Google My Business is fast becoming one of the best and least expensive ways to boost your business online visibility.
Last Friday, Yelp stocks tumbled far, losing 32% of its stock price and sending the stock to a 52 week low. CNBC reported that the stock lost its value due to a variety of factors, the number one factor mentioned that the review platform added no new advertising clients in the quarter. While horrible ad revenue would send any stock tumbling, the cratering was largely blamed on a new ad policy of no longer requiring long-term advertising contracts in favor of more flexible non-term contracts. While that sounds reasonable enough, why would advertisers abandon the site when they are allowed more freedom? While you might think that it is because the Yelp Ad platform wasn't performing well for advertisers (which is probably true), I think it’s because they are getting beat by a better advertising and review platform app in Google My Business.
Let’s Compare To GMB
While with both platforms you are able to be set up your listing for free, GMB gives you a lot more control, ease of use, a lot of free promotional tools, and a surprising bonus. GMB has recently added the ability to follow reviewers like on Yelp, which feeds a lot of egos and creates a system like "Elite Yelpers".
I like the fact that we can freely sort photos, and pick a profile and cover photos, as well as categories like "team", "inside" and "outside" photos. You can order them any way you wish without paying yet another monthly subscription. This is one of those burr-under-my-saddle things that has always bothered me about the Yelp platform.
The business description section vanished for a couple of years but has since been reintroduced in March 2018 that will display at the bottom of the Local panel. I believe this is a direct shot across the bow of Yelp as this was one of the free things available for all listings. It is a best practice to write what sets your business apart, your history, or anything else these helpful. There is an important practice to not exceed 750 characters here.
The All Important Google Maps Box
Not long ago the Google Map Box listed seven local business, which has now been reduced to three due to higher mobile phone usage on smaller screen sizes. The three businesses displayed tended to get more clicks and calls in this highly visible and coveted online real estate. A mobile local search result could get directions, see reviews, go to the website, or click to call. The update ranked business based on a variety of factors, one of the biggest is consumer reviews. There are a few “ninja” optimization tricks to get a business to be one of the trees, which is a great opportunity for a business to get leads and customers for very little expense compared to traditional keyword-focused content-building SEO for a website.
Meanwhile, Yelp continued its stoic business model that seems to create more anger towards them by business owners. From their clunky Yelp Biz app, mystifying review recommendations, and nickel-and-dime-you-to-death upsell model. Ask the average small business owner what they think of Yelp and be prepared for a barrage of expletives. While being on Yelp is still essential for off-page optimization and other reasons, they are getting their clock cleaned by GMB.
The Yelp App Has Limitations
The mobile Yelp for Business app has some limitations that are frustrating. It’s clunky to use and has horribly small fonts which send me scrambling for my readers. They do not have a version for tablets at all. They tend to frustrate most business owners because one can’t ask for customer reviews without violating their Terms Of Service. It’s also frustrating that one can’t pick profile or sort photos in your preferred order unless you pay $25/month for the “slideshow upgrade” which seems a lot to pay for the ability to sort photos. I’m doubly irritated that adding a simple CTA button cost $50 month.
Yelp also loves to charge you all kinds of extra fees for enhanced listings, like remove competitors ads for $90 a month. Wait a minute, what about THAT listing? What if they are also paying $90 month? Taking their marketing from proven organized crime sales techniques, Yelp seems more like a protection racket.
Pick own service area without the 100-mile limitation
What I think is a bigger problem with Yelp is 100-mile limitation between cities in a service area. If you sell in a large region or an entire state you are forced to have multiple listings. While on paper this makes sense for small businesses and restaurants, it offers some problems for different types of large business that service larger regions. You would think a San Francisco-based firm would understand large geographic states, but they apparently do not.
The Post Options Are The Best
At the heart of the app is the ability to easily create posts on GMB easily on the desktop or on their very easy to use app. Your posts are not just blog entries. but can become mini advertisements where you can promote events, promotions, deals, and anything else related to your business.
Some great post features include:
- GMB allows you to create education or news posts or post about promotions or events for those in late-stage buyers journey.
- You can add photos and now videos to a post. Ninja trick...590px by 445px is the best size your your photos as it won't crop your image.
- You can even add a Call To Action Button on a post, like learn more, buy, or even book an appointment. For FREE!
- Google enabled a new feature called Questions and Answers which is powerful for SEO reasons for it is what your potential customers are asking. Unfortunately, you need to monitor this activity unless you have the app and enable notifications on your Android phone. Sorry, iPhone users, but Google also is trying to kill Apple as well.
Some Other Great Yelp-Killing Features
It's important to note that Google is THE search engine of the internet and due to this fact, they have changed the algorithm to maximize results for their GMB listings in organic search. For example, Google reviews will show prominently across desktop and mobile search results. Get More than 5-five star reviews, and you will maximize your opportunity to show up in the coveted maps box. If you're not doing this now, you should before your competitors find out.
You also have the ability to respond quickly and directly to reviews which Google tends to reward those businesses who respond, even the negative ones. GMB has now added the ability for your prospects to direct message you as well, provided you provide a mobile number. This is a great way to engage with customers, book appointments and answer questions they may have quickly. This is also a ranking factor in 2018, as Google rewards engagement big-time.
On the backend, the GMB provides Google insights to your traffic, with analytic information about which photos get the most views. You can integrate GMB with your Google Analytics dashboard to see how much organic traffic you are getting from the listing. This is killer data to help identify what matters most to your prospects.
You can now add a services menu which appears as a tab, you can add multiple services by category (or as they have it, "Section") including pricing information. This is super easy to add services, but be aware the service's listings only appear on mobile phones.
Super Amazing Website Bonus
If you do not have a website you can easily create one using the free website builder in just a few minutes. It is very intuitive with built-in themes to use similar to popular visual site builders. Your posts to GMB automatically appear on the created website without any additional effort. Check out one of my client's free GMB Website that took very little time to create. I've noticed that for a search for a business keyword will give both sites in the search result giving you a double whammy for organic SEO.
While Yelp may have caused their own demise because they seemingly ignore complaints about their policies, unless they fix their app and become offer more items as GMB does for free they will continue to see ad revenue disappear as more business owners discover the benefits over Yelp.
Have I Mentioned How Important Video Is?
Now More Than Ever!
Adding video is another amazing benefit and will help you really set your business apart. According to Cisco, online video will account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2021.
Some important notes for uploading video to your GMB listing... each video has to be under 30 sec, under 100 MB file size, and at 720px or higher.
I reached out to one of my clients' main suppliers and had them get me optimized marketing videos that fit these criteria and it was really boosted their online visibility. You need to add photos, but a video will really bring listings to life. Stock library type videos tend to be removed by Google, so you really need to make your own. If you are not using video in your business, contact us to help create one for you.