Why Google’s New My Business Features Need Your Attention

Google has been tweaking how consumers experience your brand, and they drastically affect how your presence is perceived online

We all know that managing an online presence is a never-ending struggle to keep up with the newest policy changes and implementations, and Google’s recent changes to business listings are no exceptions. From new features like Google Posts and Q&A to bringing back old debunked features like the description in the listing, you now have a powerful new set of tools, or a headache waiting to happen, depending on how quickly you can strategize these new features to work in your favor. We’ve compiled the information we think will serve you best in these turbulent times.

Google’s CTR of organic and paid searches from 2015 to 2018

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Sparktoro has created a couple of fascinating charts that graph the development of click-through rates (CTR) from 2015 to 2018 for Google on mobile and desktop. Though it may sound simple, the results are actually surprising and important, since it gives us insight into how Google’s policies are changing how browsers interact with online search content. Since Google is attempting to implement their search engine results page (SERP) technology to the fullest, there are some changes you’ll need to think about with where and how you curate your content.

desktop organic vs Paid CTR
  • Desktop has organic CTR stable around 65% in 2018, only down by ~6% since 2015
  • Paid CTR is 3.82%
mobile organic vs paid ctr
  • Mobile organic search CTR has plummeted, from 66.59% in 2015 to 38.97% in 2018
  • Paid CTR is doing well at 3.12%
no click searches, desktop vs mobile
  • No-click searches on mobile is at 61.03%, up from 33.41% in 2015
  • This means Google is answering queries directly without need for clicks, which makes information on your Google Business listing even more important for mobile

This information shows that the information you can display in you Business Listing is going to become much more important in the future, and Google has anticipated this as well with their new additions to the Knowledge Panel. All of these features have specific ways they can help or harm your business presence, so read on to learn exactly what they are and how you can use them to your advantage.

Paul Schmidt’s Google Business Tools

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Paul Schmidt at SmartBug Media has collected information on the new Google My Business features for all of us to understand what this will mean for our approach to SERP content. If you’re just looking for the new features and what they’re meant for at their core, here they are.

  • Google Q&A will let browsers directly ask businesses questions in their business listings
  • Let family and friends ask the most common questions so people will see the answers whenever they look and save your time
  • Google now lets you give a description in the listing
  • People can now be linked directly to your appointments page or landing page from your listing
  • Google Posts let you share your latest content or announcement with an image and 100-300 word description

Despite their simplicity, these additions to the SERP of business searches will require some substantial changes to how you format and organize the messages you broadcast to your audience. There is quite a range of different tactics available to you, thanks to the flexibility and variety of the features that Google is adding to the search results, which is good since we’ve seen that consumers are clicking less and less on company links to find their information. As you move your description and information to your My Business profile, here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of these new assets.

How To Use Google Posts

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With the introduction of Google Posts, you’ll be able to give time-specific information to your consumers directly on their SERP page, allowing you to advertise special offers and events in your business listing. There are some general guidelines that Lunametrics has published to maximize your efficiency in using this ability and to utilize the posts to their full potential.

The Basics

the basics

We know you’re dying to get into the details, but there are some specifics that it’s worth your time to browse. Before we jump into strategies, here are the facts about what Google Posts are, what they’re intended to be used for, and how long you can reasonably expect your posts to stay up.

  • Use Google Posts for events, announcements, new products, and special offers
  • These provide quick incentives to click for immediate information about your post
  • Posts will show up in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and on Google Maps for your business
  • Posts are deleted after 7 days, and event posts stay up until the event is over
  • Only the first 80 characters show up before truncation in information panel
  • The 2 newest posts will show up first in SERPs
  • Up to 10 posts will scroll in a carousel from the past, including the 2 newest ones shown in the SERP

How To Use Them

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Google Posts appear to be time-sensitive, short-lived notifications that alert potential consumers to whatever information you think is important. As tiny bursts of advertisement, they can be extremely effective at enticing a wayward clicker if you play your cards right to make your message as clear and powerful as possible.

  • Use a good photo for your image to stand out
  • Keep descriptions short and sweet, between 100-300 characters
  • Include a call to action to maximize efficient use of the limited space
  • Use Google’s URL builder to make a link for you call to action so you can measure success with Google Analytics

How Not To Use Them

stop sign

As with any powerful tool, if it’s used incorrectly the effects can be disastrous. We aren’t saying you’ll burn your business to the ground, but in order to use the Google Posts to the best of their ability, it would help you to think about avoiding these common pitfalls.

