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Google Products for Estate and Lettings Agents.

Google Products are your virtual shop window for key properties.

In our extensive local analysis, several estate agencies have already positioned themselves above their competition by effectively using Google Products.

Sales, Lettings & Commerical?

No matter your sector – commercial or residential, sales or lettings – you can use Google Products to highlight select properties in your local portfolio to entice buyers and sellers.

The only requirement is that your business premises has a verified physical address.

Why Are Google Products Useful For Estate Agents?

The Products feature provides estate agents with another opportunity to showcase their key local properties.

As a result, your agency impresses buyers, sellers and the rental market.
Both visually; with your appealing property photographs, and as an agency with a professional stance to property marketing – using the latest tools to tap into a business directory service used by millions.

Like many features in Google My Business, Google Products are underutilised.

Partly as they are a new feature, but mostly because businesses do not realise their true potential – it’s not well known how powerful Google My Business is to leverage local search, that certain features have SEO value or that there is a considerable amount of customer interaction with specific features… Some of which help you stand out against the competition.

We have seen greater engagement, calls and click-through to websites when Google Products are used effectively.

However, ongoing management of products is quite a time-consuming task which can’t be automated, yet.

Added to that, mismanaging Google Products is a significant customer dissatisfier: out of date properties, incorrect pricing and broken links all effect an agency’s reputation by confusing customers and wasting company time.

To avoid these pitfalls, be careful to optimally and professionally manage the Google Products space.

The Specifics Of Using Google Products.

Google My Business is a business listing for local businesses.
Within this, Google created a number of features to promote products and services.
These are not complicated or sophisticate, rather, they are a free platform to showcase different parts of an estate agency business.

What Is Google My Business?

To clarify: a Google My Business account is how businesses setup the workings of their customer-facing profile which appears in Google Search and Google Maps – where their company name, information and a review section appears as default.

However, there are considerably more features within Google My Business to add to a public Google profile. Such as ‘Google Updates’, and soon ‘See What’s In Store’.

Google Products are a relatively new feature which appears to customers searching Google via the Maps panel, and in Google Maps on both mobile and desktop.

Essentially, Google has left it for businesses to interpret what their products are and the information to put with them.

These Google Products must contain an image and description, while there are optional sections for pricing, links to websites and one-click phone lines.

In this case, a business has packaged its services and offerings to showcase them as they like: a photo, description, price and a link to their website.

It’s really that simple, as long as you can fit your product information into the modest format that Google provides. Note that you can categorise properties too – a tab for lettings and one for sales, for example.

A Common User Experience:

Think of the common user journey: searching for directions in Google Maps, comparing local offerings in Google search or directly seeking your estate agency by name.

The one thing they have in common is your Google My Business profile, and yet many businesses are not capitalising on this additional advertising space within Google My Business – Google Products – which is the virtual display window for your local presence.

Our research shows that Google Search and Maps are where customers most commonly compare local businesses.
So it’s really important to manage this content to ensure you stand out from the competition.

While reviews, NAP and store-front images count, the visual appeal of this section is really the defining feature that draws customer attention.

After all, they are seeking or comparing your services – so a clearly presented professional gallery of property is very attractive.

How do Google Products Appear To Your Customers?

Desktop :

After a typical Google search on desktop; ‘lettings agents London’, scrolling past the paid adverts finds the (Google) Maps panel. Clicking on ‘view all’ pulls the user through to another web page with a list alongside a map. As you can see, many estate agencies appear.

If you can, find and click on Google My Business page (which, appear as the business title with reviews beneath) for a company that’s using Google Products – they will have a feature called ‘Products’ in this window that appears. Clicking ‘view all’ in the products section brings up another a panel of properties with pricing, often categorised by lettings and sales.

Note how prominently this section stands out. If the options are used correctly, clicking on each property brings up a description as well as links to call directly, buy or order online via their website. Underneath, you will see similar products or categories – another feature which attracts attention and keeps customers interested in key properties.

