Recent months have been a roller coaster ride in the world of Google Business Profiles.  Though we know they can be a huge piece in the success of your business, we also can find ourselves beating our heads against the wall trying to navigate the glitches and errors that can cause major changes in our own business success. It is tough to rely on something Google will tell you is free (and supports as though it is free) so heavily, but at the same time, when you invest in it and things are working, it can massively improve the success of your business.

This is just a quick post to go over some of the roller coaster ride of recent months, but also remind you of how much Google Business and getting reviews there matter to your business success. I will touch on some basic things and link out to some recent studies and information for you to deep dive if you’d like.

Why Your Google Business Profile Matters For Your Business

Your Google Business Profile is the representation of your business in the search results when someone searches locally or for you by brand.  Many searchers will interact with this profile and not even make it to your website. Google would actually prefer this so it is important you embrace this and keep your profile updated and also strengthen it so you show up more often. Some reasons for that are below.

You may have to scroll a bit in this great post with SEO statistics to get to the local stuff. I will definitely be referring to this post in other posts in the future too. This is a great source of SEO and local search statistics. Some important headline facts below:

  • 30% of all mobile searches are related to location. (Think With Google)
  • 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day. (Think With Google)
  • 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase. (Think With Google)
  • 39% of purchasers are influenced by a relevant search. (Think With Google)
  • 60% of marketers say that inbound (SEO, blog content, etc.) is their highest quality source of leads. (HubSpot)
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate. (HubSpot)

Why Getting Reviews Matters For Your Business

Increasingly, reviews have grown in importance for a number of reasons. From the score, recency, consistency, and even the words and pictures in the reviews, we see reviews have a growing influence on rankings and purchase decisions.  A recent study by Moz dives into how people interact and use reviews. Not as a ranking factor, which of course matters in an indirect way, but as a tool for making purchases.  Some key headlines from the study are below, but I highly recommend reading the whole study for important information guiding your strategy for 2023.  Here are some top facts uncovered by the study.

  • 96% of people read reviews

  • For gauging trust, 86% of consumers say reviews are either “the most” important or “somewhat” important factor

  • After reading reviews, 91% of consumers’ next steps occur in areas completely controlled by the business, such as the company’s website, premises and direct contact options

  • 90%+ consumers are influenced to a moderate or extreme degree by owner responses to reviews

  • 62% of negative reviewers would give a local brand a second chance after an owner response solves their problem

  • 63% of consumers will update their negative review or low-star rating once an owner response resolves their complaint

So all this points at doing a good job and asking for reviews being important for your plans for 2023. I do need to point out the scary side though.

The Scary Side of Relying on Google Business Profile

Google warningAs I mentioned above, Google views the Google Business Profile as free for your business and the support sort of matches that. When you run into problems or technical glitches, it is typically a struggle to get them resolves. I should say that Google typically gets the big glitches figured out and resolved eventually, but your business can be stuck for those days or weeks that it takes them to get things fixed. The fall of 2022 has seen a number of these glitches. Back in September, we were seeing a number of profiles get suspended somewhat randomly. It appeared that many business owners had their profiles suspended after simply updating the information in them. This was resolved, but it took some time, and these businesses essentially disappeared from local search.

I wish I could things like this are rare. Even more recently, many businesses saw all, or most of their reviews disappear after making edits or just accepting edits to their business profile. As we discussed above, reviews are so important for your success so to see many of those hard-earned reviews suddenly disappear, it can be highly stressful, and also cause a rankings drop. Google has begun

Google has always made edit suggestions to business profile pages. Often, they are totally false and the business owner needs to reject those changes. Some are correct and worth adding to your profile. Google will often put these changes in place on your profile even without your approval if you aren’t paying attention.  So the recent glitch seemed to cause reviews to all to disappear once the changes went into place.  We have been seeing many of these corrected, but after important downtime at a very important time of year for many small business owners.

So embrace the tool and keep asking for reviews, but be aware that Google is always making changes and adjustments, and they don’t view your Google Business Profile (formerly known as GMB) as yours, but as theirs to do with what they want. Of course, they are in the business of presenting accurate information, so they don’t want to provide incorrect info or remove your reviews, but when they are constantly tinkering with things, we have seen some pretty horrible and costly (to small businesses) side effects over the years. Be vigilant and ready with a backup plan.