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Important Changes to the Google My Business Tool

Important Changes to the Google My Business Tool written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on Important Changes to the Google My Business Tool

Do you know about the Google My Business tool? Google has been playing around with the idea of a local directory for years, but it seems like they’ve really settled into Google My Business. They’re bringing everything together under the Google My Business umbrella, and there’s even some talk about them charging for advanced services there.

Every business should have a Google My Business profile, but if you’re a local business, it’s all the more critical.

First and foremost, if you don’t know what your Google My Business Page is, start by Googling the name of your business and location (city and state). In the righthand panel, there should be a directory listing with your business’s name and information. If you’ve claimed your profile, it’s populated with information you’ve put down. If you haven’t claimed your profile, Google’s cobbled together information from public sources and have built one for you.

The real telltale sign of whether or not you’ve claimed your business is this: If the panel says “Own this business?” it means you haven’t claimed your profile yet.

You can find, claim, and edit your page by going to Bookmark that page and go there often, because there’s a lot you can learn from your Google My Business page. Your profile isn’t something you can set and forget for years at a time; it’s something you should be interacting with on a weekly basis.

Get the Basics Right

I’ll be walking you through some recent updates to the platform below, but there are a couple of basic elements that every business owner should be aware of, whether they’re new to the platform or not.

The most important component of your profile is accuracy. Having consistent information about your business available out there online is one of Google’s ranking factors. So for starters, you want to make sure that the name, address, phone number, and website URL of your business as listed on Google My Business are accurate and are exactly the same as what you have on your website.

Describe What You Do

Once you have your name and basic contact information updated on Google My Business, you can get more deeply into the specifics of what your business does. Google has added the option for business owners to write a thorough description of their business. It’s a smart idea to fill that out, and work some crucial keywords in there for ranking purposes.

You also need to select a category for your business. Some business owners are casual about this step, but it’s important to be precise in the category you pick. If you do kitchen renovations, don’t select contractor as your category. Go for something more specific, like kitchen remodeler. There is a whole dropdown list of categories to choose from. If you have other related services that you offer, you can indicate them as secondary categories, but whatever it is you’d most like to rank for and be known for is the category you should select as your main offering.

It’s also wise to limit the number of categories you select—don’t go for more than a few. Selecting too many categories defeats the purpose of the exercise and leaves readers confused about your area of expertise.

Finally, take the time to upload lots of photos and videos. Show people around your office, include pictures of job sites, or highlight product offerings. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is still true, and visuals will help you pop on a text-heavy screen.

Correct Your Hours

If you own a store or business that includes a physical location you want people to visit, ensure that your hours are accurate. There’s nothing more frustrating for consumers than to find that the store they just drove to is actually closed! Not only that, Google will penalize businesses that have incorrect information (or information that doesn’t sync up with the times listed on their website) by not displaying your business in search results.

New Google My Business Features

As Google continues to invest in this platform, they’re adding more and more features. These newer elements can provide a lot of value for small business owners, so I recommend you take the time to fill out information and activate relevant features.


Posts are like blog posts, except they appear within your Google My Business profile. Increasingly, people are finding that these posts are helpful in SEO.

Additionally, they’re a great way to get useful information out there about your business. What you put in the posts is up to you, so they’re a versatile tool. You can share information about an upcoming sale, provide a discount on a product that consumers can find on your website, or it can be a post with helpful tips about something related to your field or industry. Posts can be updated frequently, so you can make them a go-to source for current information about your business.

Appointment Calendar

From hair salons to plumbers, there are service providers across many industries that need to manage appointments from clients. This new feature on Google My Business allows you to display a calendar of open spots, and prospects and customers can book directly through your Google My Business page.

Direct Messaging

Google has created a direct messaging option, so that people can send you messages right through the platform. You can set these chats to come directly to a phone line you’ve established for texting. Your number itself won’t be displayed on Google; rather, anyone clicking the messaging link will be able to send a note from their computer or mobile device and it will come through to you as an SMS on your phone.


This can be a tricky feature to manage, but Google now includes a Q&A section where customers can ask a question, and either you as the business owner or other Google users can respond. It’s a good practice to keep an eye out for Q&As so that you are the one to answer them. Sometimes when your fans get to it first, they inadvertently provide incorrect information about your business, and you don’t want that out there on the internet!

Google Reviews

Google My Business is the house for Google reviews. Over the years, reviews have become a huge ranking factor, so they’re important for SEO. But perhaps even more critically, they serve as social proof. Many people won’t buy from businesses that have either low or no ratings.