Mobile :

The Google Search experience is similar on mobile, although next to ‘Overview’ and ‘Updates’ there is an individual tab named ‘Products’. Click ‘view all’, and you will see key properties displayed. Alternatively, scroll past the reviews on the main page to see the products panel. If used correctly, clicking a property brings up a description, pricing and links. Note that searching via Google Maps includes the products in the main section on mobile, rather than a sperate tab.

Google Maps Dominates Navigation.

As this Google interface is streamlined for the user experience across all devices and is commonly used, it is both accessible and user friendly – reducing time to navigate key properties in a products portfolio versus a website.

It goes without saying that maps and search are dominated by Google, and searching for an estate agent in most local areas is highly competitive.

So, to complement the user experience and capitalise on this free advertising space, it is especially important to provide key properties in the Products section of Google My Business.

Many estate agents are also taking advantage of ‘Google Updates’, yet another section that can be used for key properties, bookings, offers or news.

Why Are Google Products Free?

In essence, Google releases lots of new features and leaves it up to the business community to figure out how to use them. Why? They are attempting to create an attractive ‘sticky space’ that is the go-to ‘free’ space for everyone…while also driving revenue through paid adverts.

Managing Google Products

To reiterate: The other half of the tale is that these products are simple to setup but can become difficult and time consuming to maintain.

It’s all too common that businesses leave outdated images, links and descriptions online. This doesn’t just look bad; it actively deters your prospects. Or worse; mismanaged products create inquiries that waste your time by confusing customers, while your business may gain negative reviews in the process.

Similar to your NAP, any Google Products displayed need to be up to date.

Summary:

Ultimately, it has become essential to manage all aspects of Google My Business if you want a valued profile within Google.

The more you manage and control your Google My Business, the greater the rewards.

When using Google Products, be sure to have accurate information in the right categories and enticing images alongside working links.

As you already go to the effort of keeping your website and high-street window updated, why not see Google Products as an extension of this – your Google shop window.


Depending on how effective you are at managing your content, some people will gravitate towards certain listings over others.

 

Strategies for Estate Agents:

  • Mange and update your Google Product Listings regularly.
  • Use categories to separate: lettings, sales, property of the week and services.
  • Use Google Products for several key properties.
  • Include the best eye-catching image of each property.
  • Raise the profile of high-value properties.
  • Tap into organic search with SEO for Google Products.

Outcomes:

  • Rent properties quickly with increased bookings.
  • Catch the attention of buyers and sellers.
  • Increase your visibility as a business in Google Search results.
  • Get more clicks and calls.
  • Garner attention and views with high-value properties.
  • Sell key properties faster.
  • Stand out from your competition.
  • Raise your local profile in search results.

 

What Are Google Product Listings?

Google Product listings appear prominently within Google My Business and are seen every time customers search for your store.

Features:

Listings may contain several key product images, descriptions, pricing and links to your website.

It’s a great feature for any business that sells a few products or wants to showcase a few key items.

However, ongoing maintenance and getting the most from the Google Products service can be a challenge.

What Are Google Products?

Google Product listings are a feature of Google My Business that helps businesses showcase the products they sell.

Within your Google My Business profile, you will see the option for Google Products.

Simply, populating a list with images and pricing information will produce a prominent section underneath your contact details, and just before the Google Updates section.

It’s a neat sandwich of promotions which really compliments your offerings and improves your public profile.

Why Are Products Useful?

Small to medium sized business who only stock a few products are unable to afford a full e-commerce site, or rely on footfall alone.

Google Products is comparatively easier than complex e-commerce and maintenance of a website.

However, be aware that ongoing maintenance of Google Products is a task in of itself with several pitfalls, especially if you are a multi-location retailer.

Thus, it’s easy enough to setup but becomes an extra headache if mismanaged.

How Are They Used For Best Effect?

Each time a customers searches for your store, and ends up browsing or comparing local offerings, Google Product listings appear.

Your products are presented alongside your NAP and just when customers are seeking you- both increasing their awareness of key items and enticing them to visit your store.

