I’ve just picked up on a recent article written by the folks at Optimisey in the UK that strongly suggests the possibility that Google may change the rules on Google My Business. A very similar article was also published in Search Engine Land too which is also a very well respected site when it comes to Local SEO. I highly recommend you have a read of the original articles for proper context.
So, what’s my take on it?
Up until now, Google My Business has remained a free way of listing your business on Google Maps, which in turn becomes, for many businesses, the single most important place to list your business core data (Name, Address Phone, Website, Hours, Logo, Photos, Virtual Tour, Customer Reviews, Etc).
But what if this tool or some parts of it were no longer free? How would that affect your business listing?
My biggest concerns are with respect to the suggestion, based on the survey that Google sent out (now closed) makes it seem that there may be the possibility that only those who pay will be able to benefit from both some of the existing features access some future upgrades. For example, imagine if they started to promote your competitors on your Google My Business Knowledge graph unless you pay them. That may sound a bit alarmist but the questions in the survey do make me wonder if that’s not a possibility.
Paying for being part of a directory listing with a rich set of features has been around for a long time. It’s akin to paying more money for a full page add in the old Yellow Pages. Beyond that, we can’t forget that Google is a business and we often forget that we can take for granted many of the free services they provide, albeit on the back of their paid services, mostly advertising.
So what should you do?
For now, I wouldn’t panic or make any rash decisions or assumptions about this survey. What I would do though is make sure that your business is very well listed on as many major and local directory along with niche directories online as possible. Googles SERP (Search Engine Ranking Page) algorithm that controls where you land (hopefully on page 1), is not what’s at question here. This means that quality directory listings, citations on websites, and good SEO on your website remain very important.
Of course, asking for and getting reviews also remains one of the most effective ways to rank well in local search and helps increase your conversions. All you have to do is think of how many reviews you would have read before either making a buying decision or calling a business that you were not fully familiar with.
So for now, stay focused on the following tenants and best practices to get found online:
- Keep your directory listings up-to-date
- Make sure your photos, videos and virtual tour are great quality and a good representation of your business
- Provide the best possible service to your clients so that you can ask for and earn as many quality reviews and recommendations
As always, if you’d like to have a chat about ways you can improve your online visibility, or simply have a question about Google My Business you’d like to know more about, feel free to contact me.