In recent years, Google has not-so-quietly been staging a bit of a takeover on the Web. Not content to be the largest search engine in the world, Google is actively working toward a “zero-click-query” environment.

Basically, Google wants to serve up answers to searcher queries—without sending them to a website. Google wants to keep users on Google.

That’s why Google is investing heavily on adding new features to their Google My Business (GMB) platform.

To stay competitive in local online search, businesses should take full advantage of the features available on GMB. Doing so will help the business develop and maintain a robust online presence that’s not solely dependent on a website for converting searchers to clients.

Today, GMB will display clickable phone numbers, hours of operation and other business information plus options to book or schedule appointments—even to make a purchase.

If you want your business to remain relevant in Google local searches—particularly branded searches—it might be time to audit your GMB presence.

What an GMB Audit Should Entail

When we conduct GMB audits for small businesses, we look at seven factors that have shown to have a significant impact on local searches and conversions.

Confirmation of a GMB Presence

A Google My Business (GMB) presence is considered the hub of your online Google presence. It’s important that businesses claim their Google My Business listing. This will be where businesses can manage the majority of information as it appears in Google.

It’s also a key factor Google references to generate a Knowledge Panel on branded searches for your business.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably have a GMB presence—whether you created one or not. Google is active at crawling and finding businesses.

If a GMB exists for a business, we’ll determine if the business has actually claimed it.

What Business Categories Are You Listed Under?

Business categories in GMB can be one of the most influential factors in ranking on Google and Google Maps. Being specific in your primary category can help influence rankings in a competitive environment.

Consistent Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)

Your business name, address and phone number should be consistent throughout your online presence. A mismatched NAP between your GMB listing and your website could create consistency issues—impacting how Google shows or doesn’t show your business.

Customer Reviews

Reviews on Google continue to increase in importance in local search and reputation building. They influence both ranking and customers’ decision making. Google looks at various signals to influence its search rankings and reviews can provide the search engine with valuable information.

During an audit, we’ll look at:

Number of Reviews: Nationwide, local businesses that rank in the top 3 positions of Google Local Search have an average of 47 Google Reviews. While having a large number of reviews doesn’t guarantee rankings, it could be considered an important signal to Google that you’re an active business.

Responses to Reviews: Business responses to reviews is a signal to Google that you are an engaged business.

Keywords in Reviews: Reviews that include keywords such as specific services and products can help boost rankings for those specific searches.

Photos and Videos

Google reports that businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for directions and 32% more clicks than businesses without photos. GMB has made images an important and prominent feature in the Knowledge Panel.

Google advises businesses to include at least three strong exterior and interior images. An image of the common area and reception area. A minimum of three management and team photos.

Additionally, Google encourages businesses to include videos as part of its GMB visual presentation.

Google Posts

GMB provides businesses opportunities to post images, copy, call to actions (book an appointment, learn more, sign up, etc.), URL links, and events that will appear on their Knowledge Panel.

Posts can be a great way to add more information and grab searcher attention to your Google presence. Google posts are limited to 300 words of which 100 characters appear in the Knowledge Panel. Posts can appear for a maximum of 7 days on GMB. Event & offers will appear until they expire.

By adding keywords in the copy, Google Posts may appear on relevant searches.

Google Questions & Answers

GMB Question and Answers feature allows searchers to pose questions to your business. This provides the business with an opportunity to provide authoritative and expert answers that remain on your Knowledge Panel.

Google also encourages businesses to create a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers list and post these on your GMB. This is an opportunity for businesses to get out in front of potential questions the public may have about your business or services you provide.

Questions and Answers can be “upvoted” by both the business and searchers. By being the one of the first to add Q&As, your postings can be “upvoted” more frequently over time.

 Don’t Have Time to Audit Your GMB? Reach Out for Help.

Surprisingly, there are a substantial amount of businesses that haven’t claimed, developed or fully used their GMB profiles. Given the importance Google is placing on this, these businesses are doing themselves a huge disservice.

We understand this all takes time to complete, manage and stay on top of. That’s why we’re here. Give Business Solutions Unlimited a call at (904) 429-4588 and let’s discuss how we can start helping your business today.