Keeping up with Google My Business (GMB) updates can help you optimize your business listing on the most-used local search engine out there. Google is constantly trying to enhancing user experience for Google My Business users and for those who search for business information online. If you leverage these new features and updates, you can make your listings more interactive and improve customer engagement.
According to Mike Blumenthal, Google is the “New Website” for business owners. And to quote a portion of his recent post, “… most customers are coming into your business digitally with Google as the front door.” The mammoth search engine has crafted the discovery experience for searchers to become simple, seamless and immediate. There is no need for searchers to go on to a business’ website once they find what they’re looking for on SERPs.
Owing to this aspiration, Google My Business has made a few updates to make the dashboard a better place for all business owners to operate their business listing. Here are some of the updates you should be aware of and using to optimize your Google listing.
Initially, Google My Business rolled out Search Menu only for restaurants and hotels for food menus. However, they decided to expand this feature to other business categories as well.
So, you’re probably wondering what exactly do you put on a services menu? Well, it’s pretty simple. A business can add all its service offerings in one menu, along with its pricing to help customers fully understand their service offering.
For example, take a look at the image below. It is a list of services the Roadway Moving Company offers to its customers. These are the kind of services you would add to your Service Menu on Google My Business.
This feature hasn’t been rolled out to all business categories. So far, only marketing agencies, hotels, lawyers, dentists, jewelry stores, insurance agencies, construction companies and pest control businesses can use the service menu. It has been noted that clothing stores, education supply stores, and auto dealers cannot use the service menu option.
Additionally, it has been observed that the information added to the service menu hasn’t appeared on the knowledge panel of business on SERPs, or in a Google Map listing display. However, it does appear on mobile searches.
To access the Search Menu feature, you can find it on your Google My Business dashboard under the “Info” section as “Service Menu”. You will be led to the following box asking for information about the services you offer. Once you fill it up, click on “Add”, and you will find that your information on your listing.
Google Question and Answers was rolled out in November 2017. It is a crowd-sourced FAQ feature for business listings. This means that if you have a certain question about a certain business, you can ask a question and someone – a customer or the business owner – will respond with an answer. Furthermore, these questions can be upvoted by others who found the information to be useful.
Google’s intention behind its Q&A feature is to optimize location data so that users can get more informed search results. However, the Q&A feature is not available on the Google My Business dashboard yet. This means that you won’t be notified on your desktop devices when someone places a question. Although, there will be push notifications on your Google My Business Android app on your smart devices.
Advisably, it is best if you (the business owner) add pertinent and relevant questions to the Google Q&A feature on the knowledge panel. With respect to coming up with this content, a great place to start would be to repurpose your website’s FAQ section. Moreover, make sure that your questions are upvoted, as the questions with the most upvotes will appear on the top of the list in the Q&A feature.
Google Chat Options
Google rolled out Chat for Google My Business users where customers can communicate with business owners straight from the search results. Presently, this feature hasn’t been rolled out to all countries. You can look out for the rollout with Google’s Advertiser Community.
You can access this feature on your dashboard, and adding a phone number to which your customers can use to chat with you.
Here’s an article that can help you enable Google Chat through your Google My Business dashboard.
Here are a few pointers you’ll need to keep in mind when you use the Chat feature.
- Presently, you can add only one phone number for multiple locations.
- You cannot reply to messages through the Google My Business dashboard.
- Users can message you using their device’s messaging app or Google Allo.
- You don’t need to worry if your users are using different messaging applications. You can use App Preview Messaging that is available on Google Play Services. You can turn on this setting from the Google Settings on your Android devices. You’ll be asked to add your phone number and verify it. You can set this up immediately. With this setting, you can receive and respond to messages irrespective of the messaging app used.
- Standard SMS rates and data charges are applicable for the messages that are shared.
Make sure you take a look at the content guidelines that come with the Chat feature. You are advised against sharing information like credit card details, login credentials, social security numbers or other government identification numbers.
Reserve with Google
Earlier in April, this year, Google rolled out the Reserve with Google feature where people can book a table at a restaurant straight from the listing that appears in the search result itself. Take a look at this listing!
Your customers can directly create a reservation, and engage with your business without any hassle. Google has integrated with scheduling software providers like OpenTable, Bookatable, Booksy, etc to power this feature. When customers click on the button, they’ll be led to the following page which will help them reserve a seating.
You can access this setting on the Google My Business dashboard under the Bookings section. Google works with scheduling software providers to enable online booking through Google Search, Google Maps, and Reserve with Google.
Customers can find and book your service by tapping the “Book” button wherever they see your business on Google Search or Google Maps. They’ll also be able to find you on a website dedicated to booking, Reserve with Google.
If you use one of the supported scheduling providers, bookings from Google users will automatically be added to your schedule. If you don’t use one of these providers, you can sign up with one through your Google My Business account.
So, there you have it!
These updates are great additions to every business owner’s GMB toolkit. Even though they are presently limited to only certain business categories, Google will roll them out to all categories in time. Make the most of these updates to optimize your listing and get the most out of these features.