An Introduction To Google My Business Listings
It’s patently clear that as each new generation of mobile phone becomes the norm, consumers are taking to e-commerce more and more. One side effect has been the quickening of the Search to Purchase process e.g. a consumer can now order a pizza within a few swipes of a smartphone. Undoubtedly, that’s great for the consumer but for businesses that aren’t grasping how rapidly the commercial ground is shifting, it could be catastrophic!
Further, the Google Search Results on a PC for “your location + service” searches, such as “Wollongong pizzas”, bears little resemblance to what Google results used to look like, even a couple of years ago. Ignoring the one, sometimes two Google Adwords ads that one generally finds at the top of the results, what you’ll presently find is a Google map dotted with geo-location icons of Wollongong’s Top 3 pizza parlors. Directly below that are their Google My Business listings with, as you can see, contain ratings from Google users + pictures of the 3 establishments, a.k.a. the Local Business 3-pack.
NOTE: The number of Google My Business listings can vary from 3 to 7.
Using the old newspaper parlance of above the fold – the initial Search Results screen is entirely taken up by – in this case:
- one ad +
- the Google Map with the icons +
- the Local Business 3-pack, comprising of 3 FREE Google My Business listings!
You actually have to then scroll to see the Top 10 normal Search results, which are, in effect, on the bottom half of the screen. Google appears to be doing everything it can to point searchers towards these favored results, while earning very little for their troubles!
Why would Google do that?
Well, I can only guess that they’re playing a long game, by:
- Integrating Google Maps into our cultural DNA. Doing so builds enormous trust, over time, in other Google products as well &
- Integrating Google My Business listings into our cultural DNA, to, at some later date, monetize them!
So, patently, getting your business into the Local Business 3-pack is gold and you can do that by first getting a (presently FREE) Google My Business listing. I deliberately used the term “getting” because Google actually invites you to “claim” your business listing but our present #1, Lupa Woodfired Pizza, hasn’t even claimed theirs and expectedly, their Google My Business listing is really bare Their website is essentially just a very basic menu, so I can’t see it providing much of an SEO benefit for Google to favor them – perhaps the only SEO-like boost that I can detect, is that 2 out of 4 of the photos in the listing appear to have come from a trusted Google Local Guides contributor, who also provided a 5-star review! (See, also: Why I Have Joined The Google Local Guide Program)
“Wollongong Pizza”: A Google My Business Test Case
Looking a little more closely at the Local Business 3-pack for “wollongong pizza” , there are some interesting points to make.
- What Lupa Woodfired Pizza have going for them is that they appear to have been around for a while (their website is #3 in the SERPS, the Top 10 organic Search results, which follow the Google My Business listings)
- Lupa have generally pretty good reviews – going back several years – from Google My Business, Trip Advisor & Word Of Mouth, two Review sites
- No pizza parlor in Wollongong presently seems remotely interested in developing their Google My Business listings. While Lupa’s description looks like it has been scraped from a blog or review site, Da Orlando & Crust are playing the “confuse-’em” card by refusing to say very much at all in their descriptions, even though both have been “claimed” by the owners
- All three have – relatively speaking – a healthy number of good reviews
I can’t stress enough how important these reviews are! In 2014, a 39% sample of American consumers claimed that they read reviews on a regular basis & 72% of them said that positive reviews made them trust a local business more – I can only think that those percentages would be increasing every year.
So, with whatever facts I can assemble, I’d say that a site’s age + consistently good reviews can get your business into the Local Business 3-pack, in Wollongong, at least. None of the 3 local pizza parlors have developed theirs but I would strongly recommend any business in doing so. In more Google-aware parts of the world, to not do so would be pure folly!
Adding Photos To Your Google My Business Listing
In April 2016, Google recommended that businesses claim their listings and enhance them with with photos (or videos) to provide a quick, personalized glimpse of businesses. I suppose that the idea is to entice a searcher to CLICK THRU and explore the business’ site. We’ve found this to be particularly effective in the Food, Entertainment & Retail sectors but less so in more formal businesses like Dentists or Lawyers, as you might imagine. In December 2016, Google was suggesting:
at least 3 interior photos
at least 3 exterior photos
at least 3 photos at work
at least 3 team photos
NOTE: Google deliberately says “at least”, implying that they’d like more.
Hiring A Google My Business Street View Trusted Photographer
Some businesses, particularly those with public spaces, such as restaurants, can now enhance their Google My Business listing by hiring a official Google Street View Trusted Photographer. They will provide you with a full 360 degrees Google Street View-style walk-THRU that you can also place on your site.
While this certainly enhances your business’ Google-friendly image, there is also some anecdotal evidence to suggest that the walk-THRU may also provide a minor SEO boost.
Patently, Google has a lot invested in Google My Business. It’s already a shorthand version of websites – and I’m sure that there are many developments to come. If you’d like us to guide your Google My Business journey, please feel free to drop us a line.
NOTE: Bing’s equivalent is a Places For Business listing – it’s well worth claiming and developing, too.
Google My Business Updates From The Web
Google My Business Website Builder BETA – January 2017
Google Launches Digital Unlocked – January 2017
Google’s Digital Unlocked is a training program to assist Indian Small Businesses in building small websites (& Google My Business listings) via their phones. If successful, it would then be replicated in other parts of the world, such as Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia
Google Adds RATINGS & HOURS Filter To Local Business 3-Pack – December 2016
How To Become A Google Trusted Photographer In 30 Days – December 2016
The bottom line is that you need to start with a really good camera, like the Ricoh Theta S (approx. $500)
Erratic Visual Results Using Emojis In GMB Knowledge Panel – December 2016
The bottom line is, don’t do it!
Google My Business Testing Free(?) LIVE Chat – November 2016
Google Now Adding A BUSY Status To Local Search Results – November 2016
Google is accepting data from users – who have a Google Location History – to display how busy your business is. Great for patrons of bars, restaurants, sales etc.
Google Wants You To Report “SPAM” On Google My Business – October 2016
When Google Picks A Mugshot Instead Of Your Company Logo – September 2016
A true story and quite amusing! Also, contains some important INFO on how to get incorrect GMB details changed
How Do I Contact Google My Business – September 2016
Official Google My Business INFO
The latest from Google on enhancing your Knowledge Panel, the INFO box for SERPS scraped from your Google My Business listing – regularly updated
Clear Advice From Google about getting help (e.g from an SEO company) for help with your Google My Business listing – September 2016