Posts

 

Google has allowed users to message businesses through their Google My Business listings since July of last year, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing. The prompt is typically just a small button that can be easily overlooked among all the information filling up a GMB listing.

Now, however, it appears the search engine is testing a more prominent button option within local listings.

Search Engine Land columnist Joy Hawkins shared a screenshot on Twitter of the new button, which is hard to miss when you open up a listing’s profile.

For comparison, here is what the interface normally looks like.

You’ll notice the small “message” icon next to the call, directions, and website icons.

While it is just a small tweak that might not ever make it out of the testing phase, it indicates that Google may be looking into new ways to promote the use of Google’s messaging tools.

Currently, the brands utilizing Google’s messaging features are in the minority. But, with the increasing popularity of using Facebook messenger for business pages, it is possible that brands could begin to make better use of Google’s online messaging and text messaging features.

Google My Business is now letting businesses specify their service area. This is particularly big news for companies that service a wide area or tend to work in an area aside from their physical location.

In the past, the search engine automatically specified a listing’s service area based on their physical location. That could be a major problem if your business was located out of your house or a building in a suburb but largely provided service in the nearby city (or vice-versa).

Starting this week, Google My Business is finally giving listings more control over their service location, with a new separate field. Now, your physical address and service area are entirely separate fields.

This also allows businesses who don’t provide services at their physical location to leave that information blank and just input their service area.

However, Google has created a small restriction on these settings. Businesses can no longer edit the radius of their service areas. In the past, the service area would be a controllable radius. Most businesses opted for a radius of 25 miles from their physical address. This is largely unnecessary now, as you can specify exactly what your service areas are.

If you have previously set a distance around your business as a service area, that setting will continue to stay in effect for now, but you won’t be able to change it in the future. It is likely this data will disappear once the majority of listings have updated their service area information.

Rather than using radius information, the new settings allow you to specify your service area at the region, city, or ZIP level.

To update your own service area information in your Google My Business listing, just follow these steps:

  • Sign in to Google My Business.
  • Select “Info” from the menu.
  • Select “Edit” from within the service area section.
  • Enter your business’s service area information based on region, city, or ZIP code.
  • Click “Apply”.

Google is some small changes to Google My Business Posts that could affect visibility.

Google Posts Go to the Bottom

A number of people have observed that Google Posts have been moved within knowledge panels, getting shifted down reviews and other business information.

Barry Schwartz gave an example of just how significantly the change demotes Posts within the knowledge panel on Search Engine Roundtable. The first picture shows his Google My Business listing in 2017, with a Google Post directly below the address information:

In the second screenshot, the latest Post is all the way at the bottom, only placed ahead of other search suggestions:

New Post Length Limits

Additionally, it appears Google My Business is changing how it limits the length of Google Posts.

In the past, Google required a minimum of 100 words per post with a maximum of 300 words per post.

Now, the company is changing to limit posts to 1,500 characters, rather than limiting the length based on words. There appears to be no minimum length for Posts.

If anything, the change will make Posts shorter for most businesses, since 1,500 words roughly equate to 250 words. Given, this depends on the length of the specific words a person uses.

Google Veterans

Google is releasing a new label for Google My Business listings highlighting when a business is owned or led by a veteran.

Sean O’Keefe, data scientist at Google and a former Staff Sergeant in the US Army announced the new attribute this week while also highlighting the millions of American businesses that are owned by veterans.

“More than 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. are majority-owned by veterans, and one way that I stay connected to the veteran community is by supporting those veteran-owned businesses. It’s something I can do all throughout my day, whether I’m grabbing a coffee or recommending a local restaurant to a friend.”

The tag is easily enabled and will highlight veteran-owned businesses in both Google Search listings and map results.

The label is similar in appearance and function to other attributes like “Has Wifi” or “Outdoor Seating.”

Currently, there is no verification process. All a veteran business owner has to do is follow a couple steps to enable the “Veteran-led” attribute for their own listing:

  • Sign into your Google My Business account
  • Select the location you are managing
  • Select “Info” from the menu
  • Find the “Attributes” section and select the Pencil icon
  • Search or select the “Veteran-led” attribute
  • Select “Apply”.

The new attribute is just one of many steps Google is taking to provide support for veterans, including curating search results for veterans looking for jobs and encouraging IT training. You can find out more about the initiative here.

 

Business owners can now see exactly what search terms people are using to find their Google My Business listings with Search Query Insights, giving you an opportunity to see where your listing is succeeding and what areas may need to be better optimized.

The search query information is being added to the Insights tab and includes the most common terms and search trends that helped people find your business.

In the help page for the new feature, Google suggested: “these queries should help you create better Posts with Google and even Ads to engage your customers.”

However, the data won’t be a comprehensive list of every search term that led to your listing. It will just contain the terms used most often.

“Search queries focus on the terms that your customers used to find your business on Local Search and Maps.”

Business owners or page managers can also filter the queries based on those used within the last week or the past 28 days.

The feature will be available to all Google My Business listings soon, but Google has not provided an estimate of how long the rollout will take. Currently, some are reporting seeing search query data in their Insights tab, while it is absent for others. I would expect most will have access to the information by the end of the week, if not sooner.

