Google Business Profile is the new name of Google’s local business management platform. Most recently called Google My Business, Google rolled out the new name along with some new features ahead of the 2021 holiday season. Kurt Lambert joins the show to talk about this change and how it will impact location-based businesses.
- Google Business Profile is designed to make management easier for small, location-based businesses
- GMB app is being deprecated, pushing users and managers deeper into platform features
- More data will be available for marketers, like call history and live chat messages
- Over time, new insights from a business’ profile can impact local SEO listings
- With Facebook faltering in 2021, Google is primed to be the go-to digital advertising platform for location-based businesses
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John Tyreman: Hi gang. Welcome to The Digital Marketing Troop, where we go in the trenches to make sense of digital marketing topics and trends. I’m your host, John Tyerman. And I am joined today by Kurt Lambert, VP of SEO and Development Operations at Silverback Strategies. And we are here today to talk about Google My Business, or formerly known as Google My Business. It’s now known as Google Business Profile. And Kurt, before we get into our topic at hand today, I like to start these podcast episodes off with a little bit of an icebreaker. In an alternate reality, if you weren’t working in marketing or SEO, what would your career look like?
Kurt Lambert: Ooh, that’s a good question. I’ve been so focused on marketing from, I mean, going back to high school, and maybe middle school, at some some level. I thought for sure it’d be sports marketing, and then digital marketing became, you know, a much more realistic career path and it’s been awesome so far. So, I mean, I feel like the other answer I would throw out there in an alternate reality would just be in sports full time. Whether that’s, you know, on the field, on the court or whatever, or maybe in the front office, it’s always been something that’s been such a big interest of mine. And if I had the opportunity to pursue that when I was younger, that would have been something that would have been really appealing.
John Tyreman: Right on. Yeah, sports management. It sounds like you could probably be a sports journalist in this alternate reality too.
Kurt Lambert: Yeah, that would have been great.
John Tyreman: Well, let’s dive into our topic today. So there’s lots of changes going on with Google all the time. You know, that’s just the status quo with them. They’re just constantly changing. But before we get into some of the technical changes, let’s start with this rename of Google My Business. So it was Google My Business, this local business management product. I mean, before Google My Business, it was Google Places. Before that it was Google Plus Local. Now they’ve changed their name to Google Business Profile. Why do you think Google is making this change?
Kurt Lambert: Yeah, I mean, yet another rebrand here. I mean, working exclusively on the platform in some form for over a decade, now. It’s gone through a ton of changes. And it’s really been an interesting evolution for a platform so widely used and important to marketers. They’ve never really fully settled on the right branding and naming convention. Google My Business probably had maybe the longest tenured run for the platform’s name. Although, you know, with recent news over the last few weeks, that’s definitely coming to an end. Ultimately, I think Google really just wants to streamline the management of business information even more. And had recently started making it possible to edit this info directly from places that users will see the business information. So because of this, I think maybe Google just felt like the My Business platform, you know, as it was named, had this info so siloed previously, so maybe it was sending some mixed signals. So they thought, you know what, let’s just try to change the name again, make it a little bit easier for people to understand and for people to use.
John Tyreman: Well, that’s always a good reason to make these changes is to make marketing easier for these businesses. Well, let’s take it like a level deeper. So for listeners who might not know, what are some of the changes that Google’s making along with this rename?
Kurt Lambert: Yeah, so I think probably the biggest change that some people will see is just the retirement or the sunsetting of the Google My Business app that people have been using on their phones. That’s going to be going away entirely at some point next year. It’ll still be available through the website through desktop devices. But instead, what Google’s doing, especially on mobile, where people are using that app previously, Google’s just pushing business owners and managers further into the main platform features like Google Maps and directly on search results, where the same business information can be managed instead. As of now, it doesn’t seem like there will be a ton of new additions but rather again to your point earlier, John, just really making it easier to get to this information. They’ve beefed up a few minor settings. Google My Business has had call tracking as a key feature for several years now. where businesses can determine the number of calls being made through Google’s local search listings and maps and it, kind of in conjunction with this Google Business Profile announcement, they’ve also started are rolling out a beta Call History feature for select groups of users in the US and Canada, making it possible to subtract those recent calls, how many calls are being missed, and things kind of around you know, different data points with the phone calls coming through their Google My Business feature. So the hope there is that the beta feature works out really well and then becomes widely available for everybody, you know, at some point next year, as really Google kind of goes all in with Google Business Profiles.
John Tyreman: That’s really interesting. So there’s, I’m guessing there’ll be more analytics behind some of the different phone numbers, maybe area codes or like geolocation. What do you see as some of the impact of that beta feature?
