The word ‘Google’ paired with ‘Update’ has the potential to strike fear into the hearts of SEOs and marketers everywhere. Let’s face it. The search giant is known for throwing curve balls.
But not every update impacts small businesses in quite the same way. Today, we’re recapping the top three updates of 2018 (so far) that have the potential to either help or hinder small businesses.
Google Chrome Warns Visitors About Websites Without SSL Encryption
In July of 2018, Google released a new version of their browser called Chrome 68. While this alone may not seem like a big deal, it meant that a warning would be displayed every time a user visits a site that is not secure.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you don’t currently have SSL encryption on your website, it means that visitors will see a big, ugly warning telling them that they could be at risk by visiting your website. Since over 85% of consumers won’t stay on an unsecured website and Google Chrome is the No. 1 web browser with over a billion active users, that means a big loss of traffic to your website, and possibly lost customers as well.
Fortunately, BizIQ includes SSL Encryption, and a Global Content Delivery Network (CDN) on all of our Local SEO Marketing Packages. But if you’re not a BizIQ customer, you’ll want to make sure your site is secured by purchasing an SSL ASAP through your hosting provider.
Google (Finally) Offers a Solution for the Service Area Business Google My Business Bug
For over two months, service-area businesses like plumbers, HVAC professionals, locksmiths, and more were plagued by a bug that would prevent them from completing the verification process for their Google My Business listing. Each time they would try to verify their listing, they’d get stuck in an endless loop of refreshing pages. What’s worse is that there were no workarounds or solutions offered by anyone, anywhere.
Considering GMB listings are so important for businesses who travel to their customers, it’s no wonder that many felt slighted by the lack of attention given to this frustrating bug.
Fortunately, in early June, Google My Business representatives were finally offering a workaround that would allow service area businesses to become verified once again.
Google My Business Updates: Business Descriptions & Menus
While there have been a number of GMB updates so far this year including color changes, layout changes, and new features; two stand out for the small business owner in particular.
First, business descriptions are back! A long time ago, in a Google galaxy far, far away, businesses could include a short paragraph describing their products and services. It went away around the same time Google+ became a thing of the past. But recently, we’ve noticed that Google is once again offering the option to include a description. The guidelines for these descriptions have changed since the old days, so you’ll definitely want to check those out.
Secondly, Google has expanded the menu feature which was previously only available for certain business types, to most other business types including service area businesses. This means that most small businesses can now add a more detailed breakdown of what it is they do, beyond simply selecting a primary and secondary category.
More GMB Changes Are Likely
While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of Google updates for the year (after all, we’ve seen some core algorithm updates too!) these are some of the updates that we feel have had an immediate impact on our over 20,000 small business clients. We’re sure there’s much more to come in the months ahead.
Have you noticed any additional updates that impact small businesses? Let us know in the comments below!