Google My Business New Features for Local Businesses

Google have made a number of notable updates to the Google My Business (GMB) service making it even better for your local search engine optimisation. Let’s take a look at some of the added features you can take advantage of.

  • Video uploads – Google have officially launched videos in the GMB Photos Dashboard. Business owners are now able to  upload their own 30 second videos and view videos added by customers.
  • Restaurant menu listings – Restaurant owners can now edit menu listings directly in GMB instead of through an API or third party service. The menu editor includes the ability to edit links to menus, add menu titles, item descriptions, prices, etc.
  • Business services extension – In addition to restaurants, other types of businesses are now able to add services to their business listing. Plumbers, electricians, beauticians, web designers, etc. can now add posts to outline their services.
  • Women-led business icon – Businesses can identify themselves as being women-led by activating a business attribute.  Once activated a women-led icon will appear in the attributes section of the business listing for mobile searches.
  • Insights to include location ‘heat-maps’ – Businesses are now able to view a heat-map showing the location and frequency of local search requests.
  • Dashboard update to manage multiple listings – Google is rolling out a new GMB dashboard that it announced in November 2017.  It includes an updated interface designed for users to manage multiple property listings.
  • Business description – In March this year Google announced that the feature to edit business descriptions is GMB was back. The “description from the business” appears in the local knowledge panel in search and map results.
  • Messaging – A messaging option is displayed next to the businesses contact information allowing customers to easily connect via text/SMS message for local searches on mobile.
  • Bookings – GMB allows businesses to book meetings and appointments through selected partner booking services.  The feature is enabled by adding a booking button to the local search results.
  • GMB Posts – These are panels of information included in local results that feature specific content with titles, images and a call-to-action, for example, a post describing daily or weekly specials.
  • Questions and Answers – Questions and answers give customers the opportunity to ask common questions directly from a GMB listing.

Google My Business Recap

GMB is a free service that helps users find and connect with businesses when doing a local search with Google Search or Google Maps.

With GMB, businesses create and maintain a business listing that allows them to manage information that appears in local search results, for example, opening hours, website address, etc.  The service is used to interact with customers, read and respond to reviews and post business information. Analytics is also available to do analysis and gain insight on local searching and engagement.

According to Google guidelines, a business must have a physical location and make in-person contact with customers to qualify for a Google My Business listing.

Where does the GMB Information Appear?

GMB listing information appears in a number of places across the Google ecosystem including:

  • Local ‘3-Pack’ Organic Search Results
  • Local Knowledge Graph Panel
  • Google Maps
  • Google Earth
  • Google +
  • Also linked with Google Adwords Advertising

Local results appear for Google users who search with a location context, for example, searching for a business and place near a specific location, something like “local plumbers”.  Results are shown at the top of the organic search results in a map snippet linked to Google Maps that displays 3 local businesses, called the 3-Pack Local Listing.

In addition to the 3-pack listing, branded local searches also return business information in a Local Knowledge Graph Panel.  This listing provides a useful summary of relevant local business information in one easy to consume panel.

GMB information is also linked with Google + and Google Adwords for visibility and ease of use.

What Does Google Consider When Ranking Local Search Results?

Local search result rankings also considers a combination of relevance, distance and prominence in returning the most relevant results. For example, businesses that are further away from a user’s location may be more relevant than a business that is closer and therefore rank higher in local results.

Benefits of Maintaining and Updating Your GMB Listing

Creating and maintaining a GMB listing is essential to increase exposure with users searching for local products and services.  According to Google, businesses that verify their information with GMB are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.

GMB provides features that assist businesses to connect and engage with their customers, for example, allowing for reviews and feedback based on their customer experience. If done well, this type of engagement can go a long way to build trust and loyalty.

GMB also provides insights on how visitors have searched for your business and the location of where those customers have searched from.  These insights provide useful input into future marketing efforts to increase leads and sales.

About the Author

Andre Havenga

Andre Havenga

Andre is a director at SiberDigital. He works with his clients and partners solving business problems using digital technology as an enabler. Having consulted and delivered solutions for more than 20 years across 5 continents, Andre understands the digital challenges and opportunities businesses face in today’s fast changing technology landscape. He enjoys simplifying issues, visual story telling and joining the dots.When he’s not working, Andre spends time with his wife, 4 boys, 2 cats and a dog and fits in a bit of jogging, biking and meditation.

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