Kurt Lambert: Yeah, I think it really just comes down to having more data available for marketers. Again, making it easier, making it a little bit more insightful, getting people excited to use and really jump into that platform a little bit more than what they were doing previously. You know, in addition to like the call history data points that should be coming soon, they’re also doing more with messaging. So you know, if a customer sees, you know, a local Business Profile showing up directly in the search results, they have a quick question they want to ask the business, that messaging is a little bit easier, a little bit more streamlined to customers where they can just reach out, and then businesses can kind of see what requests are coming through and hopefully respond to those customers a little bit easier than than previously as well. So, and then you’d certainly be able to track that messaging as well just to kind of see what kind of interaction is coming through, what questions are people asking, are there opportunities to maybe take your business information and update it to kind of get ahead of some of those questions? So again, it just goes back to you know, streamlining things, making it easier, making sure people have all that information really readily available to them.
John Tyreman: It seems like this change is really helping businesses who operate within a local geographic area, obviously, and, and so a lot of these businesses rely on local search for consumers to help find their business. How do you think this change impacts local search optimization, if at all?
Kurt Lambert: I think I mean, there probably isn’t gonna be a big change in the short term, at least. The biggest impacts in my mind will just be coming from like having the management of the local businesses and that information much more top of mind for those business owners and managers. I mean, so anytime you do a brand search for your own company, you’re going to be seeing immediate reminders to edit your business information directly on the search results. Going back to that point earlier about, you know, Google really wanting to streamline things, and not making it seem so siloed you know, by housing everything within Google My Business specifically, I think Google is really hoping to see a wider and much more active management of their listings and ultimately, having businesses and their information kept more up to date with things like store hours, contact information, you know, promotions, updates and everything like that.
John Tyreman: Okay, so do I have this right – where if I’m a managing a local business website, and I’m doing a branded search on Google and just Google, go to Google do a branded search, and I see the listing that I’m managing, I can edit it right from the search engines result page. Is that what you’re saying?
Kurt Lambert: Yep, absolutely. They have some buttons now that are available, even before they’ve kind of officially gone all in with Google Business Profiles. Those features should still be available right now. If you do a search for your own brand, you’re logged into the right Google account that has access to it, you’ll see some prompts at the top of the search results about, you know, editing your business information, especially now that we’re kind of getting into the holiday season here. You know, some prompts about updating your holiday hours just to make sure that people have access to it. And you know, if they’re searching for your business, they’re going to have the most up to date information. So yeah, now everything is going to be right there in front of you. Google Search, Google Maps and everything like that.
John Tyreman: Very cool. Well, I was doing a little bit of digging in a little bit of research ahead of this call and I went to google.com/business. And one selling point that stood out to me – I’d like to get your two cents on it – was there was this copy block that said, “discover what keywords people search to find you and get insights on calls, reviews, bookings, and more, to understand how your business connects with customers”. I’m curious, do you know if Google Business Profile will offer any deeper analytics on you know, like search queries or anything other than like the call history? We talked about that a little bit, that these marketers can benefit from?
Kurt Lambert: I think so. I think it’s going to be kind of a slower growth. I mean, we kind of saw that with Google My Business. You know, the last couple years, they started showing things like you were just mentioning John, like, you know, what queries are driving the impressions for your local listings or that traffic to your website? So I think hopefully the thought there is that Google will continue to add more data points about that, you know, those search queries, you know, with reviews, if there’s any kind of commonality between reviews, if people are mentioning a specific product or service. That becomes a little bit more readily available to business owners and managers too. Just so you can see, like, you know, are things working out well with our reviews, are there things that people are kind of calling out that maybe we need to fix, you know, what kind of phone calls are coming in through, you know, Google Local Listings? So I think, again, like it’s not going to be an immediate change, but over time, really, hopefully, they continue to find different insights that they can add and really just give business owners and managers a lot more insight as to what their audience is doing and what they’re thinking about them.
John Tyreman: Well, it sounds like that there’s going to be some more tools in the marketer’s toolbox. And you brought up the holiday season. I wanted to ask you about that, but I couldn’t help but notice the timing of this. So they are rolling out this rename right ahead of the holiday season. Do you think businesses who stay on top of these changes and make the necessary updates and go in and continuously optimize their profile – do you think they’ll have a leg up on their holiday marketing efforts?
