Google is the unmistakable boss of the SEO industry, but as we all know, great power brings with it great responsibility.
With SEOs having to jump at every new change that Google implements, it only makes sense to uncover the niggles that are making their jobs more difficult. To help Google decide what they need to prioritize, we asked our user base of SEO professionals and local and multi-location businesses to tell us what they wish Google would fix, change or add to better their chances of local SEO success.
We received an abundance of responses—thank you so much to everyone who shared their opinions. The responses have been grouped into the five most in-demand fixes for Google, and ordered by the frequency that these appeared.
What do you think Google needs to prioritize for local SEO? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Fix #1: Google My Business Clarity, Integration, and Control
In our annual Local Search Industry Survey, we learned that Google My Business optimization is the most commonly-completed task for SEOs. It was no wonder that issues with GMB were the most often mentioned in this poll—with respondents wanting more clarity, integration, and control.
“Make Google My Business clearer for local business owners.”
“We have a lot of issues with managing our GMB. The interface is illogical, and difficult to navigate. It’s also incredibly buggy. Half of the information we put on GMB doesn’t come up or stay correct.”
“Make GMB and Google+ more integrated.”
“If Google wants to act like a directory, they should have a better way of verifying businesses. I’ve been doing this for 8 years, and the process is still like banging rocks together. Google should verify businesses based on the business license and address.”
“They need to give businesses more control over the content that lands in their GMB, such as photos. So many people take horrible images that don’t do anything for the business.”
“They should add an API to GMB so that we can schedule posts with a third party.”
Fix #2: Solve Spam
Spam has recently hit headlines for the negative effect it’s having on local businesses. Fake and duplicate listings are limiting the potential for legitimate businesses to rank in their area—and people are feeling frustrated at the lack of action from the search giant. On May 23, Google announced a new tool to let business owners report scammy practices. We’re really looking forward to see the impact this has on local SEOs and business owners.
“Spam! False locations or businesses that create fake addresses to sell leads. This is particularly bad in the locksmith, garage door repair, and towing industries.”
“Prevent obvious duplicate locations from popping up when a well-maintained, verified listing already exists.”
“Duplicate and fake GMB listings are an epidemic!”
“Get rid of all the sites ranking with 10,000 backlinks to a local plumber. This is a clear violation.”
“Bring back the reasoning for marking changes to GMB listings that was present in the Map Maker. I think this will help with stopping erroneous, spammy, and malicious edits being made as well as help properly eliminate spam listings.”
Fix #3: Fight Fake Reviews
Fake reviews are a cause of major concern for our users. And, it seems like they’re everywhere—with the Local Consumer Review Survey finding that 79% of consumers believe they’ve read a fake review in the last year. False reviews can be incredibly damaging for local businesses—risking turning off customers, and pushing websites out of the top rankings.
“Fake reviews, hands down.”
“Reviews are becoming a problem, but I don’t think Google is interested in fixing this.”
“Fake reviews are rampant. Google does not handle these well at all.”
“Businesses have very little recourse if someone leaves a negative review, whether it is malicious, valid, or a mistake (e.g. the wrong company). Yet, Google wants to penalize anyone who uses a filtering system. They need to give businesses a place to be heard.”
Fix #4: Improve Communication
As consumers in a social-first world, we’ve come to expect instant answers and improvements to the issues making out lives more difficult. GMB has two main forms of support—Twitter and the Google My Business Community. But it’s clear that Google’s limited communication is holding some users back from achieving their goals.
“Make it easier to contact GMB support. AND, Google should be more transparent about the nature of the problems/issues they see on their end.”
“Local business is a nightmare. Google needs to have some VIP support. It’s so frustrating to work with verifications.”
“Google, please bring in more support staff for help with manual verifications and listing merges!”
“They should use email to notify GMB owners of all actions taken by others against their listings, such as questions and answers. Relying on the smartphone apps for notifications is an insufficient solution.”
“There’s not a lot of great information on Google posts or photo selection. I want Google to share the minimum and maximum sizes for photos, share address guidelines, and to tell us which information is best for strong GMB posts.”
Fix #5: Directories
While directories can be useful for those looking for inspiration or doing initial research, they can be frustrating for local businesses who’d love their place in the rankings. In a recent blog, Hubspot’s Alex Birkett shared some useful tips to help you challenge these goliaths.
“Reduce the number of directory sites that appear in the organic listings. It’s a terrible user experience to search for a local business, and land on a directory site that causes another search, or click to an actual business site.”
“Google should reduce their reliance on directory sites for keyword searches. These are for-profit sites, and hinder local businesses’ ability to work for first page results.”
Whether it’s fixing bugs, adding in-demand Google My Business features, or merely keeping the SEO community up-to-date with what’s expected from them, it’s clear that SEOs remain at the mercy of Google’s offering. We’ve found out what local SEOs want, so Google, the rest is up to you.
What do you think Google needs to fix to help achieve your local SEO goals? Let us know in the comments below.