Google has announced new features that will help business owners make the most of direct interactions with customers on Google Search and Maps.
The announcement is aimed at migrating more business profiles away from the Google My Business (GMB) app and directly through Google Search and Google Maps. Among other changes, Google unveiled new features for local businesses, including the rebranding of “Google My Business” to “Google Business Profile.”
In 2022, Google will discontinue the dedicated My Business Android and iOS apps in favour of suggesting that “small businesses manage their profiles directly on Search or Maps,” apps that SMB owners as consumers would usually already have installed.
Google My Business is the most basic, yet most crucial digital tool that businesses can employ, according to Mike Andrews, Head of SEO at digital marketing service provider Localsearch. It provides accurate information about businesses to customers, such as hours, ratings, and location, while also serving as an essential SEO tool.
“In an effort to “keep things simple”, Google has announced the name of its local listing platform Google My Business (GMB) is changing to Google Business Profile and will be more directly accessible via a standard Chrome browser and Google search, Mr Andrews said.
“Sometime in 2022, Google will retire the Google My Business app completely, and a few other updates will roll out to the platform.
“Instead of using the existing Google My Business app or platform, businesses will be able to simply Google search their business name, then manage their profile directly on the Search results or Maps page.”
According to Google, the current Google My Business web interface will be renamed and will migrate to primarily support larger businesses with multiple locations.
“If your business is bigger, with multiple locations or listings, you’ll actually end up using a new ‘Business Profile Manager’ version of the existing Google My Business web dashboard, which Google has said they’ll share more details on over the next couple of months,” Mr Andrews said.
“For now, the interface your customers see won’t really change, outside of branding, but Google will likely continue to update and tweak the way it works for the business and the customer into 2022, across Google Search, Google Maps and Google’s other apps.”
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to promote your business’s Business Profile and website on Google Search and Maps. The tool allows businesses to see and connect with their customers, post updates to their Business Profile, and monitor how customers are interacting with the business on Google.
What does this mean for local SMEs?
The primary goal of Google My Business is to assist businesses in attracting and engaging clients when they search for a business on Google. Businesses with a Business Profile have a presence on Google Search and Maps, and they may respond to Reviews, post photos of products or special offers, and add/edit business details.
“For Aussie small businesses, this is going to make the function way more accessible and the processes of claim and verifying ownership of their profile much easier – rather than wrapping your head around managing via a backend tool,” Mr Andrews said.
Google Business allows businesses to promote themselves professionally online, showing photos and business details in a visually attractive way. In addition, Insights shows how one can optimise customer engagement for better results.
“However, it’s different from what we’ve had to date,” Mr Andrews added. “We’ll be losing our existing mobile app experience and only be able to manage on an actual browser, which can be pretty inconvenient for owners on the go, or unsettling for those who feel really across the current app.”
Can it help SMEs gain more customers?
Research by Localsearch showed that one in every two people who conduct a local search will visit a store that day, 76 per cent of people who search for a store or product nearby on their smartphone will visit a related business within 24 hours, and 56 per cent of consumers who find a Google Business listing will click through to the website. Another 24 per cent will call the business directly.
“Keeping your Google Business Profile updated and optimised is really critical as a small business,” Mr Andrew explained.
“We find an updated profile improves your local SEO results and allows you to talk directly with prospective clients. Updating and keeping your address and phone number details current, along with your open and closing times, improves interaction with clients.
“The more active you are on your Google Business Profile, including adding photos, answering your reviews and adding posts, really boosts your local SEO results and can help improve your overall ranking position in Google Search.”
“At Localsearch, the number of active Aussie Google My Business clients we service has increased by 520 per cent, compared to November last year – it’s a really integral piece of the puzzle and Australian businesses know that.
“Ultimately, the social giants of Google and Facebook (now Meta) are constantly changing and updating the way they do things. Unless you have a vested interest in SEO and digital business platforms, it’s pretty hard to keep up with them and make sure the hard yards you’re putting into your digital presence is generating the best results – and shouldn’t be your responsibility.
“Google is trying to make small and big business lives easier with this update, so don’t feel scared, there’s always a way to learn or people who can help you manage your online presence,” Mr Andrews concluded.
To really make your Google My Business profile work for you, you have to optimize it. Click here for a few quick and easy ways to do that.
In addition to this announcement, Google Ads will now allow users to plan local campaign budgets using its Performance Planner. Performance Planner is a tool that allows to plan advertising budget and monitor how changes to campaigns might affect key indicators and overall performance.
This tool enables businesses to experiment with different campaign parameters to see what happens, discover possibilities in seasonal periods, and manage budgets across accounts and campaigns.
New features for U.S. and Canadian merchants
Google also announced the launch of a new service that allows businesses to keep track of call history for all verified Business Profiles in the United States and Canada.
Businesses may simply check which inbound customer calls came from Business Profile and analyse helpful analytics on inbound call performance with call history.
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