New Functionality Added to Google My Business

Last month Google released a “core algorithm update” to its search functionality, prioritizing detailed, rich, and local content — emphasis on local. It appears that Google is giving more attention to improving and maximizing local results for its searchers. In other words, when you are in your hometown of, say, Leesburg, VA and search “coffee shops” Google will prioritize the results by local location, in this case Loudoun County, rather than a wide swath of the highest rated shops across the DMV (i.e., D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metro areas).  The idea is to give the best and most concentrated local results to the end user, therefore, Google has also given business owners increasing control over the content they can provide to improve their business listing’s results in local searches.

If you are a business owner, this release impacts you in many ways. One is that the way you are optimizing your online content (SEO) may need to be reevaluated and/or updated to ensure that you are optimized and in sync with the new algorithm updates. If you need help with SEO, be sure to download our free SEO field guide that can jump start your SEO efforts.

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Another way this release is impacting business owners is with regard to Google My Business. If you’re not familiar with Google My Business, this is basically Google’s yellow pages except it is totally free. There are many elements that go into optimizing Google My Business, simplifying the way a business owner can manage things like Google map listings, business info, reviews, and more.

A significant change to Google My Business, following the big core algorithm update came just this week as Google gave businesses more control over the content displayed in their listing. Now you are able to add up to 750 characters to describe your product and services so that you control the info that appears in this local search without having to pay for it.  This is breaking news especially in the local SEO sphere as it equips local businesses to improve their local search rankings.

What is Google My Business?

Maybe this is the first time you are hearing about Google My Business. This is Google’s platform for allowing business owners to customize how their information appears in its listing of local businesses (aka yellow pages). With Google My Business, you are able to add a description, highlight news and events, engage with customers who leave reviews, and even add photos. In some ways, it functions a lot like Yelp but it is more direct in that the information and features are listed across all Google platforms. In other words, you get a similar benefit as you would from Yelp without having to enter into Yelp — the info appears as the results of your search.

Google My Business also offers you insights into the people who are searching for your business, where they are searching from, the communities and the distances from your business and the people searching for you using their insights function which gives you mission critical information such as which links your searchers are clicking, calling, and viewing. And if you have updates to hours, get a new phone number, or are running a special you will want to share all that and more on your Google business page. Armed with this data you can be more strategic with your online marketing tactics and priorities.  

Why Does This Matter to My Business?

The men and women behind the curtain at Google are forever reviewing, refining and making changes to the way Google interacts with internet content. It makes sense of course, because Google’s primary mission is to be the best search engine on the planet, and with over 90 percent of the current search engine market share, it is clear that their customers (Google users) believe that Google is the end all be all of searching the vast landscape of the internet of everything.

This success gives Google a great deal of power and influence over many things, especially online marketing. They say that they operate with their user’s best interest in mind, and to that end, continue to make changes and release updates to their platforms that improve user experience. Which is great for the Googling humans of earth but sometimes serves as a massive pain in the neck for rank and file online marketing soldiers working hard to get their products and services into the hands (or onto the screens) of their prospects and personas.

What should I do to optimize my business listing?

If you own a business, big or small, you need to be sure that you have a thorough business listing within Google. Since Google owns more than 90 percent of the search market share, it is imperative that you have your business properly and thoroughly listed and that you have a regular routine of maintaining the listing including interacting with customers who leave reviews. If you are eager to begin right away, here is what you can do.

First add or claim your business listing by following this link and completing the online verification process. When you have verified that you do own the business, you are given the control to add and update and manage how your company’s information displays across all Google platforms. Google really does make it easy for you, it may take a bit of time to get everything set up correctly, but once you have all the information in place, it’s basically a matter of monitoring and updating your info on a regular basis. For your convenience, you can also download the free Google My Business app in the Google Play Store or from the iTunes App Store. Taking these steps will get you started but this is only the beginning of a solid SEO strategy.

This wades into the deep and ever changing waters of SEO — which can be confusing and overwhelming if you’re just starting out. Download our FREE field guide to help you begin your SEO work or call us for a consultation.

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