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Have your checked your business’s Knowledge Graph information lately? If you haven’t, you may be hearing from Google the next time you perform a search.

Recently, Dan Leveille discovered that Google is proactively reaching out to searchers and urging them to keep their business listing up-to-date. If you haven’t checked on your listings recently, you may see a similar alert to the one below next time you sign in with a Google account associated with a Google My Business page.

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Leveille notes:

“Other than asking developers to include social profile data, this seems like the first time Google is proactively asking business owners to directly suggest edits to their Knowledge Graph info.”

Leveille also uncovered a newly updated help document from Google detailing the criteria for being considered an “official representative of an entity in the Knowledge Graph.”

This is a significant move by Google to try to clean up out-of-date Knowledge Graph information and provide accurate listings. Both local businesses and major corporations can take advantage of the Knowledge Graph, so it is always a good idea to regularly check your listings and make sure they are current.

With Halloween in the rear-view mirror we have officially entered the holiday season, and Google is rolling out new features to help businesses prepare. Google My Business announced it is launching a new feature that allows businesses to set their holiday hours in advance, so shoppers will always know when you are open.

In the past, businesses had to manually update their hours manually if they changed their hours for the holiday season, and when the season is over you had to go back in and change the hours back.

Now, if you know ahead of time when you will start running your holiday hours, you can schedule your Google My Business page to automatically update your opening hours when the time comes. Google will also tell shoppers if what they are seeing are special holiday hours.

If your closing hours are flexible, there is also a new option to have a message displayed saying “hours may differ.”

The feature will stick around, so if you have regular special hours for other events or holidays you can also set those up ahead of time.

How to Schedule Special Hours on Google My Business

  • Log in to your Google My Business account and select the location the hours will apply to.
  • On the “Location details” page, scroll down until you see the “Special hours section” and click the link.
  • Select the date when the hours will begin and enter the opening and closing times for that day.
  • Click the box next to “Closed” if your business will be closed on a specific day. You can also set your hours to 12:00am-12:00pm if you are open 24 hours.
  • Click “Add another” to add more special hours for the location.

For more information on the features or setting up your special holiday hours ahead of time, check out Google’s help center article.

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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.

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If you run a local business and haven’t logged into Google My Business in a while you may be at risk of having Google unverify your listings, according to a statement from a Google representative today.

In a post on the Google and Your Business Help Forum, Google’s Jade Wang confirmed the news that the company has been contacting some Google My Business users that it considers to be inactive:

In some cases, we may contact Google My Business users via email to confirm that they are still actively managing a business page. If a user is unresponsive to our attempts to contact him or her and has not logged into Google My Business for a significant length of time, then we may unverify pages in the account. We’re doing this in order to continue to provide users with the best experience when they’re looking for local businesses like yours. If you find that a page in your account has been incorrectly unverified, please contact support to get assistance restoring verification.

The news was first brought to light by Brian Barwig of Integrated Digital Marketing, who posted a message today about a phone conversation he had with a Google support rep who told him that this may happen to accounts which are considered inactive for six months.

Mike Blumenthal has also shared the text of the email Google sends out to warn inactive accounts about being potentially unverified.

To help prevent this, Wang included some advice: “It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the inbox associated with your Google My Business (Locations) account. It’s also a good idea to regularly log into Google My Business (Locations) to confirm that your business information is current and accurate.”

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Google is doubling down on their efforts to bring local businesses around the world online with a new program called “Let’s Put Our Cities on the Map.

The new program seeks to assist small businesses and local organizations from over 30,000 cities worldwide to set-up complete local listings on Google.

The search engine claims consumers are 38 percent more likely to visit and 29 more likely to consider purchasing from businesses with complete listings, yet a huge number of companies do not have local business listings on any search engine.

Dandelion Marketing

For the new initiative, Google is providing each participating city with a custom website where local businesses can see how they appear on Google Maps and in search results.

Google is also giving local business owners an easy-to-follow guide for getting their business listed with Google My Business, as well as a free website and domain name for a year through Google’s partner Startlogic.

The program is also encouraging consumers to get involved, by inviting consumers to create postcards in support of their favorite local businesses which can be shared on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. However, Google makes it clear these postcards won’t have any impact on search engine ranking.

“Sharing the postcards won’t make businesses appear higher in search, but will hopefully spur them to verify and start managing their business listing,” a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Watch.

Google is also partnering with local organizations such as chambers of commerce and small business development centers to offer workshops aimed at teaching local businesses how to control the information listed about them on Google Search and Maps.

The release of Google My Business was intended to make it easier for businesses to maintain a consistent appearance across all of Google’s services, but one feature was seriously lacking. While Google My Business allowed businesses to upload an image to their profile, the companies still had difficulty controlling which images would be used in various listings.

That is a serious problem when you are trying to establish a consistent brand presence online.

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Today, Google announced a major update to Google my Business that finally gives companies some agency in their appearance across Google’s platform. As the announcement explains:

Starting today, you can tell us which image you’d like to appear when customers search for your business on Google. Just log in to Google My Business on the web or in the Android or iOS apps, and visit the Photos section. While you’re there, you can also give your business a fresh look online by updating your profile, logo and cover photos.

Google My Business Photos

The upgrade unifies Google’s three interfaces for images into one simple interface. There is no longer any guesswork in making sure your brand is always presented how you want it on the search engine.

Google Help Files explains the best practices for uploading photos for your business:

Your photos will look best on Google if they meet the following standards:

  • Format: JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP
  • Size: Between 10KB and 5MB
  • Minimum resolution: 250px on the longest side for profile & logo photos; 720px on the longest side for other business photos
  • Aspect ratio: The longer dimension of the photo should be no more than four times the shorter dimension. Landscape photos look better than portrait photos on Google products. Panoramic photos may use different aspect ratios.
  • Quality: The photo should be in focus, well-lit, have no photoshop alterations, and no excessive use of filters. The image should represent reality.