What Page Should You Link Your GMB Listing To? – Whitespark Local Insider

Having a well optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing is critical for any local search strategy.

When it comes to optimizing a GMB listing, many people wonder what link they should add in the website field; should the link be to the homepage or a location landing page? In this episode of the Whitespark Local Insider (formerly the Weekly), Darren discusses what link to use depending on how many locations you have, and shares an interesting discovery about how Google crawls the page that you link to in GMB.

Video Transcript

Hello everybody, welcome back to another Whitespark Weekly video. Last week we did a video on how to use a call tracking number on your Google My Business Listing, and I was really pleased to see how well received that was. We got a lot of comments on the blog, a lot of questions about it, so I think, you should check that out. You can see how to properly use a call tracking number in your Google My Business Listing. So, check last week’s episode out.

This week I want to talk to you about a common question, it comes up for me all the time, it’s: What page should I link to for my Google My Business listing? So in Google My Business, I’ll just show you this real quick, you can enter a website URL. In here, I can specify a URL to link to.

Right now this business is linking to their home page. We’ve got the, parameters, the tracking parameters. But, let’s say you have five locations, what page should you link to? Should you link to the location landing pages or should you link to the homepage? That question has come up many times, it keeps coming up even though Phil Rozek did a great post about it in 2014. The question keeps coming up and so, I want to do a little video about that and give you some insight into my recommendations there.

How Google Crawls Crawls the Linked Page

I also wanted to show you something really fascinating. I’ve never shown this to anyone before, I discovered it about three years ago and the only person that I’ve shown it to actually was Phil, so Phil and I talked about it back then. It’s a really interesting thing, so let me get into that first.

I’m going to show you this, this really cool thing. So everybody knows that a Googlebot is a crawler, it crawls the web, it’s gathering information from every website and puts it into Google’s index. You can see all the stuff in Search Console. So this thing’s crawling all the time, visiting web pages, and gathering data; which it uses to understand the web, and rank web pages.

Let me show you what happens with, when you change the URL in Google My Business.

What happens is 3 minutes after you change the URL, Googlebot will come and visit your website. The specific URL you added. They do it every time. It’s really fascinating. I actually have the server logs open here for this website. I can take a look and see what’s happening what’s happening in the logs. I can tail the logs and see the last time people were visiting the site. It looks like the last page visited was 1 minute ago. That’s a minute ago, it’s 11:37 here, and by this IP. So someone had visited this page.

If I leave this open, and we just watch you’ll see, iit’ll start to trigger. You’ll start to see people visiting the page, and this will just keep building up. I’m just going to get out of that. I can also look in this log specifically for any instances of Googlebot. When was Googlebot last here? I can check that out by, here we go, so I’m just going to grep the log, and it’s kind of like parsing the log file for a specific string. I am looking for this mention of Googlebot.

Now I can see that Googlebot was last on the site at 11:01, that was 37 minutes ago. We’re going to try and make Googlebot come and check out our webpage again. Let me just clear this up.

1. I am going to “tail” the log again but this time I am going to tail it and then send it over to “Grep” so I am only watching for, when Googlebot shows up.

So this is running. Googlebot is now or the server logs are now going to output anytime that Googlebot visits the website.

2. Lets go over here. I am going to change their website URL, I’m going to go, I’m just going to copy this link out of here, I’m just going to send it to their lawyers page. I am going to update this. Don’t worry I’ll change it back shortly after.

Alright, so I am going to make this go to the Lawyers page. I’ve got a timer set here, so we will see what happens. I am going to apply this. Saving…Alright, it’s saved. It’s pending, usually pretty fast.

I’m going to start this timer, see how long it takes. We will bring this back up (opens server log). Oh man, maybe it got faster! Whoa. Googlebot did get faster. You can look at that it used to be 3 minutes. Now it’s like instant.

