Host: We have a few questions coming in here. The first one is from Victor, and he’s asking, “When you say match the Google My Business information to your sites, are you also talking about the business description that’s on the About Us page?”
Michael: What we recommend is that you focus on name, address and phone number at a minimum, and instead of replicating the About Us content word for word, it’s simply to use some of the keyword phrases that you’ve embedded in your About Us page. That was an excellent question, so I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear on that. When you’re trying to make that information sync up, you definitely don’t want to do it word for word. I’m sure all of you have heard about duplicate content penalty issues. This is more so that Google, when they crawl the site, they’re recognizing this particular listing is directly related to your site. And generally the way we do that is through the name, address and phone number, and then using keywords or key phrases that you haven’t included in your About Us page on your Google My Business listing.
Host: It looks like we have another question from Douglas. He’s asking, “How well does this work for businesses in a local store?” He says that he works from home and goes directly to the customer.
Michael: So a couple of things that I didn’t mention. The first is if you are a business trying to increase your exposure, you do need a physical business address. A PO Box will not do. We’ve worked with clients who were in that situation, and maybe they rented a mailbox from like a Regus center or something like that. The first thing is you do need a physical address. The second is if you’re working from home that’s fine.
It ties back to the address. I would say that everything we talked about here still applies, but getting that address resolved is a key piece of the puzzle here.
Host: Great. We have another question from Natalia. She’s asking, “Is there a site where we should avoid listing?” She’s asking if one may not be as credible as another.
Michael: That’s a good question, and I would say stick with the basics. When you use that tool it’ll show you some of the top listings, at least that we have relationships with. I would say if you’re not certain about the site, or you’ve never heard of it, or when you go there it doesn’t seem like the site’s being listed or all that reputable, I would stay away from those. But I think if you start with Google My Business and what we call the top tier directories, whether they’re Yelp or Citysearch or whatever the case might be, you should be pretty safe.
Host: We have Willie asking your opinion on the Google phone number and Google Voice and how good you think that is.
Michael: It’s a good question. Personally, for our business, we’ve used Google Voice. I would say that as a single element it neither enhances or takes away from how well you do organically, at least we haven’t been able to prove that out. Personally, I like to use Google products and services, only because I have to believe in some way that they are helping, but if you want to use a Google Voice number, I think that’s perfectly fine. I know people are using different tracking software.
Obviously, if you’re using a tool like Convirza, Google figures all that out, so there’s no downside. Because as you collect that data, it’s certainly helping to optimize your business.
Host: We have another question here. It’s, “How do you deal with two or more different locations or branches when you’re using this process?”
Michael: Google has solved that. There used to be some issues around that, but the Google My Business platform allows you to list each of those branches individually as part of an umbrella solution. When you log into that platform you’ll see those options. The other thing that you could do too is you could have multiple listings on some of these directories. So if you do have a branch, even though the name may be the same, if there is a separate physical address and phone number, I would definitely encourage you to list it, because you’re going to increase your footprint organically out on the web, and that’s going to have a positive impact not just on the local branch, but it will accrue to the parent when it comes to organic search.
Host: Would you say that this process would be applied differently for businesses in the UK or other areas?
Michael: The only thing that would change would be the local directories. In the UK especially, I know that there are some services that focus on different directories that are popular there as opposed to the U.S., but the underlying system where there’s a Google My Business profile and that is using all of these other data sources to verify and confirm the information, that still applies. The other place we’ve seen it apply is Australia as well. It seems like the English-speaking countries are most relevant, but the underlying system is the same, and I think it’s because Google has simplified their processes. They said, “Okay, essentially this is how we’re going to verify and confirm data,” and they apply that pretty consistently throughout the world.
Host: We have an interesting question here. As a good food service place focused on customer service, when the business gets slammed sometimes just out of pure chaos, service suffers. Is there a way to control local search results to specific times?
Michael: Yes. With Google My Business what they’re doing now is when you enter your hours of operation, you can…I’m going to answer this in two ways, so just hang with me. You can state your hours of operation, and it will…That’s something you can update pretty quickly, and it will show you as closed during certain hours, so that might be something that, especially if you know that you’re going to be slammed during certain hours, you publish your hours and alter your hours slightly. That’s number one.
Number two is the way that we see businesses regulating their flow, especially if they have a physical store, is through the use of featured messages, and essentially what that means is a lot of these directories, whether it be Yelp or Local.com is another one that does it. You can change the featured message there so that people will go in and they’ll say, let’s say Tuesday’s their slow day. Maybe they have something that says “Tuesday’s a buy one get one,” and that tends to pull foot traffic from one day forward to another day and balance out those flows. That’s another way that I would look to address it, so it would be a combination of Google My Business as well as using these local search directories to really create a featured message that when people are searching, and they find you, they know exactly the optimal time for them to come in, which for you would be I guess the non-optimal times, so you can kind of keep staffing at current levels and not have to deal with a huge rush of people.
Host: We have another question from Chris. He’s asking, “What if your physical address doesn’t get you on the Google search page for the larger city that many would search from because you’re based in a suburb?
Michael: What’s driving that local search result is somewhat complex. One if it is definitely location, but the other thing is how complete your Google My Business profile is or where else you’re linked to from the World Wide Web, and the third are reviews. What I would say in that situation is you want to be very finite regarding your targeting, and you want to again target a specific city. You want to make sure that all of your content is oriented around that.
You have reviews from people, so that…because you’ll notice that in some local search results, a lot of businesses are listed, and they have zero reviews. Even though they might be closer, if you have more reviews, both positive and negative, and we’ve run experiments on this, AOL we’ve seen it. Whether they’re positive or negative doesn’t matter. What matters is the number and quantity, because it shows engagement, shows people are visiting your store, you’re popular, so on and so forth. So I would say, focus on making sure your information is complete, and even when you do your description on Google My Business, make sure that you’re putting in specific city information that you target, and focus on those reviews, and that will help.
Host: It looks like we have one last question from Willie. He sells books out of his home, and he uses a PO Box, and he doesn’t want to use his home address because that’s too personal, and he wants to know how he would get around this for Google My Business.
Michael: Really the only alternative that we’re aware of, and we’ve been at this a couple of years, is to rent a mailbox. Regus is really good for that, R-E-G-U-S. There are some others out there, but essentially you would pay a fee. I don’t honestly know what it is. You could use their address, have all your mail sent there, including your Google verification postcard, and they will forward all of that mail to you.
That’s the only way to do it because unfortunately that’s how Google’s verifying that you’re a “legitimate business.” I anticipate that changing at some point in the future because there are just so many people who have businesses that are operating out of their homes. I have generated or created businesses using my home address. Never been an issue. It’s just that PO Box is something that Google doesn’t play well with.
Host: All right Michael, thanks for sharing that with us. That was a good hour; that was some good stuff. We’re getting a lot of responses to it here. People are giving you positive feedback, so thanks for that, everybody. Everyone can watch for that recording from us. We’ll send that out in an email today or tomorrow, and then you can go to our website, Convirza.com, and visit our resources section to access this webinar. Is there anything else you’d like to add, Michael, before I wrap things up?
Michael: I just want to thank you and Convirza, and for those of you who are not working with Convirza, I strongly encourage you to take a look at it. A great solution. And thanks for attending the webinar.