Google My Business Optimization Part 2
In part 1 of our Google My Business series, I showed you how to set up a listing and optimize it while you were waiting for it to be verified. In this post I will go into some of the steps you can take to optimize your listing after verification. Hopefully at this point you’ve become somewhat familiar with the interface and will be familiar with each section in the back end of your listing. At this point should have already filled out the basics such as your hours etc. It would be in your interest to read over Google’s guidelines for representing your business that you can find at : https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177
Keep in mind that I am writing this from the perspective of a newly set up or claimed listing. Just like most dispensary SEO strategies, GMB optimization is an ongoing process. This guide will give you a good foundation.
The GMB Interface
The Info TAB
First Up is your name which you obviously filled in when you set up the listing. If you claimed your listing from Google and the name they had was incorrect – now is the time to fix it. It should be the name that you are registered under or at least your DBA name. The name that you would list in the phone book – you will be adding yourself to the Yellow Pages once this is all done. Here is what Google Has to Say
Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.
You are only supposed to include the name – no other info. As an example some multi location businesses will include the city or neighbourhood in their GMB listing name; Eg. Starbucks Beverly Hills. Technically this is not allowed, but I see it all the time and no one ever seems to have a problem. Sometimes it can be a good way to differentiate separate locations that are close together. If two businesses with the same name are too close together sometimes Google will only show one on the map. Just remember, technically this is a violation of Google’s TOS.
We went over this in the first part of the guide. Generally this will be “cannabis shop”, which will display on Google as “Cannabis Store”. Google can’t seem to get this one straight.
This will be filled out, but double check it is exactly how it should be. You need to remember that major changes here may result in re-verification, this is why it’s important to get this right the first time.
This only applies if you do deliveries. If so I would advise to set it up by ZIP or postal code for better accuracy.
You should have done this already. Make sure they are accurate and then fill out the Holiday Hours section directly below it as much as possible. Having holiday hours added will likely get you better visibility on holidays because your competition is unlikely to have taken the time. This means their hours on holidays are suspect in Google’s eyes while yours are not. Holidays can big very busy days for dispensaries, they extra little push from accurate holiday hours can translate into significant sales.
Short Name “@”
You may see the “@” symbol on your listing, if so you should claim your “short name”. This is a g.page URL that directs to your GMB listing on google maps. You can name it whatever you want. Try and make it either very easy to remember – or get a keyword in there.
Enter your website URL here. If you are a single location dispensary enter your homepage; eg. http://yourdispensary.com. If you are a multi location dispensary then you should enter the URL for the location’s page; Eg. http://yourdispensary.com/locationpage .
These are pretty self explanatory. I did notice what I think is a new attribute if you scroll down to the bottom. Under the heading of “Planning” there is an option of “LGBTQ Friendly”. I’m not really sure what this means exactly. However, unless you are a bigot and really don’t want to add it – I would add it. I have no proof, but I’m sure Google will reward your virtue signalling somehow. From their site:
There’s little that compares to the feeling of walking into a place and being immediately comfortable—your shoulders loosen, your breathing slows, you physically relax, knowing you can be yourself. Finding those spaces has often been hard for the LGBTQ+ community. We want to help celebrate those spaces of belonging and make them easier to find.
Arjan Dijk, VP of Marketing at Google – Google Blog
That should be the vibe for everyone that walks into a dispensary, shouldn’t it?
This is where you get to pitch your business. Google gives you 750 characters but it will be truncated at 250 characters in the Knowledge Panel and it will be on the “About” Tab on Mobile. I could, and probably will write an entire post about how to write the description. I went over this in Part 1, but to reiterate, consider this your chance to pitch your business, don’t keyword stuff, and keep the most important parts at the top as anything after 250 characters will require the user to click to see it.
This is really only important if you haven’t opened yet. Google will show the opening date for up to 90 days prior to the date you specify.
The Insights TAB
This is where Google gives you information about how much traffic your listing is getting and where it’s coming from. There is nothing to optimize here. I will be writing an entire post on how to interpret the data here and how to act on it to help you gain more traffic.
