With all the new features Google keeps adding to Google My Business (GMB), including things like Posts, Questions and Answers, the return of Business Descriptions, and more, it stands to reason that they’d also make it easier for business owners to access their Business Profile and respond to customers. Earlier in November 2018, Google released a new version of their Google My Business App, and this week they released an update to the Google My Business API, v4.3.
Both of these tools allow you to do more with your Google Business Listing, and with the new Google My Business app, you can access a lot of features right from your smartphone. And right now, many small businesses remain unaware of most of the newer features in GMB, which means you can gain a competitive edge by completely optimizing and consistently managing your Google Business Profile.
1. Post Updates & Specials with Google Posts
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or sailing around the world, you probably already heard that Google+ is going away in August 2019. If you were using it to interact with customers and promote your business, there’s no need to feel sad. For nearly a year now, businesses have been able to create posts in Google My Business.
With Google Posts you can create all kinds of posts from your Google My Business dashboard or from the new Google My Business App. You can write posts, post photos, and even post videos that Google searchers will see in your Google Business Profile. (By the way, Google now calls the Local Knowledge Panel a Business Profile).
Furthermore, according to the latest Moz Local Ranking Factor study results, Google Posts can definitely help drive your businesses ability to rank higher in Google search results. Plus, they improve your ability to engage with your customers and interact with new customers. It’s becoming increasingly clear that content from your posts and other GMB communication as well as signals that you’re an engaged business are key local ranking factors that Google uses.
2. Customers Can Follow Your Business Profile
Since late October 2018, customers who use the Android mobile Google Maps App can follow your business right from your Business Profile in the app. Once they follow your business, they can receive updates of your posts and profile updates, and you can see their public Google Maps profile, unless they opt out of showing businesses their profile.
To view your followers, you must first download the new Google My Business app. After that click on Customers, then Followers to see them as well as your recent followers. The app will also send you notifications when someone new follows your Business Profile.
Google has yet to make this feature available on IOS devices or desktop.
3. Customers Can Send Messages to Your Business Profile
Google is slowly rolling out a new Google My Business feature that gives searchers the ability to message businesses from within your Google Business Profile. The feature is going to be available for both Android and IOS users of the mobile Google Maps App and is already available in some areas.
In order for customers to message your business, you must enable messages. Either the feature is so new most business near me don’t know about it, It hasn’t been released in the Phoenix area yet, but I couldn’t replicate Google’s demo of it. Still it’s definitely another reason to stay on top of your Google My Business listing.
To enable and access your messages, you need to download the new Google My Business app.
4. Read and Respond to Customer Reviews
Everybody here at BizIQ, including me, has been telling you to pay attention to your online reviews, including your Google reviews. And now with the new Google My Business app, you have no excuse.
Your customers can also leave reviews right from your Business Profile in Google Search and Google Maps. That’s always been true, but now it’s a lot easier for you to respond to their reviews right from your phone as soon as you receive a notification that a review has been left.
Remember that Moz Local Search Ranking Factors study I mentioned earlier, well your Google Reviews are definitely a ranking factor for your business as far as where you appear in local search results. In fact, the study found that next to your GMB listing, your reviews were
In addition your customers place a huge significance on reviews. The most recent study from Soci and the Local Search Association found that 77% of consumers who leave a review expect you to respond and 89% of consumers said they’d change a negative review based on how a business responded to it. Furthermore, Google now notifies your customers when their reviews got a response.
Still not convinced? The same study found that positive online reviews were the number 1 factor when it comes to influencing consumer buying decisions. Reviews are the new word of mouth, and your customers want to hear from you. The new Google My Business app makes it easy to respond to all your reviews right away.
5. Questions and Answers
Which brings us to another new feature in Google My Business and your Business Profile from 2018, Google Questions and Answers. Your customers have had the ability to ask you questions directly from your Business Profile in both Google Search and Google Maps for several months now.
And yet, most businesses either don’t know about this feature, or underestimate its importance. I’m not sure why. It’s not for lack of trying on the part of small business new sites, and online marketers, including BizIQ. I’ve written about it here, and here, and now again in this post.
Guess who is paying attention to this feature:
- Your Customers
- Potential Customers
- Internet Trolls
- Unhappy Customers
- Unethical Competitors
- And Google.
What this means is a customer or a Google searcher who’s looking for the products and services you provide, or who is looking specifically for information about your business finds your listing and posts a question. If you knew about the feature, as a smart business owner, you would immediately answer the question. However, since most businesses aren’t using the feature, one or more of several things could occur:
- A current customer answers the question – How can you trust they know the answer?
- Somebody with a questionable agenda answers their question – What if their answer is “Terrible service! Rude! Don’t go there?”
- Nobody answers the question – What does this say about your customer service? What signals does it send to Google about your engagement level with customers and your business?
You need to be the first person who answers any customer question because you know the correct answer, and because you want to establish a positive relationship with all people who show an interest in your business so they convert into new customers.
Guess what? You can now ask and answer questions on your phone or tablet with the new Google My Business app. Plus Google notifies you when anyone posts a question on your Business Profile.
6. Manage Your Business Profile
I know the section on Q&A was long, so I promise this one will be short because the heading pretty much speaks for itself. While you can’t verify your Google My Business Listing with the new app, you can manage and edit your Business Profile in real time. You can even manage multiple locations as well as invite others to manage your listing.
7. Google My Business Analytics
One of the most useful features in the new GMB app is the ability to see how many people are connecting with your business via your Google Business Profile. Plus, you can see all this great information right on the home screen.
The data on visitors includes things like number of views, searches, and activity amount. You can also get analytics on the number of people who requested directions, clicked over to your website, called your business, and more.
I’m really excited about all the data you can view right from your phone because I’m passionate about getting small businesses to pay more attention to Google My Business. Now that you can see how many people visit your Business Profile as well as how much this interaction affects your ranking in Google search results, I’m hopeful you’ll start using all the powerful features Google offers you free of charge.
No More Excuses, You Can’t Afford to Ignore Your Google My Business Listing
If you haven’t paid much attention to your GMB listing, now is the perfect time to start. The new Google My Business app makes it easy for you or someone at your business to keep up with all the customer and potential customer interactions on your business listing. Ultimately, without customers, you have no business. And with more customers searching online for products and services, as well as interacting with businesses within their local listings in Google Search results, smart companies will be spending more time engaging with customers there.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to your Google My Business listing and other local citations, contact BizIQ today for no nonsense, smart local, online marketing advice.