It’s official: Google+ is going away on April 2, 2019. Google made the announcement via email in early February, surprising many Google users who never even realized they had a Google+ account. While this segment of the Google suite was never really embraced by the public, Google spent years tweaking, revising, and promoting this service until finally just throwing in the towel this year.
Google may have failed in its attempts to launch its own proprietary social media network (and, yes, that is what it was attempting with Google+), but it continues to grow and excel in other areas. Google My Business Listings, for example, continue to become more and more robust and are quickly evolving into an even more important and vital digital marketing asset.
What is a Google My Business Listing?
A Google My Business Listing is a tool Google offers to businesses to showcase relevant information when a user searches for you. A Listing can include photos, videos, reviews, hours of operation, links to your website and social media profiles, a click-to-call option on mobile devices, and much more. All of this information appears in a box to the right of search results in the Google search platform.
Google My Business Listings are completely free, and only require a business owner to claim and verify the profile. If your law firm hasn’t already done so, claiming and verifying your Listing should be a priority. Verification is simple, and is usually accomplished with either a postcard verification code Google sends in the mail or an automated call from Google with a code to input. Once the Listing is claimed, you can make edits to the information provided, share posts via the Listing, and respond or reply to reviews as the business. If your firm has multiple physical office locations, you can also create a Listing for each address.
Why Google My Business Is Becoming More and More Important
While most of the time Google is relatively opaque about its algorithms and what affects rankings, the company has come right out and stated that “providing and updating business information in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps.” Google even mentions verifying your location(s) gives them the best opportunity to appear in search results. Listings also include the opportunity to categorize your business – in this case as a “law firm” – in order to help Google correlate the relevance of your business to what a user is searching for. Bottom line: ensuring your law firm’s Listing is claimed, verified, complete, and categorized will help with search engine optimization.
New Google Features Impacting Your Firm: Local Guides
The ability to leave a star rating and/or written review for a business has been a key feature of Google for several years. Within the past six months to a year, Google has launched a more robust feedback system for consumers to provide independent information about businesses, classifying particularly active reviewers as “Local Guides.” These Google users are identified as such (in bright orange letters, no less) whenever they leave reviews, potentially weighting their reviews more heavily in the eyes of a new client searching for a law firm.
Google My Business Listings now also have an “Ask a Question” feature where users can pose questions. The questions then become part of the business’s Listing, and any Google user can answer them. So far, it doesn’t appear a business is notified when a user posts or asks the question – meaning a law firm should make sure to check its Listing on a regular basis in order to see and reply to both reviews and questions.
Make Sure Your Firm Keeps Up
With the ever-evolving suite of Google tools, keeping up with the changes can be time consuming. The dedicated legal marketing professionals at Stacey E. Burke, P.C. are at the forefront of digital marketing trends, and we can help your law firm expand its digital footprint. Contact us today to find out how we can help.