Mindstream Media Group is Taking ACTION

It’s been several weeks since solid black images filled social media feeds around the world, signifying people coming together to quiet the usual trending topics in favor of amplifying the voices of the Black community, in a time where those voices are too often being underrepresented.

Shortly after that, the Mindstream Media Group ACTION committee first met to discuss the current state of social injustice we’re seeing play out in America, to have difficult discussions with our colleagues around race and race relations in our country and to formulate ways we can make an impact – both within our agency environment and beyond.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be expanding the conversation, via a phased approach, to include the rest of our agency in the initiatives outlined below. This is just a start; the conversation is truly never-ending. Our hope is that these next steps will pave the way for all of us at Mindstream Media Group to gain a better understanding of the injustice happening around us and prompt us to do our part to foster equal representation of all people.

  • Phase 1: Internal Reflection and Discussion
    • As one of our first initiatives, we will be forming small, internal groups to facilitate uncomfortable conversations within our work environment, focused on specific topics, tasks and outcomes.
    • We’ll then bring our findings back into a larger group discussion with a spokesperson from each small group.
  • Phase 2: Community Relations and Outreach
    • Begin a social media initiative supporting local minority-owned businesses via our agency’s social presence. Our first initiative will be focused on the Black community.
    • Build relationships with local high schools, colleges, and Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs) – specifically looking into recruitment/internship opportunities, presenting about the advertising industry and possible career paths.
    • Look into participating in local high school career days and other opportunities to influence and mentor students, especially within the underrepresented Black community.
    • Support a local Black-owned business through strategic media planning.
  • Phase 3: Continuous Training and Education
    • Seek out guest speakers to present to the agency to improve our understanding of and commitment to diversity and inclusion.
    • Gain an understanding of racial diversity within the media agencies we work with and best ways to put our clients in a position to make an informed decision on where they’re spending their media dollars.

As a final takeaway, we shared some tangible ways for our employees to begin having these conversations with themselves and those closest to them. We urge you to take a few minutes to explore the links below, as well:

The Mindstream Media Group ACTION committee looks forward to getting more of our employees involved in the conversation and sharing updates on the progress of our initiatives. Our goal is to develop a long-term plan which will become our enhanced, ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion going forward. We’re taking ACTION against the tremendous social injustices in our society and hope that our progress inspires you to do the same.

Which Features in Google My Business Impact Ranking?

Business owners that are utilizing Google My Business profiles have a variety of features on the platform to display their business’s information. These features continue to evolve over time on Google, but do these features impact business listing ranking in search results? Over the last few years, the Sterling Sky Agency has been conducting studies to help answer which features impact rankings in Google’s search results.

Business Name Keywords

In 2018, Sterling Sky Agency owner, Joy Hawkins, tested the impact of keywords within business names on Google My Business by adding and removing the words “Salad Bar” into the business name of a restaurant that did not actually offer a salad bar. The study reflected a large increase in visibility on Google when the keywords were included in the business name.

While an increase in rank might be appealing to business owners, including keywords in the business name of listings on Google is prohibited. Including keywords could result in Google suspending the listing, and business owners can report competitor listings that may be using this tactic to improve ranking. Instead of placing keywords in the business name, they should be used within the description of the business. Accurate categories should be selected as well.

Source:  Sterling Sky

Listing Categories

In January 2019, Darren Shaw conducted a study to see if visibility on Google would fluctuate if unrelated business categories were added to the listing, by adding random categories to a listing for Whitespark. He found that including unrelated categories had a negative impact; business owners should make sure that listings include only relevant categories. Additionally, it was found that adding related additional categories to a listing would not have a negative impact and could potentially increase ranking.


When Google began removing reviews from anonymous profiles in May of 2018, Joy Hawkins used it as an opportunity to find out if the number of reviews on a Google listing impacts ranking. During the case study, she studied the position of several dentist listings in New York City that had fewer reviews being displayed because of Google’s removal of anonymous profile reviews. While reviewing visibility over several weeks, Joy determined that fewer reviews on the dentist listings caused a decrease in ranking. Therefore, Joy concluded that the number of reviews on a Google listing does, in fact, impact ranking.

Website URL

A similar study was conducted in March 2020 to determine how the URL on business listings influences rank on Google’s search results. This test consisted of changing the URL on the listing of a New York City law firm from the business homepage to one of their specific law category pages within their website, the bus accident page. After making this change, the test showed that directing users to the bus accident page, and not their overall business landing page, did have a significant impact and caused an increase in ranking results.

Because the content on the specific URL you link to is important and impacts ranking in the local results, we typically recommend that multi-location businesses use the location’s landing page on the business website to help with local rankings.


While the above studies have highlighted the Google My Business features that do impact ranking performance, tests have determined that the Services field of the business profile does not. Both the usage of pre-defined services and custom services were included in the study. During the test of the pre-defined services, keywords used as services were added and removed, but there were no noticeable increases. The test of the custom services field resulted in a slight change, but there was not enough evidence to suggest that rankings were impacted by services within Google My Business.

