Improve Your Local SEO By Optimizing The Description Within Your GMB
For local SEO, your Google My Business listing is an extremely important tool for your business. In this episode, we will discuss the best practices and relevancy of the description field within your GMB listing. The description field is the largest single input area for your GMB, and it’s also an area that is highly relevant for inputting specific keywords and geographic references that you want to be found for. Here are some tips and tricks to approach your GMB description with SEO in mind, to improve your local rankings!
- Google My Business (GMB) is very important for your local SEO
- The description field in your GMB is a great resource for targeting keywords and geographic areas
- Your GMB description will show in your business Knowledge Panel
- You can input up to 750 characters in your description
- Even if the description is not seen by users every time, Google knows what it contains
- Google has eluded to the fact that putting keywords in your GMB description will help you rank for those keywords
- Make sure your Google My Business description is optimized for SEO and readability just like any other content on your website
Here is the transcription from Episode 52 The Importance Of Optimizing Your Google My Business Description Field;
Jesse Dolan: Welcome back to local SEO tactics where we help you learn tips and tricks to get your business found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan here with Bob Brennan.
Bob Brennan: Howdy.
Jesse Dolan: And this week, we’re going to be [inaudible 00:00:26] one of our favorite topics, Google My Business, and diving into how to craft and kind of some reasons behind why you do your Google My Business description a certain way.
Before we get into that, we want to mention a couple things. One, we’d love to hear from you. On our last episode, episode number 50, we played our first recorded message from Evelyn coming in through this, which is the questions area of our website. We’d love to hear from everybody else. Go out to localseotactics.com/questions and let us know what’s on your mind. If there’s a challenge you’re having, you’re hitting your head against the wall on something and you want to ask maybe for some help or some guidance. If you have something kind of just general, you’re looking for an opinion. Or if you want to stir the pot and come up with something that you want us just to kind of debate. Whatever the heck it is, if it’s something that you’d like to get on the show and get us talking about, we’d love to hear it. Localseotactics.com/questions or go down to the footer on any page. There’s a link for submit a question. Click on that. If we do use your question on the show, we’re going to send you a T-shirt. So check it out, let us know.
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All right, let’s get into it here today. So we’re talking about Google My Business descriptions. And first, before we get into some of the optimizations and approaches, just reset so everybody knows what we’re talking about. If you’re new to this show, Google My Business is something that we promote every few episodes because we’re talking to local SEO here. And you shouldn’t even be thinking of local SEO if you don’t have a Google My Business listing for your business or for all of your business locations if you’re multi-location business. We’ll link in the show notes to some of our previous episodes. How to set it up, how to do multi-location, how to do some different research. We’ve got a lot of topics on it and we’ll list some of the most popular ones in the show notes for this if you need a primer and where to go.
One of the main features within the Google My Business listing is your ability to write a description about your business and kind of some of the nuts and bolts on that is it’s 750 characters. So it’s kind of a good-sized paragraph that you can type up about your business. And this isn’t something that’s really shown to human beings a lot. If you just do a Google search, everybody kind of knows the map pack. But just to reset here, if you do a Google search for outer repair or some kind of local service in your neck of the woods, you’re going to see usually some ads at the top, right? Like paper click ads at the top and then you’re going to be presented with the map section with sometimes that’ll say ABC. Sometimes it’ll just have the three listings in there, maybe a sponsored or a paid listing as well. And then have a map underneath it kind of showing where these businesses are located on there.
That’s what we’re talking about, businesses that are found in that. And those are the Google My Business listings and you have your regular search results underneath that. So we’re talking about your Google My Business listing that it’s going to show up in that three-pack or that map pack. Now when you do a search and you see those three listings, you usually just see in like the name of the business, maybe some information about their review score, aggregate rating, and sometimes like a snippet of text, a little pullout from maybe a review, maybe from your website content, depending on what you searched for. And this doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes you’ll see that and they’ll like bold certain words that’s related to your search.