That’s why it’s important to respond to all reviews, whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent. Let people know you appreciate their positive feedback. For those who have a complaint or issue, responding kindly and positively can help not only win back that customer, but impress others who happen upon your professional response to the unhappy person.

Don’t stress out about a bad review. In fact, there’s research that shows people don’t trust a business that has a perfect 5/5. You’re actually better off with an aggregate rating of between 4.2 and 4.5.  And in the end, how you respond is more important than the bad review itself.

Driving Traffic to Your GMB Page

There are lots of reasons you might want to drive traffic directly to your Google My Business page (soliciting reviews is certainly one of them!). Google now allows business owners to create a short branded URL so that you can share that with people and people easily direct them to your Google My Business page.

Don’t try to get creative with the creation of this URL. Pick something that makes sense with your business name, so that it’s easily identifiable as a URL that’s linked to you. Once you’ve created this URL, you can include it in your email signature, on store receipts, or on printed materials your technicians hand out to customers in order to drive reviewers to your Google My Business page.


Once you’ve gotten all of the features of your Google My Business page up and running, it’s time to take a look at the analytics on the back end of the platform. There is a treasure trove of information here, and Google keeps adding stuff to make it even more useful.

You can see data about how people are interacting with your Google My Business Page. The performance tab will give you an overview of the traffic to your page. You can see the number of views, searches, and actions for your listing on a week-by-week basis.

Google My Business Insights homepage

You can see information about who’s asking for driving directions to your store. Google will break it down by zip code, showing where most of your customers are coming from.

Google My Business directions requests

Google also tracks phone call activity. You can see when customers call your business, broken down by days and times. A lot of businesses have certain days or times of the day when they get most of their calls. Knowing this information can inform how you staff your phones. For example, if you get a high volume of sales calls on Monday mornings, you might want to make sure you always have a salesperson in the office at that time, rather than relying on your receptionist to forward those calls to a voicemail.

Google My Business Insights phone calls

And last but certainly not least, check out search queries. You can see which search terms are leading people to your Google My Business profile. This is not only helpful information here, it can also inform what you do in terms of website SEO and outlining keywords for paid search efforts.

Google My Business is an invaluable tool for local business owners. It’s another way to get noticed on Google. It can boost your search rankings. It allows customers to get in touch with you directly and book services seamlessly through the platform. Plus, it provides you with lots of detailed reporting on the back end so that you can better understand your customers and their needs. If you’re not already on Google My Business, now is the time to claim your profile, and if you haven’t been too active there thus far, I hope this information inspires you to get the most out of the platform.

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Small Business Guide to the Google Universe

Small Business Guide to the Google Universe written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I conducted. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for how to use Google for small businesses.

While Google has a lot of different products and services, to me, the following are what truly make up Google’s Small Business Universe for marketers and small business owners:

These are all great tools to help you grow your small business, so I thought I’d dive into each of them to give you a better understanding of how to use them and how they can benefit you.

Google My Business

This tool is critical for local businesses. This is one of the top ways, if not the way, businesses are getting found in their local community, which is why I spend so much time talking and writing about this topic.

Google My Business

Google My Business and the 3-Pack (above) show up when a person does a search for a term that is clearly for a local business. Getting your business to show up in the maps listing, as seen above, is extremely important and a good goal to achieve for local businesses today. There are a lot of factors that go into this, but the first one to focus on is ensuring your Google My Business listing is accurate and well-optimized. To optimize the listing:

  • Claim the listing
  • Make sure you don’t have any duplicate listings (this is rather common with the various iterations this tool went through)
  • Select a specific category for your business (avoid being too general)
  • Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) match the NAP on your website
  • Add images and videos
  • Put efforts together to help your business increase positive reviews on the listing (reviews are a huge ranking factor)

In addition to the tactics above, there are some things you can do on an ongoing basis to increase your chances of being found in the 3-Pack.

Google Posts

  • Respond to all reviews (both positive and negative) – Be sure to turn on notifications so that you are alerted when a new review has been posted so that you can respond promptly.
  • Use Google Posts – This is one of the newer features within the Google My Business listing and typically speaking, if Google really starts to pay attention to something, I’d recommend you spend time on it as well as it could imply that it will influence search rankings. This is one of those things. This new feature allows you to essentially showcase mini blog posts within the Google My Business listing that can be educational or promotional. It’s another area to really showcase your business.
  • Another thing to check frequently is making sure nobody is suggesting inaccurate edits to your listing, which people have the ability to do by clicking the Suggest an Edit feature in the public listing.
  • With the new messaging feature on mobile devices, people can actually text you now from the Google My Business listing (your number will never show publicly). This can be a great tool for businesses who are appointment-focused or need to respond to messages quickly.
  • You have the ability to set up your website as a tracking URL (UTM code) in the edit screen of your listing (it will still show as your URL when it’s public-facing). This allows you to clearly see where your marketing efforts are having an impact, where people are coming from, and so on. If you don’t create a tracking URL, and just put in your web address, all of that traffic in Google Analytics will say it came from Direct traffic and won’t segment out that it was from your listing, which I think is important information to have. By adding the UTM code, it will filter under the Organic traffic bucket, which is where it really belongs.

