So you received a free Google Project Beacon. Great! I did too. So how do you know if your Google beacon is working?
It’s confusing, right? The beacon itself doesn’t look like much. Mine reminds me of those light gray erasers I used to use in art class. Sometimes I’m still not convinced that Google didn’t decide to play an elaborate practical joke on all of us with these free BLE beacons.
They did not. Beacons are a pretty cool and fascinating piece of technology. They’re actually quite simple devices with lots of possible functions. It’s this functionality that can make them seem complicated. I explore most of everything you could want to know about the technology if you’re not a developer in this post about how Google beacons work.
How do I get my Google Project Beacon to work?
Even though beacons are just simple 1-way radio transmitters, it can get pretty confusing for small business owners. Partly that’s because there are so many different beacons out there. Besides the free Google Project beacons, some beacons use Apple technology called iBeacons. And some beacons use Google’s open source technology called Eddystone. Even your Uber driver probably has an Uber beacon in their vehicle.
I’m not going to get into how to develop an Eddystone beacon. If you’re curious about developing your own beacon Google has some helpful information for beacon developers on their developer website. As far as your Google Project Beacon, according to Google documentation, it starts working as soon as you take it out of the box.
How do I register my Google Project Beacon?
If you develop your own beacon, then you can register it with Google and access data on the Proximity Beacon API or the Google Beacon dashboard. You can see if your beacon is working correctly and make changes because you own the beacon.
However, the free Google Project Beacons aren’t something you register, control, or have access to via the Proximity Beacon API or the Google beacon dashboard. Google has already registered your free Google Project Beacon there because they are the developers and owners of your beacon. Instead, all you have to do it activate it.
How can I tell if my Google Project Beacon works?
If you’ve activated your free Google beacon, but you’re not sure what to do, you’re not alone. BizIQ receives questions from people every day about them. Most of the queries involve some confusion related to whether or not their beacon works. Below you’ll find three frequently asked questions that we hear every day from small business owners like you about Project Beacon.
1. Why didn’t Google send me a notification that my beacon is working?
Once you’ve activated your beacon with Google, you will not receive a notification on your phone or by email that your beacon is working. Additionally, the beacon won’t beep or make any sound to indicate it’s turned on or been activated. The beacon doesn’t light up, and there is not a blue flashing light to indicate it’s transmitting any type of Bluetooth signal.
2. Why didn’t I get a notification to leave a review from my beacon?
If you tried testing your beacon to see how it might interact with a customer and didn’t get any notifications, it does not mean your Google Project Beacon is broken. Google’s stance is they “might send a notification to a customer asking for feedback” as a result of a beacon interaction with a customer smartphone.
Mainly if a customer has location enabled on their phone then once the beacon sends the signal to the customer’s phone, Google can send and receive information to your customer’s phone. This communication may be visible as a notification or may just be data exchanged between the phone and the Google cloud. Google says all data collected is anonymous.
3. Why doesn’t the Google Beacon show up when I go to the Proximity Beacon API or the Google Beacon dashboard?
Maybe you already knew a little about beacons, or perhaps you, or someone you know, developed an Eddystone beacon, so you logged on to one of Google’s beacon dashboards or API’s. The Project Beacon won’t show up with your other beacons.
You might think Google is just giving you a beacon and the beacon belongs to your business. It does not. It belongs to Google. It’s already registered to a Google cloud project owned by Google. Google is using the beacons to improve location information.
The Project Beacons benefit small businesses because they improve location information that appears in your GMB listing, like popular times, and user-generated content, etc. Google beacons also might help them get more Google reviews from Google Local Guides.
4. How can I turn my beacon off?
There is no on or off switch on your Google beacon. As you’ve already probably figured out, there’s really no way to know if your Google Project Beacon is working or not. If you decide you no longer want to be part of Project Beacon, Google says you can return your beacon to Google.
You can mail it back to Google in the box it came in. All you have to do is cross out your address, not your name, and write Return to sender on the label. Google will receive it and recycle your beacon. If mailing it back is an issue, you can throw it away.
Your Google Beacon isn’t broken.
You might think your Google Project Beacon is broken because the beacons don’t look like much. They’re about the size of a thumb drive. They do not light up or make any sound. They switch on as soon as you take them out of the box. Google knows you got it and that you installed it when you “activate” your beacon by entering the code on the box it came in.
Google doesn’t send you an email or notification to your phone that it’s working, or activated, etc. You also don’t get data from the beacon project, and you can’t add functions or features to the free beacons.
Because you don’t own the free beacon that Google sent you, you can’t access any raw data collected based on interactions between Google and your customers’ smartphones. However, you should be able to see improvements in the location information displayed in your Google My Business listing, also known as the Local Knowledge Panel within a few weeks of activating the Google Project Beacon.
Still need help?
If you need more detailed help with your Google Project Beacon or any other Google beacon, you can contact Google Beacon support at [email protected]. For questions about Google My Business, local listings, digital advertising, and more, leave them in the comments below, or contact us today.
Annette is a film school dropout and former child therapist. As a child, she was in the Oakland Ballet’s Nutcracker two years in a row and wanted to be a professional chorus girl. Annette is the resident copywriter at BizIQ. She likes sci-fi and horror movies, her dog, and is obsessed with the tv show, “Supernatural.”