  • Use commercial jargon and acronyms: space is short but don’t confuse people
  • Go crazy with exclamation points and all caps
  • Limit it to one offer/theme per post, keep your message simple and clear
  • Don’t list exclusions in the post, put it in whatever it links to

Mike Blumenthal’s Thoughts on Google Q&A

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Google is trying something new with the Q&A, and while it looks like a standard FAQ page you would have on your website, due to its extremely high visibility and fast updates it can quickly turn into a place where consumers post discussions and information that could harm your brand if you’re not careful. Mike Blumenthal has created a series of articles on the new Q & A features, and here he lists how it will affect your SEO results and the basics of how it will change your business listing in Google.

  • Your presence on Google is built on both your ranking and your reputation: you need to convert Google users through user-generated reviews and photos and rank well
  • On the SERP Google will display one question from the Q&A section and then reveal them all if you click for more
  • It’s a simple question and answer feature that both businesses and consumers can use to ask and answer questions
  • Anyone can upvote or downvote an answer
  • Any question with one or greater votes can show up on the front page of your Knowledge Panel: same with answers that have one or greater votes
  • The question with the most votes will show up directly on the Knowledge Panel
  • Other questions are ranked in order of most votes
  • Immediate branding of location through customer responses, can be good or bad for business

What We Know About Google Q&A

google chrome

Clearly Google Q & A is poised to become a serious facet of your business’s brand on Google, so Mr. Blumenthal went ahead and completed a pretty comprehensive study of all of Q & A’s current features to let us know what it’s doing right now, and where it could be taking us in the future.

Q & A So Far

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Q & A was only implemented in August of 2017 for mobile, and for desktop a few months later, so we’re still seeing how things are heading with the new feature. Blumenthal has done an amazing job amassing some preliminary data, not only from what Google tells us but also how consumers have been using it in the short time that it’s been out.

  • The bulk of consumer actions now occur directly on Google instead of a company website
  • Instead of just questions, consumers will leave reviews and feedback too in a highly visible way
  • Popular among consumers: at least one question had been posted on 25% of businesses out of a sample of 1700 businesses
  • 90% of big box retailers had questions, 35% of car dealerships had questions, 26% of employment agencies, and 23% of self storage facilities
  • Google is sending alerts to previous posters to answer questions for people, actively soliciting engagement
  • Consumer opinions valued more than business opinions in answers; consumer answers will be shown before businesses in a tie for votes
  • 77% of questions surveyed were relevant and within the rules; 23% violated Terms of Service and were inappropriate
  • It’s unknown if Q&A affects search rank
  • Cannot post links and emails
  • Reports and violations are usually handled within 12 to 36 hours

How To Use This To Your Advantage

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There’s quite a bit of information we’ve gleaned about Google Q & A, and we’re sure that there’ll be more in the coming weeks as everyone catches on. In the meantime, here are some of the points that are most relevant to you as a business owner, and how you can potentially leverage some of the features to your advantage.

  • Can’t use Q&A for advertising, can’t have a conflict of interest when posting, can’t impersonate others
  • Answer with most upvotes to a question will be seen first, all others hidden below it
  • Votes are tallied in near real time, can change very rapidly and needs constant monitoring
  • Q&A doesn’t immediately show who authored a question, allowing a business owner to ask a question and answer it without it being obvious
  • Notifications of new questions and answers will only be sent to an Android phone with business owner logged into Google My Business account
  • Consumer answers can be jokes or unhelpful, can lead to customer confusion if business doesn’t step in

If you want more advice on how to adapt to the changes that Q & A will make to your online presence, Blumenthal has created a 5-step guide to managing your Q & A account to help you acclimatize and strategize around this addition successfully.

Hungry for more?

google search

Google’s Rankbrain is changing how your pages will rank based on data like click-through rate, bounce rate, and time on page rather than just keywords and traditional metrics. This means your ability to provide relevant material to the consumer will also affect your ranking.

google analytics

Clariant Creative made a great guide to improving your Google SEO ranking if you’re short on time, filled with little things like front-loading your meta tags with keywords so your important information isn’t cut off in the SERP, and making sure your videos are searchable so Google can find them.

Google’s My Business profiles have become more important than ever to keep updated and constantly monitored in the face of these new changes. Stay tuned for more information on the latest SEO tips and techniques that we can provide, and make sure you stay up to date on all of the online marketing innovations that are coming through at a breakneck speed. Good luck!

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