Together, this promotes footfall, clicks and calls to your business.

What Is The Best Way To Use Google Products?

Ideally, a medium business would regularly update their key and current offerings.

Examples of use:

  • Shoe Stores: Promote that latest, greatest designer trainer.
  • Car Show Rooms: Hit sales targets faster by attracting attention.
  • Estate agents: Help customers browse your key properties.
  • Banks: Display financial products and services.
  • Florists: Utilize this virtual shop window to display your bouquets.

As you can see, Google Products is not limited by sector.

Google Products noticeably increases product presence to drive footfall, clicks and calls.

However, larger businesses may wish to use the See What’s In Store feature in Google My Business instead. It’s easier to update on a rolling basis.

Google Products Work For Estate Agents

Google Products are your virtual shop window for key properties and services

Sales, Lettings & Commerical?

No matter your sector – commercial or residential, sales or lettings – you can use Google Products to highlight select properties in your local portfolio to entice buyers and sellers.

The only requirement is that your business premises has a verified physical address.

Why Are Google Products Useful For Estate Agents?

The Products feature provides estate agents with another opportunity to showcase their key local properties.

As a result, your agency impresses buyers, sellers and the rental market.

Your appealing property photographs stand out.

Your reputation as an agency with a professional stance to property marketing is clear: you are using the latest tools to tap into a business directory service used by millions.

Why Are Google Products Free?

In essence, Google releases lots of new features and leaves it up to the business community to figure out how to use them.

Why?

They are attempting to create an attractive ‘sticky space’ that is the go-to ‘free’ space for everyone…while also driving revenue through paid adverts.

Features:

  • Display key properties.
  • Showcase services.
  • Categories by lettings and sales.
  • Indicate pricing.
  • Direct customers to your website.
  • Links to phone lines.
  • Insert links to websites.

Value?

  • Certain features have SEO value.
  • There is a considerable amount of customer interaction with any Google My Business page.
  • Stand out against your local competition.
  • Prove your modern approach to marketing.
  • Increase clicks, calls and footfall.

We have seen greater engagement, calls and click-through to websites when Google Products are used effectively.

Why Are Agents Not Using Google Products?

Ongoing management of products is quite a time-consuming task.

It also can’t be automated, yet.

Added to that, mismanaging Google Products is a significant customer dissatisfier.

Out of date properties, incorrect pricing and broken links all effect an agency’s reputation by confusing customers and wasting company time.

To avoid these pitfalls, be careful to optimally and professionally manage the Google Products space.

The Specifics Of Using Google Products.

Google Products are a relatively new feature. They appear to customers searching Google, via the (Google) Maps panel, and in Google Maps across all devices.

Essentially, Google has left it for businesses to interpret what their products are and the information to put with them.

These Google Products must contain an image and description, while there are optional sections for pricing, links to websites and one-click phone lines.

It’s really that simple. As long as you can fit your product information into the modest format that Google provides.

Note that you can categorise properties too – property of the week, rentals, sales and services, for example.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free business listing for local businesses.

A Google My Business account is how businesses setup the customer-facing profile.

This appears in Google Search and Google Maps – where their company name, information and a review section appears as default.

Within this, Google created a number of features to promote products and showcase business services.

Other Features?

There are considerably more features within Google My Business to add to a public Google profile.

Such as ‘Google Updates’, and soon ‘See What’s In Store’.

The User Journey To Your Estate Agency.

Think of the common user journey: searching for directions in Google Maps, comparing local offerings in Google search or directly seeking your estate agency by name.

The one thing they have in common is your Google My Business profile.

Yet many businesses are not capitalising on this additional advertising space within Google My Business – Google Products – which is the virtual display window for your local presence.

While reviews, NAP and store-front images count, the visual appeal of this section is really the defining feature that draws customer attention.

After all, they are seeking or comparing your services – so a clearly presented professional gallery of property is very attractive.

Our research shows that Google Search and Maps are where customers most commonly compare local businesses.