So what’s the first page? Look at that, lawyers. It hit it first, it hit the lawyers page and now it’s crawling the rest of the website. It’s really fascinating to see that, it’s like as soon as you update that in your Google My Business, Googlebot’s going to be like “oh, we better go and check this out.” What does that, what does that tell you? What does that mean, you know, I’m not a search engineer, but my theory on this is… you’ve got your regular web crawl and your regular web index, if Googlebot is triggering a call as soon as you update that URL it’s like, “I need to find the signals for this page and now associate it with my business entity at Google, at Google My Business.

Primary Factors the Google Crawl is Looking For

If you change all the content on your page, Google wants to see that and then update their sort of listing at local. This is triggering – in my mind – a local crawl. This is a local specific crawl for gathering data about that page and associating that with your business entity at Google. It really shows you how important that page is. Obviously it’s really important to get that right. And then there’s two primary factors that they’re really looking at:

  1. They are looking at the content of that page.
  2. But they are also looking at the link authority, the link equity you have on that page.

Getting back to the question at hand, which is, you know, which page should you like to? I basically break it down into sections. It’s super easy, you’re trying to balance your link equity with your relevancy. Trying to get the best of both worlds.

 

Single Location Business

If you have a single location business it’s dead simple, you link it to the homepage because the homepage is going to have all the link equity. Then you also optimize your homepage; the title tag, the content, everything about that, you sort of localize that content for your keywords and your location. Great, so that’s pretty straightforward if you have a single location.

 

Multi-Locations Business – 3 to 5 Places

What if you have 3 locations? If you have 3 locations, you can probably still get all three of those main cities into the title tag, so say you’re a plumber in Denver you’ve got, Plumbers Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, you can optimize the content, have little blocks talking about the work you do in each area. That can all go on the homepage, so you can still get the benefit of the link equity of the homepage and you can optimize the content.

When you get to 5 it gets a bit sketchy. Can you get 5 city names into your title tag? Probably not, you’re kind of stuffing at that point, it doesn’t look natural. Can you optimize the content for 5 different locations? It gets really hard. You could stretch it, at that point you might want to try both. Make location pages, optimize them as well as you can. Then try setting your GMB listings to link to those location pages, and then run that for a couple of weeks with some rank tracking. Then switch it to the homepage, run that for a couple of weeks with some rank tracking and see which one actually works better for you. That’s what I would recommend at that level.

 

Businesses With 6 or More Locations

If you’ve got 6 or more it’s just too hard I think to optimize your content for all those locations on that one page your mileage may very. You actually might still do better by linking to the homepage. Again, I would suggest testing. But you’re not really going to get those strong relevancy signals. I would suggest at that point to link all of them to location landing pages.

You’ve got a very specific page built for that location, you have put a ton of excellent content on that page. We have a blog post that talks about how to optimize a page and get a really good location landing page. We built it from the perspective of ranking an organic page that you don’t have a physical location for, but the concepts apply for a page that you actually have a physical location for as well. That gives you all the, this is how you optimize a page.

Then try to get as many links as you can to those location pages. You want to get:

  • Your citation links obviously.
  • Good internal linking on your website.
  • You want to make sure that you are getting any other websites that you have access to, to try to link to you location pages on those. Wherever you can control links. Those are opportunities to get links.
  • You want to make sure that you are doing some sponsorships. You can get some links to those pages from sponsorships.
  • You can also get links to those pages from local business associations. So if you are part of a business association in Denver and you’re also part of one in Colorado Springs then those could link to those specific location landing pages.

 

Summing it All Up

That basically sums it up. I think that if you have one location obviously homepage, three I would probably still go homepage, beyond that you’re probably going to want to make location landing pages and link to those from your Google My Business listing.

I hope you found that thing about Googlebot fascinating, I know I did. We will see you next week for another Whitespark Weekly. Bye everybody.

AUTHOR

Darren Shaw

Darren Shaw founded Whitespark in 2005. The company specialized in web design and development, however, Darren's passion and curiosity for all things local search led Whitespark to focus primarily on local SEO in 2010 with the launch of the Local Citation Finder, followed by the Local Rank Tracker.

