Google Business Profile (GBP) services may have more to do with local rankings than previously thought, according to recent testing by Sterling Sky (Disclosure: I work at Sterling Sky) and Whitespark.
Specifically, adding GBP predefined services apparently affects local search rankings.
Before this finding, there wasn’t much you could do with GBP to influence local search results beyond location, categories, reviews, and business name keywords.
Now, you can add GBP services to the list of key local SEO factors to prioritize.
Since when did GBP services matter?
GBP services did not primarily impact local rankings in 2019 when we ran our initial test.
At the time, Google was slowly and quietly adding predefined services to many GBP categories. But when we tried again that in 2022, the results were substantially different.
Darren Shaw of Whitespark performed a similar test with positive results.
Both tests showed that adding predefined services to your GBP listing significantly improves local search rankings.
But the excitement over this discovery is only felt in the local SEO community. Many small business owners don’t know how to add services to their listings or where to start.
That’s because Google doesn’t announce new features that much, keeping them hidden in a confusing new search editing interface that no one likes.
Where to find services on the GBP (NMX) board
To find services in the new GBP (NMX) trading experience, go to the services section of the menu.
From there, you’ll see a list of your categories and the services for each category.
Click Add More Services and a new screen will appear with the current services available to select in that category. Some categories have more services, while others have none.
If you have any pending service suggestions to accept or remove, you must do so first before you can click for more services.
Do all categories have services to add?
No. Not all categories have predefined services that you can add. However, we have noticed that Google is constantly adding new ones.
Check your GBP regularly for new services that are relevant to your business.
Interestingly, I’ve seen examples of businesses with multiple listings with different predefined services under their main category.
Plumbing Business – Location 1
Plumbing Business – Location 2
So, if you’re running a business with multiple locations, make sure you check services across all of your locations to avoid missing out on new services.
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How do GBP services affect local rankings?
Based on tons of tests, it seems that adding services in GBP helps improve rankings for implicit and explicit keywords.
This is extremely exciting, considering how difficult Vicinity’s update is to rank for implicit keywords away from your physical location.
These services also help to improve the ranking of keywords based on niche services.
For example, in the electrician category, Google shows two services related to “installing alarms” and “charging electric cars.”
If these are services you want more leads for, flagging them will help improve your local search visibility.
Getting unique content ideas from GBP
This is also great for getting content ideas, especially if you manage multiple businesses and accounts.
These predefined services can give you unique topics and keywords for your service pages that you probably wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
In my understanding, Google suggests these services based on searches that users have made related to the category or industry in which the business is located.
In a way, Google is telling you what people are searching for. So it’s worth mentioning them on your website whenever you provide this service.
Track local search results
As with everything in local search, you should take a lot of screenshots to track results.
Take before and after SERP and local search engine screenshots when adding new services to your GBP listings.
Take screenshots of your top and related keywords and jot down some notes on what you see.
Then, a few days later, after you’ve added those services, take the same screenshots again and compare the differences.
The ranking impact seems to take 24-72 hours to take effect. I highly recommend tools like Mobile Moxie’s Auto SERP Tracker to do this automatically, or you can do it manually using a location changer extension like GS Location Changer. (advice: use incognito and tool at the same time.)
I recommend tracking local rankings using a geogrid tracking tool like Places Scout or Local Falcon.
Both tools allow you to see how your listing ranks in a service area by using pins to show rankings on specific markers in your city.
If you track local rankings before and after you add services to your GBP, you’ll likely see a nice increase in local rankings for keywords related to the services you’ve added.
Keep your GBP strategy up to date
Local SEO is constantly evolving, largely thanks to the many changes from Google to GBP. Monitor your GBP listing regularly and stay up to date with the latest product updates.
Google will often release silent features such as predefined services, so stay tuned to your local SEO news.
The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.