G-M-B Gone A-W-R-Y
As a local business, one of the most basic things you need to master would be your Google My Business (GMB) listing. But believe me when I say that there are so many businesses that are still doing the wrong things when it comes to GMB. Read on to see if you are also doing some questionable things regarding your GMB so you can rectify them ASAP.
What are those words in your GMB?
The tendency and temptation among those who manage and maintain websites for local businesses would be to put really good keywords in the site in the belief that their presence will make Google rank the website higher in search results. However, the opposite may actually happen.
Moreover, some local businesses have also this tendency to stuff irrelevant keywords on their website, thinking that those popular keywords can be discovered by the search engines’ crawlers and prop that website into first-page popularity. However, this move is very risky because search engine crawlers may realize that those keywords, although popular, may not be relevant to your local business at all. This is an obvious cause for your website to be penalized.
Google has added guidelines that consider putting extraneous keywords in your Google My Business (GMB) listing as gross violations which may cause your business’ listing to be penalized. What exactly are these penalties? They usually come in the form of suspensions.
Soft Suspension = This is when the business owner/agency loses the ability to manage the listing inside Google My Business but the listing is still live on Google Maps. Normally in theses cases, the ranking of the listing is unaffected.
Hard Suspension = The listing (along with all the reviews) is completely removed from GMB and Google Maps
When pushing the GMB envelope goes too far
For years, there have been local businesses that have tried to one-up Google thinking that their tricks might just propel them to search engine success. One of these tricks is to set up as many GMB pages for supposedly various locations of the business, hoping that all of them will figure well in Google rankings. However, it has been discovered that some of these GMB listings do not actually correspond to an active office location, and instead are just PO boxes, virtual offices, and even residences of the owners of the business as long as they can receive the verification mail that Google sends them that as the name implies, is supposed to verify a physical location of a business.
When Google discovers these empty or fake GMB listings, these would be in violation of their rules, as there are guidelines that state that remote addresses, virtual offices, and PO Boxes are not accepted. The discovery of these inconsistencies also affects the consistency of Name, Address, Phone Number (NAPs), which means these businesses will also be penalized and they can kiss their hopes of ranking locally goodbye.
NAP inconsistencies can adversely affect your local SEO because search engines won’t be confident about the information you are providing. Basically, search engines won’t trust you.
Wrong categories on your GMB will also cost your business
As with the point on keyword stuffing mentioned earlier, there also is this practice among local businesses to prefer using more general categories instead of using specific categories as their primary category. It is thought that general categories can make GMB listing more attractive, although businesses forget that more general categories also expose the business to more competition from other businesses that use the same categories. Thus, it is important that categories should be specific and are directly related to your business.
Never add categories that don’t relate to your business. For example, if you’re marketing a pizza place, you obviously shouldn’t add hair salon as a category, or it can totally confuse Google, your customers, and even harm your rankings.
Interested to learn more about local SEO marketing? Read here.