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5 min read

Brighton SEO: Greg Gifford – Harry and Lloyd’s Idiot Proof Guide To GMB Optimisation

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Greg opened his talk by commenting on how frustrating it is to see competitors rank higher in Google My Business (GMB), so his talk was designed to provide a tonne of tactical tips to take home to combat this. However, he says that there is no miracle pill for local SEO. You can’t only do a few things, you have to do everything in aggregate. But using these tips will help your GMB profile to stand out from the crowd.

Particularly if you’re in a really competitive market, GMB can really help you to get over the hump. Greg recommends that we think of our GMB listing as our new homepage, since all the people that used to come directly to our websites can now find everything they need in the SERPs. This is exactly the zero-click search problem.

He references the Local Search Ranking Factors study which comes out each year, and the fact that GMB is by far the biggest factor included. In fact, in the study, GMB signals increased by 31% from 2017 to 2018.

Greg’s tips are split out into the basics, that people tend to know about but are not necessarily doing. It’s important to make sure these bases are covered to create a strong foundation for your GMB profile. Then he follows up with some additional, more advanced steps to take once your business has mastered all of these basic tips.

The Basics

Many people are aware of these fundamental GMB requirements, so Greg provided a short summary of what is needed.

  • Use your correct business name. Don’t stuff with it keywords as this looks spammy.
  • Use UTM tracking on your website links. Google Analytics attribution is effectively broken, as it tends to report any unknown traffic as ‘direct’. It’s important to make sure credit is given fairly to the correct source, including links in your GMB profile.
  • List a local phone number. This is really important to the algorithm, but you can use a tracking number.
  • Choose the right categories. The primary category carries more weight, so depending on what type of business you are working with, think about this carefully.
  • Upload lots of awesome photos.
  • Upload videos too! The file size limit is 30 seconds and/or 100mb, so why not upload your adverts?

Exciting new stuff

You should be using Google Posts

These show up in the Knowledge Panel and can drive significant pre-site conversions and interactions. They also help you to stand out from competitors, especially in the UK and Europe as nobody is really doing this yet. Google Posts only last for 7 days unless you choose a template with a date range. Some people might think it’s beneficial to use one of these templates. However, Greg does not recommend this for several reasons.

You should approach Google Posts as you do with Google Ads. With ads, we spend a great deal of time tweaking and optimising to improve CTRs. GMB is just the same. Posts need to be attention-grabbing if you want more clicks, so we need to be optimising both text and imagery to get the best CTR.  This is why Google Posts provide a great way to get insights on what works and what doesn’t work.

Some sources say that in the thumbnail view you’ll get about 100 characters or 16 words for Google Posts. However, Greg states that it depends on the template you use to create your post. By far the best post type, and the only one Greg recommends using, is the What’s New posts. This is the most common post type and the easiest to optimise for CTR because you get the most text displayed – a full four lines. All other posts types, although they may seem to have their own benefits, result in fewer lines of text so Greg recommends only focusing on What’s New.

Within these posts, Greg suggests using additional UTM tracking on CTA links. This allows us to measure the impact of the text and image optimisation on each post much more easily. Without adding UTM tags, you risk Google Analytics misinterpreting traffic that has come from your GMB profile as direct traffic.

Pay attention to GMB questions and answers

Pretty much anyone on the internet can ask a question to your business, and anyone in the community can answer it for you. This can be scary for businesses, as answers with the most upvotes show as the primary answer. Questions that get 3 or more upvotes will usually show natively in your GMB panel.

Greg makes it clear not to include a phone number or URL in your answer, or it will get filtered out and not show to the public (even though it will still be visible to you!).

It’s definitely encouraged to ask questions yourself – prepopulating your GMB questions allows you to use this as a sort of pre-site FAQ page. For inspiration consider referring to the questions on your main FAQ page, and ask your employees which questions they get asked most often.

Impression’s take…

We definitely second Greg’s tip to use UTM tagging on your GMB links. Particularly as there is such a focus on accurate attribution at the moment, taking such a quick & simple step for better data is a no-brainer!

Google My Business is a largely underutilised tool by a lot of businesses, and it’s clear from Greg’s talk (and others at BrightonSEO) that people are waking up and realising the potential of their profile. With the current trend towards more and more zero click searches, maximising the potential of that presence in the SERPs is crucial.