Google Search Console

This is another free tool that has actually been around for a while (formerly Webmaster Tools) and is one of the most important tools for you to use for your SEO efforts. Google has spent a lot of time in recent years to improve it which to me, is a sign it’s not going away anytime soon and is a significant tool for you to use.

This tool is your best source of data about where your traffic is coming from, how pages are ranking, and what people are searching for that actually lead them to your website (we used to be able to get that information in Google Analytics but are no longer able to).

They are currently in the process of releasing a new version of the tool, so right now you’ll spend a bit of time going back and forth between the old version and new, which isn’t a huge deal with how it’s set up, but it’s something to be aware of.

To set everything up, go to Google Search Console and:

  • Claim and verify your website (I’d recommend choosing the Google Analytics option in the instructions to do this)
  • Add your sitemap (if you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool to submit a sitemap)
  • Check your messages – This is where Google will communicate with you about your website and any issues you’re experiencing (it may take a couple of days for the messages to populate). Google will actually be able to point out page crawl errors, HTML improvements, penalties, and if you’ve been hacked. It will also tell you how to fix all of these issues.
  • Integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics (this will help you track goals and conversions). In Google Analytics, click Admin and then Property settings, you’ll see Search Console and it will give you the ability to add a Search Console.
  • Wait a few days (depending on your site, it may take some time for Google to crawl your site and gather the information needed).

This tool is also a great place to track the performance of your content and pages. You can:

  • Find keyword search rankings
  • Compare performance over time
  • Check out click through rate
  • Spot ranking opportunities
  • Find conversion opportunities

Google Ads

Google has recently changed the name from Google AdWords to Google Ads, and I think there are a couple of reasons why:

  • It’s more comprehensive than it used to be (it’s so much more than keywords now)
  • Advertising is now more about intent
  • Machine learning behavior and bots will dictate how advertising rolls out

How to Link Google Ads to Google Analytics

Link Google Ads and Analytics

The screenshot above is located in Google Analytics. Click Admin and scroll over to Property, where you’ll see AdWords linking (you can do this from Google Ads as well). I recommend integrating these tools because you want to know where your traffic is coming from and if it’s converting. It’s a great way to track your goals and get granular with your marketing.

New features in Google Ads

  • Local Ads (new campaign type)
    • Access by going to New Campaign
    • Local Campaign is focused on small local business and make it as easy as possible to run a campaign across various properties in the Google Universe
    • As a side note, see where it makes sense because it’ll be an easy way to spend all of your money at once.
  • Responsive Search Ad (new ad type)
    • Google does A/B testing for you and you’re able to input up to 15 headlines, 300 characters and 4 descriptions in the pool where they’ll mix up all the combinations (including extensions) and test on your behalf (leading to roughly 40K+ possible combinations) so that you know the ads give you the greatest opportunity for click-through rates.
    • These ads will essentially take over page one of Google (which is great for advertisers) and is something marketers should pay attention to.
    • These ads are currently in beta and aren’t showing up for everybody just yet (best practices aren’t currently in place in this beta phase either)
  • Local Service Ads from Google
    • This feature has been around for awhile but it is something that has been expanding rapidly. It is focused on a handful of home service businesses and if you’re one of these businesses, you need to be paying attention to these placements because they are dominating page one.
    • Reviews, proximity, responsiveness and how well your ad profile is optimized will contribute to your prominence in this space.
    • These ads are set up as cost per lead based on search term.
    • You have the ability to do search term and geotargeting.

To sign up for Local Service Ads:

  • Go to
  • Download the app
  • Create a profile
  • Get Google Guaranteed (employee background checks)
  • Set a monthly budget in Google Ads
  • Respond quickly
  • Focus on reviews

Local Service Ads

If I had to name a few key takeaways from this post, they would be:

  • Google My Business is a must for local businesses.
  • Google Search Console provides the best SEO data.
  • It’s important to connect Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
  • You must pay attention to ads.

There you have it! Have you started to explore these areas of Google? If not, I highly recommend doing so.

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to SEO.