Source:  Google My Business

Key Takeaways

Even though these experiments show that not all features offered in Google My Business impact ranking results, it is still important to make sure your Google profile is complete. Profile completeness not only impacts ranking, but ensures that essential information is readily available for customers, creating a better user experience that increases engagement. As many Google features continue to evolve, we will provide insight on these updates and how they will impact business listings.


How to Rev Up Your Local Listings for the Business Resurgence

Many sites publish local business data, but only a handful are vital to local presence management. Although citation consistency across these sites is important, its impact on visibility has decreased in recent years. Google, Yelp, Facebook, Bing and Apple are the heavy hitters combined with industry-specific vertical leaders; however, Google reigns supreme when it comes to local search visibility. Google My Business (GMB) is the single most important factor influencing local search ranking.

Considering that 91 percent of consumers turn to local search to find information about businesses near them, a fully optimized GMB profile is critical. Not only does a GMB listing increase the chances of your business appearing in search and maps results, but it can also appear in the Knowledge Panel displaying rich business details when a user searches by business name.

GMB is in a constant state of evolution that has accelerated even more due to the coronavirus pandemic. What was once a method for distributing a static local listing within the marketplace is now becoming increasingly engaging and transactional. Having a robust GMB profile will help your business be found and communicate accurate information to consumers during the pandemic and beyond. A partner like Mindstream Media Group can help multi-location brands manage local listings at scale with ease.

Critical Local Listing Updates During the Crisis

GMB has played a crucial role in helping businesses keep their customers informed of changes to their business as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. During the crisis, Google slightly relaxed their guidelines for listings, temporarily allowing unique services like virtual visits, appointment only, drive-thru or curbside pickup to be added to business names. As the pandemic subsides and operations begin to return to normal, businesses will need to revert back and adhere to standard name guidelines.

Businesses have also used GMB to communicate temporary closures, altered hours and other changes to operations. Updated business descriptions help inform consumers of additional or specific products or services being provided, changes to the purchase or return process, modifications to cancellation policies, any expected delays, etc.

Google also launched COVID Posts designed for announcements related to COVID-19. These posts appear at the top of the business profile in local search results and remain visible for 14 days (or more). Every business, regardless of category, has the option to add these posts to note things like updated hours of operation and closures, changes to regular service, safety precautions and hygiene practices and stock announcements for the availability of high demand products.

Stuck in COVID-19 Limbo

It seems we’re stuck in limbo with some areas of the country following a phased reopening process, others completely open and some facing a resurgence of coronavirus cases. This makes it even more difficult for multi-location businesses to provide accurate information to consumers as states, and even individual counties within them, reopen (and in some cases reinstate restrictions) at a different pace. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are no longer uniform. Businesses must communicate clearly and provide thorough, up-to-date location reopening information to customers. We’re helping our clients maintain fully optimized GMB profiles to keep customers informed and enhance their visibility in local search results.

How to Optimize Your GMB Profile for Reopening

  • Provide all requested profile data, paying special attention to hours of operation. Be sure to include a thorough business description, list all products and services you offer and include pricing information, if possible.
  • Use categories and attributes. The business category determines which attributes will be available for your profile. There are two types of attributes: factual (like payment options) and subjective (like whether your business is popular with locals). Subjective attributes are based on feedback from Google customers that have visited your business.
  • Customers want to know what the physical experience of interacting with your business will be like in the “new normal.” Clearly communicate what they can expect. Continue to share information on the actions you are taking to address safety concerns to keep customers and employees safe. For example, if you offer curbside service explain how the process works. If your business is enacting social distancing protocols, limiting capacity, modifying traffic flow, requiring masks, etc. include this information in your profile.
  • Include a cover photo and secure a short name. The short name allows customers to find your listing easily and can be used to drive traffic to your GMB profile. Also include photos and videos to show how your business is accommodating changes in regulations and what customers can expect when they visit your business.
  • Replace special COVID Posts with regular Posts to share messages directly on the search engine results page. Posts appear for seven days and are an easy way to drive e-commerce or share offers, products, news and events. Historically, API support has not been available to help businesses with more than 10 locations manage updates. However, it is currently available on a temporary basis and is expected to eventually become standard.
  • Monitor reviews. Although temporarily disabled at the height of the pandemic, reviews have started to reappear on listings. Don’t ignore them! Google is the single most important local review site and review signals are the third most significant local ranking factor. Reviews will become even more impactful during reopening as customers seek validation that a business is safe to visit and is fulfilling their consumer promises. Be sure to respond to reviews – both good and bad – in a timely manner.
  • The Q&A section is another important area that is often neglected by businesses. As a result, the majority of questions are answered by Local Guides, which can lead to inaccurate responses. This section provides an opportunity to proactively provide information by seeding questions, similar to an FAQ.
  • Leverage Google’s expanded transactional tools for booking, food ordering, quote requests and messaging to maximize additional commerce opportunities.

Keeping location information updated is important under normal circumstances and even more imperative as your business rebounds in the long-awaited comeback. Complete, accurate local listings are a must. However, for multi-location marketers, managing local listings at scale can be a challenge. A partner like Mindstream Media Group can ensure local listings are given the attention they need as part of your omni-channel media strategy.