Google My Business Strategies for Multi-Location Brands in 2023

Gilad
Salamander
November 30, 2022

In this article, I recap some of the noteworthy GMB changes – driven in large part by COVID – as well as features we believe will have a lasting impact for multi-location business, and tips for how to lean into these changes and dominate GMB in 2023.

But first, why does Google matter? It drives visibility with nearby consumers more than anything else. In fact:

‌Google boasts an impressive 92.37% of core search engine market share and 96.41% mobile search share

Searches like "local businesses near me" and "support local businesses" have increased in popularity year over year by more than 80%.

‌46% of Google searches have local intent, representing billions of high-value searches for local businesses and services

‌Google is also the number one non-direct source of all web traffic for MomentFeed clients, driving more than 95% of our clients leads, and dominating in terms of click-to-call, click-to-directions, and click-to-website.

Google My Business Strategies for Multi-Location Brands in 2023

Take Advantage of New Google My Business Features

To gain a competitive advantage in local search, take advantage of new Google My Business features as soon as they become available. The sooner you act, the less competition there will be for ranking and conversion boosts. When the laggards finally catch up, you'll be miles ahead.

Google made a lot of changes to GMB during COVID that will have a long-term impact on profile rank. In this article, I explain what's new and provide advice for multi-location businesses on how to optimize their Google My Business listings for visibility in the Google 3-Pack. Let's start with what's new:

Google Posts Go Mainstream - Previously available only to businesses with 10 or fewer locations, Google decided to make them available to all businesses during COVID to assist with important, timely updates. This feature, we believe, is here to stay. This is great news for companies with multiple locations.

Expert tip: To assist your brand in google my business optimization & appear more relevant to the searcher's inquiry, incorporate significant keywords that your prospects are using in your Google Posts. As "justification," Google frequently inserts excerpts from Google Posts into the Google 3-Pack presentation.

Google Post Snippet

Attributes are more important than ever - You may provide your business with further details about it by adding attributes. Since consumers developed the habit of evaluating these additional health and safety-related features during the epidemic, this GMB field has become even more crucial. Google added numerous additional health and safety-related attributes during the pandemic.

Secondary hours have begun - This is a long-awaited change for larger and multi-service businesses. You can now list secondary hours if you're a retailer with a pharmacy, a gas station with a car wash, or any other business with multiple sets of open hours at the same location.

Fewer Reviews - Due to COVID restrictions & inflation, people visited fewer businesses in 2020-21, so consumers left fewer reviews on Google in 2020-21 than they did in 2019. This emphasizes the importance of the remaining reviews in 2023.

9 Google My Business Forecasts and Strategies for Multi-Location Businesses

As COVID ends and people start getting out more, location-based marketing will become even more crucial for multi-location brands. Here’s what you should be doing to maximize visibility.

‌1. Rank in the Top Two on the Local Pack

In March 2021, mobile users began to see two search results for Google's local pack instead of three. The change appears to be limited to specific industries, but roughly half of those polled have already noticed it. If you rank in either of the top two positions, your impressions and clicks could skyrocket. You might see the opposite if you're in position three.

2. Watch Local Services Ads

Local Services Ads, which were previously reserved for home services such as pest control and locksmiths, have now been expanded to include professional services such as realtors and lawyers. With their photos, reviews, and other appealing features, these ads divert attention away from traditional paid advertising.

When experts examined the statistics for about 100 lawyers, they discovered that companies lost only about six clicks per month after the introduction of Local Services Ads, but their Google Ads performance dropped dramatically.

If local ads enter the picture for your industry, keep a close eye on your paid ad performance.

‌3. Google Posts Are Here to Stay

Google My Business reopened Google Posts for multi-location brands in March of 2020, as a way of helping companies communicate with customers during the pandemic. It got great adoption and it wasn’t as competitive with Google’s paid advertising as Local Services Ads.

