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
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.
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
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.
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