Claiming and Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile

Claiming and Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Google My Business

I want to talk to you today about Google My Business. It is a crucial online, digital tool service from Google that is available to local businesses, true brick and mortar businesses, or service area businesses. You have to have a business in a location to claim a profile for that location, but when you do, it does unlock some powerful tools.

Google My Business

This is something that is available for free to any business like those I mentioned above. If you do work out of your home and you don’t want to put your address in there, you can actually claim a service area of where you go out and serve your clients, but it does have to be in your community. You can’t be in Chicago and say, “Well, I’ve got customers in Dallas. I’d like to actually claim that.” You have to have it in the city where you have your actual business.

I want to talk a little bit to those of you that have not claimed your profile, have not created it, or haven’t implemented this idea at all. So, what I want you to do is type into Google the name of your business, not your website, just the name of your business and maybe the city where your business is located. Generally speaking, there is a really good chance that you actually have a Google My Business profile that has been created in your business’s name because Google is constantly looking for information, addresses, phone numbers, things out there to present information when people are searching. So, don’t be surprised if you find one.

Now, also, don’t be surprised if you had nothing to do with setting it up or you set it up five years ago in one of the various ways that Google allowed us to do these things called Google Places and Google Plus. Google Local, I think, was actually the original version. So, don’t be surprised if it’s out there. But under Google My Business, you really now want to make sure that you claim that thing and enhance it. I’m going to talk a little bit about how to do that and the first step really is to then verify that it is your listing. Now, if you’ve got that listing and you are familiar with this process, stay tuned because I’m going to talk about how to enhance it in ways that I don’t necessarily see everybody doing. But let’s go back to how you do this process.

Claim your business

Frankly, if you just want to start from the very beginning, is where you’ll go to find a Google My Business profile or to set up a Google My Business profile, but once you find it, if you’ve already claimed it, you should be able to log into and do all the editing we’re going to talk about. But if you find that it’s not been verified, you’re going to have to go through a couple of steps and sometimes these are easier than others.

The first step is if you find your profile and it says, “Is this your business,” that’s a really good sign that it has not been claimed. Click on yes, this is my business, and you will have a number of processes you might have to go through. They may have to mail you a postcard. You may be able to do it with an email or with a text. It depends on the state of your profile and how sure Google is about the information in that. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly which one will be the one for you.

Remove duplicates

Now, here’s another issue that we come across all the time. Don’t be surprised if you actually find duplicate listings. This again, I think, goes back to the days when this data was coming from Google Places and from Google Local and then Google Plus and sometimes, people just set up three or four Google Plus accounts because somebody left the organization and they decided they needed one and so they set another one up. So, don’t be surprised if you find duplicate listings and a lot of times, it might be a variation of the name or a different phone number or maybe you moved your business and so it has a different address.

So, what you want to do is you want to find the one that is incorrect or that is certainly not right (maybe it doesn’t have the full information and so it’s the one you want to get rid of). So, what you want to do is you will typically find a tab that says “suggest and edit.” You want to click on that and you want to mark that location as permanently closed. I’m finding that Google wants to clean up that information and so if they can verify that that is accurate, they will close it within a week.

If it was set up by somebody who no longer works for you or you don’t even really know who set it up, it’s going to take a little longer because they’re going to actually try to reach out to the email address that they have on file for that and if they don’t get a response, they will go ahead and make that change. So, cleaning up that duplicate may be your first step. So, claim or create, verify that it’s your listing, and then see if you can clean up duplicates. Unfortunately, that’s the first step.

Add your name, address, and phone number

Google My Business Listing

Now, let’s go through the profile itself. The most important information is the name of your business, address, and phone number. Don’t get cute with this. I mean, in some cases, people will try to put keywords at the end of their name and all kinds of goofy things that somebody told them to get so they’d benefit from it. Don’t do it. Make the business the name of your business as you want your customers to see it, the address, make it consistent with what you have on your website, and the phone number, make it consistent with what you have on your website as well. Make sure that those things are accurate. This might be a good time to look at your website as well. Have you got that wrong on your website? Don’t laugh. I find it all the time. So, let’s make sure that those are right and the same as your website.

Choose the right category

The next really important element is something they call “category” and particularly, if you have not claimed your Google My Business profile, Google will take a guess at what they think it is based on your name, based on a description, based on things they find out there on the web. Don’t take their advice necessarily. They may or may not have that right. Your primary category should be the primary category that you want to rank for when somebody goes out there searching. So, if you are, for example, a remodeling contractor, then you don’t want your primary one to be “construction company” and there’s a really good chance it is. So, they actually have categories for “remodeling contractor.” I think they even have a category for kitchen remodeling. So, you want to make sure that you get as specific as possible with that primary category.

