Updates and upgrades have long been part of Google’s business - as part of the company’s commitment to improvement, and driving innovation. Recently, the tech company announced a couple of important changes to its Google My Business (GMB) service.
Before the year ends, the company will be retiring the GMB name and rebranding it to Google Business Profile to “keep things simple.”
Here is everything you need to know about Google My Business, the updates that came with the name change, and what to expect from the search tool in 2022.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use business management tool. Business owners and SEO managers can use GMB to improve their company’s online presence and manage their publicly available business information.
Verifying a business on GMB gives businesses access to a Business Profile that they can edit and use to interact with their customers. Adding the necessary business information, such as contact numbers and business hours, gives the business listing a better chance of ranking higher in organic local search results.
GMB Through the Years
This name change is not the first one GMB has gone through. The name Google My Business has only been used since June 2014.
Here’s a quick recap of the tool’s history:
- Google Local: Released in 2004, this is the earliest iteration of GMB and was mainly a business listing directory similar to the Yellow Pages.
- Google Place Pages for Maps: Launched in September 2009, this feature is introduced as a “webpage for every place in the world,” including businesses, landmarks, and points of interest.
- Google+ Places: Launched in 2011, just a few months after Google+, this version is perhaps the closest to GMB as we know it today, allowing businesses to connect with their audience.
- Google+ Local: Replaces Google+ Places Pages in 2012 and confused the separate Google+ Business Pages service.
- Google My Business: Merges and replaces both Google Places for Business and Google+ Local dashboards.
What’s New With Google Business Profile?
Aside from the name change, there are other pertinent and immediately applicable changes to the primary GMB features. The new features all improve the functionality of Google Search and Maps, allowing business owners to directly manage their profiles on the two web services and apps.
Easier Business Claim and Verification
Effective now, businesses can claim their Business Profile and verify their business using Google search or the Google Maps app.
To do this, business owners (or SEO managers) simply have to search the companies on Google or the Maps app. The search results will now include an option to claim and verify the profile or the listing. Upon verification, business owners can start editing their profiles on the Search and Map apps.
They can also add photos, edit the information they share, respond to customer reviews, and resolve issues such as suspension. Unlike the claim and verification option though, this is a previous feature of GMB.
Messaging from Google Search
Another new feature of the Google Business Profile is its ability to message customers directly using the Search app. Business owners can now see and respond to customers’ messages from their Business Profile on the Search app or webpage.
This allows for faster responses and better customer engagement. An update last year already added this functionality to the Google Maps app.
Launch of Call History Feature
Additionally, merchants or businesses in the U.S. and Canada now have access to a call history feature. This makes it easier for them to see which people made inbound calls from their Business Profile for better analytics.
Take note, though, that this feature is only available for businesses that have already verified their profiles. Those that claimed but have yet to verify their business will not be able to check their call history.
Read Receipts on Search and Maps
Later this month, businesses will have an option to view read receipts on Google Search and Maps. Knowing a customer received and read your message can help boost the overall chat experience and create more meaningful interactions.
This can lessen unnecessary, repeat sending and anxiety whether the customer has seen the message. Merchants can toggle this messaging feature on and off through the Search and Maps apps, as well.
2022 Plans for Google Business Profile
Google has big plans for its upgraded Google Business Profile in the coming year. Along with the name change, the company announced its plans to retire the Google My Business app fully in 2022.
This is why Google is improving the business tools and features on Search and Maps. With the GMB app soon to be out of commission, merchants will soon exclusively manage their Google Business Profiles using Search and Maps. The company also plans to link Business Profile push notifications and email alerts on the two apps in the future.
Moreover, the current GMB website will also undergo a name change. The website will be renamed “Business Profile Manager” and become a support tool for large businesses with multiple locations.
The only GMB feature that will not undergo large changes is the Google My Business API. Aside from transitioning into Business Profile API, its current functionality will remain the same.
The Growing Importance of a Google Business Profile
In recent years, GMB has become a crucial tool for any business that wants to grow, especially for local and small businesses. It has become a must-have for any business since it works beautifully in tandem with other on- and off-site SEO efforts.
The value that the tool offers is not expected to change, despite the rebranding. Claiming, verifying, and optimizing the now Google Business Profile will still be an integral local SEO strategy for any eligible business that aims to improve its ranks in local searches.
The changes Google has implemented and will launch in 2022 will only make Google Business Profile a more integral and easy-to-use SEO tool for local businesses. Need help improving your company's Google Business Profile? Contact Connection Model and let us help you optimize your search results and digital marketing efforts.
Written By: David Carpenter