Your Guide to GMB’s 2019 Changes
Image via Flickr by edowoo
If you own a business online, keeping up with the latest updates is vital to your success. Missing even the minute of changes in the digital world can affect your brand negatively and lower your conversion rate.
Google My Business (GMB) has become an effective tool for businesses in all different industries, especially ones that focus on a local target market. Read on as we take you through the most important GMB changes to know on a month-to-month basis in 2019.
January – March
Beginning the year of 2019, Google stressed the importance of Google My Business profile messaging using the GMB app. Google demonstrated what it takes to be eligible for a Google My Business page and service areas were given a new sign-up flow.
During this time, Google also introduced a few new features to users. Google also made it so hotel operators can check-in/check-out directly in GMB. They also initiated testing for AR map directions. Restaurant owners can now add a ‘join waitlist’ button to their page. New functionalities made GMB friendlier for users who prefer working on a desktop. By the end of the quarter, 43 states in the US saw Google roll out over-the-phone Google Duplex restaurant reservations. While this feature was first reserved for Google Pixel users, it is now also available to iPhone and Android users. Finally, during this time, Google completed testing for automated review posts and took away service-area business addresses.
April – July
Although not classified as ads, Google Guaranteed listings became a source for search engine/Google Assistant business listings during this time. Businesses are also now able to do testimonial and review promotions. During this time, we also saw the introduction of end-to-end food ordering and automated customer service, while using machine learning to expose selected popular dishes.
Google also provided users with more details on its fight against spam and included more GMB features to enable profile claiming for local brands. This is also when we saw the “get a note” feature in business Knowledge Panels and the testing of “place topics”, collected from user reviews via machine learning.
August – December
From August-December, hotels were enabled to update details about their amenities and services. Small businesses were also introduced to bulk review management for reviewing and replying to multiple listings’ reviews simultaneously.
During this time, Google also did some testing on Local Campaigns involving evaluating competitor ads. We saw Local Finder and Local Pack showcase Google Post highlights, but with no effect on ranking. “Search by Photos” was also introduced in mobile results which leads users to more star-rated photos. Results also began to show carousels with local reviews, as well as auto-post creation from GMB photos. This was followed by the implementation of privacy controls and a feature that helped users of Google Maps to see recommendations from local guides.
Local GMB results also featured a “request quotes” button for businesses involved in its LSAs program. You’d remember this feature underwent testing earlier in July.
Finally, in December, we saw Google test the “Choose Area” feature allowing even more search area refinement for mobile users at the local level. Businesses can also cite service areas in large metros instead of creating a list that showcases different smaller service areas.
Google My Business is an Important Part of Your Marketing Plan
Some of these changes are highly important for local marketers but it’s clear that Google has turned to machine learning as a way of boosting search relevance. It is also using AI to create auto-content to fit different queries and contexts while making results more visual for mobile searchers.
Let 313 Digital Marketing Help You Optimize Your Google My Business (GMB)
Sticking to GMB guidelines and continuing to optimize your GMB site for your service areas should be an important part of your marketing plan. The local experts at 313 Digital Marketing are ready to help you optimize your Google My Business page.