by Juan Robin II
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most powerful ways to improve a business’ local search engine optimization and online visibility. If you’re a local business, claiming your Google My Business profile is one of the first steps you should take to increase your company’s online presence.
As long as your local business meets Google’s guidelines, your Google My Business profile can help give your company FREE exposure on Google’s search engine. Not only can potential customers quickly see your business’ name, address and phone number, but they can also see photos of your business, read online reviews, find a description about your company, complete a transaction (like book an appointment) and see other information that grabs a searcher’s attention — all without them even visiting your website. That’s pretty powerful stuff!
Google My Business helps with local rankings
Not only is your GMB Profile easily visible to potential customers when they search on Google, but Google My Business is also a key Google local ranking factor. In fact, according to local ranking factor industry research, Google My Business “signals” is the most important ranking factor for local pack rankings. Google My Business signals had a significant increase in ranking importance between 2017 and 2018 — rising from 19% to 25%.
Claiming your Google My Business profile is your first step to local optimization — but many people mistakenly think that just claiming your Google My Business profile is enough. However, optimizing your Google My Business profile and frequently logging into your Google My Business dashboard to make sure that no unwanted updates have been made to your profile is vital to improving your rankings and ensuring the integrity of your business profile’s accuracy.
Google My Business features that make your profile ROCK!
Google offers a variety of ways to optimize and enhance your Google My Business profile. You can add photos, videos, business hours, a description of your company, frequently asked questions and answers, communicate with customers via messages, allow customers to book appointments, respond to online reviews and more.
One of the most powerful ways to grab a searcher’s attention is by creating Google My Business Posts. GMB Posts are almost like mini-ads for your company, products, or services.
Google offers a variety of posts you can create to promote your business:
- What’s New
Posts also allow you to include a call to action (CTA) so you can better control what the visitor does after they view your post — creating the ultimate marketing experience. Current CTAs are:
- Order Online
- Learn More
- Sign Up
- Get Offer
- Call Now
Posts use a combination of images, text and a CTA to creatively show your message to potential customers. A Post shows in your GMB profile when someone searches for your business’ name on Google or views your business’ Google My Business profile on Google Maps.
Once you create a Post, you can even share it on your social media channels to get extra exposure.
Despite the name, Google My Business Posts are not actual social media posts. Typically the first 100 characters of the post are what shows up on screen (the rest is cut off and must be clicked on to be seen), so make sure the most important words are at the beginning of your post. Don’t use hashtags — they’re meaningless. It’s best if you can create new posts every seven days or so.
Google My Business Posts are a great way to show off your business in a unique way at the exact time when a searcher is looking at your business online.
But there’s a long-standing question: Are businesses actually creating GMB Posts to get their message across to potential customers? Let’s find out…
The big question: Are businesses actively using Google My Business Posts?
There has been a lot of discussion in the SEO industry about Google My Business Posts and their value: Do they help with SEO rankings? How effective are they? Do posts garner engagement? Does where the Posts appear on your GMB profile matter? How often should you post? Should you even create Google My Business Posts at all? Lots of questions, right?
As industry experts look at all of these angles, what do average, everyday business owners actually do when it comes to GMB Posts? Are real businesses creating posts? I set out to find the answer to this question using real data. Here are the details.
Google My Business Post case study: Just the facts
When I set out to discover if businesses were actively using GMB Posts for their companies’ Google My Business profiles, I first wanted to make sure I looked at data in competitive industries and markets. So I looked at a total of 2,000 Google My Business profiles that comprised the top 20 results in the Local Finder. I searched for highly competitive keyword phrases in the top ten cities (based on population density, according to Wikipedia.)
For this case study, I also chose to look at service type businesses.
Here are the results.
New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Jose, San Francisco, Washington DC, Houston, and Boston.
real estate agent, mortgage, travel agency, insurance or insurance agents, dentist, plastic surgeon, personal injury lawyer, plumber, veterinarian or vet, and locksmith
Surprise! Out of the industries researched, Personal Injury Lawyers and Locksmiths posted the most often.
For the case study, I looked at the following:
- How many businesses had an active Google My Business Post (i.e. have posted in the last seven days)
- How many had previously made at least one post
- How many have never created a post
Do businesses create Google My Business Posts?
Based on the businesses, cities, and keywords researched, I discovered that more than half of the businesses are actively creating Posts or have created Google My Business Posts in the past.
- 17.5% of businesses had an active post in the last 7 days
- 42.1% of businesses had previously made at least one post
- 40.4% have never created a post
Highlight: A total of 59.60% of businesses have posted a Google My Business Post on their Google My Business profile.
NOTE: If you want to look at the raw numbers, you can check out the research document that outlines all the raw data. (NOTE: Credit for the research spreadsheet template I used and inspiration to do this case study goes to SEO expert Phil Rozek.)
Do searchers engage with Google My Business Posts?
If a business takes the time to create Google My Business Posts, do searchers and potential customers actually take the time to look at your posts? And most importantly, do they take action and engage with your posts?
This chart represents nine random clients, their total post views over a 28-day period, and the corresponding total direct/branded impressions on their Google My Business profiles. When we look at the total number of direct/branded views alongside the number of views posts received, the number of views for posts appears to be higher. This means that a single user is more than likely viewing multiple posts.
This means that if you take the time to create a GMB Post and your marketing message is meaningful, you have a high chance of converting a potential searcher into a customer — or at least someone who is going to take the time to look at your marketing message. (How awesome is that?)
Do searchers click on Google My Business Posts?
So your GMB Posts show up in your Knowledge Panel when someone searches for your business on Google and Google Maps, but do searchers actually click on your post to read more?
When we evaluated the various industry post views to their total direct/branded search views, on average the post is clicked on almost 100% of the time!
Google My Business insights
When you log in to your Google My Business dashboard you can see firsthand how well your Posts are doing. Below is a side-by-side image of a business’ post views and their direct search impressions. By checking your GMB insights, you can find out how well your Google My Business posts are performing for your business!
GMB Posts are worth it
After looking at 2,000 GMB profiles, I discovered a lot of things. One thing is for sure. It’s hard to tell on a week-by-week basis how many companies are using GMB Posts because posts “go dark” every seven business days (unless the Post is an event post with a start and end date.)
Also, Google recently moved Posts from the top of the Google My Business profile towards the bottom, so they don’t stand out as much as they did just a few months ago. This may mean that there’s less incentive for businesses to create posts.
However, what this case study does show us is that businesses that are in a competitive location and industry should use Google My Business optimizing strategies and features like posts if they want to get an edge on their competition.