5 Changes to Make to Your Google My Business Profile Before 2019

There was never a dull moment in local SEO this year, with new updates to coming to Google My Business at a rapid-fire pace throughout 2018. Now’s the time to log in and make sure your Google My Business page is current and ready for the new year.

Let’s get straight to it. The biggest updates to Google My Business in 2018 were:

  1. New dashboard for businesses with multiple locations
  2. Separate fields for Service Area and Business Address (and removing the ability to set a distance-based service area around the business address)
  3. Service menu for service-based businesses and product menu for retailers
  4. Letting businesses set ‘factual’ attributes in addition to the crowdsourced ‘subjective’ attributes (including the veteran-led and women-led attributes)
  5. Videos on the photo dashboard

5 changes to make to google my business profile

These changes affected some types of businesses more than others (some local service-based companies will have a lot of catching up to do) but all of them matter when it comes to understanding how to optimize Google My Business for a stronger local presence.

Here’s how to ensure you’re up-to-date with Google My Business in 2019.

1. Scrutinize Your Suggested Changes

In March of 2018, Google rolled out a new Google My Business dashboard for business owners with two or more listings or locations. It’s much faster and easier to navigate than the old one.

The downside? The new dashboard makes it more difficult to track and respond to Suggested Changes in a timely manner.

A Suggested Change is an addition or change to your listing that either comes from:

  1. A user manually editing your listing information; or
  2. Google’s algorithm finding information about your listing (often from third-party directory sites).

Here’s the trouble: the name ‘Suggested Changes’ is a bit misleading, since the changes don’t always require your approval before they go live.

As the listing owner, you should receive an email from Google whenever there’s a ‘suggestion’; however, those notifications don’t always make it through to your inbox.

Because of this, it’s important that you log in to check your Suggested Changes periodically, especially since the new dashboard makes it harder to notice them.

To see Suggested Changes for a Google My Business listing in the new dashboard:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Back to GMB Classic in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Google Updates in the centre column.
  4. Make sure the box next to ‘Google updates’ is set to display All.
  5. Click Resolve updates in the rightmost column to see the Suggested Changes and other updates to a listing.

2. Specify Your Ever-Growing Service Area

Before the update, local businesses could define only their service area as a kilometer/mile radius around their business address. Google realized this was a shortcoming (who actually has a perfectly circular service area?) and turned it around late in 2018.

Now, Google My Business lets you edit your business address and service area separately. Businesses can specify their service area by region, city, or ZIP/Postal Code.

If you haven’t gotten around to updating your service area, here’s how to do it:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click the location you’d like to edit.
  3. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  4. Click Edit in the Service Area section.
  5. Click the X next to a service area to delete it.

3. Promote Your Outstanding Services

Early in 2018, Google began to allow businesses in select industries to list their services in detail right on the page. Later, they expanded the feature to almost all service businesses, including creative industries and the trades.

The service menu is simple, consisting of just a name, description, and optionally a price for each item. It’s a vast improvement over the previous version of Google My Business’s services, which was limited to keywords like ‘repair services’ and ‘installation services.’

Adding services to your Google My Business page is quick and easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Edit in the Services section.

Recently, Google has begun testing a product menu feature for Google My Business as well. Chances are this will expand to more companies next year, so keep an eye out!

4. Add Appealing Factual Attributes

Attributes are Google’s name for small bits of descriptive information about a business. They include things like:

  • Service offerings (pick-up or drive-thru)
  • Atmosphere (casual, noisy, family-friendly, private)
  • Customer/clientele demographic (popular among students, business travellers, tourists)

Originally, the algorithm compiled a business’s attributes based solely on user reviews and feedback via the GMB Q&A feature – businesses couldn’t edit them.

In 2018, Google refined the attributes system by splitting them into factual and subjective attributes. Now, businesses can directly edit certain attributes. The attributes available (which include acceptable payment types, accessibility options, and whether the business is LGBTQ-friendly) vary depending on the business’s category.

