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Three Ways to Cultivate Your Bank’s Google Business Profile

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Google Business Profiles are some of the most powerful tools in your bank’s digital marketing arsenal. If you’ve read our Comprehensive Guide to Google Business Profile for Financial Institutions, then you already know what all the fuss is about.

If you haven’t, let us break it down quickly:

  • More than 90% of search traffic happens on Google.
  • Google Business Profiles let you tell Google directly who you are and what you are about.
  • Google Business Profiles are a primary driver of ranking signals for local SEO.
  • Google Business Profiles let potential customers call you or get directions to you at the click of a button, without ever leaving their search result page.

A well-optimized Google Business Profile is a must have for every bank branch location. Your website is indispensable and your social profiles are important – but you simply won’t be able to compete without a well-oiled Google Business Profile.

We hope you’re sold by now. You’ve gone ahead and created, verified, and optimized your profiles. The clicks, calls, and directions requests are rolling in. Easy-peezy.

Is that all there is to it?

Not quite!

Caring For Your Bank’s Google Business Profile

Imagine you wanted to grow a sunflower. You took your little seed, stuck it in some soil in a sunny place, and gave it some water right away. But life keeps you busy, and you don’t check in on your seed for a few weeks. What are the chances you’ll return to find a happy, healthy, towering sunflower blessing its surroundings with warmth and brightness like you wanted?

Not great! Your seed might not even sprout, or the plant might dry up and wither once it does. You need to water it, pull the nearby weeds, and make sure no critters are trying to dig it up and have it for a snack.

Treat your Google Business Profile the same way you’d treat your sprouting sunflower. It needs your attention and care. You can’t neglect it, or you might come back to find some egregious problems.

And if its not you who finds these problems, it will be your potential customers who do. Your Google Business Profile is your bank’s calling card for the entire internet, so you want it to represent you well.

Here are three aspects of your Google Business Page you should give a little regular attention, like a gardener pulling weeds or pruning branches.

Watch and Respond to Your Google Reviews

Reviews are a crucial element of what Google Business Profile is all about. On Google Business Profile, any user can leave a review, which includes a 1-5 star rating and the opportunity to leave a comment. According to a 2021 study by Whitespark, both aspects (“high numerical Google ratings” and “positive sentiment in review text”) factor into your profile’s ability to rank in Google’s Map Pack, as well as your website’s ability to rank organically.

This is a feature of Google Business Profile that is there, in the first instance, for Google users – your customers. But financial institutions need to understand that reviews are a two-way street. Promptly responding to all reviews – positive and negative – is a crucial task to stay on top of.

Every business will experience a negative review at some point, it is inevitable. People aren’t shy about voicing their displeasure if something is wrong. As handy as it is to have an easy-to-create-and-optimize place where people can quickly find your bank branch’s contact information or check out its services, you should bear in mind that your Google Business Profile is also an easy-to-find public forum for potential customers to uncover actual customers’ complaints.

So be sure to respond – promptly, courteously, and professionally – to any negative review. Even if you can’t resolve the complaint, taking the time to leave a reply demonstrates to everyone who is watching that you care about your customers’ experiences and opinions. If you do manage to enhance the reviewer’s experience or perception, there is always the slight chance they will actually update or upgrade their review in your favor. Remember, this has a direct bearing on your search rankings.

In most cases, you want to direct a negative reviewer to take the discussion offline and give you a call or pay a visit so you can try to resolve their issue directly. Never stoop to a negative reviewer’s level or get into personal spats.

In a minority of cases, including instances of spam, harassment, offensive language, and the like, a negative review can violate Google’s content guidelines, and you can flag it for complete removal. But you don’t want to rely on this feature, as Google can be pretty selective about the way it defines these things. In most cases it is best to deal with the review head-on.

For positive reviews, feel free to simply leave a brief, ideally personalized reply thanking the customer for their review and sharing in their warm vibes. But don’t skip this step! Your search audience will like to see that you’re actively engaged on your profile, and this can encourage potential positive reviewers to do you a favor and leave their own, glowing 5-star critique of your bank.

Pay Attention to Your Google Business Profile’s Photos

Did you know that any Google user can upload any photo they want to your Google Business Profile? And did you know that you have no direct control over what Google chooses to show to people searching for your business?

