The latest updates on Google My Business.
This post is part of a continuing series of monthly updates on the #1 search tool used by ready-to-buy customers. For all the updates, or to see additional information, read Attract More Customers with Google My Business.
Guaranteed with Google
The Guaranteed with Google Program is now available in Canada. The current categories from Google’s website include electricians, locksmiths, plumbers, and HVAC (heating or air conditioning).
The program offers well-ranking local businesses the opportunity to advertise that their service is guaranteed by Google. Should a customer service issue arise, Google has guaranteed that the customer will get a resolution.
What’s the catch? Local services businesses have to advertise with Google to get this “benefit.” Learn more about the program and your business’ eligibility here.
A few months ago, we urgently called out for everyone to add their @shortname to their Google listing. (If you missed it, go read the June update after you read this month’s updates!) Shortnames are now visible from Google maps and in the About tab in Google My Business. Shortnames were adapted to make it easier for customers to Follow your business, receive updates and leave reviews. Have you added your @shortname yet?
‘Search for Beginners,’ a new Google series on YouTube
Earlier this month, Google announced it was launching a YouTube video series especially for people who are interested in learning how to create an online presence and how to use Google’s search tools to help customers find their website. Check out the first episode below!
Messaging Adds Photos
If you’ve turned on Messaging in the Google My Business app, you may discover you can now send pictures to your customers. Some business owners can now send photos to customers who message them via Google Maps and Google Local. Imagine how much easier it is for a customer to message you a picture of what they are shopping for, and for you to confirm with a picture that you have what they are looking for!
Local Favourites / Local Guides
Do you ever get those pesky notifications on your phone prompting you to visit a restaurant or coffee shop? This is part of Google’s new local favourites lists highlighting the top-rated restaurants, hidden gems, and rising stars. ‘Local Favourite’ is a designation that was introduced this past summer in Google My Business.
Google has now revealed more about what goes into calculating the Local Favourites top 5%:
“Every day, people visit Business Profiles on Google to look at reviews, menus, or photos, and use that information to make decisions about where to eat or what new places to try. The Local Favourites lists use these ratings, reviews and actions people take on Business Profiles–like calling a business, clicking on the website, or requesting directions—to identify what restaurants to highlight.”
In addition to highlighting local favorites, Google now lists the top 10 rising stars and hidden gems. A ‘Rising Star’ is a restaurant which is new and gaining popularity, a “Hidden Gem” is a place that has a small amount of largely positive reviews.
On the tails of the Local Favourites list, Google’s Local Guides program has more than 120 million members in 24,000 locations globally. They are a largely invisible but indispensable part of the Google Maps experience, providing reviews, images, and other content as well as answering questions (Q&A) about local businesses and places.
Local Guides are about to get a lot more visible. Maps users in a number of cities will soon be able to follow Local Guides and see local recommendations of places and things to do. This ‘For You’ content is essentially a local discovery feed like other Google content feeds. If you, or your business, is an influencer, here is another way to bring value to your audience.
Google Shakes Up Local with Algorithm Updates
In 2016, Google decided the most important local rank signal it had was user location. Post-update, Google My Business listings had a greater chance of showing up if they were closer to the customer performing the search.
Now in 2019, Google is doubling-down on that signal – the major rank update that occurred last week was another proximity update. Businesses that are closest to the customer performing a discovery search win out again.
Google My Business Limits Businesses To 20 Service Areas
Google announced it is now limiting the number of service areas a business can list to no more than 20. Google wrote in the Google Ads Help page “service area businesses are now limited to having a maximum of 20 service areas per business.”
What if you need more? Google said they “recommend expanding the existing ones to cover larger areas. You can set your service area based on a combination of entire cities, districts, postal codes, or other areas that you serve.”
Google My Business discontinues toll-free phone support
One of the best parts of Google My Business was that you were able to dial a phone number and speak to someone at Google about your Google My Business listing. So if you had an issue with how your business was showing up in Google Search or Google Maps, someone at Google could potentially help you.
Well, now that feature is gone. You can no longer dial into a phone number and immediately get someone from Google to listen to your problem.