Even if you’re not a GMB geek, you might have heard about the release of the women-led and veteran-led attributes – two socially-conscious tags designed to help customers support local vets, businesswomen, and even businesswoman vets.

There’s also a lesser-known family-led attribute, which could help win the favour of locavores in search of a good old-fashioned family business.

In any case, it pays to take a moment to set up factual attributes that will help customers get to know you. It doesn’t take long:

  1. Log in to Google My Business.
  2. Click Info in the left-hand menu.
  3. Click Edit in the Attributes section.

5. Upload an Excellent Video

Video is one of the most powerful mediums available to us as marketers and you as a business owner.

Online video consistently grabs more views and engagement than still images, and 90% of customers now say that video influences their buying decisions.

The addition of 30-second videos to Google My Business shows Google is serious about getting customers to convert (whether it’s making a purchase or booking an appointment) directly on the GMB platform. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to make a huge visual impact just around the corner from the search engine results page.

What’s Next for Google My Business?

Make no mistake: Google My Business will continue to extend its influence in local SEO in the year to come.

Don’t let the imminent demise of Google+ fool you into thinking GMB is on its way out. In fact, part of the reason Google is sunsetting G+ is because GMB has effectively taken over its function as a hub for customer-brand interactions.

So, what does the future have in store? Based on this year’s developments, you can expect to see even greater emphasis on conversions directly from the Google My Business platform in 2019. Additionally, you ought to pay close attention to your business’s attributes – chances are, they’ll fuel increasingly precise local search results based on ‘intangibles’ like a business’s character and atmosphere.

It’s cool stuff.

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Quora for SEO: Is it Worth Your Time?

300 million active monthly users. Engagement with the world’s top thought leaders. Growth that could surpass Twitter and Reddit. Those are the claims Quora put forth to advertisers when it launched new targeting options earlier this year. If they’re right, then Quora must be fertile ground for SEO activity – right?

Quora

In reality, the intersection of Quora and SEO is a complex (and often controversial) topic.

Let’s investigate.

What is Quora, and Why Is It So Popular?

Quora isn’t the first question-and-answer site out there, but it might just be the last.

That is to say that Quora has so far managed to succeed in areas where similar sites have failed.

Yahoo Answers, one of the first major Q&A sites, was massively popular but poorly-moderated in terms of questions and answers alike. It never came close to a reputable source of information and was often the subject of ridicule.

Google Answers surpassed Yahoo Answers in the quality of its content, but it failed to strike a chord with internet users at large; and like many Google products (see: Google+), Google Answers was closed due to ailing popularity.

The respective downfalls of Yahoo Answers and Google Answers illustrate the challenge of managing an informational site built on user-submitted content. To grow, the site must continuously attract more users who are willing to submit questions and answers; however, there’s a delicate balance between encouraging user participation and maintaining quality standards.

Set the bar for quality too high and few people will participate; set it too low and the site will attract poor-quality content, spam and trolls.

To date, Quora has managed to strike this balance through a combination of a quality-ranking algorithm and human moderators who monitor the feeds. Quora was originally moderated by volunteers from its user community, but the company has since switched to paid moderators and content reviewers who remove questions and answers as needed.

It’s easy to contribute to, but it’s not a free-for-all, either. This balance has been vital to the site’s popularity so far. Quora has even garnered attention from world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama.

What is the Value of Quora for SEO?

Another key to Quora’s success is its powerful presence on Google’s search engine results page.

Google’s RankBrain algorithm strives to deliver the highest-quality answers relevant to searchers’ queries. Quora’s upvote-driven Q&A format, which favours the most precise and comprehensive answers to specific questions, is practically tailor-made for it.

These days, whenever you make a search query in the form of a question, there’s a high likelihood of finding Quora on the first page of the results.

This trend has motivated people, brands and SEOs to try and leverage Quora to drive site traffic.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Using Quora for SEO is not as simple as plopping links into questions and answers – and in fact, that’s a good way to get banned from Quora for life.

