Never one to rest on their laurels, Google has been quietly adding useful features to their Google My Business (GMB) platform over the past several months. Abilities like new call-to-action buttons, deeper insights reports and direct chat messages all provide business owners advantages they definitely should not overlook.
These changes may not seem like much individually, but they combine into a huge leap forward for business search results. Overall, Google seems to be adding in features similar to those that made Facebook business Pages so popular – just in time considering that the reach for most Facebook Pages recently fell off a cliff. Using these new GMB features properly can significantly increase the chances of a customer conversion each time your business appears as a search result.
You can take maximum advantage of the new Google My Business features and increase the conversion chances for search users by considering the following seven most beneficial features below.
New Google My Business Features’ Most Important Addition: Business Messaging
Chat functionality is easily the biggest game changer among the new GMB features. It basically changes Google search into a new direct 1:1 conversation channel for customer interactions and sales conversion opportunities.
Consumers love messaging tools, especially 18-35 year olds. 60% say it’s much more convenient to shoot a business a quick message compared to dialing a number or sending an email. It also helps them multitask since they can send a message and wait for a response – as opposed to dancing along to hold music.
More than 2 out of every 3 consumers say they use social media networks to resolve customer issues or ask questions. Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular of these tools, which is no surprise considering that 68% of people still use Facebook.
Having the option to message a business directly while you’re browsing through a platform like Facebook just makes sense. Leaving the app to do something like use a website contact form creates friction, which makes people not want to do it. Letting them message you without having to leave the app is convenient, and it increases the likelihood that someone interested in your services will nibble.
This same logic now applies to Google search, thanks to their new chat function for businesses. People can discover your listing and send a question or customer inquiry your way right within the search platform. Advertise this feature, and you could see a spike in potential customers sending business inquiries.
Activating chat for your GMB profile is easy. Simply find the “Messaging” section, turn it to “ON” and then create a generic welcome message. You can also set your preferred contact phone number to display for customers who want an instant response.
New Call-to-Action Buttons
When people select your business listing in search results – and also when you earn a featured search result – a button displays allowing the search user to take immediate action.
The first use of this button was to suggest to the user to “Visit Website,” but Google later added a “Call Now” functionality that gets used pretty commonly. “Get Directions” is another frequent choice, especially for restaurants as well as brick-and-mortar businesses local to the search user.
The whole aim of these buttons is not just to create an obvious call to action, but again to make in-app conversions possible and therefore more convenient. Well over half of all searches come from mobile devices now, so convenience and reducing in-between steps is the name of the game.
Businesses on GMB now have additional options other than these three choices, including:
- Ask a Question (use Messenger).
- Place an Order.
- Reserve a Table.
- Book an Appointment.
- View Menu (or a list of available services).
- Browse Inventory.
These buttons can appear automatically when you use the proper markup within your website’s HTML code. You can also have them appear when you link specific URLs within your location settings tab in the GMB app.
Decide carefully which buttons you want to appear. Prioritize ones that directly kickstart the customer journey so that more people can go from discovering (or re-discovering) you in search to taking immediate action.
Overhauled Business Info Sections
The business information sections underwent minor cosmetic changes, so make sure to review everything, such as your business hours and phone number, to ensure it’s correct. GMB also allows users the opportunity to submit up-to-date information for businesses, so you can check in to see pending updates suggested by users or other sources.
One sort-of-new addition is the 750 character-long description of your business. This feature disappeared when Google quietly buried Google+, but it has since resurfaced. Use this space to quickly describe the goods/services you offer while differentiating you from competitors.
In honor of International Women’s Day for 2018, Google now allows businesses to add a “Women-led” attribute to your business descriptors. As a women-led business ourselves, we think this feature is a nice feather in the cap for businesses trying to stand out from the herd.
New, More In-Depth Insights Reports
Google has always been great about letting business users see their most important data in an easy-to-digest form. For GMB, they now have a huge range of new features and graphs for you to take a look at.
- How customers search for your business – Find out how many people discover you after searching for a generic business category compared to searching for your business name directly.
- Where customers view your business on Google – See if your listing gets more traffic through Google Maps or Google Search, which can influence your respective SEO strategy.
- Customer actions – See what customers do when they interact with your listing, which includes website visits, requests for directions and calls.
- Direction requests – A heatmap showing where people are when they request directions. This display is especially useful for informing your geographically based advertising strategy.
- Phone calls – See the volume of phone calls placed per day or hour-by-hour. This helps you monitor call inquiries while helping inform staffing.
- Photo views and Photo Quantity – See who took a look at your business photos, and also see how your business compares in terms of photo quantity to others in your same category.
Admin Role Management
You can now more easily give people access to your GMB profile and control what they can and cannot edit.
Video, New Layouts and Other Additions
The changes above come alongside a host of updates and tweaks, including the new ability to upload videos to your GMB profile. Google also completely overhauled the look of features like the “Add Photos and Video” tool, so take a look around your GMB, if you haven’t yet, to see what’s changed.
New to Google My Business? Get Help From a Local Marketing and SEO Agency
If you haven’t yet claimed your business on Google My Business or have trouble making heads or tails of all the features it offers, you’re not alone. Countless business owners ignore or underutilize tools like GMB that could help them grow their business and evolve their digital marketing strategy.
To start making the most of every tool you have at your disposal, it helps to look to the experts. We at Optimized Scribes have years of experience helping business owners just like you put their best foot forward online and get found by thousands of more people.
Start growing your customer base and improving your online reputation when you contact us today!