Quite some time back, Google launched a bouquet of new features and attributes in Google My Business (GMB). The launch happened soon after the Coronavirus outbreak. The lockdown and other restrictions saw online businesses blooming. Catching this wind of change were some of the new features of Google My Business to help new business ventures.
Google My Business is mainly for those running a local business. If you are one among them, you need to know about the new updates on GMB so that you can stand to gain. In pandemic times, going local is wise especially due to the restrictions in many areas. And for this, you need to also sharpen the tools of Local SEO and feature on Google Maps with additional info.
Google My Business has made a few changes recently. Here they are:
1. Health & Safety Attributes in Covid Times
In view of the spread of Covid-19, GMB rolled out new features in late 2020 to help searchers make informed decisions about the health standards at businesses they would want to visit.
Under this new feature, searchers can look out for the following:
· The appointments that are required and the rules.
· Areas where masks are mandatory.
· Are the staff members wearing masks.
· Do the staff get temperature checks done for detecting Covid infection.
· Temperature check required for visitors.
2. Pandemic-Related Attributes for Restaurants & Service Sector
The service sector was one among the worst hit during the pandemic. To help a large section of people who love eating out, Google rolled out Covid-related rules for restaurants and other businesses in the foodservice industry. With eating out virtually coming to a standstill, online delivery became the in-thing.
Some of the new features on GMB are:
· Food pickup facility from parking areas.
· No-contact delivery.
· Rules of dine-in.
These attributes appeared in Google My Business after the lockdown eased and eateries started slowly opening up shortly after businesses started reopening. Most food lovers needed such information to make a decision. These can be linked to Google Maps which shows the location of the restaurant. Local SEO can also add value to such information.
3. Making the Best of Online Services
The pandemic forced many to “go virtual.” From the confines of one’s homes, one could ‘meet’ anyone or do business online.
Companies took to online meetings like fish to water. Soon virtual meetings became the norm and Zoom a household brand name. Businesses, families, friends and even political leaders caught up through online meetings.
Keeping this wave in mind, Google added several features to Google My Business. Local SEO firms too encashed on the new changes.
Here of the features in the online world offered by GMB were:
· Online Care.
· Online Appointment.
· Online Estimates.
· Online Classes.
These features became popular as the real world was replaced by the virtual world in many spheres of human activity. These features can be used effectively to promote your business in Covid times. Local SEO could add to the features and help people who want to stay connected either for business or social activities like a book launch otherwise.
4. Know your Customers Through Call Logging
This feature will allow you to see customer calls that arrived via search on a daily basis. And with Local SEO and Google Maps, you could have a fair idea of the location of your potential customer and others nearby.
According to Google “You can use call history to keep track of phone calls from your customers on Google Search and Maps. Your calls are all in one place to help you respond to missed calls and stay engaged with your customers.
These calls may make it easier for you to find and do business with customers who found your business through Google. Any calls you get from your Business Profile will start with a short message that lets you know it’s from Google.”
According to Google, this is how it works:
Google My Business will log both missed and answered calls.
You can then view the logged calls in the Calls tab.
If you opt to use the call logging feature, the application will mask your real phone number as it uses a forwarding number.
5. Additional GMB Insights Data
Data and the quality of data is important for any business. On this note, Google has further enhanced GMB performance reports.
Google My Business will let you know how many people have reached out to you after a visit to your profile page. It is better sharpen your profile page through Local SEO and Google maps.
As an addition, the platform offers key additional reports about searches.
When consolidated, GMB will give an insight on how many times your business profile surfaced in search results.
This can be seen of Google Maps searches.
The insights are available for up to six months.
6. Messaging Now on Desktop
Google My Business now has messaging available on desktop UI. Earlier it was via the mobile app only.
When you log into GMB, clicking on the Messages button on the left-hand sidebar will take you to the standard “chat screen” pattern. This will allow you to view your correspondence with any customer.
This service is available only when you opt in. For this, click on the Messages button and select Settings where you will have an option to turn on messaging.
It is important that you refrain from stacking up the messages. You will have to respond to messages within a 24-hour window or Google may revoke your messaging rights. This is to enhance customer experience.
If you lose access there is no need to worry; you will have to once again opt in.
There is also a facility for auto-response messages, but they are not counted as a “real” response within that one-day window.
There is a possibility that you may receive spam or bogus messages. If so, mark them as spam and leave it to Google to take corrective action.
Going further, you can block abusive messengers.
7. Trim your Video Upload Size
Google My Business had reduced its maximum video upload size from 100MB to 75MB. Hence, use the video facility wisely and discuss only what is important.
GMB is Table Stakes for Local Search
On the whole, Google My Business can be more important than your website when it comes to promoting your local business online. Along with Local SEO and Google Maps, businesses can become more focused, less time consuming in getting new customers and can take you to new realms of opportunity.
Now, it’s time that you optimize your profile for search.
You should also keep up with the latest changes to GMB and think about how you can use them to better promote your brand online.