5 Google My Business Areas That Impact Ranking (and 3 that surprisingly don’t)
With so many customisation options in your (GMB) Google My Business profile, it can be often confusing making decisions on which areas to focus on and keep updated. But when it comes to ranking within the sought after real estate (The 3 pack), there are actually only five GMB fields that influence where Google will place your local business.
In this brand new Friday digital marketing blog, owner/founder of Virtu Digital Marketing, Eamon Downey, takes us through the GMB fields that affect ranking.
1. Business name
I’m going to start with the first thing that I found has impacted ranking, which is your business name. Now this is one ranking factor that I am completely against because I don’t think it should have so much of an influence, but it unfortunately does. For now anyway!
In 2020 local search GMB ranking factors Virtu Digital study I had to put this as my number one GMB ranking factor. Of all the things you can input that influence GMB ranking, business names, in my research, have the GMB ranking influence over every other factor, which is ridiculous and unfair. So as a business owner, obviously you’re thinking, “I can’t really change my business name, can I?”. If you do happen to have a keyword rich business name such as ‘Fashion Ireland or Dublin Car Sales’, you will see an advantage there.
I advise you to keep an eye out 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. Why?, because it is against the GMB strict guidelines. So I’m not saying go out there and add a load of keywords to your business name on Google. Absolutely not!. But you should keep an eye on your competitors as you will find some of them have cottoned on to this loophole, and if they are, you can report it to Google using the GMB complaint redressal form.
Tip — it has nothing to do with Google — and I have seen the same antics on Bing, which doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, because Google dominates. However, on Bing you’re actually allowed to have descriptors in your business name, so go ahead and do it there – but I always feel that’s brand dilution.
No impact on ranking: Q&A
An area that I was surprised that I found had not influenced ranking over a 6 month period, which is Q&A. There isn’t a Q&A section in your GMB panel yet, but it is on the knowledge panel on Google, and it is something that you should get an email alert about if somebody posts a question to your listing.
When testing Q&A I found, despite putting very specific things in questions that I posted and also in the answers, there was no measurable impact on ranking that I could measure over a 6 month period. Frustrating!
The second thing that I found influences ranking — business categories. Categories seems like a no brainer, because you simply choose your categories from a drop down menu.
GMB gives you 10 category options that you can add to your profile, but one thing to note here is that Google has approximately 4,100 categories currently, and they keep adding categories and removing categories.
My research tracking over 6 months I concluded that there are about two to 8 changes every month to the GMB categories. Sometimes they add completely new categories for example recently GMB added ‘Dental Implants’ for dentists. Another example, I found in the last 8 months there have been a lot of restaurant categories added as well as car dealership and homeware categories. Keep an eye out for this in your sector.
No impact: services
My thoughts on the services section — when I first looked at this I felt this is a SEO gold mine. You can put all sorts of industry specific descriptive words in services. You can describe in detail to Google a lot about the amazing services and products on offer.
However, I found that whatever you put in services does not help you rank. So it’s not an area to update daily. Also, it’s not very visible on mobile and worse on desktop. Add the info initially then forget about it.
Then moving back to the important ranking stuff, number three is adding your website .
If you’re a business with one location – add the home page link to the GMB website category. If you’re a multi-location business it is better to link to a location page.
If you have departments or you have practitioner listings — you also want to try and make sure that you link those to different pages on your site, to maximise your businesses exposure and make sure that you’re just not trying to rank all the listings for the same thing, because that is not possible. They’ll just get filtered.
No impact: Adding products to GMB
Adding products is a feature that Google launched recently and it is available on most listings. Google are slowly rolling products out at the moment to all listings with the exception of a few categories that don’t have it yet. As an x-fashion ecommerce owner I find this section exciting because it’s visual.
Companies that offer products or offer services, can technically list them in this section with photos and videos coming soon. One of the things to note about the products section is that they are extremely visible to the customer on the knowledge panel on both mobile and desktop. This is certainly something that is well worth taking time on, even though my research found it doesn’t impact ranking at present but I am sure it will in the near future. Also, it does have an impact on sales for companies that are selling online products, florists, car dealers, homeware etc.
4. Reviews – Really important to work this!
RED ALERT! Review quantity and quality does make an impact on ranking.
However, my findings also found that in some cases the economic law diminishing returns kicks in. For example, if you’re a local business and you go from ZERO reviews to 25 reviews, you will start to see a positive impact on your businesses GMB ranking. Just beware that when you get excited and focus on gleaning more reviews and you then jump from 25 to 70, you may not get the ranking impact you were expecting. Saying that – from a customer point of view they will always go with the business that has the most 5 star reviews.
There are lots of obvious reasons as a business to focus on reviews and making this part of your SEO strategy, and I have no doubt they actually have a direct impact on ranking, not just on the 3 pack, but also organically on the main page.
Nugget: Reply to reviews whether the review is good or bad. Google loves to see that you care about how your business is perceived and that you care about your customers.
5. Updates – Post daily on GMB
Another favourite of mine – an absolute gem from Google.
Google allows you to post updates on your GMB page four times a day. That means you can give your customers and prospective customers 4 live updates per day – that’s 28 updates per week – that’s approximately 112 updates per month. Daily posting options range from offers, events, daily or weekly offers, new photos and best of all you can add video content.
Google loves Google so I suggest if Google gives you this option you should take full advantage and Google will reward you as their algorithm will pick this up as customers are sure to engage in this.
To conclude, the five things that you need to remember that you can actually utilise inside Google My Business to impact and influence your business ranking – Business name – Categories – Website – Reviews – Posts
If you want your GMB page optimised to its full potential you can purchase this service from myself right here
Once your GMB is properly verified, optimised and set up follow the steps above on a daily basis. 15-20 minutes a day will take your local business to the next level and you will jump above your competitors in no time.
I am also offering a free strategy 15 minute video call for local business owners. If you would like to book a call with yours truly click here
For more information visit Virtu Digital – We pride ourselves on being a ‘Virtuous | Virtual’ local Digital Marketing firm.
Eamon Downey, [email protected] – www.virtu.ie