I remember just a few years ago still being able to get a Google My Business listing approved and receiving qualified calls as soon as the next day, even with 0-2 reviews. Times have certainly changed. While it is still possible to ramp up your GBP (now Google Business Profile, formally the GMB) to get reviews in a relatively short timeframe, there are a few more obstacles, such as unsticky reviews, a more laborious approval process, more GBP locations from competitors in general, and more office locations being deemed “virtual,” which reduces the likelihood of their overall visibility.
This article provides a great overview of how to optimize the rankings and reach of your current GBP locations.
In this article, we outline the troubleshooting process of why your GBP locations may still be underperforming after you’ve already gone through a rigorous optimization process. Though it may simply seem like the antithesis of the previously mentioned article, this systematic approach may give you additional perspective on how to break through the stagnation you may be experiencing with the effectiveness of your notoriously stubborn listings.
Filling Out Your Entire Google Business Profile
If you haven’t been in all of your Google Business Profiles in the past year—or really, even the past 3 months—it is safe to say there are many changes to the information that can be provided for your locations. Even recently, Google added a more robust “Services Offered” segment, which many SEOs claim has already had an immediate impact on the visibility of an array of keywords.
In this article alone, Google essentially gives you a checklist of what people should expect to see on your GBP, and therefore, what they expect to see as well.
According to the article, customers are 2.7 times more likely to consider a business with a complete profile, along with 70% more likely to visit/contact that business. These numbers likely correlate with Google’s ability to push these completed profiles in order to attain said numbers.
As you can see from the list, the expectations are, at a minimum, the following:
- Services Offered
- In-Store Products (if applicable)
- Uploading photos and videos regularly. It is worth mentioning that most people only upload photos, and when they do, it’s one-time at listing launch. Many GBPs don’t have videos at all.
- Giving your description a personal touch
- Having an opening date
- Having business hours
- Consistently getting reviews
- Attributes to describe your business
If these are completed, you can bet you’re fulfilling the minimum criteria Google has set for you to maximize visibility.
Using Proper Local Business Schema/Structured Data
As much as GBP features change, so does the world of Schema. Schema markup is basically additional information included on the website’s backend (as opposed to the front end, which is what a website visitor would see) to let search engines know additional information about the website. There were many forms of schema that were popular years ago, such as:
- Attorney Schema
- Review Schema
- Blog Posting
According to the extensive research done over on MMMx’s side, the forms of Schema that will be most important for your local efforts will include:
- Local Business (seems obvious)
Page Level Local Backlinks
You may not actively engage in backlink acquisition for your website to build authority. This is a whole job unto itself and is what your SEO partner spends plenty of time doing. What is often overlooked is building links to the page your GBP locations specifically link to. While your main office location would probably be linked by your main GBP location, many businesses have multiple locations, thus creating multiple GBP listings. While the HQ goes to the homepage, your satellite offices must connect to the corresponding satellite geographic page on your website. And while most link-building efforts are laser-focused on the homepage of a website, it is paramount for authority to be built to those individual location pages as well.
Using a Citation Management Partner
According to the MMMx article, “Citations are references to your name, address, phone number, and website (known as NAPW) across the network of websites that make up the local ecosystem. While citations don’t hold the same ranking value as in the past, the amount of and accuracy of your NAPW across the local ecosystem still plays an important role in Google’s local algorithm.” It is recommended that you always have some sort of fully automated citation management solution in place because business owners and professionals simply shouldn’t spend their time attempting to keep up with managing their citations. Popular solutions include Yext, BrightLocal, and Whitespark.
If you have moved locations or done citations by hand manually years ago, chances are you have a big gap in having optimal citations.
Using Geo-Specific Content
This will tie into your website’s URL structure ahead, but some easy fixes to your website connecting to your GBP include the mentions of the location on the webpage.
Because your GBP is going to link to your website, and most commonly your homepage, it is essential to have mentions of your GBP address aligning with the geographic keywords of that page. That may sound like a no-brainer, but it may be more common than people realize. For example, if you’re on the outskirts of a metropolitan area but you’re optimizing your website and website content for the metropolitan area, this may be to the detriment of your website.
