Throughout 2018, Google’s focus on local search has intensified as they have added several new features to Google My Business listings. These new features help users find more information about the business solely from the Google listing, without having to click through to their website. Over the past month, Google has kept the momentum going by rolling out a host of new features and updates.
Reserve with Google update
In the past, booking an appointment via Reserve with Google has been limited to Knowledge Panel results. Google changed this in October by adding a “Book” button to listings appearing in a local pack. In addition to making it easier for users to book an appointment, Google expanded Reserve with Google to several other verticals including attraction and museum ticket purchases and garage door businesses.
Towards the end of October, Google introduced a Follow button to Google listings. Clicking the Follow button allows users to save Google Posts updates from that business in users’ For You tab.
According to Search Engine Land, the For You tab is “an area within Google Maps where Google curates recommendations for users based on preferences they’ve shared.” The feature, which was released in June, ensures that users don’t miss out on updates or announcements from their favorite businesses.
Service area business (SAB) update
In early November, Google changed how SABs set up their service areas in Google My Business. Instead of setting the service area as a radius around the address, SABs must now specify the service area by city, zip code or region.
New business open date
After testing this feature in September, Google rolled out new business open dates to all Google My Business accounts. New businesses and locations can now add an open date to their listing in Google My Business up to three months before opening day. This feature helps businesses build awareness before opening day and lets users know when they will open, what their hours of operation will be, etc.
Branded search queries
Google My Business insights added a new feature in October: branded search queries. Branded search queries are searches for brands that the business sells that return a list of results – including when the brand is a part of the business’ name. These are different than direct searches, however, which are searches for a specific location that return a result for the business in the Knowledge Panel. Joy Hawkins, a local search industry expert, provided a few sample search queries for each insight to help understand the difference:
- Branded search example: “State Farm” returns a 3-pack for several locations for State Farm.
- Branded search example: “Samsung TVs near me” returns a list of businesses that sell Samsung TVs.
- Direct search example: “Starbucks on Mission College Blvd” returns just a single, specific Starbucks location.
- Direct search example: “State Farm Bob Hagen” just returns a knowledge panel for that specific location.
At a recent conference, Meagan Tanner, Head of GMB Strategic Partnerships at Google, said Google is trying to shift the perception that Google My Business listings are a static product. According to Tanner, Google no longer wants businesses to have the mentality that they can just “set it and forget it.” Instead, Google is releasing new features to foster user engagement with Google My Business listings, while also trying to make the platform easier to use.