Most local merchants get 90% of their clients from Google My Business.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a dentist, doctor, real estate agent, lawyer, or anything else… the majority of your business is coming from Google.
Because 86% of searches are being done on Google. People want to make decisions fast, and for that they need information.
Well, GMB is structured in a way that gives answers as quickly as possible so people can make educated decisions.
The secondary piece of GMB that really touches on the consumers is Maps.
Everybody uses maps, and if you’ve got a storefront type of business or even a service-based business, people are just going to come to Google and search for a nearby product or service.
They’re going to be looking at your reputation right there, and they’re going to make a decision. And that decision is going to be very binary.
It’s going to be “I’m going to contact you or I’m not.”
So you’ve got 5 seconds to get their attention.
How To Rank in the Local Three-Pack and Get Your Prospects’ Attention?
The Local Three Pack is the top 3 listing that appears on Google My Business.
That’s where you want to be if you want to generate more leads.
So there are two algorithms that influence GMB, the local algorithm, and the organic algorithm. They share a lot in common, but the number of signals related to organic is a lot more than the number of signals related to local.
For local ranking, the most important ones are proximity, relevance, and prominence. And these three things can be chopped down into a couple of different areas.
The Name of Your Business on GMB
This is the first signal you need to pay attention to. Make sure your listing name has keywords in it, and make sure it’s the same as your actual business name.
The Business Categories You Choose
Your main category must align with your business, but you can have eight or nine more.
And those you can change up, depending on what people care about more.
Don’t know which subcategories to use? You can use GMB Spy – which is a Chrome extension – to see what your top-ranking competitors are using. Pleper is another great, free tool.
The primary purpose of these tools is to show you the categories that get the most views.
Why is that important?
You might find that the business that ranks in the 1st or 2nd place is using a category you never thought of.
The website that your GMB profile links to
If your website is ranking well organically, that’s going to help drive local traffic to your GMB profile.
The content of your website actually will impact the queries that you show up for. You can use Google My Business Queries to see how you’re performing if you don’t know already.
86% of consumers are looking at the reviews left in the past two weeks. They want to know how you’re performing now, they don’t care about last year.
But don’t totally ignore your older ones. There’s another important group of consumers, who filter for your best and your worst reviews. They’re looking for how you respond.
95% of users are reading your responses, particularly to the bad reviews.
Older reviews are also feeding keywords into the database.
Being mindful of how you respond, and how you encourage your happy clients to leave reviews for you will drive the words that appear there.
You can’t explicitly ask for specific reviews. That’s directing, and that goes against Google’s guidelines.
Google wants what the real experience is, and if they catch you directing people – you’ll get suspended.
The way you can help your client is by telling them why reviews are important and try to do it on the spot while they are face to face with you at your local business.
Should you reuse reviews?
The short answer is no, Google doesn’t like that. They’re looking for original content. But in practice, people do copy their Yelp or Zillow reviews over to their Google My Business profile.
If you have absolutely zero reviews on Google, you can give this a try.
What if my client asks me to draft their review for them?
You want to avoid that because no matter how much you try to sound unique, it will end up looking and sounding like you’re writing your reviews, or that you’re using a bot or buying your reviews.
It might not count if you do it once, but if you do it over and over again there will be a pattern.
Google will catch that, and you will get shut down.
Review gating is basically stopping bad reviews from getting published. This can be done in multiple ways… adding a piece of code to your website, redirecting people to a form, etc.
It makes sense to do this from a business perspective, but Google doesn’t like it.
Google says, if you’re review gating, you’re basically going ahead and you’re manipulating your review score, even if your intentions are pure, and you want to resolve any bad experiences your clients may have had.
Just don’t. If you get caught, there’s a strong chance that ALL of your reviews will be deleted. Google is really good at catching fake reviews, too.
The guys writing them, they’re not trying very hard to cover their tracks. They’ll either use a VPN in the same place, or write a ton all at once, or they use names like Obama, so it’s very obvious.
If your competitor asks Google to take a look at your obviously fake reviews, they will.
And they’ll go one step further and look at ALL of your reviews for spam. There’s a good chance that even your legit reviews will flag their spam filter and they’ll come down, too.
You may even lose your entire listing. It’s just not worth the risk.
Want more tips and tricks on how to optimize your GMB and attract more clients to your business? CLICK HERE
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.