Google My Business is bringing a new way to highlight your business with an attribute noting your establishment is “good for watching sports.”

The new tag comes just as the World Cup is heating up and many are flocking to bars or restaurants to watch the latest games with friends and fellow fans.

Because the World Cup is such a big event for gathering with friends to watch the competition, Google is spotlighting the new attribute directly in the “highlights” section on the overview tab of Google My Business listings.

Once the World Cup ends, the “good for watching sports” tag will be moved to the “About this business section” of local listings. However, it may also appear in the overview tab of listings depending on the situation and query.

According to Google, the only requirement for being a business that is “good for watching sports” is that you offer a TV that airs sports. That means you don’t have to be a dedicated sports grill or bar to turn yourself into a hub for the biggest sporting events.

The new attribute is one of just a few tags you can manually add to your listing, along with other options like whether you have Wi-Fi available to the public, if you are wheelchair accessible, or if you offer outdoor seating.

In some cases, Google may also apply other attributes based on customer reviews, such as noting that you are “popular with locals.” Unfortunately, these types of attributes can’t be added manually.

Menus aren’t just for restaurants on Google anymore. Google My Business has finally expanded their menu feature to allow businesses to create and share a service menu describing the various services you offer and their prices.

The process is very simple. You just select the “Info” tab in the Google My Business dashboard and get started adding your services. The menus can be organized by name, description, and price for each item. You can also group specific items into different sections.

Google’s Allyson Wright announced the news yesterday in the Google My Business Help forums, saying:

“Back in January we launched a new Menu editor for the food service industry. This month, we are excited to announce that we have expanded our menu editor to now include additional services.

“Businesses in health & beauty, and service businesses, such as plumbers and florists, now have the ability to add their menu of services directly to their listing through their Google My Business account. Same as the food establishment menu editor, this feature will only be available if the listing is not currently connected to a third party provider and for listings in English speaking locals. If your listing is currently displaying an incorrect menu, please see this help center link for more information on how to correct or remove the link.”

The expanded menu feature is only available to those who do not currently have their listing connected to a third-party menu provider and businesses in English speaking locations.

Every small business person knows there is no marketing quite as powerful as word-of-mouth. No matter what you promise in your ads, it won’t pack quite the punch as a positive, well-written review for your business. But, what if you could turn your positive reviews into your ads?

With the help of Google’s #SmallThanks Hub, you can no do just that. The new online resource aims to help small businesses create top-quality digital and printed marketing materials based on your Google reviews.

“Simply search for your business name on the site, and we’ll automatically create posters, social media posts, window clings, stickers and more — based on the reviews and local love from your customers on Google,” writes Google’s vice president of marketing for Ads & Americas, Lisa Gevelber, on The Keyword blog.

The new resource is available to all US businesses with a verified Google listing with an address.

“Reviews from your fans are like digital thank you notes, and they’re one of the first things people notice about your business in search results,” writes Gevelber in the announcement.

In the post, Google also highlighted data indicating that up to 71% of consumers say positive reviews in search results make them more likely to visit that business and that business listings boasting positive reviews receive up to a 360% increase in click-throughs to their website.

As part of the launch of the #SmallThanks Hub, Google also included a few tips for small businesses. These include keeping your Google listings up to date, encouraging customers to share reviews online, and posting “Find us on Google” stickers in their store and across social media.

Your Google My Business listing is one of the best ways to make sure potential customers in your area find your business. The listings provide the information about where your business is, your hours, and what types of products or services you offer, and the listings often appear above any other regular search results.

Now, Google is making it easier than ever to maintain and edit your GMB listings by letting you manage them straight from the search results pages.

When you search for your business while logged into the Google account associated with your GMB listing, you will now be shown a new dashboard where you can edit your business information, add new stylish photos, share posts about your business, and even see how many views your listing is receiving.

If you are like the many businesses who have incomplete listings or haven’t updated your business info in years, now is the time to take action. Google highlights a number of reasons that having a thorough and informational listing is important for local businesses in their announcement, including:

  • More than 80% of online searchers use the web to find local information.
  • Businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to gain customer trust, and
    • 38% more likely to attract in-store visits
    • 29% more likely to see a purchase

Wish you could put personalized messages into search results? Until now, the only way for you to get a specific message out to people finding your business was to send out tweets popular enough to get included or to publish paid search ads.

That’s all changing now, though. Google released a new feature this week called Google Posts for all businesses with a Google My Business Listing. With Google Posts, you can finally share your message on search results without the costs of ads or hit-and-miss nature of social media.

Any time you share a Post, it will appear in search results and Google Maps pages that include your business listing. The message will initially be just a small snippet, but searchers can expand it with a single tap to read more.

There are potentially limitless ways businesses can take advantage of the new feature. Specifically, Google suggests getting started by updating customers with information about new sales, upcoming events, and new product launches to build excitement.

In addition to your customized message, you can also include photos and custom calls-to-action to encourage making a reservation, signing-up for your newsletter, or linking to your latest special offer.

Google Posts are already available to any business with a verified Google My Business account. You can get started sharing your messages and customizing your listings now from any desktop, iOS, or Android device.