Own and Track Your New Home Page

Claiming and verifying Google My Business

Last installment, we offered an introduction to Google My Business, which is the No. 1 source for getting your business found online. It’s likely the first thing consumers see when they search for your business online – essentially your new home page.

This week, we explain how to set up and claim your Google My Business page and why it is so important to do so.

Claiming and Verifying your new phone book listing

Google Search, Google Maps, Google + – all of these Google services display your business information, which includes everything from location and hours of operation to reviews and ratings. That’s why it’s so important to claim your business listings on Google and to make sure that all of your information is up to date.

Step 1: You need a Google account.

Sign in or create a Google account for your business and then visit google.com/business.

Step 2: Claim.

Once you’ve logged on, you can search your business by name. Search results will appear in a list as well as on the map and from those choices you can choose the business you’re trying to claim. If none of these results match your business, you can simply click “Add Your Business.” (You will then be prompted to choose your business type: storefront (restaurants, hotels, etc.), service area (taxi service, delivery, etc.), or brand (products, brands, causes, etc.).

Step 3: Verification.

To have control over your page, you’ll need to prove to Google that the business you’re claiming ownership of is really yours. You can claim your GMB page in step 2, but verifying your GMB is critical. Without verifying, you won’t be able to see key information on how often Google shows your business in search results and how often that leads to phone calls, website visits and requests for directions to your business.

You can verify it’s your business by:

  • Working with a Trusted Verifier: We’re one of a handful of trusted verifiers in our market and because of our long-standing relationship with Google My Business, we have a special app that will get you verified almost instantly.
  • Postcard Verification: This was the most common way to verify your business. If you select this option, you’ll see an image of the verification postcard with the name of your business and the address you supplied when creating the page. You’ll receive it in the mail after one to two weeks. Once you’ve gotten the postcard, go to the website listed (google.com/local/verify) and log in with the same account you used to request the verification code via postcard. Go to the Google My Business dashboard to complete your verification. Enter the code and you’ll be finished.
  • Phone Verification (available for some businesses): If this option is listed when you come to the verification process for your business, you can use this option. If you pick that option, make sure you’re able to directly answer the number you provided as your business’s contact point. You will receive an automated phone call with a computer voice, so don’t expect anyone to answer any questions. As with the postcard approach, enter the code from the phone message you receive from Google. After you’ve entered the code, you’ll see a screen asking you to review your information and make any last-minute changes, if needed. Then click “Done editing” and you’ll be finished.
  • Instant Verification (available for some businesses): If you’ve already verified your business’s website with the Google Search Console, you may be able to use this option. Make sure that you’re signed into Google My Business with the same account you used to verify your site with Search Console. Note that some business categories may not be eligible for instant verification

Next: How to Fix and Edit your Google My Business Page

In our first two parts of our five-part Google My Business series, we’ve explained what Google My Business is, why your business should have one, and how to claim and verify your business’s Google My Business page.

Next installment, we’ll take a look at how to fix and make edits to your Google My Business Page.

Crazy Google – Ch, ch, ch, changes

In several years of tracking the Local SEO space, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many changes and tests happening on Google SERPs in real time. From the changes in Adwords positioning to the introduction of Google Cards/Posts, this week adds new review photos and up to 4 new types of carousels.

Google Posts/Cards = Google Local Business Cards, and it’s kill or be killed.

Google’s updated Google Guides program let’s your customers leave Google reviews with photos and Imprezzio Marketing has some great tips on how to use this.

The wacky People Also Search For:  Staring this month Mike Blumenthal notes, Google has included a “People Also Search For” carousel, a feature long buried in the Knowledge Graph of search results. That might be just the beginning, adds Blumenthal this week, look out for a new group of carousels, including related results, related businesses and businesses nearby.

“Can You Be Both Cheap and Best?” or Review Sentiment in Local Search: In Google’s first, full, public release of its Search Rater Quality Guidelines, Mary Bowling notes reputation as an important signal of quality in a conversation with with Mike Blumenthal at LocalU. Mike follows up on this with new results starting to show for best and cheap restaurants “near me”.

More on micro-moments, Google talks about the utility of user intent over demographics.

But it’s really about research and targeted engagement: 6 Strategies to Build Local Links

AND THE REAL STORY IS BECOMING MUCH MORE THAN GOOGLE, according to O3’s Casey Overcash (and others) in her great wrap-up of Local SEO’s Mecca — Mozcon.