Kurt Lambert: I think so. I mean, I think the rollout of this is very coincidental here, you know, right before the holiday season. You know, business owners and managers are really being prompted anytime you do a search for your own brand. I think that’s what Google really wants. Like they want marketers to be able to give and inform their customers a lot easier. So having those prompts about the holiday hours, you know, can really have an impact about whether or not a customer will engage with a business especially during this busy time of year. I mean, kind of anecdotally, you know, anytime I’ve been on the hunt for a product, a restaurant or anything like that, the first thing I always do is, you know, conduct a Google search to check for store hours. You know, I’ve certainly been victim many times of trying to visit a store that did not have updated hours on Google My Business. So you know, the more businesses are able to keep everyone informed, I think the more they can expect to potentially attract more customers.
John Tyreman: Yeah, I feel your pain on that. There’s a pizza shop that I love, the local pizza shop, but I keep forgetting that they’re closed on Mondays and sometimes we want to order a pizza on Mondays and their Google listing says that they’re open but I call and they’re not open. So yes. If any local business owners are listening to this, update your Google Business Profile and get your holiday hours set up. Well, Kurt, let’s shift gears a little bit. Um, you know, I know we’re getting kind of deep into some of the different features and updates. I’d like to zoom out a little bit and think about this from kind of like a macro competitive landscape. So Google and Facebook, they’ve been competing on this local search, small business advertising space for some time now. For example, I remember when Google Plus was – that first rolled out, it was an engineering beauty, right? It was like a carbon copy of Facebook’s platform and user experience at the time. With Facebook’s recent challenges in 2021, targeting consumers on iPhones due to the rollout of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update and their own rename to Meta business pivot, do you think this sets Google up to be the leading digital marketing platform for location based businesses?
Kurt Lambert: Yeah, I think so. I mean, really, the battle between Google and Facebook has certainly been interesting over the years. It’s really felt like both sides have been really trying to outdo the other. What the counterpart was best that you know, certainly Google with Google Plus they tried to be this social networking conglomerate and Facebook have really tried to establish themselves as like a search engine. But when it comes to location based businesses, though, I think Google has always had the advantage. Facebook never really felt like it established itself as a true search engine. And of course, Facebook has never really had the option of a Maps, GPS directions type of app. So I think the recent changes with Facebook and Meta further this even more. With Google Maps, really having established itself a long time ago as one of the premier platforms when it comes to directions and GPS, it’s really been able to keep users in the Google environment in some sense. And because many businesses know that, it’s continued to remain top of mind for really ensuring businesses remain highly visible and as up to date as possible. I mean, anytime we have a client with any level of a local presence that’s either you know, just starting with us or you know, have been working with us for a while but they’re launching a new store, new location. You know, one of the first things we always do is make sure that they have a verified listing on Google as soon as possible. Getting a business into that Google local environment can really pay dividends and I think that’s going to be the case even more in the future.
John Tyreman: Yeah, I haven’t been on Facebook in years. I made a conscious decision to just kind of cut that out of my life. I call it intellectual junk food. So I kind of cut that out. But I remember when I was on Facebook, I remember you know, going out, being on like a road trip or something, and there being these promoted advertisements for, you know, local businesses that are near me. And it’s because it knew where I was in my geolocation. But now it, you know, folks can ask Facebook, the application not to track them. So I’d imagine that that makes it even that much harder for marketers to advertise local businesses on the Facebook application. Whereas on Google if you’re searching for a certain geolocation, you know, pizza shops near me or whatever. If you can’t tell, I really like pizza.
Kurt Lambert: Makes two of us.
John Tyreman: Yeah, but um, yeah, so I can totally see how Google is the premier digital marketing platform for these location based businesses.
Kurt Lambert: I think, yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking too, where, you know, because Google has been the dominant search engine for years and years now, anytime you do that, near me search, it’s almost like you’re opting in every single time you’re doing a search and you’re allowing Google to be okay with determining what location you’re looking for, just because you’re kind of in that stage where you have that direct need you want that question answered, you’re looking for a very specific business in a specific location. And I think it’s just a completely different mindset than, you know, being on Facebook and having them trying to determine what you should be seeing based on what your location is kind of without you fully knowing about it.
John Tyreman: That’s exactly the point that I was, that I was trying to get at. I couldn’t find the words. Well, Kurt, thank you so much for taking the time to hop on this podcast chat with me. If folks want to connect with you and learn more about SEO and some of the evolving changes that are happening out there, where can they find you?
Kurt Lambert: Yeah, absolutely. I’m out there on LinkedIn. So linkedin.com/in/KurtLambert. I’m also at Twitter @KurtLambert as well. And yeah, reach out to me. Happy to engage, happy to answer any questions that people might have out there.
John Tyreman: Awesome. Thank you, Kurt.
Kurt Lambert: All right. Thank you, John. Always a pleasure.