Ways to Use Quora for SEO

Here’s the truth: Quora’s prominence on page 1 of Google’s search engine results has made it a magnet for SEO-related spam.

Spam links on Quora

Pictured: A person using Quora just for the purpose of link building.

By that we mean users posting low-quality answers solely for the purpose of driving traffic to their (or their client’s) site.

Spammers aside, there are legitimately useful and effective ways to leverage Quora’s popularity and SERP presence to your advantage.

1. Answer Questions to Drive Qualified Traffic to Your Site

All external links placed by Quora users are no-follow links. This means that if you post a link to your website on Quora, it doesn’t pass any authority onto your site.

In other words, Quora isn’t useful for backlinking.

However, when done properly, posting links to Quora can be a way to drive good, qualified traffic to your site. That’s because the questions people pose to Quora tend to be specific, with clear intent on the part of the questioner.

For example, the person asking “What are the best tennis shoes?” is likely to be interested in buying a pair of tennis shoes. The same goes for anyone who comes across the question in a Google search. If you happen to sell tennis shoes, these are exactly the people you want visiting your website – so it would be great if you could get a link on that page.

However, Quora is picky about how and when a question or answer can include external links.

According to Quora’s rules on questions and answers containing external links:

  • Helpful answers are clear and credible, and sincerely address the question asked. External links to sources can help demonstrate credibility when the answer depends on third-party facts and analysis rather than the poster’s personal experience.
  • Answers containing external links must answer the question and summarize how the reference answers the question. They cannot just point users to the link for answers.
  • Answers that drive traffic to external sites for promotional or commercial purposes and do not sufficiently answer the question are considered spam.

In sum, if a page on your site is a good source of information for a user’s question, it can be helpful and appropriate to include a link to that page in an answer. When the question is one that your ideal visitors are asking, it can be well worth your time to answer it.

2. Answer Questions to Build Credibility and Authority in Your Industry

One of the reasons why Quora has been popular among tech influencers is how it readily showcases users’ qualifications and achievements.

Right below each user’s name and portrait is their Quora credentials, intended as a way to show the world why your post is worth reading (and an implicit answer to the question, “Says who?”). It can include your education, location, life experience and other personal information. Well-known figures can even earn a verification checkmark next to their name.

This system makes Quora an excellent platform for personal and brand authority-building. It’s a fast and completely free way to publicly demonstrate expertise in your industry.

3. Use Quora to Optimize Your Site Content

Popular answers on Quora can tell you a lot about how to write great content.

The answers that rank best among users tend to be those that provide comprehensive, useful information in a way that’s easy to read and understand. When the question relates to your industry, it can give valuable clues about the information your customers are looking for and how they prefer to receive it.

Think about a question your customers or clients regularly ask. Has anyone asked and answered the question on Quora?

Does your website provide all the information contained in the top answer?

If not, that could indicate an area of your site that needs improvement.

4. Use Quora for Keyword Research

If someone is asking a question about your industry on Quora, chances are some of your customers are searching the same thing.

Quora is an excellent place to explore how people discuss your business in everyday, unfiltered language.

Questions and answers can reveal keywords and phrasing you might not have thought of yet. Plus, with a free Quora Ads account, you can see exactly how many views a question receives each week, which can help you decide if a particular keyword is worth pursuing.

5. Use Quora to Brainstorm Blog Topics

Not sure what to write about? Find an unanswered (or inadequately-answered) question that relates to your business and answer it in a comprehensive blog post.

Freshly-posted questions can be a goldmine for novel blog content ideas. The same goes for a new FAQ page, a customer knowledge base, or a glossary of industry terms.

Better yet, there are several ways find these topics without any work on your part. Add a subject or keyword to your Quora feed to have new questions delivered as they’re published. Or, follow another user who answers questions in your industry to get notified when they post – then, add your two cents.

Quora has been around for almost ten years, but it’s still fertile ground when it comes to growing your online reach and driving traffic to your website. There’s plenty of room for experimentation.

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