps. To view the listing from there, you will have to click to specifically view a business’s local listing.

Menus aren’t just for restaurants on Google anymore. Google My Business has finally expanded their menu feature to allow businesses to create and share a service menu describing the various services you offer and their prices.

The process is very simple. You just select the “Info” tab in the Google My Business dashboard and get started adding your services. The menus can be organized by name, description, and price for each item. You can also group specific items into different sections.

Google’s Allyson Wright announced the news yesterday in the Google My Business Help forums, saying:

“Back in January we launched a new Menu editor for the food service industry. This month, we are excited to announce that we have expanded our menu editor to now include additional services.

“Businesses in health & beauty, and service businesses, such as plumbers and florists, now have the ability to add their menu of services directly to their listing through their Google My Business account. Same as the food establishment menu editor, this feature will only be available if the listing is not currently connected to a third party provider and for listings in English speaking locals. If your listing is currently displaying an incorrect menu, please see this help center link for more information on how to correct or remove the link.”

The expanded menu feature is only available to those who do not currently have their listing connected to a third-party menu provider and businesses in English speaking locations.

Business owners may be able to upload videos to their Google My Business accounts in the near future, based on a new feature popping up for some account owners.

Colan Nielsen from SterlingSky noticed that some of his clients now had access to a new panel for uploading videos showcasing their stores or products.

Several others have since reported seeing the option appearing in their own accounts, however, not everyone says they can use the feature quite yet.

For now, it is unclear whether the feature is just one of the many tests Google runs on a regular basis or a slow rollout of a widely anticipated feature. Google has yet to release a statement on the issue.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time videos have started showing up in GMB accounts. During the earlier years of Google My Business, Google included a similar video upload option. The tool disappeared long ago.

Since then, Google has allowed “Local Guides” – volunteers who help Google gain in-person information about businesses – have been able to upload videos to local listings. Actual business owners or account operators have not been able to until now, though.

While many can already upload videos, few have reported actually seeing their videos show up on their listings yet. When they do appear, videos are likely to be shown under the photos tab, as they do in the listing for Voodoo Doughnut in Portland:

Business owners using GMB have been asking for the ability show videos for years because they can provide a more complete view of both their stores and their products. Hopefully, the appearance of this feature for some is a sign of a much wider roll-out coming soon.

 Google-My-Business-Logo

As schools close and the temperatures soar across the country, it isn’t unusual for businesses to change their hours for the summer. It is especially common in tourist areas where shops often stay open longer to accommodate the longer days and increased store traffic.

If your business has special summer hours, now is the time to guarantee your business listing on Google shows your adjusted seasonal hours.

Today, Google launched a new initiative at gybo.com/summer to help businesses quickly check how their Google My Business listing is displaying, including whether they are currently open or closed.

Google says a recent survey of small businesses found 25% change their operating hours during summer, but only 1 percent of the businesses also adjusted their hours on Google My Business.

Considering recent studies have shown over half of all consumers use search to look for business hours, and even higher numbers use search to plan local purchases, having the wrong hours listed can be quite a big problem.

If you have special summer hours but haven’t updated your listing yet, be sure to update the listing in Google My Business. Be sure to set a reminder while you are at is so you remember to change the hours back again when fall arrives.