Desktop Experience:

After a typical Google search on desktop; ‘lettings agents London’, scrolling past the paid adverts finds the (Google) Maps panel.

Clicking on ‘view all’ pulls the user through to another web page with a list alongside a map.

As you can see, many estate agencies appear.

If you can, find and click on a business that’s using Google Products – they will have a feature called ‘Products’ in this window that appears.

Note how prominently this estage agency stands out.

It’s really important to manage this content to ensure you stand out from the competition.

Clicking ‘view all’ in the products section brings up another a panel of properties.

You will find pricing and several categories here.

Clicking on each property brings up a description.

There are also links to call directly, learn more or order online available.

'See similar products' or 'categories' options attract customers to key properties.

Mobile Experience:

The Google Search experience is similar on mobile, although next to ‘Overview’ and ‘Updates’ there is an individual tab named ‘Products’.

Click ‘view all’, and you will see key properties displayed.

Alternatively, scroll past the reviews on the main page to see the products panel.

If used correctly, clicking a property brings up a description, pricing (optional) and links (optional).

Note that searching via Google Maps includes the products in the main section on mobile, rather than a sperate tab.

Time to navigate, compare and view key properties is reduced versus a website.

Get Found Locally.

This Google interface is streamlined for the user experience across all devices and is commonly used – it is both accessible and user friendly.

It goes without saying that maps and search are dominated by Google, and searching for an estate agent in most local areas is highly competitive.

So, to complement the user experience and capitalise on this free advertising space, it is especially important to provide key properties in the Products section of Google My Business.

Generic Estate Sign SOLD

Summary:

Ultimately, it has become essential to manage all aspects of Google My Business if you want a valued profile that works for you.

The more you manage and control your Google My Business, the greater the rewards.

When using Google Products, be sure to have accurate information in the right categories and enticing images alongside working links.

As you already go to the effort of keeping your website and high-street window updated, why not see Google Products as an extension of this – your Google shop window.

Many estate agents are using ‘Google Updates’ for property of the week, bookings, offers or news.

Effectively managing your content ensures customers find you over your competition.

Strategies

⇒Manage and update your Google Product listings regularly.

⇒Use several categories: lettings, sales and services.

⇒Combine Products with Google Updates for full effect.

⇒Include the best eye-catching imagery for each property.

⇒Tap into organic search with SEO for Google Products.

Benefits

⇒ Stand out from your competition.

⇒ Catch the attention of desirable clients.

⇒ Raise the profile of high-value properties.

⇒ Get increased clicks, calls and viewings.

⇒ Rise-up search rankings.

Prove you are working smart to please sellers and landlords.

Is your profile optimised?

Google My Business Posts for Christmas

As we approach the Holiday season, now’s the time to plan your Google Posts.

Posts are seen by customers who are looking to visit your store or establishment, which is why it is a fantastic opportunity to promote gift ideas or make them aware of special promotions.

Your Google My Business listing is the digital doorway to your store.  People are looking at it for opening times, directions or a number to call; Google Post can influence their decision to come to the store, or even up-sell other products.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of Google Posts this Christmas:

  • IMAGE  : Use eye catching images of the products you are promoting or simple banners.
    • Don’t worry about spending loads of time or money on specially designed images.
  • TAG LINE : Use simple tag lines such as :
    • “Ideal Gift for Her / Him”
    • “Great Stocking Fillers”
    • “Last Minute Gift Ideas”,
    • “Gifts for less than £X”
    • “Delicious treats”
    • “Special Christmas Menu”
    • etc… you get the picture!
  • DESCRIPTION :  Keep the description short such as:
    • “The ideal gift for any kid that loves fighting”
    • “Light up their faces this Christmas with this fantastic torch!”
    • “For the person that has too much already, why not sponsor a donkey?”
    • etc,
  • CALL-TO-ACTION :
    • Although call-to-actions are optional, we recommend using “Learn More” if you want to drive traffic to your website.
  • POST TYPES :
    • Which one to use?  News, Event, Product or Offer?
      • If it is a time bound promotion – use Event or Offer, however if you use an Offer, make sure that staff are aware and know what to do with it.
      • News posts will only stay up for a week
      • Product posts only stay up for a week
  • POST FREQUENCY :
    • Our data shows that Posts that are re-posted or stay up too long will quickly lose their effectiveness.  If you want your customers to get into the habit of looking at posts, you should post once per week with new content.