And one of the areas that you can sometimes get some information that pop onto your GMB listing in those searches is from your Google My Business description, sometimes from your posts, sometimes from reviews, there’s no real rhyme or reason that any of us, you know, normal people understand that Google knows what they’re doing there and when they choose what they choose. But we’re no experts to give you advice on how and when it pulls from certain areas. But we do know what areas it pulls from. So one of those areas is your Google My Business description. So number one, it’s important for that, right?
Number two. It’s also kind of one of the most intensive areas I guess to say it like that where you can put input information in your GMB or Google My Business listing. If you think about like your business name, address, phone number, kind of some of the standard areas. Those are just very small fields. In this Google My Business description area, Google’s giving you the ability to input a large paragraph, 750 characters of information to describe your business.
So my point on this is genuinely speaking, this isn’t seen by people, but it’s definitely seen and absorbed and filed away by Google, right? And they draw a lot of relevancy and information about what you are and what you offer based on this description. So within that, and actually has a interesting nugget. So we’re recording this episode here. It’s March 2nd, 2020 and I want to say it was like three weeks ago, somewhere a little after Valentine’s Day. Google came out real quick and they did an update on their GMB kind of guidelines and best practices for how to set up a GMB listing. And they updated it saying something to the effect of if you want to be found for your service in your city, you should make sure you mention your city in your GMB description, which instantly, you know, SEOs in the industry were like “Oh my god, Google just basically said putting keywords into your GMB description impacts your ranking.”
And Google is usually pretty darn careful about not giving direct signals and feedback for what does and doesn’t impact your ranking because according to Google, anything you do to manipulate said ranking is outside of the terms of service. Right? So everybody was kind of like oh gasp, look what they just did. I think it was like three days later they removed it and changed it back saying “Okay, that was a mistake to say it in that way.” But at the end of the day, it resonates and it really does hold true. Everybody’s kind of been saying that for forever. Like make sure you’re putting certain keywords and things like that in your GMB description because it’s a major area for Google to understand what you do.
So that’s the kind of the quick background on what this is and what we’re talking about. Now we’re going to get into how to manipulate it really right and how to use it to your advantage. So I’m going to kind of walk through some real quick best practices for it. And then Bob’s going to kind of challenge us for maybe how to expand outside of that and things like that. So I’ll quit talking here in a second. But basically what you want to do is make sure, kind of like your website, if you’re sitting there you should already probably have a website with understanding what city you’re in, what cities you serve if you go onsite to customers. Or what cities you want to pull customers from if you’re marketing in a certain area. You should also know what products and services you have to offer. Maybe what like what brands you represent or manufacture, things like that. Or if let’s say if you’re an auto repair, but brands you want to repair, right? Maybe I want to do semi-trucks, maybe you don’t. You want to do cars.
So you should kind of have this information on your website or have a darn good idea of it in your head either way. You want to try to distill that stuff down into 750 characters to communicate it all. You don’t have an infinite amount of space. Also, 750 characters is not small either. That’s going to be multiple sentences or a good size paragraph. But you’re going to craft this in a way that’s not just mashing keywords in there. These have to be readable. Google’s smart enough now to know if it’s just a bunch of mumbo jumbo or one 750 characters sentence ain’t going to do it. Like Bob and I were just talking before we hit record here. You can add commas. You can have run-on sentences. That’s fine as long as it’s coherent and it makes sense, right? You can’t just randomly mash stuff in there.
One other thing we should say too is back to human beings reading this. When you do a search for something … I forgot to mention this, so I got to rewind for a quick second. You’ll see the map pack, right? The three-pack like we talk about? Sometimes you’ll see the knowledge panel off to the right-hand side on your search engine results page and that’s usually in lieu of the three-pack, right? For some reason Google, you’re just so authoritative or the competition is so low in your area, there’s no three-pack. They’re not going to show that. They’re just going to show one GMB that’ll be off to the side in what they refer to as the knowledge panel.
That’s when you actually get an expanded view of your Google My Business information. It’ll show some of the products and services, maybe some photos and it’ll show you the first about 200 characters or so of your GMB description further down the page, but it’s on there. And as far as I’m aware, that’s kind of the only way we are presented that information from Google.
