Recent Updates to Google My Business

Brandon Schmidt | February 28, 2018
Search and SEOTips

Over the last 12 months, Google has added new features to Google My Business. Learn more about these updates and how local businesses can best use them.

What is Google My Business

Google My Business is a program established by Google to ensure they have the most accurate information about local small and medium sized businesses. Through this program, Google receives information and data directly from the business, which is then displayed in the Knowledge Panel. Your company’s Knowledge Panel (the box on the right hand side for desktop or the top result for mobile) will show this information on branded search results and in Google Maps.

google my business knowledge panelKnowledge Panel result for YDOP

 

Who should have a GMB profile?

Google My Business (often shortened to GMB) is designed for local businesses with physical locations or service areas, as well as practitioners with their own practice area and clients.

To qualify for a GMB profile, you need to have a physical location. For service area-based businesses, you can hide the address and draw out your service area in a map.

Here are the three types of businesses that qualify for Google My Business:

  • Physical Locations — offices, stores, churches, schools, manufacturers.
  • Service Businesses — plumbers, home improvement companies, lawn care companies.
  • Practitioners — lawyers, real estate agents, counselors, doctors, dentists, chiropractors.

 

New GMB Features

Over the last year, Google has steadily rolled out new features to the Google My Business profile, allowing local businesses to add even more helpful information to the search results.
neffsville plumbing google post

Google Posts

We’ve already shared our thoughts on Google Posts and how small businesses can best use this new feature. Through Google Posts, you can create mini updates, share reviews, highlight sales, and promote events.

When a Post is live, it lives in a prominent position in the Knowledge Panel. On mobile, Google Posts has its own tab, drawing even more attention to this new tool.

Videos

While you have been able to add photos to your GMB profile for a while, the ability to upload videos has only been around a few months. Videos are added the same way you add images, and they will be included in your main photo gallery. After adding a few videos, you will see a Video tab appear in the GMB profile in Maps. Videos must meet certain criteria – the main one being under 100 MB in size.

Question & Answers

Another recent addition to the Knowledge Panel is Question & Answers, which allows the public to ask and answer questions about the business. While there have been some great examples of pointless questions, this should be viewed by business owners and marketers as a positive development. If you own or manage the GMB profile, your answers will be flagged as coming from the business, giving it more creditbility and authority than answers from the general public.

Answering a common question for one of our clients, a structure moving company

Messaging

For searchers on mobile devices, Google can let you send a text message to the company. As a business owner, you can set up a secondary phone number to receive the messages – not your primary GMB phone number. Text messages are handled anonymously through Google’s system, so you don’t have to worry that the world will see your cell number.

First released in summer of 2017, messaging from GMB is a great option for businesses that offer 24-hour emergency response, like plumbers, heaters, or criminal attorneys.

Message button is featured prominently on mobile.

If you are a restaurant, store, or local business where customers visit, Google will display Live Updates. Popular Times. Depending on your business, Google will show popular times, wait times, and visit duration, sending potential customers info about how busy you are at a given time. This is based on your customers search history and location history, anonymously collected and analyzed.

popular times google knowledge panel

In addition to linking to your homepage, you can also add a link to a specific action you want a potential customer to take. An action link can include making an appointment, placing an online order, viewing the menu, or reserving a table. This is an obvious choice for restaurants and beauty salons; other businesses that can take advantage of this feature include attorneys, financial advisors, or medical offices that require an appointment.

google my business menu

Additional Review Sources

About 12 months ago, Google became more lenient with what websites show up through schema markup, including showing reviews in From the Web section. For example, one of our clients uses To You Success as their reputation management tool; it is now showing up in the Knowledge Panel.
reputation management

Data insights

When you log into your Google My Business account, you can see relevant data about your profile’s performance. This includes number of searches, views, and photos viewed. Here you’ll also find conversion metrics, such as click to call, messages, and click for directions.

A recent update to GMB now gives insights into where people are searching for directions. Google gives you a list of ZIP codes of people clicking on directions for your location. This is extremely helpful for physical stores and locations, as it will show you where the greatest interest or growing demand for your business is coming from.

driving direction insights from google my business

Driving Direction Insights from iOS App

Stay Current on Google’s Constant Updates

Google is constantly changing the search results page and Google My Business listing format. For a local business or marketer, this is great news, as you can use these updates to get in front of new customers and stay ahead of your competition. But, to know what and when Google changes, you need to either build relationships with leading experts in local SEO or hire an internet marketing company who already has.