Yikes.

Bear in mind, your Google Business Profile isn’t really “yours”. Your profile, and the content on it, belongs to Google, and it is subject to the whims of Google’s algorithms.

When your Google Business Profile appears in a search result, Google will display a selection of photos of your business to users so they know what they’re looking for should they choose to drop by. This includes an image called your cover photo, which will be the most prominent, if not the sole, photo it displays.

You don’t want these previews to be dark, blurry, dirty, or otherwise unflattering. But if Google decides to display a customer-provided image, that may be exactly what people will see. Instead, you want to present your bank’s best self to the world so your potential customers will see your location as an inviting place to take their business.

As with reviews, there are cases where user photos can violate Google’s content guidelines, and you can flag these for removal. However, this will only apply to a minority of cases. If you do find yourself in a situation in which Google is featuring an unattractive image as the cover photo for your Google Business Profile, it can take some time and effort before Google will replace it with a better fit.

Unfortunately, you can’t simply go into Google Business Profile and choose what pictures to display. It is possible to tell Google what images you’d prefer to display as the cover photo, but there’s no guarantee that it will comply with your wishes. In some cases it will opt for a user-uploaded photo, or even a picture from a third-party website that ranks highly on Google Image Search.

Ultimately, Google will go with the picture that its algorithm determines will drive the most engagement, in terms of views and interactions, whether or not it’s the photo you prefer. This means that the best way to ensure your chosen photos end up in front of your search audience is to proactively provide Google with plenty of high-quality options to choose from.

There are some general tips for this. Google recommends adding at least three high quality images of the interior and exterior of your location, three high quality images of your team at work, and at least one high quality image of common areas in your location. For banks, we recommend including a good picture of features like ATMs, your main entrance, postings of your hours, and “behind the scenes” (within reason) images of your team. Ideally, a professional photographer could take these pictures.

There are other factors to consider as well. Google prefers a 16:9 aspect ratio, and JPG or PNG format files. So long as you are giving Google what it asks for, you are increasing the amount of influence you have over how it represents your business.

Be sure to regularly search for your brand or use a query that will trigger your Google Business Profile to appear in the search results. This way, you can monitor what images Google is displaying to the world. You should also check the photos section in your Google Business Profile dashboard to see what images customers have added to your listing.

Finally, go ahead and delete old photos of your location from time to time. If there’s been a renovation or changes to your staff, there’s no reason to be nostalgic about the past. Google wants to deliver the most relevant and accurate information to its users, so you should swim with the stream on this. Remember, be like a gardener pruning their plants.

Keep Your Hours Up To Date

There’s nothing more annoying for a customer than looking up a business on Google, seeing that its open, and making the trek all the way there just to find… its closed.

Will your bank be closed for an approaching holiday or special event? Is your location under renovation? Do you have staffing limitations that have forced you to restrict or modify your hours? If so, your customers, and Google, need to know about it.

Luckily, it is an easy process to change your hours on Google Business Profile. Even if the change only impacts one specific day and isn’t a modification of your permanent hours, Google can accommodate you. But you need to be proactive about this.

Simply sign into your Google Business Profile using your Google account.

Select the “Info” tab from among your options in the left-hand column.

From there, you will see a screen displaying your business information, including your hours.

Google currently breaks these hours into three categories:

  • Your regular business hours, which are in the top area.
  • “More hours” for specific services (for bank or credit union locations, drive-through hours are a common option).
  • Finally, there are Special Hours listed beneath the first two options. These are easily customizable, giving you a great deal of flexibility.

Cultivating Your Business Profile

A happy, healthy Google Business Profile can be a major source of business for your bank. It just makes sense: you want to give your potential customers the easiest and most reliable path to you. But this isn’t a matter of “set-it-and-forget-it”.

You need to cultivate your profile. It requires – and deserves – your attention and care.

At BankBound, we know you’re busy, and sometimes this kind of upkeep work slips through the cracks. We view Google My Business as an integral part of our digital marketing strategy for banks, and as such we obsess over these kinds of details. BankBound brings expert attention to optimizing and cultivating Google Business Profiles, and we’re here to help if you need it!