Google My Business: Don’t Set It and Forget It
Joy Hawkins

Today we have a guest post from Markella Haynes from MDG Advertising. At MDG Advertising, Markella develops and executes social media marketing strategies for clients across a wide array of industries, while leading the local search marketing efforts for the team.

Google My Business: Don’t Set It and Forget It

So you’ve accomplished one of the first steps in developing a local search strategy: you claimed your business listing on Google My Business. You’re doing better than 44% of local retailers who haven’t even made it this far, according to the Local Search Association. But just because you verified your business listing, added a few pictures, and picked your categories doesn’t mean you can discard your credentials and never optimize your listing again.

Local SEO is constantly evolving— in 2018 alone there have been more than 50 major changes. To stay current and effective, you must constantly be revisiting your approaches. Here  are four key reasons why your listing on Google My Business (GMB) should not just be set up and forgotten about:

Anyone Can Suggest Edits Your Data

As a local search marketer, I rarely trust the hours shown on a GMB listing if it doesn’t have recent owner-added photos, or if it’s not taking advantage of any new features like Google Posts, appointment URLs, or the booking module. Why? Because it most likely means the business isn’t paying attention to its listing.

And if it isn’t paying attention to its listing, the information could very well be incorrect. Google relies on signals from other data sources and the public to provide accurate information. Anyone (including your competitors) can suggest edits to a listing, and if you’re not there to catch it, incorrect information may appear.

If you don’t want customers showing up at the wrong hours to your business, or to a wrong location altogether, be proactive and actively manage the details of your listing.

Recommended Time Spent Optimizing per Week: Up to 30 minutes

New Features Pop Up Often  

It’s rare that Google will alert you when it’s added a new feature to the dashboard that you can use to better optimize your listing. For instance, Google released appointment URLs, menu URLS, a services section, resurrected the business description, and added new categories and new attributes. The company also recently launched Google Posts, which take over some Google+ functionality and allow business owners to craft messages directly on their knowledge panel.

Even when you take advantage of features such as Google Posts, you still need to sign back into your account to track progress and make changes to ensure that your campaign is a success.

Following local search professionals like Joy Hawkins, Mike Blumenthal, and Mary Bowling on Twitter and their blogs is a great way to stay updated with what’s happening in the world of Google My Business. Also, because many features are released based on your category, make sure to check the GMB dashboard, since you may have features available in your account that others aren’t aware of yet.

Recommended Time Spent Optimizing per Week: Up to 2 hours

Keep Up with Your Competitors

The mindset of “if we’re not on Google, it won’t hurt us” is long gone. Too often I hear of small and multi-location businesses that have never claimed their business listings or don’t realize that the information is controlled through Google My Business. Even if you choose to ignore this free marketing tool, your competitors are taking full advantage.

If you start to fall behind on recent local search updates, your competition could be utilizing GMB to take advantage of the new appointment URL links, post menus, and listing special offers via Google Posts.

If your competitor is tech savvy, or works with an agency, they could already be way ahead of you when it comes to new GMB features. Research your competition often and see how they’ve optimized their listings. This will give you a good sense of what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing.

Recommended Time Spent Optimizing per Week: Up to 2 hours

Prevent False Ownership Takeovers and Spam Reviews

There are more than 70,000 inquires on the Google My Business forum from people saying that someone else gained access to their business listing and won’t give it back. Though this is now less common than it used to be, it’s possible for a spam operation or competitor  to get ahold of your listing simply because you weren’t paying enough attention to deny their request for ownership.

Take this example into consideration: A competitor finds that your listing ranks above theirs in a Google Maps search. He figures, “Why not try to claim their listing and make it my own?” So he requests ownership of your listing. To prevent false ownership takeovers like this, Google will send your business an email to confirm or deny this account from getting access. If you’re not logging into your Google account, you won’t see the notifications to be able to deny it. After no reply from you for seven days, the competitor can get access to your business listing.

The same is true for reviews. Your Google reviews are housed within your Google My Business account. This is where you’re able to reply to both positive and negative feedback, as well as flag issues. The more up-to-date you stay, the more quickly and effectively you’ll be able to flag and get reviews from competition, disgruntled ex-employees, and others removed.

Recommended Time Spent Optimizing per Week: Up to 1 hour

Tips from a Local Search Marketer

All of this isn’t meant to scare you. Google My Business is one of the best free digital marketing tactics for any local business and, as you can see, in just over five hours a week max you could be actively managing a single listing. The more suggested edits you have, issues you encounter, and time spent researching, creating and optimizing new features impacts the overall amount of time you’ll need to spend each week.

While taking time to do this may seem like a hassle, it can have a big payoff. By actively managing your GMB presence you can control how vital information appears online, make the most of new Google features, keep up with the competition, and ensure that no one takes over your valuable listing.

If you only have a single location, it should only take a few hours a week, unless you encounter an issue. If you’re a multi location business, it may be wise to contact an agency or seek help from a listing management tool to help you out.

About Markella Haynes

Markella Haynes is a Social Media Community Manager at MDG Advertising. She has been a part of the LocalU community for more than three years, and is an avid contributor to the Google My Business Advertiser Forum.

At MDG Advertising, Markella develops and executes social media marketing strategies for clients across a wide array of industries, while leading the local search marketing efforts for the team.

MDG Advertising, a full-service advertising agency with offices in Boca Raton and New York, NY, is one of Florida’s top digital marketing companies and branding firms. MDG’s core capabilities include branding, logo design, print advertising, digital marketing, email marketing, media planning and buying, radio and TV advertising, outdoor, newspaper, website design and development, and social media.

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Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.