7 Important Google My Business Changes to Make Right Now

By Lauren Van Woerden

May 27, 2020 – 5 min read

Times have changed. That’s a fact. Business may never go back to the exact way things were before the world pandemic struck, but we know that at the very least it will be a long road back.

There have been so many things for you to think about since the social distancing and stay at home orders took place. One thing is sure though, this experience has pushed us even further into a digital world, especially in how we interact and communicate with customers.

Since many of your customers still might be hesitant to physically come to your business location, Google My Business, or GMB, is your new online “storefront”. Have you looked at your online storefront lately?

Here’s a guide to get your digital storefront in tip top shape for the rebound we’re all looking forward to!

1. Claim Your Listing

The first step is not rocket science: Claim your business listing! Google users can create businesses on the platform and add photos, information, and reviews without anyone even managing it. Make sure that you have control over what consumers see.

Google My Business homepage view

Then, make sure all of your information is accurate: business name, business address (or service area), and business phone number. Keeping your information up to date gives customers confidence when they are looking to do business with you. 

This little internet gem can easily be forgotten as a tool for interacting with customers, so when you think of adding a new company announcement to your website or social channels, make sure to also include that information here on your GMB listing. More on that later!

2. Update Your Location Photos

The photos you use in your GMB listing become, quite literally, your “digital front door.” This is your customer’s first impression of you, and a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure you’re communicating your business the way you want your customer to see it.

Right now during these uncertain times, you might consider adding some photos of the precautions you are taking to ensure the safety of your team and your customers. Capture your sanitation station, or your forced social distancing measures to help potential customers feel more safe if they desire to come by your location.

Here are some great examples:

As an ongoing tool, we often recommend to clients that they should plan to have a company photoshoot every 3-6 months depending on their product or service. Planning for fresh photos every so often keeps your content current so you’re always staying relevant with your audience.

If I haven’t made the argument for using photos clear enough yet, studies show that businesses that have more than 100 photos in their listing see more than a 500% increase in calls, over 1,000% increase in website clicks, and 2,000%+ in direction requests. Need I say more?

3. Rewrite Your Business Description with New Keywords

The way people are searching has changed. The secret is to use as many relevant ‘keywords’ or ‘queries’ in your business description as possible while still making the language natural and enjoyable to read. 

Discuss your business keywords in addition to the new and important queries that people are searching, such as masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing, and curbside pickup. 

Google trends for COVID-19 times

Image courtesy of Google Trends:  https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%203-m&geo=CA&q=masks,hand%20sanitizer,social%20distancing

By discussing these items in your business description, you’re optimizing your search presence while also addressing your potential customers concerns and fears.

Google is always changing their algorithms and web indexing methods, but just this February SEO experts recognized how beneficial a well-written GMB business description can be for your search engine rankings.

Want help implementing this for your business?

We’re passionate about helping clients maximize their online presence for local SEO and we’d love to help you too. Talk to an expert today if you’re looking for assistance. Ok, let’s keep going!

4. Optimize Your Business Categories

Has the way your business serves customers changed? This might mean you need to change your business category on Google My Business.

The way business categories are set up, you have a primary category, and as many additional categories as you deem appropriate. The primary category is the most important and should identify your business for your main service or product. This category has a higher value to search engines, and in some search views, it may be the only category that users see.

Here is what our business categories look like:

Google My Business listing categories

5. Update Your Products, Services & Links

Google also structures your GMB listing based on your primary business category. If you are a restaurant, you should see a place for you to include a link to your menu and also online ordering. Or if you’re a service-oriented business you should see a space to include your appointment booking link.

Then also make sure to add more information under the Products or Services sections so people can seamlessly experience what you have to offer right here through your online storefront.

Upload photo examples of the products and services you offer with detailed item descriptions and pricing. If the idea of adding your entire store inventory is overwhelming, just upload your top 5 or 10 products or services.

6. Get Relevant Reviews... and Respond!

Everyone knows how valuable a 5-star review is, but truthfully it’s the volume of reviews that matters most. 

“Businesses appearing in Google’s top 3 local positions have an average of 47 Google Reviews.” (BrightLocal

So don’t be afraid to ask for reviews! And more importantly, ask your customers doing business with you during this time to include their current experience. Tell them to mention how they felt that you care for them and their safety and how you are adhering to the Provincial or Federal social distancing standards.

Look for this section on the homepage of your Google My Business page and click the “Share review form” button. This generates a link that you can share to ask for reviews.

Google My Business share reviews button

If you want to get really efficient, you can even use email or SMS marketing to send automated messages to your customers after they’ve done business with you to ask for a review. 

As you’re going over your customer reviews, if you find some totally irrelevant customer reviews or even one that might not have been meant for your business, there is a removal process.  Check out Google’s policy for flagging reviews for removal, or talk to an SEO expert for more help.

Responding to all reviews–both positive and negative–on your GMB page also shows customers that you’re engaged and you care about their experience. 

Pro Tip: Responding to reviews also gives you an opportunity to drop some of your targeted keywords into your response (in natural language of course) to score a few extra points with the search engines.

7. Share Company Updates in Posts

The Google My Business ‘posts’ are almost like a social media post, but it shows up directly in the search engine results page (SERP) and Google Maps.

Google recently released the “COVID-19 Update” as a new type of post within your GMB page, and can be used to include any new company policies or progression of your procedures over time as business begins to resume a more normal status.

Google My Business post options

When you post to your GMB page, your customers will see your recent news or events in their mobile or desktop feeds when they are searching for you. In the Google Maps app on mobile, this shows up in the “Updates” tab.

Seeing recent updates from you reassures your audience that you’re taking the necessary measures to make your business a safe space for them. Actively providing updates through this method helps you build rapport with new customers before they’ve even walked through your doors.

And with that you should have a clearly communicated and ‘COVID-optimized’ Google My Business page so your customers, old and new, can have confidence in doing business with you going forward.

Key Takeaway Points

Let’s summarize…

1. Claim Your Listing
2. Update Your Location Photos
3. Rewrite Your Business Description with New Keywords
4. Optimize Your Business Categories
5. Update Your Products, Services & Links
6. Get Relevant Reviews… & Respond!
7. Share Company Updates in Posts

Once you’ve got your listing dialed in, here’s a quick tip out of an SEO Pro’s pocketbook. Open a new browser that you’re not logged into, or at minimum an ‘incognito window,’ and search your brand name. This should show you what a potential customer will see when searching for your company. Does your newly-optimized Google My Business listing show up on the right side of the SERP? Then consider this a job well done!

Remember to always go back and keep this information relevant and up to date, and keep using the Posts feature to provide updates to users with any changes in business functions due to the Coronavirus laws for reopening in your area. 🙂

Still a little miffed by all the details outlined above? Google My Business is just one of the many things we can assist you with as part of our Local SEO services.

Please contact us to book a complimentary video discovery call with one of our digital marketing experts.

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