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22 comments on “What Page Should You Link Your GMB Listing To? – Whitespark Local Insider

  • The crawl demonstration here was AWESOME, Darren. I have never seen that before. Truly a secret you’ve shared.

    On the main question at hand, the part of this ongoing industry conversation we’ve never solved is this: how is user behavior impacted by the use of the homepage vs. a landing page as the GMB destination URL?

    In other words, let’s say you’re a medium-sized enterprise with 30 locations on the west coast. This is too many locations to put in a main nav menu tab so, you have a store locator widget on your website, pointing to 30 highly-polished pages with basic info, store-specific sales, reviews, content, unique CTAs, etc.

    Some practitioners have stated that you should link to the hompages, regardless of number of locations, because of a potential local pack ranking boost for all listings. But, the unanswered question is: if a user hits the homepage from the GMB listing, does he instantly convert despite content that isn’t optimized for his specific needs, or, if he then has to go from the GMB listing, to filling out a store locator widget to get his respective landing page, how will this impact conversions, visit depth, time on site, time on page, etc.?

    So far, I’ve seen this common question about which page to link to from GMB mostly dealt with from a rankings perspective. I’d love to see it dealt with from a user metrics perspective.

    Enjoyed watching!

    • Hi Miriam,

      That’s a great point about user experience. If your business has more than 5 locations, then having the the ability to deliver custom localized content to the user could definitely result in better conversions than a homepage. Again, I think it’s about finding the balance and testing to see what works best for you. A location page might be easier to optimize for a location and provide a better user experience, but if you never rank with it linked, and you do rank with the homepage linked, then my vote would still be to use the homepage. Overall, you’ll get more conversions with it. My recommendation is always to test to see which works better for your business. You can measure both rankings and conversions in the test!

  • Regarding the re-crawl of an authority page added to Google My Business—the last thing Google wants is a webpage appearing in search that leads to a 404. So, it makes sense that if the page is changed, then they’ll want to check and make sure the URL is valid.

    • That makes all the sense, Joel. So, maybe not too surprising that they crawl the page immediately. They tend to recrawl other pages of the site at the same time, so I assume they also check the content for re-indexing as well. It’s good to know that they do this, because now you can just log into GMB to trigger a recrawl anytime you update your key location pages. Might even be able to do it via the GMB API. I’d be interested to test this.

  • So would you say it is a bad idea to use location pages if you only have one office? Or would it not really make sense unless you have super awesome content on that page and an overall good strategy to boost the authority of that local page? Just curious if you have seen it work with just one office.

    • I would say you’re much better off using the homepage if you only have one office. The homepage will have much more link equity than a location page, and if you only have one location, you can easily optimize the content of the homepage to be topically and location relevant. I suspect you’ll see much better rankings if you switch to the home page.

      You *could* rank well with a location page if that page has awesome content and a ton of links. It’s just that the homepage is usually much easier to get links to than a location page.

  • Thanks for this, Darren–it’s very interesting and informative. Question: my business has FOUR locations, each with its own landing page on the city corresponding with its GMB listing. Our homepage is not used on the GMB listing. However, that’s always seemed like a lost opportunity. Meaning, the homepage has much more link authority, etc. than any of the four location landing pages. So, I’ve been tempted to use the homepage as the GMB URL for one of the four locations (the most important/competitive location, obviously). What do you think?

    • Hi Jim,

      Sounds like you have the perfect testing ground for this. Set up rank tracking (hint: we have an awesome local rank tracker), and see how you rank for two weeks. Then, change all the GMB URLs to point at the homepage and see if you get a ranking boost. Then, come back here and leave a comment so we all know which worked out better for you! 🙂

  • Tip: if you have 4 locations on more, you could add links from the homepage to your other GMB page listings to pass on the juice. For example: site.com/ place a link to each site.com/city1, site.com/city2, site.com/city3, site.com/city4, etc.etc.

