IMP

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I've been told I should be creating back links to my clients GMB listing directly. Does anyone have any experience and thoughts on this practice?
 

Colan Nielsen

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There was some testing done years ago but nothing recently. So nobody really knows for sure if it would be beneficial. We're doing some testing around this at Sterling Sky and we'll likely report our findings here at some point in the next few months.
 

UKSBD

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You can manipulate the title Google displays when doing a site: search for your page by using the same anchor text pointing to the page, but it won't rank for the title.
 

j_holtslander

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And then there's just me over here like:

Screen Shot 2019-09-18 at 9.15.36 PM.png
 

IMP

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So have you found that it helps to backlink directly to the GMB listing?
 

resorts

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I am testing this right now with a much more rigorous, controlled, test with several hotel business entities... I did one test for a hotel in a VERY small market 30 days ago. Their website was buried in the SERPs for ANY rankings, way back at page 9... they had NO hope of showing up in traditional SERPs. We were able to attach our YEXT Enterprise to their GMB listing (which is now becoming the Google Hotels Profile - BTW - if your business entity is a hotel), and tracking Direct and Discovery triggering (unbranded searches that trigger the GMB Knowledge Panel to the right for the hotel and appearances of the hotel in the Hotel SERPs feature / Local Map Pack).

The results surprised me.

After throwing about $20 worth of links at it from some very mundane places (nothing spammy, just normal links direct to the hotel's GMB profile / Google Hotels URL)... the hotel was triggering regularly in the Map Pack for the term 'hotels in {destination city}'.

That was our first test. After this, we decided we needed to go further and test a hotel in a larger, more competitive area where there are MANY hotels, close together.

Will report back on this test soon... it is ongoing and almost setup.

The new test will be using SIGNIFICANT backlinks from BIG DR domains, and legit whitehat travel writers that write about our chain, and we're simply asking them to link direct to GMB instead of our main website. The implications (if this works) will be staggering for the travel industry.

But just so everyone knows, I started this test BECAUSE I ran the new Google Hotels URL structure through aHREFS one night (after their recent relaunch) and SAW that plenty of people are already direct linking there... so this practice is not rare, BUT, it is also not done strategically for the most part.

Here we go... it's going to be interesting.
 
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JoyHawkins

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@resorts that sounds like a really interesting test. I'm not sure I'd be able to convince my clients to have their listings link to Google vs the website. I'm wondering if it could have a negative impact on their organic ranking if they lose possible links (*if* any of them are valuable).

Keep us updated on what you find.
 
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I am testing this right now with a much more rigorous, controlled, test with several hotel business entities... I did one test for a hotel in a VERY small market 30 days ago. Their website was buried in the SERPs for ANY rankings, way back at page 9... they had NO hope of showing up in traditional SERPs. We were able to attach our YEXT Enterprise to their GMB listing (which is now becoming the Google Hotels Profile - BTW - if your business entity is a hotel), and tracking Direct and Discovery triggering (unbranded searches that trigger the GMB Knowledge Panel to the right for the hotel and appearances of the hotel in the Hotel SERPs feature / Local Map Pack).

The results surprised me.

After throwing about $20 worth of links at it from some very mundane places (nothing spammy, just normal links direct to the hotel's GMB profile / Google Hotels URL)... the hotel was triggering regularly in the Map Pack for the term 'hotels in {destination city}'.

That was our first test. After this, we decided we needed to go further and test a hotel in a larger, more competitive area where there are MANY hotels, close together.

Will report back on this test soon... it is ongoing and almost setup.

The new test will be using SIGNIFICANT backlinks from BIG DR domains, and legit whitehat travel writers that write about our chain, and we're simply asking them to link direct to GMB instead of our main website. The implications (if this works) will be staggering for the travel industry.

But just so everyone knows, I started this test BECAUSE I ran the new Google Hotels URL structure through aHREFS one night (after their recent relaunch) and SAW that plenty of people are already direct linking there... so this practice is not rare, BUT, it is also not done strategically for the most part.

Here we go... it's going to be interesting.

Looking forward to know more about the new experiment...
 

resorts

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Still ongoing, but I can tell you all right now, the results are... surprising. I am going to DM a screenshot to everyone following this thread, just because I'm not even sure I should post it publicly. Yes @JoyHawkins , I completely agree... HOWEVER... since my clients are hotels, and they basically now RELY on discovery triggering inside the Local Map Pack / Hotel SERPs feature when someone makes an unbranded search (e.g. - usually a search of +hotel(s) +{destination city}), then their concern is no longer about ranking the website - ironically. In fact, no one is really scrolling as much below this area when searching for hotels anymore, due to Google's takeover of their own SERPs (image)...
2019-10-10_08h26_441.png

Which, BTW is a huge issue that all hotels have with Google these days. For anyone that wants a good (slightly older) read on this to see how Local / GMB has affected hotels (even before the advent of this Map Pack feature), read this --> How Google Exploits the Hospitality Industry for Profit - Online Ownership

Anyway, will start DMing people next week with screenshots of the test for one of our major, coastal resorts in Florida.
 

Yan Gilbert

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@resorts I started testing it as well since seeing your post. So far nothing measurable. Curious to know your details.
 

whitespark

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Honestly, I'm still skeptical about this strategy. Historically, linking to a Google Places page, or a Google+Local profile, had zero impact on ranking. Until recently, there was no way to even link to a specific Google listing. The URL to a listing was a long search string.

Now they have added the g.page short URL feature and we finally have a URL to a listing, but this URL is just a redirect to your listing on Google Maps. You can see the redirect by clicking on this: whitespark - Google Search. So, it seems unlikely to me that linking to this redirecting URL would have any ranking benefit. But, maybe it's a behavioral signal that's giving a boost? More people looking at your listing impacts rank?

The best way to test this would be with a Yext account. Yext can control the URL of dozens of listings with a single update. So, you could test by:
  1. Set up good localized rank tracking to establish your baseline rankings
  2. Update the URL in Yext
  3. Monitor rankings for 2 weeks
  4. Change the URL back to the main site
  5. Monitor rankings for another 2 weeks
Does anyone have a location in Yext that they'd be willing to test this with? I'll set up the rank tracking for you.
 
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Still ongoing, but I can tell you all right now, the results are... surprising. I am going to DM a screenshot to everyone following this thread, just because I'm not even sure I should post it publicly. Yes @JoyHawkins , I completely agree... HOWEVER... since my clients are hotels, and they basically now RELY on discovery triggering inside the Local Map Pack / Hotel SERPs feature when someone makes an unbranded search (e.g. - usually a search of +hotel(s) +{destination city}), then their concern is no longer about ranking the website - ironically. In fact, no one is really scrolling as much below this area when searching for hotels anymore, due to Google's takeover of their own SERPs (image)...
2019-10-10_08h26_441.png

Which, BTW is a huge issue that all hotels have with Google these days. For anyone that wants a good (slightly older) read on this to see how Local / GMB has affected hotels (even before the advent of this Map Pack feature), read this --> How Google Exploits the Hospitality Industry for Profit - Online Ownership

Anyway, will start DMing people next week with screenshots of the test for one of our major, coastal resorts in Florida.

Interesting. So your suggesting that by linking to GMB, your able to help hotels jump above the fold??? That's quite innovative. Thanks too for the included article.
 
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