4. List Your Years in Business

GMB listings now include a field for brands to display how long they've been in business, and multi-location businesses have been unsure how to use it. Should you include the total number of years the brand has been in business, or just the opening date of a specific location?

According to experts, the decision is made by the brand. If you're a service-oriented business where longevity is a major selling point, you might want to use the brand's launch date.

Other businesses may choose to use the opening date of the location. Local consumers will care more about a new Subway location in town, for example, than how long Subway has been in business overall.

5. Focus on These Fields

Most GMB fields have no effect on your ranking but can help you get more conversions. They give people the information they need to choose you, but they have no say over where you appear. Here are five fields that are important.

Business Name - If your company name is relevant to the search term you want to rank for, you'll get more clicks. For example, if your company name is Starbucks Coffee, listing it as such - including the keyword 'coffee' - will likely result in more clicks than simply listing as Starbucks.

Website - Most multi-location brands benefit from linking to location-specific pages rather than overall brand pages. That will not be the case for every business, so check your organic results for key search terms and link to the page that ranks higher.

Attributes - Ranking is influenced by some attributes. A business's ranking for "female" and "women"-related keywords was shown to be significantly impacted by describing itself as "woman-led" in one study. Similar effects might result from "Black-owned."

Reviews - Even though there are fewer reviews, they still matter. How you rank is affected by your star rating, the keywords included in the review language, and the number of ratings. It is important to perform a sentiment analysis to understand what your customers think about you.

Business Categories - Google expands the list of available company categories each month. You will get a competitive edge if you update your primary category as soon as feasible if a new category more accurately defines your company. For instance, a shawarma restaurant used to have to refer to itself as a "Mediterranean restaurant" or something comparable a few months ago. These restaurants can now put "shawarma restaurant" as their main category and benefit from significant visibility increases.

Expert Tip: Regularly check your GMB listings to see if there have been any category updates that affect your company.

‌6. Drive Conversions With These Features

Other GMB features will have less influence on your ranking – but will help you get attention and conversions.

Menus - If you have a food or drink menu, make sure it is accurate and filled out entirely.

Product Listings - This newly released feature boosts a brand's visibility, particularly on desktop, and you don't have to sell products to use it. This field is filled by Joy's company for all of its service-based businesses. Insurance companies are listed in categories such as health insurance, auto insurance, and others, and this feature helps them get noticed.

Photos - Some industries rely more heavily on photographs than others. Shots of an insurance company's office and team may suffice, but product- and service-based businesses such as retailers, restaurants, and car dealerships should have plenty of updated photos. In any case, your photographs should be unique to your company. Using stock photos can harm your search engine ranking. More information on optimizing your Google My Business photos can be found in our recent post.

‌7. Focus on the Complete Review

Google is now asking customers for photos and details about their experience, in addition to star ratings and review text. Prioritize vendors who will provide this context when looking for reputation management services so you can respond to reviews more effectively.

‌8. Keep Review Trust High

According to Inc.com, 84% of people believe online reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations. Fake reviews can cause customer distrust, which is a growing issue.

This is not to say that reviews aren't important. On the contrary, a recent customer survey revealed that ratings are just as important as brand familiarity when it comes to converting from the 3-Pack. As a result, it's more important than ever to track and manage your reviews. Keep an eye out for fake reviews and report them to the appropriate platform.

‌9. Expect Polarizing Opinions

The percentage of five-star and one-star reviews has increased over the last five years. As two, three, and four-star reviews fade, people are more likely to express extreme happiness or intense dissatisfaction.

If this trend continues, it will be even more important to provide excellent service and satisfy customers. Respond to reviews quickly and effectively as well — your one-star reviewers may change their minds.

Put GMB to Work For Your Brand

Google My Business is constantly changing, and responding quickly to those changes can help your multi-location brand stay ahead. Right now, that means taking advantage of popular features like Posts and Attributes, as well as updating your categories.

Make full use of features such as Menu and Products, and keep an eye on your reviews. Check out the full webinar for more information and to learn more about managing your GMB profile.

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