Google My Business (GMB) optimization has become critical for brands and small businesses alike as the gateway to offline and, increasingly, online conversions. Google Search and Maps (especially) are often the first points of contact for millions of consumers with businesses that have physical locations, as well as service-area businesses.
Percentage of owner-verified listings
One of the questions I’ve asked repeatedly over the past few years is “how many businesses have verified their listings on GMB?” Places Scout in 2019 analyzed 2.4 million business listings in over 30 categories and came up with an answer: 62.2%. A 2020 analysis of 800,000 listings by Whitespark found a lower number: 49%.
The Places Scout study contains a wealth of valuable GMB benchmarking information. Here are some of the numbers.
Basic profile information
According to the study, the average GMB profile is 72% complete. Sixty-one percent have business hours posted and 93% feature a business phone number. Seventy-three percent have a URL, but only 29% on average have a business description. The average description length is roughly 231 words.
The average profile also features just over 45 images. Across the board, the most recent business-owner-added photo is more than 100 days old. This is noteworthy because more photos translate into more visibility and consumer engagement.
Only 4.4% of profiles feature a menu link and a roughly equivalent number have a reservation/booking link (4.3%). This study was done before COVID-19 and I would expect these numbers to be higher today.
Roughly 24% of profiles featured social media links.
Reviews and response rates
The average GMB profile had 73 reviews. The lowest category (wholesale) showed an average of 23 reviews. The category with the most review activity was travel and hospitality with 237.
The average business star rating was 4.08. Only 19% of business owners responded to reviews. Of those responding, it took an average of more than 25 days. And, when they did respond, business owners only addressed 35% of those reviews, with slightly greater attention to negative reviews.
Business owners received an average of 1.5 new reviews per month, according to the study.
Google Posts and Q&A
Places Scout also found that only 13.4% of profiles used Google Posts. These profiles had slightly more than 5 Posts for the time period examined, with 3.2 Posts in the past month.
Roughly a third of profiles (32.2%) had questions associated with them. The average number of questions was 3.1 per profile, 2.5 of which were answered. Local Guides answered roughly 1 out the 3 questions. In a small fraction of cases (0.17%) the owner both asked and answered their own questions — an often-recommended practice.
It took most business owners an average of less than a day to respond to questions, which is more impressive than their review performance.
Quick wins available
Roughly 90% of GMB profiles are single-location businesses. This means small businesses. But, many of the deficiencies identified in the study likely equally apply to multi-location enterprises.
The data above show there are some basic optimizations readily available:
- Add a business description.
- Add more photos on a regular basis.
- Add all relevant menu, booking and social media links to the profile.
- Ethically solicit reviews, but more importantly, respond to reviews within 24 hours.
- Utilize Google Posts regularly.
- Ask and answer Google Q&A (e.g., put up FAQs).
These are just a few optimizations revealed by Places Scout’s benchmarking study. There are many more, but these items are relatively simple and if businesses did them, they would see a near-term lift in visibility and conversions.
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