Your Google listing is the box of information about your business which appears to the right of Google Search results and on Google Maps.

aardvark-listing-google-search   aardvark-listing-google-maps

Nine out of ten searches in the UK start with Google, and many customers will never get as far as your website. So, it’s essential to have a Google listing which contains all the right information, and is optimised to perform against competitors and to rank in searches.

The verified owner of a business listing can manage much of the listing’s content via their Google My Business dashboard, including enacting our recommendations below.

 

Content Area

Recommendations (visit your Google My Business dashboard to action)

Business name Do make sure this is correct and is consistent across all your online listings (see advice on contact details below). Don’t include unnecessary parts of your business name, such as ‘Ltd’ or ‘Plc’, unless they are integral to your brand name. People won’t be using those terms in their search. And don’t duplicate keywords which are already mentioned in your business’s ‘Category’ (see below). There’s no advantage to writing the business name as ‘Toni & Guy – Hairdresser’.

Contact details

Google will penalise you if the address and phone number on your listing don’t match your listings in other online directories such as Facebook, Bing Maps, Yell, Yelp, Foursquare etc. It’s worth checking any online directories where your business is listed to ensure that the phone number and address always appear in precisely the same format.

Opening hours

Check these are correct and complete. Google likes to be able to provide real-time prompts to users about businesses closing soon and whether they have time to get there. So, it rewards you for making that information available.

 

Call-to-action buttons

These make it easy for searchers to become visitors. As long as you have all your contact details in the listing (website, address and phone number), you should see the grey buttons in your listing (‘Website’ and ‘Directions’ when viewed on desktop, and ‘Call’ and ‘Website’ when viewed on mobile). If you don’t see these buttons, check your contact details in your Google My Business dashboard.

 

Map pin

Google doesn’t always get the exact location correct when you enter your address to set up the listing. For larger businesses or those with multiple entrances, the pin can often be on the wrong side of the building which creates problems for customers who are using Maps to navigate to you.

In the Google My Business dashboard section where you edit your address details, zoom in on the map and drag the red pin until it’s near your main entrance. Use the buttons to switch to satellite view if you can’t see enough detail on the map view.

 

Photos

This is the area we get asked about the most. Under the current system, Google ranks all the photos associated with your business according to several measures. The main ones are:

·      Popularity (i.e. how many people click on the image)

·      Image quality (i.e. resolution and relevance)

·      Recency (i.e. new images will take precedence over old ones)

·      Source (i.e. who uploaded it. Images from the business owner come first, then images from Google Trusted photographers, and finally images from the public)

So, the order in which photos appear cannot be controlled and will change over time. The only way to remove an image which you haven’t yourself uploaded is to report it for deletion by opening it from the Google Search results and clicking the flag symbol in the top right, or the ‘Report a problem’ text in the bottom right.

Google gives preference to listings which are updated, so it’s worth occasionally adding a new photo to keep things fresh.

 

Virtual tour / See Inside / 360 Photos

A virtual tour is an effective way to draw clicks to your listing and ultimately this is what drives its performance. Consider refreshing your imagery occasionally, as Google gives preference to listings which are kept up to date with recent content.

 

Category

Underneath the business name is its category. This will be the first one you entered when you set up your listing. But there’s no penalty for having multiple categories and this can help you feature in more search results.

In your Google My Business dashboard, add a new category and try searching the available types by entering relevant keywords. For example, a business could have the top category as ‘beauty salon’, but also add ‘hair salon’ and ‘nail salon’.

 

Reviews – General

Once you receive 5 reviews you’ll get an aggregate star rating, but you should aim for 10 reviews for the score to be credible (everyone assumes the first few are from friends). Don’t add lots at once – if Google sees more than 2 or 3 reviews go up on the same day they’ll be removed. The ideal is to have a steady trickle of positive reviews over time. It’s also a good idea not to have all 5-stars as again this can undermine credibility.

 

Reviews – Negative

Always respond politely and constructively to a bad review. Do so via your Google My Business dashboard and try to say something positive. Today’s shopper is used to seeing mixed reviews, so it’s about how you respond. A polite note which apologises for someone’s experience and explains what has been done to improve can take the sting out of a bad review.

If the reviewer is being mean or untruthful, you could politely correct them so as not to let completely unfair criticism stand. But in general, try not to be tempted to argue back.