Google My Business adds more branding tools, introduces searchable @shortnames

Google My Business adds more branding tools, introduces searchable @shortnames


Google My Business launched in 2014 and has become increasingly important to both merchants and consumers. Having a verified, accurate and complete GMB profile can’t be overemphasized from an SEO perspective. In addition, GMB is evolving into a platform for transactions and engagement between businesses and their customers.

At a pre-announcement event yesterday in San Francisco, Google shared some GMB “momentum” data, including the fact that Google enables, “three billion direct connections between merchants and users per month.” The company also said that there are three million bookings monthly through Google. And there are now 95 million people, globally, participating in the local guides program.

report from BrandMuscle found that roughly 61% of local businesses surveyed had claimed their GMB listings. Assuming that’s accurate, the flip side is: 39% have not.

The new GMB capabilities and features announced today include:

  • Add a logo — businesses will be able to display their logo on the upper right of the profile
  • Cover photo — businesses will be able to choose the photo users will see when they bring up the profile
  • Dynamic photo module — a prominent new carousel/slide show module is being introduced with the ability to add captions soon
  • Welcome offers — these can be sent to customers/prospects who follow a business
  • Promotional assets — Google is launching a new site to create and order stickers, posters and other promotional assets

Local favorites and short URLs. All these new features are intended to help businesses brand and more effectively promote themselves on GMB and beyond. However, there are two additional announcements that could ultimately prove to be much more significant: “Local Favorite” badges and short names/URLs, which will be searchable on Google and in Maps.

Google said that the top 5% of local businesses in a category will be awarded a “Local Favorite” badge. Google was vague about what criteria will be used to determine who qualifies. The company generally said that it would reward businesses that kept their profiles updated and were responsive to their customers. Beyond these statements, Google wouldn’t comment.

Local Favorite status and badging could be a significant competitive advantage for the “winners” — or not. It will depend on how and where the badge is presented and whether consumers respond.

Reserve with Google). In April, Google surveyed some of its small business customers and agency partners about charging for GMB services. That drew a mixed response from local SEOs, but also suggested future product direction potentially.

We’re likely to see more direct communication tools and additional commerce capabilities come to GMB in the future. The challenge for Google is adding useful features without creating additional confusion and complexity for local businesses.

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