The good news is you will also get to choose some secondary categories and so I definitely recommend that you do that as well and again, don’t get cute here. Make sure they really are categories related to your business.

Adding images

Some of the other information like hours and things are pretty straightforward. There is an opportunity for you to upload images and this is something that Google tracks in their insights and so I do think it’s a ranking factor. Also, particularly on a mobile device, it’s a good trust building and content element. So, upload 8 or 10 photos of your products, of your business, of your people. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but make sure that you have some pretty good representative images that you upload. So, that’s the setting up of the profile and again, after you claim it and after you do some things to enhance it, there’s really not a whole lot more to that.

Understand Google My Business attributes

Another thing that they just added is that you can actually, if you’re logged into your Google account, and you do a search for your business, they have now started showing an editable version of your Google My Business profile. Nobody else can see that, but you’ll be able to see it and what’s really nice about that is that you can actually respond to reviews right in there. You can make changes. You can see what statistical data they’re now sharing, and I’m going to talk a little more about that, but that’s another way to actually access your Google My Business profile that is fairly new.

GMB editing

I want to go over a couple of the attributes of your Google My Business profile that when you sign in to, you’ll have these options available and some of them are becoming pretty potent. I think it’s indicative of the fact that Google is really investing in Google My Business and adding some very interesting new features. I think it’s really a sign that this is a key component for them, which to me marks the reason for actually really getting involved in understanding your Google My Business profile and viewing it frequently rather than just set it and forget it.


When you log in, you will notice “Posts” along the left side panel and this is a new feature I think you should play with. There is some indication that this is actually helping people rank. So, maybe you have a special coming up or maybe you have a new product or a workshop that you’re holding, it just allows you to put that information in there and you can set when it expires. People are finding that they are getting traffic from these posts because you can also put a link to your workshop sign up or something like that. So, I think that it is worth spending a little bit of time to go in and enhance that and add those posts on a routine basis.


Another tool is called Insights and this will give you a little bit of information on how many times your profile is showing up in search or in maps and what people are doing. Are they calling you? Are they clicking on it? Are they looking for driving directions? All the things that people can do and do frequently, particularly on mobile devices. It’s not like in analytics where you can compare one quarter to the next quarter or something unless you take that data and put it in a spreadsheet. But it is useful to look at.


This is also a place where you can see not only your reviews but reply to your reviews and frankly, replying to every one of your reviews. Getting reviews, of course, is extremely, extremely important. Replying to reviews I think can be very important as well and this is for both good reviews and bad reviews. Bad reviews, of course, because it gives you an opportunity to tell your side of the story, if you will, or maybe state the facts as only you can, but I think when you respond to five-star reviews as well, I think it does a couple of things.

First off, that person that gave you the review is going to get a notice and, quite frankly, probably appreciate that you saw that and replied. But it’s also another opportunity for you to show a personal side of your business. I work with an assisted living facility and they will frequently get glowing reviews of how well they have cared for somebody’s mother or father. To have the owner go in there and make a comment or a personal anecdote about that person and something that he remembered I think is tremendous content and over time is really great social proof.


Another element I want to talk about is messaging. What they’ll ask you to do is connect that to a phone that can receive text. So, it has to be a mobile device that not only can receive text, but does, and that you can respond with. If you’re in the right kind of business, this could be a great leg up because a lot of times when people are searching out there on Google, they are trying to solve something.

They want to hire somebody right now to do something and instead of sending an email or even picking up the phone, because a lot of people don’t like to do that, if they can text right from their browser window and they can get a response from you immediately, you might win the deal.

Appointment booking

If you’re the kind of business that books appointments, they’re now actually making that an option right off of your Google My Business page. Again, you have to integrate it with one of the booking kind of services that they work with. There’s about a dozen that are on there currently, so that might be an option if you’re a hair salon or a massage facility or something of that nature.

Google websites

I’m not recommending this for everyone, but they are actually now adding a platform where you can build a Google website. Essentially, it’ll just be a very simple landing page but they’ve got a couple of tools on there to make it pretty and add photos and drag and drop some things. So, if you’ve been living on your Facebook page and you don’t have a full website, which is certainly what we recommend, it could be an option for you as well.

So, that’s really all I wanted to cover today on Google My Business, but this is really a key ranking factor for local businesses and it’s probably the primary building block these days for a local business. For example, when you see those businesses that show up in the maps listing when somebody searches hair salon near me, you can’t show up in that unless you have a profile that you have claimed, that you’ve optimized and obviously, getting things like reviews, and frequently adding posts, and making sure that the information is accurate is how you’re going to show up. That’s one of the pieces of the puzzle. There are of course many others, but that’s the one I wanted to cover today.

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