January 7, 2021

Let’s Talk Local #02: Listings Management with Rasmus Himmelstrup

Local SEO expert Rasmus Himmelstrup from Resolution Media Denmark joined us to talk about:

  • How to prevent your listings from being “hijacked”
  • Why it’s important to have accurate info on your listings
  • What KPIs brands should be watching, to see if their listings managing efforts are paying off

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Conversation transcript

Text has been lightly edited for clarity.

Thank you Rasmus for being here.

Thank you for having me today. My name is Rasmus Himmelstrup, I'm head of Resolution for Denmark, and I am extremely interested in local. I've been doing it for a lot of years and I think it's really an under-prioritized area for big businesses.

We are a Nordic partner with PinMeTo, and we manage approximately ten or fifteen thousand locations worldwide.

When I was doing my background research for this interview I saw this article talking about how you managed to hijack some Google My Business listings. How did you manage that? And also, how can companies make sure that you are not able to hijack their listings like that?

In general, we are seeing a lot of GMB spam and a lot of hostile takeovers across the board. But just to be clear, I had no intention of actually hijacking the listing. We were working for a company who had a listing marked as a duplicate, but in reality, it was a listing that was merged with another listing. So we reached out to the GMB support, and they told us to delete the listing and then re-verify that listing again. And we did that, and suddenly we had ownership of both listings. Actually I checked this morning, and we still have ownership of both.

I had no intention of doing this. But we think we accidentally found a loophole that’s being used by spammers. Of course, this should not be happening, you shouldn't be able to mark a listing as a duplicate and then afterwards be able to verify that listing. So it's something that's really bad, and could potentially hurt big businesses or businesses in general. That’s why I was trying to highlight that in the article, because I think this is something that needs to be closed as soon as possible.

To your other question, the best way to keep your listings safe I think, is to be vigilant and be mindful of all the things that are coming from Google & GMB. It's extremely important that you are mindful of the things that are being requested. There are a lot of things coming, we get a lot of requests from a lot of spam emails that want to have ownership of listings. So be vigilant, and be extremely mindful of what's coming your way.

And then, of course, I would suggest companies to use some kind of monitoring tool. This can be a local management tool, or something else to monitor changes that are going on.

And of course, listings management goes beyond just making sure that you have control of your listings. It also involves making sure that you are keeping those listings updated with complete and accurate information. So I was hoping you could share a little about why it's so important to keep your listings always updated with relevant information.

We know from studies that the search engine result pages contain a lot of local information in general. So I believe 70 percent of them contain some kind of localized feature. So you need that information to be updated at all times.

But we also see the GMB knowledge panel as the customer's first encounter with the company. So it's sort of the online front door. And of course, if you compare it to any other offline shop’s front food, you always want to have updated and have proper information on your listings.

During COVID, having updated opening hours and things like that are extremely important. We're seeing a heavy increase in requests for safety measures. Things like: "do you need to wear a mask when entering the store?" I think that's extremely important. It's important for companies to give the customers the best experience.

But then on the other hand, we also tend to see that more accurate and complete listings get more impressions, and more views. And of course, by that, they also get more interactions. When you get different listings to have more interactions, that will eventually be more business in the end. So you should have accurate listings because it's good for your users and it's good because you want to look good both online and offline. But it's also good for your business in terms of trying to bring in visitors.

You used the phrase "online front door," which I like. At PinMeTo we're often talking about the importance of keeping your online profiles updated, and if you talk to a store manager about it in those terms, they think, "OK, well, of course, I'm going to make sure that my front door, or my storefront, is presenting the best image to potential customers."

We have a lot of different brands that are really focusing on their brand presence. So just having the proper images shown first is really important for some brands. And again, you would probably think the same way in an offline manner. So you want to look good when people are visiting your store.

Absolutely. And you also touched briefly on some of the results of this, the increases to impressions and views. I was hoping you can tell me a little bit more about those KPIs that a company should be keeping an eye on to see if their efforts in online listings management are paying off.

So I think that's probably the most important part of doing any kind of local optimization, because everyone knows there are local results. Everyone knows the three-pack or has seen the three-pack or GMB results in Google. But when we start to work with companies they often ask us "what's the actual value of optimizing GMB?" or other local directories.

The first thing you want to do is make sure you're tracking things from GMB. Not just the things you're getting from GMB but also website clicks, phone numbers, whatever. And that goes for GMB but it also goes for a number of local directories. That will eventually lead to letting you track online performance, also leads and sales, stuff like that. And of course, that's really good. But in this case, you would also be interested in tracking things like store visits, in Google Analytics, for example. And I think, again, that's a really under-prioritized area that a lot of companies aren't focusing on. So when you have, for example, UTM parameters set up on different things you can figure out what's the actual performance, from GMB, in terms of store visits.

We have tried to sort of exploit that. So we have enriched the data layer on different sites so we can look into store visits by different categories, for example, or different stores. In Google Analytics you can only see the predefined stores. But if you enhance that and have more stores in the same city, you can enrich the data layer and then you can get information from that.

What we are actually seeing in terms of GMB is that GMB tends to have a really good performance in terms of store visits. The store visit rate is great, it's often around 20% or so when people are coming from GMB. And that makes sense, because if you're searching for a company and its opening hours, there's probably a good chance that you will visit that store afterwards. So store visits is an extremely important KPI.

We did a study sometime back just to figure out if the performance from GMB is actually that much better, and then we tried to figure out what kind of categories are likely to convert online, then categories likely to convert offline. Of course, there are some categories that people will always tend to buy online and the other way for offline. And so we build the sales model to look into performance from the offline sales to figure out if that has an effect.

What we saw was that GMB was performing 3.3x better than other channels, compared to paid brand. Normally when users are searching for a paid brand term that is often a channel that gets really high conversion. And so compared to that, we saw that GMB was performing 3.3x better. And of course there's a volume perspective here, because there's a lot more people using the paid search channel. But again, GMB was simply outperforming paid brand.

It's important to measure online performance. But of course, it's even more important to measure the offline performance.

Right, because at the end of the day, that's the most important part of the online to offline journey: making sure that people are actually coming in offline and making those in-store purchases. Well, Rasmus, thank you, this has been a ton of great information and I really appreciate you coming on here to join us.

Thank you for having me