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SMX Overtime: Managing Google My Business profiles, reviews and more

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As an SMX East speaker for the “Google My Business From A to Z” session in New York, I wanted to answer a few questions from attendees after the event. Here are a few of my thoughts about optimizing profiles on GMB, handling reviews and managing location issues.

Do you have any recommendations for ensuring accurate pin locations? Google will often randomly change these and also accept edits from crowdsourced information that is not accurate, without any sort of push notification to the location owner that something has changed.

This can definitely be frustrating. Other than just checking manually and dragging the pin back and forth, I highly recommend checking out the Timeline feature. This is where Google shows you what locations you have visited and when, and making sure that sure people that work at the location are showing up as visiting the location can help give really concrete user information to Google.

If you take efforts to make optimizations to GMB profiles, how would you recommend to track and report back on whether the changes were effective or not?

First, I would make sure I tested a hypothesis. If you are making optimizations without thinking about what it may impact, your optimizations are less likely to drive value for the business. After that, it’s all contextual. Did you think it would increase phone calls from the GMB profile? Report on that! Ranking better in local packs? Report on that!

Do you go all-in when GMB releases new features or do you wait? Do you test it on yourself before a client?

I will never ever go “all in” on a GMB feature ever again. I once advised a Fortune 500 to go all-in on GMB chat (because they had a vendor that did pre-sales chat support for their website). It was an amazingly successful launch. Then Google deprecated the SMS chat platform that their vendor used, and didn’t include them in the beta for the new chat product. If we wouldn’t have been able to get them in the beta, our client would have likely lost their job. IMHO it’s never worth betting on their new features.

To rank higher in Google Maps, what is the most important focus – posts, photos, videos, reviews, etc?

Making sure you have an authoritative and relevant website – and reviews.

How can you remove ads (like Groupon) from GMB profiles? 

You can’t! Isn’t that awesome?

We have 40-plus locations and use a very similar bio/business description for each and just change the location name. Is this bad for GMB listings?

If you are talking about the description on the GMB profile itself, that doesn’t have an impact on SEO. If you are talking about the copy on your location pages on your domain, I would make sure those pages are unique for each location.

What is the best way to request reviews from your customers?

Most important is just doing it. Other than that, I would look for a review management platform as it’s very much a process that requires the right workflow and tools. If you are just looking for some tactics on your asks, here is a good post from GatherUp.

When you say get links, are you suggesting getting links directly to the GMB google URL? Or to the website page for the location?

I mean the website page for the location. Lots of people have tested link building to a GMB “profile” (including me) and I have yet to see any results that convince me it’s worth doing. Link Building to your domain and location pages is probably the most critical competitive differentiator you could do.

How do you control the grey service area language on the knowledge panel more?

The only way to have control of your service area these days is via the ZIP codes served. It’s a very imperfect solution.

Do you not like BBB links because they are nofollow or another reason?

I just don’t think they are relevant at all, both in terms of the value of the link or the BBB as a greater organization. The money spent becoming BBB verified can likely be spent on more impactful marketing.

Does landing page location schema help in rankings better?

I’m super skeptical that having local business markup on a landing page will help it rank better. However, it can help Google understand hyper-complex local relationships (like hospitals, universities, etc.) that can lead to the specific part of a business, like the ER or law school, ranks for more granular queries.

Any suggestions or best practices to implement a business operation process for getting reviews from customers/patients (we are a health care provider)?

There is no quick advice to help you here. If you want to implement a meaningful review system as a business operation, you are likely going to have to find both a review system you like and a consultant to implement it for you to make sure you get the value you want.

Are local links better than general links?

Honestly, I’m not sure why people continue to make this distinction. Just worry about getting an abundance of good quality links. If you can develop your own link building program you will be ahead of 90% of SEOs/agencies.

We turned on the new username feature for one location and our GMB listing immediately went down in ranking. We took it off. Do you know more about this feature?

If you are referring to short names, I didn’t let any of our clients adopt it. Still am very anti using them. There was a lot of chatter that short names were part of the reason for the huge rash of suspensions a couple of months ago. Most importantly, what do you expect to get out of them?


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Dan Leibson is the vice president of local and product at Local SEO Guide, a boutique full-service SEO consultancy. He runs a department that specializes in local SEO for multi-location businesses, as well as, agency consulting. He is a huge craft beer aficionado and foodie and when he isn’t contemplating how to best unlock the secrets of the Local SEO universe spends his spare time hanging with his wife and daughter.



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