If you’re in Spring, TX, and have optimized your entire website for Houston, TX because it is the obvious larger market, you may never see results from GBP because of the complete misalignment of your GBP location and the messaging being provided on your website.
Generating Consistent Quality Reviews
There is more and more talk in the SEO community that reviews should remain consistent for your GBP locations, meaning it isn’t enough to have generated a high quantity and then postponed efforts. It is important to consistently have a growing quantity over time. Either way, from a consumer standpoint, no one wants to see that your last review was 4 months ago.
Simply Having 10 Reviews on the Profile
It is believed there were unspoken tiers of rankings “boosts” from hitting certain review milestones: 10 reviews, then 25 reviews, and ending at 100 reviews. Though this belief seems to have been debunked in the past year about the 25 and 100 review echelons, most local SEOs seem to agree that 10 reviews are an absolute threshold. You may have everything else in this article in order, but if you haven’t hit 10 reviews at a GBP location, it is going to be much more difficult to achieve and maintain the reach you’re looking for. In addition, much like it was mentioned about review frequency and review quality, having less than 10 reviews puts you in a tough position to convert either way when you’re juxtaposed to competitor GBPs with 5 to 10 times more reviews than you have.
Considering Your URL Structure
If you’re working your way down the list and have more room for troubleshooting, consider the URL structure you currently have in place for the page on your website. Arguably a technical, on-site SEO challenge, it is still worth looking into if you aren’t seeing the growth in your GBPs that you were expecting.
Most geo content is preferably “siloed” according to many SEOs, meaning it should be tightened up the further it becomes granular. This is a widely debated SEO conversation and one I’ve personally experienced almost as long as I’ve been doing SEO. The Silo structure vs. Flat structure.
Depending on how large your website is and how expansive you plan on it becoming, this could be a good technical conversation to have with your SEO and/or webmaster about the overall architecture of your website.
Considering the Physical Office Location You Have
The days of Opus, Da Vinci, and Regus may be at an end for those seeking expansion via the virtual office method, but what about other virtual office locations? It’s worth scoping out what already exists within the location you’re in, or looking to be in, to vet if there’s been success with visibility in that location, which leads to the next question…
Considering the Competition Present in the Location You Have
If you’re not showing up frequently in the map pack for your area, it may be because a similar business in your location already does. It is very rare that Google will provide two businesses in the same location for the same keywords because there is always an effort to show diversity in results. Consider organic results in general – results are comprised of websites, directories, blogs, articles, message boards, etc. This is the same approach to search result composition when it comes to local, except in this instance, it is different locations.
Unless the top competition in your building has far fewer reviews and a terrible review rating compared to you, it will be difficult to oust their position for your own.
Considering the Competition in General Within Your Radius
Even when you have your own brick-and-mortar, how inundated is your area with other lawyers? Maximizing the reach of a PI GBP off of Wilshire in LA is any local SEO’s worst nightmare – it is possible, but tremendously unlikely. What would it take to break out from 50 other lawyers in a 3-mile radius, or is this your call to action to kickstart a new GBP in a far less competitive area?
All things considered, your GBP(s) are a huge opportunity and will continue to be. While most people are focused on traditional SEO and Content Marketing strategies, there is very little expertise or focus on a comprehensive, full-scale GBP marketing plan in the legal space, or most other verticals for that matter.
Here are two additional mentions in the MMMx Article that may not adversely affect the performance of your locations after they’ve already been approved:
- Tracking With UTM Parameters
- Setting Up an Auto Verification
Maximize the Potential of Your Google Business Profile with Market My Market
Potential customers search for businesses online more than anywhere else, so it’s critical your firm confirms your local business listing is visible on Google. At Market My Market, our SEO and content marketing experts will work closely with you to assure you’re easily findable online so you can grow your customer base and, in turn, boost earnings. To uncover more ways to promote your marketing strategies, complete our online contact form or call us at (866) 270-2250.