Worth knowing:  A Google post for a multi-location brand is likely to be seen significantly more times than a Facebook or Twitter Post AND at a time when people are actually looking to visit you!

For more tips see our blog How multi-location brands can use Google Posts.

If you have more than 50 locations and would like some help posting this Christmas please give us a call.

How to use Google My Business Posts for Multi-Location Brands

Google Posts are seen when people visit your Google My Business (GMB) page. They can be used to inform customers or advertise products, events or promotions. Here are a few tips on how to create high performing Google Posts to drive footfall to your store and traffic to your website:

Firstly; Google Posts are not like Facebook or Twitter posts, instead, think of Google Posts as static adverts that are only seen by people that are thinking about visiting your store!

Secondly; in order to create Posts that will up-sell to existing customers or draw in prospective customers you need to understand the user’s local search journey to your GMB page. 

Finally, make Posts bold and simple! As in any advert, the objective is to grab attention and invite people to find out more.

There is no magic bullet, you will need to test your own strategy and content based on your brand and sector.   However, based on our experience of managing multiple bulk campaigns, we’ve put together some guidelines.

What do we mean by “understand the user’s local search journey to your GMB Page”?

The local search journey is why, how and the frequency your customer or prospective customer visit your Google My Business Page and what they are looking for.

This varies by sector; For example, for established high street retailers, existing customers may be looking for opening times.  For restaurants, customers may be looking for a number to call to book a table, or for an infrequently used service such as tyre replacement, a prospective customer may be looking for information before making a purchasing decision.

A wordy Post that goes into detail about a new product is unlikely to be read by someone looking for opening times, whereas a simple headline “New Product in store now” will. Conversely, a prospective customer searching for a service business may read a detailed Post.

By thinking about the reason/motivation and route by which a customer/prospective customer arrives at your GMB Page, you are more likely to create Posts that will engage them.

The main factors to consider are outlined below:

1. Who is looking at your GMB store page? Customers /

Prospective Customer

Is it more likely to be an existing customer or a prospective customer?
2. What are they looking for? Information /

Phone Number /

Address /

Directions /

Opening Times/

Website /

If they are looking for opening times (for example) they already intend coming to you, so may be interested in what’s new today.
3.  How are they finding you? Direct search /

Discovery search

Get this from your GMB insights. A high proportion of direct searches suggest that existing customers are looking for you directly.
4.  What are they using for search? Mobile /

Tablet /

Desktop

The type of image, tagline and number of words should be considered depending on the device that people are most likely to use.
5.  When are they looking? Before purchase/

During purchase/

After purchase?

Customers may visit the GMB Page several times during a transaction. For example – a customer may use GMB to call a restaurant to book a table, then use directions to get there.
6.  Where are they searching from? Home/

Work/

On route?

If someone is looking on-route, they are not going to want to read a big post.
7.  How often do they look? Weekly / Monthly /

Annually / Ad-Hoc

The frequency that a customer/ prospective customer looks at your GMB page may influence when you post.
8.  What type of person are they? Demographic You cannot expect your post to appeal to everyone, so think about the imagery and wording that connects with your core customers.

These pointers won’t design the Post for you, but they will help you to think about the style of Posts.  That’s another article in itself, but here are a few tips:

  • Google Posts are more like adverts –keep them simple.
  • Google Posts are seen when people are thinking about coming to your store.
  • Use Google Posts to up-sell to existing customers or draw-in prospective customers.
  • Understand the user journey and motivations for visiting your GMB store page.
  • Images and Tag lines should grab the user’s attention and tempt them to open the Post.
  • Use bold eye-catching images. Don’t worry about using images with words in them. (Leave the words for the Post tagline).
  • The copy of the Post should quickly convey the message and invite interested user to find out more. Although the Post can have up to 300 words, this is way too long. Keep copy down to less than 300 characters.
  • Only use Offer Codes if store staff know how to use them.
  • Use the “Call To Action” button. “Learn More” or “Get Offer” works well, but not “Buy Now” unless it is a really fantastic offer.
  • Use “Event” time lines “From” and “To” dates so that Posts stay up for as long as you want them to. (Not using dates means the Post disappears after 1 week).

