Do you get numerous calls from people (robots) claiming to be your local Google representative? I’m sure you figured out by now that these calls are NOT from Google, and in fact are illegal. Here is the official information from Google about these calls: https://www.google.com/safetycenter/everyone/start/report-robocall-scams/. Now, that being said, there are some very cool and legitimate ways that you can improve your Google listings. Many are new features that Google has rolled out over the last year, so I want to explore a few of these with you so you can crush your listing on Google.
First, you need to understand that Google has multiple departments which provide overlapping information. This causes some confusion for many business owners. There is Google+ (yes this is still around, and yes, your business should have a Google+ page for SEO purposes). There is Google MapMaker, which provides your business location on Google Maps. And then there is Google My Business (GMB), which is the heart and soul of the Google Local SEO platform. Even though they do talk to each other, you need to make sure your information is updated on all three services.
Until very recently, your G+ page was created for you, automatically, when you created your GMB page. However, even if you had already created a G+ page, the auto-generated page would take over as your official brand page. Because this caused a bit of confusion and frustration for business owners and marketers, Goggle changed the protocol earlier this year. Now, when you create your GMB page, Google does not generate a G+ page. The same is true with YouTube, another Google property. YouTube no longer generates a G+ page. Most people do not use G+, so you really don’t have to worry about it.
What you need to know about GMB
Google My Business used to be known as Google Places. Quite honestly, for most business, GMB is the primary listing on Google that you should be concerned with. This is what gets displayed in the search results when someone is looking for your business. You can edit your listing on GMB at: https://business.google.com/manage/#/list. If you are the owner of the business, you will be shown a screen where you can edit this information. For example:
Notice that this is where people can leave reviews for you on the web. In the lower part of the sidebar listing there is a link to write a review (feel free to write a positive review about WebStoresLtd). Google reviews used to be tied to Google+, but no longer. Reviews from G+ are not displayed on GMB, so you need to get new reviews for them to show up on your Google listing. You can leave a review about WebStores Ltd here:
Pretty cool, huh? You can create a link on your website, your blog, Facebook, or anywhere else just like I did above. Here is the directions on how to do that:
Adding Posts to your GMB Listing
Now to really crush it on Google with your local listing – add a blog post! Say what???! Yes, you can add your blog posts, links and other important content directly to your Google Business listing. And, that content shows up on your listing when people search for you. Plus, it gives your listing a higher ranking performance with Google. Do not ignore this tip!
Here is the official directions again from Google: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7342169
I have not found a way to auto-feed your regular blog posts from your WordPress site into your GMB listing, but these posts are different anyways. They are designed for you to list special events. And they will disappear after 7 days or after your event has passed, whichever comes sooner. They can still be viewed under “Posts”, they will just not show up on your search results listing after that time. This is an awesome way for you to announce special events like a sale or special appearance, or even special holiday hours.
Direct Messages via Google My Business
Your potential clients can visit your website or click to call, but we know that people prefer to text or direct message. The new direct message option does just that.
Direct messaging has been rolling out across the country and if you haven’t seen it yet, you likely will soon. Don’t worry if you haven’t checked your GMB console for a long time and are worried about having a bunch of unread messages – you haven’t. To receive messages you’ll have to turn them on first. Information on how to do this is again found in the official Google answers at: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7177958. Messages can be sent and received via regular text messging (SMS or short messaging service), but not through the GMB console.
360 Degree Virtual Tour
I wrote a blog post a while back about 360 degree cameras. You can use this technology to create your own virtual tour of your business and link it to your GMB listing. From your GMB dashboard, you will see a link that says “Add Virtual Tour.”
When you click on this link, a pop-up is displayed – scroll to the bottom and click on “Street View App.”
Here is an example of one that I did for the Douglas County Library in Parker. This is a great way to let people experience your business virtually, even if they can’t come in person. WebStores Ltd owns one of the few cameras that are supported by Google Street View, so if you are interested in having a virtual tour made for your business, please contact us (you can send a text message via our Google My business listing!).
So there you have it – several new ways to crush your listing on Google including:
- Editing your Google My Business listing
- Getting Google Reviews
- Adding Posts to your GMB Listing
- Direct Text Messages via GMB
- 360 Degree Virtual Tours