Now if you’re in the three-pack doing a search, if you click on a result in the three-pack, then you’ll see more information, right? About that business. But to be clear, like on an upfront, is anybody going to see this when they’re searching Google? That’s really the only way the public gets exposed to this.
Bob Brennan: Is that knowledge panel.
Jesse Dolan: Is that knowledge panel. And I say that with some importance knowing that if the first 200 characters or so is really the only ones that are ever going to be shown directly by Google without somebody taking another action by clicking on your GMB or something, to weight or give priority to kind of those first 200 characters or the first one third roughly of your 750 characters. Whether that be from a user conversion standpoint of I want to see that word in there to trigger me to take action, right? Whether it be best in city or cheapest around or whatever it is. Or also for the SEO value, we always say left to right, top to bottom. It’s kind of the Western hemisphere convention here for how to read things. And likewise the Google bot kind of looks at it in the same way.
So wrapping that up, user GMB description wisely, make sure your keywords are in there, make sure your cities that you serve or that you want to pull service from are in there and try to intentionally put your most important things in that first third, so.
Bob Brennan: So I’m not trying to trip you up. So we kind of ran across this in this particular market. So Conveyor Systems Denver, for instance, this person occupied the knowledge panel, but then if you just type in conveyors Denver, there was a three-pack. So two different searches-
Jesse Dolan: But not that different.
Bob Brennan: Not that different and one occupied the knowledge panel and the other didn’t. Any ideas or any guesses of why one might have or the other?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. Maybe we don’t have to share, but without getting specific into those, if the search that triggered the knowledge panel was kind of more of an exact match to their name, that would be something that-
Bob Brennan: That makes sense.
Jesse Dolan: Okay. Is that true for this one without getting into the name or?
Bob Brennan: Yeah, a little bit. I mean, it has the word conveying systems. Now not conveyor system-
Jesse Dolan: Not exactly then.
Bob Brennan: It’s not an exact match and then there’s another, what would you call it? Verb in front of it. It’s got not again and not an exact match and that can be hit and miss, right? I mean, you can intentionally try to do it, but-
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, that’s a great point. Everybody listening out there, you can Google how to own the knowledge panel or how to dominate the knowledge panel. There’s lots of resources out there for tactics to do that. At the end of the day, it is your GMB that’s shown. And to your question, Bob, I think it comes down to again, matching the relevancy and authority of what you’re searching for to what those GMB options are. So if somebody is more of an exact domain … Not domain. An exact GMB name match and then the inverse is also true. If Google’s showing the three-pack, we’ve seen this before. Examples in previous episodes, like for a cell phone repair in a market that’s weak for cell phone repair stores, we’ve seen auto repair shops pop into that [crosstalk 00:13:47] right?
Bob Brennan: Yeah, that’s true.
Jesse Dolan: Because they don’t have the whole phrase, right? Like the cell phone repair. Well, they do repair. These people are popular for repair, so we’ll throw them up there.
Bob Brennan: So smaller markets are going to see that kind of thing?
Jesse Dolan: Smaller markets, yes. But more of kind of my point is if there’s businesses that seem like they’re related to your search because if your search was maybe a little ambiguous or a little short tail, just a word or two, not long tail, like a five word deal. If there’s businesses that have similar words and kind of some kind of relevancy, Google throw the three-pack out there, the more specific you get in your search and the more of these other ones kind of don’t fit it, you start to lean towards more of getting that knowledge panel shown, so.
Bob Brennan: That makes sense. So we are talking hypothetically about landscape company. So let’s say again, we’ll just pick a city like Denver and you’re landscaper and how you’re attending to your GMB and what your overall strategy is. So on some level, the first 200 words should be written pretty natural. I mean, really the whole thing should be written naturally, right?
Jesse Dolan: Yep.
