Google has made some significant changes to Google My Business. Here are some updates that will have the biggest impact on your business.
If you’re running a local business, this might be the most important post you read all year.
That’s because 97% of people search the web to find a local business, and 46% of all Google searches have local intent. Here’s something else to consider. More than 24% of all clicks go to the first search result of a local business.
So if you’re not prioritizing local SEO and your Google My Business profile, you’re quickly going to fall behind the competition.
The information below will explain everything you need to know about the newest Google My Business features, changes, and updates—and more importantly, why those changes are essential.
Review Removal Management
Fake reviews have been plaguing review websites since the day those platforms came into existence. This is nothing new, and Google My Business isn’t an exception.
But now, Google My Business is allowing business owners to take a proactive approach to fake reviews. Google recently released a review takedown request tool. This new feature allows businesses to flag reviews for removal and monitor the progress of all reported reviews.
From here, you just need to select the review you want to report and select a reason for removal. Your options include:
- The review is not relevant to this business
- Conflict of interest
- Offensive content
- Privacy concern
- Legal issue
Lots of these “fake” reviews are often just a case of mistaken identity. With so many businesses out there, it’s easy for someone to write a review for the wrong place. I’ve seen reviews for a boutique clothing store that say something along the lines of, “Service was slow. The waiter was rude, and the fries were too salty.” Before Google rolled out this update, the clothing store would have been out of luck for getting this review removed. But the entire review management process is much easier for local business owners.
Recent Reviews “New” Label
It’s no secret that customer reviews are an important aspect of any business. Google understands this, and now they’re rewarding businesses that get new reviews on a regular basis.
Google is drawing attention to the latest reviews with a “New” label. Here’s an example from a local pizza place that’s not too far from my office:
As you can see, there’s a badge next to the review that’s just three days old. So anyone searching for a local pizzeria will be drawn to the latest reviews, as these are the most relevant.
For example, a review from six months ago saying “there is construction outside, making it really difficult to find parking” may no longer be a factor. Google wants to make the newest reviews more prominent, as to give customers the most accurate and updated information on a local business.
To benefit from this update, make sure you’re asking for customers to leave you a review. As long as you always have a new review that’s been left within the last two weeks, that review should have a “New” badge.
Businesses Being Rewarded For Posts in SERPs
Google My Business accounts can connect with customers using “posts.” These posts are visible through searches and Maps alike. This is an opportunity for you to share new offers, promotions, events, announcements, or anything else that’s important.
Posts can have text, photos, or videos. They’ll appear in the “Updates” or “Overview” tab of a business. They could also appear on the “from the owner” section of a Google My Business profile.
Local University discovered that Google is adding a red dot to the updates tab if a business recently added a new post to their profile. This draws attention to the post when users are searching from mobile devices.
This can really help a local business stand out from the crowd in the SERPs. So for those of you who haven’t experimented with adding posts on your Google My Business profile, I strongly encourage you to do so. See if you notice a difference after taking advantage of this feature.
Phone Number Banned From Posts
Speaking of Google Posts, it’s also worth noting that businesses are banned from putting phone numbers in their post updates. In an April 2021 update, Google My Business modified its post policy to account for “phone stuffing.”
Google said that they updated this policy to prevent businesses from abusing the feature.
Make sure you abide by this new rule, or you can be penalized by Google for putting your phone number in a new post.
Artificial intelligence has been really top-of-mind for me lately. If you’ve been keeping up with my latest posts, then you already know this. So I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to discuss how AI is impacting Google My Business updates.
Dane Glasgow, the VP of Product for Google Maps, recently wrote about all of these updates and how AI can redefine new information in Maps.
One of the coolest features is the ability for users to navigate where they’re going using global localization. With AR cues and AI technology, this feature scans street view images to understand a person’s orientation. This helps them avoid walking in the wrong direction when using Google Maps to navigate.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that this feature works indoors as well. So people could use it inside of an airport or train station to find a terminal, baggage claim, or the nearest elevator.
Why is this important for local businesses? This type of feature can help people find your business if you’re located within a mall, shopping center, or anywhere else where they’d be arriving by foot.
Wix is one of the top DIY website builders on the market today. It’s a good option for local business owners who want a no-fuss way to create and manage a basic website. There are no technical skills, coding, or complex programming required.
So for those of you who are currently using Wix to run your local business website, you’ll be thrilled to know that Wix now integrates with Google My Business.
This means that you can manage all of your Google My Business profile directly from your Wix account. So there’s no need to bounce back and forth between multiple profiles and platforms.
You can handle common tasks like uploading photos, responding to customer reviews, or updating your store hours directly from your Wix dashboard.
This isn’t really an advantage for local SEOs. It’s not like an update coming from a Wix dashboard is better or worse than coming directly from a Google My Business profile. But it’s definitely an improvement in terms of simplicity and ease of use for business owners managing this stuff on their own. If you’re comfortable with Wix, make sure you take advantage of this feature.
New “Local Packs” For Mobile SERPs
For years, the marketing world has referred to Google’s mobile search listings for local businesses as the iconic “3-pack.”
This is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a listing of three businesses in a local search. It’s based on factors like relevance, distance, and prominence. Having your business appear in a local 3-pack is an excellent way to improve your local search strategy, as you’ll have a significant advantage over other businesses that aren’t highlighted in that particular search.
But now we’re seeing a shift to Google displaying “2-packs” for local searches. Here’s an example:
Why does this matter?
For one, the chances of you appearing in a local pack have just decreased, as Google has eliminated one-third of the featured listings. But if you’re able to rank in a local pack, then it increases your chances of getting more customers.
This means you really need to prioritize your local SEO strategy for ranking in a local pack.
Google’s call history feature has been in beta for a while. But this long-awaited new feature has officially been released. From your Google My Business profile, owners now have the ability to access a complete history of who called the business and when they called.
You’re even able to see the individual history of each caller and have the option to call that person back directly.
While this feature is live, it’s being rolled out in phases. So there’s a chance your Google My Business profile hasn’t been given access to this feature just yet. But it should be available for everyone soon, so keep your eye out for it.
This is an excellent way to validate and measure the success of your local SEO strategy. You no longer need a third-party tool to figure out who’s calling you and when your calls are coming in.
Google My Business is constantly changing. But these changes are probably the most significant ones that I’ve seen in a single year.
It’s important for you to understand these changes and why they’re important. I hope you can use the information provided in this guide to improve your local SEO strategy. If you still need some help with local SEO, reach out to our team here at McDougall Interactive.
Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on Google My Business, as I’m always doing my best to follow the news and keep you updated with relevant updates.