This article is part 5 of 9 from my LocalU presentation from March 2020. If you missed the event, the videos are available for purchase here.
For as long as there have been local packs on Google, keywords in the business name have had a major impact on ranking. According to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, it is #4 on the list for what has the biggest impact on local pack rankings.
To help illustrate how much adding keywords to your business name in Google My Business impacts ranking, I’ll share a test we did last year. We experimented on a listing for a restaurant that did not have a salad bar. They didn’t even have a website and there was literally no mention of their brand anywhere else online. All we did was add the words “Salad Bar” to their business name inside the Google My Business dashboard. Then, a few days later, we deleted the words. We then waited a week and added them back. This was the ranking result for the search term “salad bar [city] [state]”.
Should I add keywords to my business name?
Adding descriptors to your business name in Google My Business is against the guidelines and can lead to the listing getting suspended. In Google’s guidelines they state: “Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended“.
Should I report competitors who are breaking these guidelines?
If you have a business that is outranking you and they are adding keywords to their business name, it can be extremely difficult to compete with due to the amount of weight Google puts on this in their local algorithm that fuels the 3-pack. Here are some examples of what happened when we got Google to remove keywords from a business that was breaking the guidelines by including them in the business name:
- For a drug rehab business, they ranked in position 1 for the term they were adding to their business name. Once Google removed the keywords, they dropped to position 7 two days later.
- For a different drug rehab business, they were in position 4 for the term they had in their business name. Once Google fixed the business name, they dropped to position 5 three days later.
- In another case, for a lawyer, removing the keywords had this impact:
Our article about spam on Google Maps goes into detail about how you can report competitors that are doing this to gain ranking in the 3-pack. Often it does take multiple reports to get Google to act on it.