Google, and also the pandemic, have made GMB into the foremost important local marketing tool for SMBs and multi-location brands.
Google My Business (GMB) may be a core focus for local SEOs. it’s also become the central locus of communication between businesses and consumers about store hours, closures, services and other information during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Shifting Engagement on GMB.
Click and call data show that consumer engagement with GMB has changed significantly during the crisis, as people have shifted their buying behavior online and, although it varies considerably by category, far from physical business locations.
Directions, clicks, calls and reviews:
Driving directions requests, as you may expect, have fallen off dramatically, but calls and website visits, driven by GMB, haven’t been impacted the maximum amount. According to Reputation.com, “GMB driving-direction clicks are down 60% across all verticals.” Website clicks have decreased 31% and call clicks are down 21%. Other data I’ve seen show somewhat different numbers, but it’s safe to mention that clicks have migrated far from driving directions to website visits and calls.
Related to GMB actions, significant declines for retail, restaurants and automotive, but, more recently, there has been a modest recovery in consumer engagement as per a Reputation.com report. This might mirror an uptick in online shopping and e-commerce spending driven partially by stimulus checks and by a way that we is also coming to the tip of the lockdown period.
Reviews are something of a blind spot, provided that Google had stopped publishing new reviews and business owner replies until recently. Now that reviews have take off of quarantine and are trickling back in, it’ll be interesting to determine whether and the way review patterns changed during the lockdown period.
Post-pandemic, GMB will still be a neighborhood business lifeline. As businesses reopen, local marketers will another time communicate GMB to speak about operating hours, products and repair availability. And, it’ll likely emerge from COVID-19 a fair more important marketing tool than it absolutely was before the pandemic. Local features like Posts, which enabled businesses to more easily communicate timely updates with their customers, may gain wider adoption and new prominence. And, Google may accelerate the rollout of other tools within the pipeline.
Sixty-eight percent of local marketing experts said GMB was more important now than it absolutely was a year ago, in keeping with a survey by BrightLocal. Moz’s most up-to-date Local Ranking Factors study concluded GMB signals were the top-ranking factor for the Google Local Pack and number four for local SEO.
Among the numerous tasks to manage and monitor on GMB, growing reviews was considered by 87% within the Bright Local survey to be the foremost important to local marketing success. The next 12 months will likely see an acceleration of GMB’s evolution. Local search has always been about using digital tools and knowledge to form purchase decisions offline. Over the long sweep of GMB’s evolution, it’s grown from being how to induce content to Google into a dynamic channel mediating transactions between consumers and business owners.