Why territory names can deter customers in local search…

Most franchises are ‘local’ and as such need to manage their local online search presence and reputation.  However, many franchises operate in territories or service areas, and as a result are tempted to use their territory names to differentiate one franchisee from the other in local search.

This article discusses why using territory names in local listings could deter customers.

Franchise Territory Names can deter customers

Franchises operate territories, and as such get very parochial about how each franchisee is listed.  As such, many franchisees are listed with the brand name followed by the franchise territory.

For example; “Shiny Cleaners Milton Keynes” or “Shiny Cleaners Northampton”.

For retail franchises (one where customers come to your premises) this is not such an issue, however for a service area business (man in a van) where the franchisee is serving a wide area, a territory name in the title may lose you business.

Here’s why;

Your listing will be seen by people outside of your territory.

Territory names limit your search relevance and can deter customers.

If your franchise territory is included in your business listing name, you are potentially being overlooked by customers who don’t think you will service them; however, there may be an adjoining franchisee who can service them.

If a potential customer searches for your services in a town or county that borders your town or county, it may be that the ‘wrong’ franchise appears in the search results.   If the customer sees a different town or county name in the business name title to where they are located, they may think the franchise does not serve their location and therefore not call.  The customer won’t necessarily look for the franchisee that does serve their location.

As well as this, listing a town after you brand name can deter people who do not live in that town yet are within your territory.  For example, Warwick is 10 miles from Coventry, yet someone in Warwick seeing a listing for “Joe’s Plumber Coventry” will see Coventry and think “They’re not going to come to Warwick”.

A territory name can deter customers the further they are from the franchisee’s base.

The map below shows how territory names in local listings may deter customers on the border of two adjoining franchise territories.

What’s the solution?

To make yourself relevant to a wider customer audience, you need to remove the territory from your business listings and only list your brand! 

By only listing your brand name, your search results will have greater relevancy to a bigger customer audience as you will no longer be dismissed on the basis of geography.

Why might Franchisees object to this approach?

Franchisees may object to removing the territory name from their local listings if they believe franchisees adjoining their territories will take their enquiries.  However, by adopting this approach, the franchise network will be stronger as it will pick up more business than if it were to operate as individual territories.

To address the issue of ‘cross boarder’ issue of customers calling franchisees from outside their territory, franchises must have internal processes and controls to ensure that customer are served by the appropriate franchisee.

A franchisee address (wherever it may be) can be leveraged to raise the profile of the franchise network.  For example, Franchisee A may live in Franchisee B’s territory.  However, Franchisee A’s address could be listed to raise the local search footprint of the brand as a whole.  It does not mean that they need to deliver the service in that area.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes there are exceptions.  If the territory is small (in area) or there is a particularly dense population, or in a big city, then it can make sense to include a territory or location name.

Summary

Franchisees need to trade on their Brand not their location.

The further away a customer is from the franchisee, the less likely they are to call. 

Remove the territory name from your local listings and maximise your local presence to increase the overall franchises search footprint and relevancy.

4 tips for Service Area Franchises to improve local search performance:

  • List franchisee locations with consistent Name, Address and Phone number in Google My Business, and local listing sites.
  • Don’t use the territory name in a business listing.
  • Extend your local brand and search footprint by using franchisee addresses ‘strategically’.
  • Have an internal process to re-assign customer enquiries to the correct territory.

If you are a franchise and would like to discuss how your franchisees can improve their local online performance, please call MiShop.local. or click here to book a free on-screen webinar.