The New Phone Book

Google My Business: Your Official Business Listing Online and Your New Home Page

One of the most important – if not the most important – pieces to a successful business is getting found by potential customers. Pretty obvious, right?

But what’s not so obvious is how to get your business found online, where everyone is looking. Meet “Google My Business,” the No. 1 way for your business to be found on the web.

In this first of our five-part series on Google My Business, we’ll explain briefly what the service is, what it does and why your business needs it.

Question No. 1: Is my business on Google?

If you’ve ever wondered how your business can “get on Google,” Google My Business is the answer.

Google My Business is Google’s one-stop-shop method of getting your business listed accurately on the king of all Internet searches: Google. To put it simply: Google My Business is the information that shows up when someone uses Google to search for your business or your product or service on their phone or desktop. It’s often the first thing a consumer sees before your website home page, making it your new home page.

Google My Business pages show up in Google searches as the business listings right under the Map, just below the top ads and above the top organic search results. From that information, potential clients can tap click-to-call, get directions to your business, or visit your website. Unclaimed and unverified Google My Business pages are less likely to show up in search results, especially for your product or service.

If you’ve used Google’s Places for Business in the past to list your business, you will be upgraded to Google My Business, as it has replaced Places for Business and is now the default for Google’s business-focused services.

Because Google aims to answer every question, it is very likely that your business already has or had a Google My Business Page. These have been created for every known business, regardless if the business wanted it or not.

Question No. 2: Why do I need my business on Google?

With an overwhelming market share, for most consumers Google is the new phone book.

Once you sign up for Google My Business and entered the required information, Google My Business will add the business information to Google Search, Google Maps and Google+, allowing customers to find your business no matter what device or service they happen to be using at the time. You can also add photos and virtual tours, read and respond to their Google reviews, as well as add or correct business information like address, phone, store hours and more.

And you only have to enter this information once on Google My Business and it will automatically be posted on all of Google’s services, such as Google search, Google Maps and Google +.

In addition to the obvious reasons listed above, when you have your business on Google My Business you are also able to receive custom insights that help you better understand how people are finding your business on Google, what they’re clicking on, where they’re coming from when clicking on directions, and other useful information.

You’re likely receiving more phone calls from your Google My Business Page than any other source.

Now that you know what Google My Business is and why your business should use it, we’ll explain the next step: How to claim and verify your Google My Business page.

Google Posts, Fighting Programmatic Ad Fraud and CTRs on the Lay of the Search Land

From Pioneer’s Corner Cubical – March 8, 2016

Google Premium Posts for Presidential Candidates and Select Local Businesses

The Verge nicely sums up what Mike Blumenthal discovered about Google Posts — the carousel running at the top of a Google search result page that most know for featuring responses to news from presidential candidates. Very interesting to learn how it would apply to local business.

Programmatic Ad Fraud

MarketingLand columnist Ratko Vidakovic asks who’s responsible. We’re covering the bases — Publishers (with input from IAB), Supply Side Platforms and Demand Side Platforms — which is why we can offer an industry-leading guarantee (o.1% click-through rate) and programs that only display ads above the fold.

Lay of the Search Land without Adwords in the Right Rail

Nothing to see here according to Google’s Matt Lawson, but Mediative’s eye-tracking and click-through rate study of the recent changes show some interesting shifts — the top organic result still rules even as users search harder for it, bottom of the 1st page still works on desktop, not so much in mobile, where 92% of clicks go to the top 4 organic positions.

Tools For Getting More Reviews

A Medical Case Study – The Review Makeover

You’ve embraced reviews, you’re taking the steps to ask for them and you know how to handle negative reviews. That’s a lot of work. Fortunately there are tools to help. One of the most powerful and flexible is the Owned Review Page with Push Functionality.

Owned Review Page

Rather than pushing all of your customers to the 3rd party review sites — Google, Facebook or Yelp, for example — where they might or might not be comfortable sharing feedback, why not invite them to give you feedback directly on a review page you own? This has several advantages:

Customize your ratings scale and the questions you want answered

Maybe your business offers a few things and you would like to know more about how your customers feel about these offers. Or you have your own metrics for customer service you would like to track.

Better recognize employees or team members for their work

Ask your customers for the name of the individual in your company that worked for them and then be sure to reward employees with great reviews by recognizing their success for your company.

Take negative reviews head on before they become toxic and public on 3rd party review sites

Often, when consumers don’t feel like their complaints are being heard, they escalate to leaving a negative review. Hear their complaints and fix them before they become negative reviews.

