Whether or not you’ve heard of the term “Google My Business” (GMB), you have more than likely interacted with it in your Google searches for local services. You may already have a GMB account if you’re a local company. Google My Business allows businesses to create a free Google listing for their local company, so it shows up in local search results. As stated in an article by Brian Smith, the goal of GMB is “converting online visitors into brick-and-mortar shoppers.”
In the past, the key features of GMB listings have included customer reviews, basic company info (description, hours of operation, address, phone), and analytics (showing how many calls, direction clicks, etc you’ve received from your listing). These features have been great for making GMB your go-to business directory for local services. However, in the nature of Google, Google has continued to innovate GMB and has added more features to increase the use and value. In the last year, Google has added three significant features to GMB:
- Google Posts. Smith explains, “Posts allows Google My Business users to build out the type of information included in your SERP (search engine results page) sidebar beyond location, store hours and so forth.” With posts, businesses can now promote the latest deals, sales, and offers “directly from Google’s search results.” On mobile devices, post content appears at the top of SERPs “so it will be among the first things users see. It’s a good way to grab the attention of mobile users with the latest deals and offers.”
- Q&A feature. This feature is used to answer frequently asked questions. As stated in the article by Smith, “what’s unique about this feature is that it’s both crowdsourced and curated by the merchant, so users can give a “thumbs up” to helpful questions and answers to push them higher up in the listing, while the business can add its own responses.”
- Chat capabilities, This feature is still being tested out, but it enables customers to chat with companies in real time, directly from the SERP. The chat feature allows quick responses and effective communication without having to pick up the phone or send an email.
Each of GMB’s new features significantly enhances the value of having a GMB listing. If you don’t have a local Google listing already, the time to get one is now. If you already have a listing, utilize the new features to increase your exposure and interaction with potential customers and grow your clientele.