  • We have two locations and GMB pages for each. When searching on google, under certain key words or clicking 4.5 stars and up, both gmb pages will come up. They are 50 miles apart, with serving locations within 29 miles selected, so that seems wrong to me, but I have no idea why. Would different urls correct this.

  • Hey man,

    I’m ashamed to admit I’d forgotten about your Googlebot-watching test. It’s still fascinating. Thanks for documenting it.

    Have you tried this for a client whose site Googlebot maybe doesn’t hit as often? (Pringle’s a little more dialed-in than most, as we know.) I wonder whether Googlebot would be slower to return, even after you update the URL in GMB.

    At least to me, Google’s ultra-fast re-crawl may explain (at least in part) why it’s often so easy to get Google to approve a public edit to the landing page URL of a GMB page (particularly an unclaimed one). It also may explain partly why some businesses rank well for certain search terms that their GMB categories don’t reflect. Google’s just gasping for landing-page content that it can use to figure out exactly where to stick your business.

    What I recommend to most multi-location clients who want to benefit from the link juice of the homepage but still be geographically relevant is: on the homepage have a fat blurb on each specific location. Each of those is also an opportunity to drop in an internal link to each “location” page, and to describe the broader service area (if applicable), and maybe to weave in relevant photos/reviews/videos/an embedded Google Map.

    • Hey Phil! That’s a good question about the speed of crawl. My guess is that Google instantly crawls the URL on any update, no matter how dialed-in the site is. Joel makes an excellent point about this in his comment above.

      And good points about the approvals and ranking for terms that the GMB categories don’t reflect. The landing page content could be part of it, but they’re likely also getting those signals from categories on other data sources, citation content, and review content.

      Yep, you *can* squeeze locally relevant content into a homepage if you don’t have too many locations. Anything less than 10 could be done. This is the zone where I would test both while having rank tracking in place and see which works better.

  • Amazing article Darren! MIND = BLOWN with the GoogleBot crawling your website via GMB! I myself am a little curious, that if you were to leave the url (making no changes) the same for Website and then click on Apply. Would the Googlebot crawl regardless that there were no changes made? Also does it crawl the MENU and APPOINTMENT Urls when they’re added? Thanks!

  • This was super helpful. As a real estate agent that works different cities, has different offices and multiple websites, I’m constantly trying to figure out the best ways to optimize.

  • Hey Darren,

    When you found out about Google-bot crawling via GMB, did you notice any spikes in direct traffic? I’ve been working with a client on getting a listing up and we’ve seen what looks crawler visits showing in Analytics. Just wondering if you saw anything similar.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  • Hey Darren,

    Let’s say I have a business that has 50 locations, operating out of one central hub (i.e. 1-800 number connects you to a call center that sends to your regional location) with each of the 50 locations taking on the corporate number and, more importantly, the corporate website.

    Recently, we verified the GMB pages for each location and I’m looking to test different local SEO strategies. For now, each location links to the main website from the GMB pages. The company is rolling out landing pages for each individual location. So the question is this:
    Would it be effective in having the local GMB page to the local landing page? I’m concerned the additional step will cause an increase in bounce rate.

    Thanks,

    Kyle

  • Thanks, Darren, for this informative blog post. However, I need some further clarification. I have an existing GoogleSites website but I recently joined GoogleMyBusiness. However I am still unclear about the following:

    (1) In addition to linking my existing GoogleSites website to GoogleMyBusiness, should I also publish the automatic website that GoogleMyBusiness (GMB) creates for my GMB listing?

    (2) If I do both, is there a way of linking the 2 websites (GoogleSites and GoogleMyBusiness) within GoogleMyBusiness? Or will they exist as two unlinked separate websites?

    • Hey Heidi,

      we would recommend the following:
      1) Since you already have a more complete website that you built with GoogleSites, it makes sense that you continue to use that as your primary site and website URL you link to within your GMB listing.
      2) You can only link your GMB listing to one site, so ignore using the built-in website editor in GMB as you already have a site.

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