Bob Brennan: But if you’re going to spam or cram stuff in there, and that’s your strategy, which we don’t necessarily recommend, you for sure don’t want to do it in that first 200 words because if you do get the knowledge panel, it’s going to look pretty wonky. Right? So if you’re a landscaper and I guess my question to you is and you’re putting together a website. And let’s say you’re a landscape construction company and so you’ve got different things that you specialize in or you can actually look at what you sell the most of. And one of those things is a retaining walls. But then you have things like trees and then you have erosion control and you may have various other elements within the landscape construction deal.
Assume you’d want to guide your web design obviously in those silos of sorts.
Jesse Dolan: Yes.
Bob Brennan: Okay. But let’s get to the retaining walls because that’s something I had experienced back when I was …
Jesse Dolan: So you kind of sound like you know what you’re talking about for landscaping.
Bob Brennan: Younger and stronger. But like in the retaining wall business, there’s essentially you have timber retaining walls, you have boulder walls, you have slate, like different types of stone walls. You also have major retaining wall manufacturers, such as Keystone and Anchor Block-
Jesse Dolan: Sure, the blocks we all see, yeah.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, you know those various deals. So what would be your strategy for let’s say attacking the retaining wall element of landscaping?
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. So assuming you kind of weren’t going after that before, right? Or you’re [crosstalk 00:16:37] this?
Bob Brennan: I’m kind of read-
Jesse Dolan: Trying to beef it up?
Bob Brennan: Looking at everything and you’re saying okay, I want to try to generate more business in that retaining wall piece.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah. So starting with just the GMB description area there, definitely look at your GB description. And kind of like everything else with SEO, you have to do it on purpose, right? If you want to be found for retaining walls, if you’re not mentioning retaining walls or things related, like good luck, right? Like how does Google even know that you do retaining walls if you’re not telling them. They’re not geniuses.
So I’ll go through a couple of ways to tell them this real quick. But starting in the home base here for this GMB description for what we’re talking about is make sure you’re talking about retaining walls. And you threw out like Keystone, boulder walls, different types of retaining walls too, right? I would say it’s not enough to just … And if you can, maybe if you really are kind of giving an effort, let’s get into retaining walls here, guys. Or let everybody know we’re doing retaining walls. If you can be in that first 200 characters just for the visual, awesome. But worst case scenario, you just somewhere in your 750 characters mention retaining walls, that you provide them, that you install them, whatever the terminology is there, Bob.
But then also talk around that with these other contextual things, right? Boulder walls, excavating and just kind of different process of what’s related to it, what’s needed, what materials, what brands if there’s actual brands. Like you said, Keystone, right? We say that as Keystone wall, but it’s an actual brand manufacturer.
Bob Brennan: Right, right.
Jesse Dolan: So all these just supporting semantic contest, contect, excuse me, I can’t talk today. Contextual references to retaining walls and boulder walls and things like that. So get that into your GMB. Find a way to cut something else out that’s not going to hurt you, if you’re at your max 750 characters, right? Cut something else out that you can. Or try to clean up some of these like use contractions, right? If you’re writing on there cannot switch it to can’t. I mean, find a way to save some characters to inject what you need there. And then if you’re really going all in on this, I wouldn’t stop at your GMB description. I’d make sure I have products or services in my GMB. That I’m doing some posts about the retaining walls or types of retaining walls. Taking photos. If a customer that you just installed a retaining wall and uploading that photo to your GMB.
And then of course, we’re talking just to GMB here, but a good rule of thumb for the GMB is there’s a symbiotic relationship with your website. If you’re also not talking about retaining walls on your website, that’s going to be a problem there, right? Make sure you have a page at the very least about retaining walls. And then again, same concept here or same concept applies here to your website is the types of walls, the types of materials, the types of vendors, materials … Or manufacturers, I’m sorry. Same kind of thing. But back to just the GMB is, yeah man, if you’re not writing retaining walls in your GMB description, then you’re probably not going to get found for it, so.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, I think we talked about this a couple episodes ago where basically if your business is going to pivot and you’re adding a new line of something, right? Or a new service, you’ve got to dig into your GMB and make sure you’re showing up, adding that to this descriptor and keywords. And making sure that you’re showing up for that business. And it’s really, again, a great leverage if your competition is got poor reviews, for instance, and you’ve got let’s say an existing business with a lot of great reviews and you add the keyword and the various words into your GMB and you can penetrate that three-pack, you could be in business like that. [crosstalk 00:20:22]. It’s pretty slick.
