We often talk about it: being present on Google My Business (GMB) is increasingly important for brands and especially for small businesses, because the Google service confirms itself as a valid gateway for both offline and online conversions. Not surprisingly, it is a decisive tool for local SEO, because Google Search and Maps are often for millions of consumers the first points of contact with commercial activities and their locations, physical or virtual.

GMB, the average optimization level of profiles

It is therefore essential to work to optimize the GMB profile, so to offer accurate and up-to-date information to users, and a search carried out in the United States by Places Scout – a local SEO software – gives us interesting insights into the average level of listings optimization, thus allowing us to find out which data are most frequently present and which aspects that brands still care too little.

Offering an overview of this study is an article on Search Engine Land in which Greg Sterling reports the main data of the analysis, performed throughout the year 2019 on 2.4 million business listings in over 30 categories. In principle, it emerges that the average profile of an activity on Google My Business has 73 reviews, 45 photos, 5 posts and a rating of 4.08 stars.

Verified listings on GMB

Among the elements examined by the Places Scout team there is also the number of verified profiles: according to the results, about 62 percent of the Google My Business cards studied were claimed and verified by commercial activities. A rather high figure, especially if – as Sterling points out – is compared to what emerged from another study carried out by Whitespark in 2020 out of 800 thousand listings, which reports a lower number of verified GMB profiles, equal to 49 percent.

The average level of basic info on profiles

The research presents a large amount of valuable benchmarking information on GMB: for example, it reveals that on average profiles are 72 percent complete, that in 61 percent show opening times and that in 93 percent report a company phone number. Much lower data on the URL to the site – present in 73 percent of the tabs – while the care of the activity description really is bleak: it only appears in 29 percent of cases, with an average length of about 230 words.

About 90 percent of GMB profiles belong to single-location companies, which means small businesses. However, many of the shortcomings identified in the study are likely to apply also to companies with multiple locations, notes the author.

Little attention to images and links to the site

There seems to be little attention also concerning image management, which are crucial in this tool, too, as a high number of photos can result in greater visibility and involvement of consumers: the average profile contains just over 45 but, In general, the most recent picture added by the business owner is over 100 days old.

In addition to not always indicating the URL to the home of the site, only 24 percent of profiles have links to social media; the survey also reports that only 4.4 percent of profiles have a link to the menu and a similar percentage offers a link to book. However, it is important to note that the study was conducted before the COVID-19 and therefore it is plausible to believe that these data are currently increased (also due to the news and changes introduced by Google during this 2020).

The management of feedbacks and reviews

Another focus covered by the report is the management of interaction with users, which is perhaps the most painful note.

The average GMB profile gets 73 reviews; the category that receives less (wholesale) has an average of 23 reviews, while the travel and hospitality section is the one where users are more likely to share their experience and there are on average 237 reviews.

The problem is that only 19 percent of the business owners actually answered to the reviews, and with very long times: on average, it takes more than 25 days to see an official answer appear. Another critical aspect is that the responses address only 35 percent of all reviews, with slightly more attention to negative opinions.

The use of other tools

Places Scout also found out that only 13.4 percent of profiles use Google Post: even in these cases, however, the profiles have published just over 5 posts for the period of time examined, with 3.2 posts in the last month.

In about a third of the profiles (32.2 percent) there are questions associated by users: the average number of questions is 3.1 per profile, and almost all (2.5) have been answered. The Local Guides have answered on average one in 3 questions; only in very rare cases (0.17 percent) the owner has personally written both the question and the answer, a practice often recommended.

On the other hand, it is positive that the majority of card managers have taken less than a day on average to answer questions, especially in relation to the review data.

What the study tells us in short

The above data shows that there are some basic optimizations easy to make to improve your Google My Business profile and get better results:

  • Add a description of the activity.
  • Add other photos regularly.
  • Add all relevant menus, reservations, social media links to your profile.
  • Solicit feedbacks and reviews ethically, but most importantly, answer to reviews within 24 hours.
  • Use Google Post regularly.
  • Take advantage of the Google Q&A service (for example, by personally posting frequently asked questions).

These are just some of the optimizations revealed by the benchmarking study of Places Scout: these are relatively simple elements that can lead to good results for companies, in terms of a short-term increase in visibility and conversions.

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