Google My Business is getting a makeover! At the beginning of November, Google announced they have swapped the name of their local search tool to Google Business Profile and have implemented new, simplified ways for businesses to claim, verify, and update their profile on the search engine.
This article will take you through what changes have been applied and what they mean for your business profile.
Claim and manage your Business Profile using Google Search and Maps
Notably, the most significant change with Google Business Profile is the ability for small businesses to claim, verify, and manage their profile using Google Search or Maps. Although the search engine has offered businesses the ability to manage their listings directly in the search results for a few years now, Google prefers that small businesses (those with a single listing) manage their profiles using this Search/Maps method, rather than using the existing Google My Business web platform.
How does it work? Let’s say Store A wants to verify their small business so that local searchers can discover them on the search engine. The first thing they need to do is either search their business name on Google or via the Google Maps app, where they will be prompted to verify their business.
Once Store A completes the verification prompts, they can add key information that is visible to local searchers when their business profile appears on Google. This can include their address, hours of operation, and images, and it can be completed without ever leaving Google Search or Maps. This will be the new way Store A updates its information going forward.
Through this process, there is also the ability to see if a business profile is visible to the public or not, and Google will provide information on how to do so if it is not visible. Additionally, businesses can resolve issues that their profile might have through Search and Maps, which can help ensure their business profile is up and running.
Note: If you already claimed and verified your business previously on Google My Business, you do not have to redo it. However, going forward, you can use Google Search or Maps to update any information about your business.
Engage with customers using Google Business Profile
Other than claiming and verifying a business, Google Business Profile allows businesses to chat with customers directly from Search. This can be a great way to engage with prospective and current customers and generate a greater customer experience. To do so, you need to activate the chat feature for your business, and customers will be able to message you at any time by selecting the “Chat” button within your Business Profile. Through Google Search, you can view and respond to any message and manage reviews and Q&As all in one place.
Creating a simplified way of connecting with customers through chat is incredibly important, especially since this type of feature has the highest customer satisfaction rate compared to other customer service offerings, such as email or phone. As well, 83% of customers agree that they feel much more loyal to brands that respond and solve any complaints they may have, and this can be achieved through this chat feature.
It is also worth noting that 90% of customers rate immediate responses (10 minutes or less) as “essential” or “very important” when they have a question about a business, so responding quickly to your chat, Q&A, and reviews is incredibly important.
Google also recently launched read receipts on chat so that both you and the customer know when either of your messages are viewed. This can help add a more “human” aspect to a chat feature, which many customers appreciate.
Call history is also a recent feature that businesses in the US and Canada can now access. This allows you to view which inbound customer calls have come from your Business Profile, which provides insight into your Business Profile performance and can play a significant role when collecting your analytics.
Farewell to the Google My Business app
The Google My Business app will officially leave our mobile devices in 2022, as Google now encourages small businesses to manage their profiles using Search or Maps either on the web or through the respective apps.
For larger businesses with multiple profiles, the web version of Google My Business will stick around but will change its name to Business Profile Manager. A larger-sized business can manage their profiles using Google Search and Maps if they choose to, but the Google My Business website will cater more toward businesses with multiple profiles.
Updating your Google Business Profile
As with any digital medium your business has a presence on, it is extremely important to provide up-to-date information so that customers know what to expect when engaging with your business, such as when they can visit your location and how they can contact you. For your Google Business Profile, in particular, listings with photos are more likely to be considered reputable and receive 35% more clicks, so uploading recent, high-resolution images of your business is key.
As well, businesses have seen a significant increase in calls from their Google Business Profile (Google My Business) throughout the pandemic, increasing 61% between January – July 2020. This is why it is important to ensure key pieces of information are correct, such as:
- Business listing name
- Hours of operation (if you change your hours depending on holidays, make sure to keep your business profile updated.)
- Phone number
- Category of your business (be specific!)
- Website URL
- Description (Google allows 750 characters for your description, but only displays the first 250 characters, so put the most important information first.)
Any type of irregularity in the information you provide about your business (i.e., hours on your Google profile that are different from the hours on your website), can not only impact your search ranking on Google but can also increase confusion among customers. Ensure that your website, social media platforms, and your Google Business Profile all have the same information (especially your business name, phone number, and location address). That way no matter how a prospective customer comes across your business, they will have the most accurate information.
Updates to Google Business Profile allow for greater customer engagement and create a simplified way of connecting with your key audience. Be sure to stay tuned for even more updates from the search engine in the months to come.
About Reshift Media
Reshift Media is a long-time partner of the Retail Council of Canada. The company is a Toronto-based digital marketing and development organization that provides leading-edge social media, search and website/mobile development services to retailers aroundthe world. Please visit www.reshiftmedia.com to learn more.