How to Audit Google’s Splintered Local Listing Properties for Intel
March 17, 2016 | Contributed by: Nick Neels
Last year, Google+ and Google My Business wrapped up their messy divorce. Even before the official announcement, Google+ was packing its boxes and moving out of Google properties, and in late 2015, these moves affected Google My Business.
Local business information can now be found scattered across eight different Google properties, so here is a post-divorce analysis of what is left, noting how brands and SEOs can utilize each remaining property.
Google One Pack: Also known as Knowledge Graph, served when doing a specific local search and when Google makes the assumption that your needs will be fulfilled with one specific business.
Brand Audit: Audit all owned assets including the NAP (name, address, phone), pin placement, website, hours, photos and photo tours, while monitoring star rating and volume of reviews. Your top priority is to make sure this owned data is accurate and appealing to the eye, while becoming aware of the review data.
Google Snack Pack: What is left of the original Local Pack, downsized from 5, 7, or 10-packs to a 3-pack.
Competitive Audit: Conduct searches for your top non-branded terms to determine where you and your competitors rank. Who is Google showing in the Top 3? And were they always on your radar? You might be surprised. With Google routinely shifting the listing rank, a deeper competitive analysis is required, which is why Google Maps audits are so powerful.
Google Maps: Google’s mapping interface for local businesses, attractions and navigation.
Competitive Audit: When the Snack Pack is not enough, searchers routinely click “More Places” or “Maps”, which drives them to a full list of Google Maps results. This view provides you a full list of competitors for your non-branded searches as well as a summary of their reviews. From this list, you will be able to look at the competition and proximity of their location in relation to the Top 10. Best practice is to audit competitors three pages or 30 listings deep so you can paint a full picture of who is ranking and dig deeper into their listings and websites to determine why. Typically a head-to-head comparison will give you ideas for your next round of search engine optimizations, both on your listings and your website. Some considerations: How do you compare for photos, reviews and categories?
Google Maps Local Finder: Knowledge-panel layout to display local listing information.
Brand Audit: While the layout of this view differs, the content remains very similar, so the same audit processes apply – make sure everything is in order.
Google+ Brand Page: One half of what was formerly the Google+ Local Listing.
Brand Audit: This view will display some basic business information, especially when you click “About.” The top priority here is to audit your brand’s profile and cover images to make sure you’ve got high-quality images in place. While they currently aren’t front and center in all Google listing properties, I estimate they will be as Google makes revisions to the local listings over time.
Google+ Local Page: I’m not sure why this is still around because this page is practically hidden, and the Local Finder serves up all the available local business info. It likely won’t be around for much longer.
Brand Audit: The same best practices apply as noted in the Google+ Brand Page view. Some consolidation is needed among these listing properties, as you can see here.
Google Map Maker: A portion of the back end of Google’s local listing database.
Brand Audit: Google Map Maker gives you a rare view into Google’s data conflation process. While it will not provide insights into all the data sources Google pulls from, it will display user- or Google-generated updates that have recently occurred in the listing. From this interface, you’ll be able to spot duplicates, resolve data conflicts and even view user edits that may or may not have been helpful.
Although the divorce of Google+ and Google My Business has left local listing data orphaned, best data management practices still apply across all Google properties. I’ve provided a more detailed breakdown of what has been added/subtracted per view if you want to learn more.