Jesse Dolan: That’s that review clout. We talked about that. And I’ll link to that one in the show notes for this episode as well because yeah, that’s very, very relevant is what areas. If you’re competing against your main digital competitors head to head, where aren’t they showing up or where’s the competition weak. And you can jump in there with your reviews and just crush it. Yeah, so I think that you have any more questions or kind of scenarios on the GMB description-
Bob Brennan: No, that makes a lot of sense in terms of a strategy and tying that in with your website. So if you are going to again make that pivot to adding … Let’s say you weren’t doing retaining walls, well then now you’ve got to add it to your GMBs. Then you need to start creating pages and whatnot.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, absolutely. And we left out reviews too, right? We always say get reviews. If you do retain wall for somebody, have them mention the retaining wall, the materials in that review. That’s going to be golden as well. Again, we’re talking about GMB descriptions here. Google said basically and they removed it, but we’ll just pretend it’s stuck because it still holds true. Your keywords in your GMB description are pretty relevant before you run a show up for. Make sure you got your stuff in there and then take the next step. If this is something that you really want to get business for, use the other GMB areas as well. Use your website, your reviews, mention it. Don’t just stop with the GMB description, so.
All right, so hopefully that helps you guys and gals out. Let’s get into our five star review of the week. If you haven’t left us a review yet, we would love to hear from you. As you guys and gals know, if you’ve been listening for awhile … I seriously can’t talk today. This is ridiculous. We read a review on each episode. This week, we have one here from funny_looking. Funny_looking.
Bob Brennan: Nice.
Jesse Dolan: Which is a great username. Very helpful. One of the best sources of actionable info that I can use for my website and social media marketing. Nice people who genuinely want to help small business people. Thanks very much and keep them coming. Thank you, funny_looking. We do want to help people genuinely. That’s why we started the show. Not for fame and fortune. Not that we’re not wanting fame and fortune, either.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, sure.
Jesse Dolan: But really just to get it out there and help everybody because there’s a ton of stuff here. SEO can be such a mystery for people if they don’t know about it. And yeah, we’re glad you feel that way and hope everybody else does too. If you haven’t left us a review, localseotactics.com. Go down, bottom left corner, click on reviews, whether it be iTunes, Google, Facebook, whatever your platform of choice. We love them all and it’s just great feedback to let us know we’re on the right track. So that about does it for this episode. Anything else you want to throw in, Bob?
Bob Brennan: Yeah, if you have any questions, you got a couple of options. You want to talk about how people can give us our [crosstalk 00:23:09]-
Jesse Dolan: Yeah, localseotactics.com/questions or again go down to the footer in the bottom. We’ve got all kinds of links in the footer. If you haven’t noticed, everything’s down there. There’s a link for ask question. You can submit it there if you don’t want to talk. I know we were talking earlier. Just leave the voice recording. If you’re not comfortable with that and you can just type it in there too. We’ll still use it on the show. Obviously we want to incorporate multimedia, but hey, if you got a question and you don’t want to record it, throw it on there. Either we’ll email you back personally and kind of get into it or if we can use it on the show, we’ll do that as well if it’s good for everybody.
I guess I should frame it up, you’re asking to … This doesn’t have to be just like a show type question. If you just want to reach out to us for help or problem solving, even to that degree. We do have this show, but we also have the agency Intrycks, where we do SEO for clients. So if you’re stuck somewhere, if you need to call us in, have us collaborate on a project or just work for you directly if you’re an actual service business and not an agency out there. Yeah, we’re here to help. So just reach out to us localseotactics.com. All right, that does it for this episode. Thanks for tuning in everybody and we’ll catch you next time.
Bob Brennan: Bye now.
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