The Reviews TAB
There is nothing to optimize here but this is a very important part of your online presence. I will also be writing posts about the importance of review solicitation and management. For now, it’s enough to know that you should respond to reviews in a timely fashion, especially the negative ones. Negative reviews are an opportunity to show potential customers how you handle yourself when things go wrong. This says a lot about you and can do mmore to increase sales than a bunch of flowery responses to the positive reviews.
How to Respond To Negative Reviews
- Don’t fly off the handle, take a deep breath and maybe a few minutes or even 24 hours if you need it to calm down.
- Start by thanking them for taking the time to provide feedback.
- Try and take it offline – or at least out of public view. Ask them to provide specifics and contact you through your website or by phone.
- Try and make it right – If the complaint is legitimate, this is your chance to improve your business. Thank them for providing you with an opportunity for improvement.
Everybody knows there are people that will complain about anything and just like the attention. One of our clients had someone complain on Google that they wouldn’t let him do a dab in the store of shatter that he bought somewhere else. While it may be hard not to lose your patience when faced with that sort of idiocy, it gives you a chance to showcase your professionalism for all to see.
The Messaging TAB
This gives you the opportunity to respond to messages directly from Google. You used to be able to connect a cellphone number or What’s App, now it simply offers you the chance to download the GMB app. Unless you are sure that you will be able to answer promptly, I wouldn’t do this now. While it sends a strong signal to Google that you’re serious, you need to be sure that someone will be available to take this on. The last thing you want is a bunch of unanswered messages. People that use this feature to ask questions about your business will expect a prompt answer.
The Photos TAB
Photos are one of the most important parts of optimizing your GMB listing. More is better, but start with the basics. The tabs show below are pretty self explanatory. They are suggestions of the types of photos you should have. Google just shows them all in a big bucket on the front end, with the exception of videos and 360’s often getting their own tabs. If possible, take these pictures on a device that has geo-tagging enabled. Google strips out the geo-data, but don’t think they don’t read it .
These are interactive photos that generally require a special camera. They can be done through the Google Streetview app, but it can be a little tricky with uncertain results. If you can get one of these of the inside of your store then I suggest it. They help from an SEO perspective by sending a signal to Google about your location, fake businesses generally don’t do this and it is great for prospective customers to get a feel for the vibe of your store. This likely leads to higher customer actions which is in itself a ranking signal.
An example of professionally done 360 photos.
You can walk right in!
If you can make a video about your store featuring a manager or owner explaining what the store or clinic is all about , I highly suggest it. If no one wants to be in the video then you can simply make a slideshow video of the inside of the store. Get in touch with us if you need some help here. We can make you something inexpensive to upload here. The fact that your listing has videos is a signal to Google. If they are actually engaging as well, then all the better.
This is pretty self explanatory. Lighting can be an issue in some dispensaries and make sure the store is empty. Let the customers fill up your listings with pics of a busy store. If someone doesn’t want their picture taken, you don’t want to be the one that uploaded it.
Try and wait for good light and get a nice shot of the outside. Take a few and give yourself some choice. You will likely want some at night as well and throughout the year.
This is where you may want to be careful. As the owner of the listing you may not want to be the one that uploads some product shots. The laws in your jurisdiction may vary. I’ve never seen any problems arise from posting product shots but it might be wise to not upload shots of flower as the owner. Google does have policies against promoting drug use even though I’ve never seen any problems arise, you never know. Leave the flower shots to customers or staff with accounts that aren’t managers or owners of the listing.
If your staff are OK with it, get some shots of them. Welcoming faces draw customers.
This is an important section. The Cover photo will usually stay at the top of the photos bucket on your listing and the logo is what will display as a profile photo on photos that you upload as the owner. The cover an also be the main photo of your listing – but Google will often choose a different one.
This is different from the website field on the info tab. Here you can use Google’s website builder to create a site really quickly. It’s not a bad option if you don’t have a website yet. Even if you do have a website already, it’s very easy to create one here. It will pull pictures and reviews from your listing and you can add a link to your site from the “About” section and BAM you just got a backlink from a Google owned domain!
That just about covers the first part of Google My Business Optimization. You’ve now got a listing that is probably better optimized than 75% or more of your competitors. In future posts we’ll dive deeper into some areas of this guide such as image optimization and review solicitation that will help you to further increase your visibility. If you just optimized an older listing, it will likely take a few weeks before you start seeing results, but sometimes faster. Good luck out there!