Incentivize customers to leave you a review on your website with a special offer

It’s a major violation of the review TOS (Terms of Service) for almost all of the major 3rd party review sites to incentivize (or pay) for reviews, but you have no such restrictions for soliciting reviews to your owned review page.

Review Push Functionality

An owned review page will often quickly pile up positive reviews and provide your business with important customer feedback. Be sure to mark the best of these reviews, and as many as your budget will allow, with local schema.org mark-ups so Google and other search engines know they are reviews.

However, reviews on your website just don’t carry the weight they do on a 3rd party review site. Consumers only expect you to share the most positive reviews when you control what’s being displayed.

Plus, quantity of reviews on 3rd party review sites appear to be a prime ranking factor in Local Search, especially Google reviews in the Local Stack and Facebook reviews in organic search (both Google and Facebook). Yelp is becoming it’s own secondary search engine and with Apple Maps displaying Yelp ratings on iPhone searches, it’s important on its own.

Push Functionality will automatically encourage positive reviews, usually 4 or 5 stars, with direct links to your business’s review page on 3rd party sites. If the review is 3 stars or less, the user will not be encouraged to share their review.

Vendors of Owned Review Pages with Push Functionality

Because of their flexibility, support, social media integration and verification processes, we recommend ReviewBump (OmahaReviewed locally), in partnership with eEndorsements. Local Search Guru Mike Blumenthal’s GetFiveStars is also a good solution. In the home service sector there are several review platforms to consider that can also integrate or handle dispatch services.

Medical Case Study – The Review Makeover

Dr. Popp at Popp Cosmetic Surgery has such a dedicated patient base and excellent word-of-mouth that it can take months to get a first appointment. His online review profile from a handful of patients, across four major platforms, over 8 years, didn’t come close to reflecting that in 2013, especially on the major medical review websites that can be the easiest to manipulate.

We see this all time — a few customer reviews painting an entirely inaccurate picture of a company’s public standing. We suspect in more than a few cases that these are possibly only one customer posing as different reviewers. Very short, one sentence negative reviews grouped together around a specific date are big clues.

Thousands of happy patients weren’t being heard from.

The practice started using the OmahaReviewed system in October 2014 and real customer voices have madeover Popp’s review profile on the internet.

In the first 18 months the practice has earned an average rating of 4.81 stars on a 12% response rate from email requests sent, equalling 159 reviews received and leading to 32 reviews shared on 3rd party sites.

Strength on the 3rd party review sites has improved tremendously.

Google: Four 5 star reviews with an overall 4.8 rating on six reviews

Vitals.com: Four 5-star reviews

Healthgrades.com: Dates and review details aren’t provided, but overall rating increased from 3.5 stars to 4.5 stars

RealSelf.com: 5.0 rating from 6 reviews

Steady effort restored this review order, offering a clearer picture of Dr. Popp’s practice. Anyone who comes into the office receives an email that has a link to the owned review page – reviews.poppcosmeticsurgery.com.

“We ask patients to give us some insight into how there visit was and how we can improve our service,” explained Kathy, the Medical Secretary. Patients are offered a gift card they can use toward products or services in exchange for their reviews. Review requests are only sent once every six months and are sent to both cosmetic and reconstructive patients.

Patients click the link in the mail and are taken to a page where they are invited to rank their experience with Dr. Popp and his staff on a scale of 1-5 stars and then write in their actual review. Kathy said once they do that, then they press send and that’s it.

“It helps that we have really satisfied patients so most people are glad to share their thoughts,” said Kathy.

She estimates they get between 8-10 reviews a week. And she said the majority of these are extremely positive. But they aren’t afraid to hear criticism at Dr. Popp’s office.

“It helps us to know if there’s something we need to work on for our patients’ satisfaction and their experience in the office as well as in surgery. The reviews also get Dr. Popp’s name out there a little bit more, in a different avenue,” said Kathy.

“Dr. Popp is easily relatable and his philosophy is, the more educated a patient is about their procedure, the better the procedure goes. We have a lot of reviews along that line,” Kathy said.

Kathy said she is thrilled that people share their reviews but wishes she could get more patients to share them on other sites as well.

Using their owned review page with push notification has worked out reall well overall. “It is very user friendly. We were intimidated when we first set it up, but once you get the system going, it doesn’t take a lot of time. We are really satisfied with it. I think everyone appreciates feedback,” she said.