Is Google My Business Converting to a Social Network?
Posted at Nov 30, 2018 4:00:00 PM by Jordan Kremer | Share
In 2018 Google made large investments in the restructuring and updating of their local business platforms. From Google Poststo the addition of their recently released App. These shifts have many SEOs, marketing managers and local business owners wondering what is coming next. Theories come and go on what the future has in store for GMB but one thing is for sure, the landscape of local search and user behavior is changing at a faster pace than ever before.
Is Google My Business Becoming a Social Network?
The rise of voice search, personalization and technology advances have shaken up user behavior across digital platforms including search. Subsequently, Google has seen value in investing in local businesses and the connections between users finding answer to their localized questions quickly. Here are some supporting changes Google has made to their Google My Business platform that are turning it into a social network of sorts.
Google Posts – This new function available in the Google My Business platform is similar to a social media post. A manager can upload an event, product feature, offer or general post to its location in Google maps with an image and call to action. Google Posts have been proven to increase map pack rankings and offer a way for businesses to display messages to searching individuals for free. Google has experimented with the location of the placement for these calls to action but have seen steady improvements in the utilization from businesses in multiple industries.
Following Google Local Businesses – With an announcement from Google in October, users now have the ability to follow businesses directly in the search results. This is likely a direct compensation for the shutdown of Google + which had this feature. Although this is currently only available for Android users, this shift shows the intent of Google to create a personalized option for users. IOS is expected to see this feature in early 2019.
Once a user follows a business location, they are able to navigate to a “For You” Tab in their Google maps account. The tab holds information from the businesses they follow and is primarily consisting of Google Posts from these followed businesses. This is in essence creating a social feed without the updates from friends and family. Some theories regarding the follow button have suggested that the number of followers could be a ranking factor in 2019. Additionally, I would not be surprised if these updates get woven into daily updates from voice assistance like Google Homes or push notifications surface on Google Map apps.
GMB Q&A – Although one of the older additions to GMB, questions and answers were added to Google My Business listings. This give users and business managers the ability to interact on the listings with questions that may be frequently asked by customers. Managers can answer these questions directly on the listing to help improve a user’s experience with the listing and the business. Much like reviews, the listing managers receive notifications of a new question, so it can be answered in a timely manner.
These three main changes along with others are supporting updates to the theory that GMB is moving toward a more customizable and social network focused platform. As always the Google team is pretty closed lipped about their future, but you can be rest assured that they will change quickly to adapt with the changes. As business and marketing managers of local retailers and services providers, we are along for the ride and should continue to maximize our efforts on this platform.