Google My Business can be one of the most valuable tools for any local business – one that can help you gain customers or clients and, most importantly, revenue.
However, many GMB listings are suffering from all-too-common, critical issues.
On June 16, I moderated a sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Mark Luckenbaugh of Local Viking.
He shared how to make sure you’re avoiding these pitfalls – whether you manage a single GMB listing or thousands of them.
Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.
Are you making it hard for local customers to find your business when they’re searching for you?
If your business is not showing up for relevant search queries, then you probably need to look into your Google My Business (GMB) profile.
Most GMB issues can’t be resolved through brute force. You need to start by auditing your listing and then addressing each problem accordingly.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for conducting a technical GMB audit.
Google My Business: Technical SEO Audit Items
1. Brand Dilution Diagnosis
We want to ensure that Google assigns a certain amount of recognition or authority to our business.
To find out, search for your own business name on Google.
- Does the brand query serve a Knowledge Graph?
- Do competitors or irrelevant results get served for the brand query?
If a Knowledge Graph is not showing up for your brand query and you’re only served with irrelevant results, then the following solutions can help:
- Brand insulation. Create and optimize authoritative profiles and social accounts. Leverage schema and data aggregation platforms.
- Reverse-engineer your competitor’s Knowledge Graph.
2. Address Audit
Some local business owners overlook the accuracy of their business addresses in various online listings.
To find out if you have this problem, drop the address from your Google My Business listing to Melissa.com. It will list any issues with the specific address your business is using.
You also want to look at your business pin in Google Maps and make sure it’s inside of the actual city limits.
Here are more tips to resolve address issues:
- Fix nonexistent suites.
- Update address formats.
- Modify expectations on service areas.
3. Fighting the ‘Possum’ Filter
Google may filter out low-quality or spammy-looking GMB listings out of local search results.
Make sure your business doesn’t have duplicate listings that might affect your visibility. To check:
- Paste your business address into the Google Maps search bar.
- Select the “Nearby” filter.
This will present every other business that’s registered at that address.
Duplicate GMB listings are easy to handle when they’re yours.
However, Mark and his team at Local Viking encountered issues on practitioner listings while working with a large hospital chain.
They found that when practitioners that shared a similar category at the same address, one might get filtered out and not get any visibility in the area, while the other one gets all the rankings.
While it’s not an easy problem to fix, you can mitigate practitioner listings with proper categorization.
For businesses located in large metro areas and have competitors in the same building, creating a “filter flip” might help.
With this approach, your goal is to convince Google that your listing is more authoritative than the others at the same address.
For Mark’s team, it’s an arduous process that required putting together a small outreach team on their client’s behalf and running traditional PR campaigns to boost the business’s credibility and stand out against the competition.
4. Phone Number Health Check
Phone numbers can also cause problems on GMB listings. To avoid them, you’ll want to:
- Ensure multiple businesses aren’t using the same number.
- Identify data consistency issues, business listing issues, etc.
You can look up your phone number, using different variations, in Google to double-check your contact info’s consistency.
Then using Google’s advanced search operators, you can enter all as a search query.
5. Google My Business Listing Audit
Follow these tips to optimize your GMB profile:
- Completely fill out your listing. Feeding Google more data about your business will help you show up in relevant search results.
- Go the extra mile with attributes, images, Q&A, posts, reviews, etc. This helps you stand out in the local map pack.
- Smart category optimization. Find four of the most relevant categories to your business and don’t go beyond that. Stay as niche as possible so that you can get quality leads from your listing.
- For multi-location service-area businesses, follow the “radii rule.” If you’re in one city and you have multiple locations, avoid overlapping with another one of your locations when creating your radius of service area. These overlaps can cause visibility issues.
6. Local Signals
Focus on essential citations, such as Yelp and Yellow Pages, and niche directories.
Don’t spend too much time on citations and start thinking about high-quality local signals.
There are plenty of ways to build hyper-relevant and geo-specific links that don’t involve shady citation sites.
[Slides] Are You Making These Big Mistakes with Your GMB Listing?
Check out the SlideShare below.
- The Local SEO Toolbox (Local Viking)
- GMB Ranking Framework Ebook (Local Viking)
- Local SEO: The Definitive Guide to Improve Your Local Search Rankings (Search Engine Journal)
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All screenshots taken by author, June 2021