Our cellphones have become extensions of our human selves. We carry with us this piece of technology that allows an instant connection to the world in ways we never imagined, and this fact is not lost on big tech.
Take note of how more and more consumers are able to make purchases, get quotes, or even schedule services without actually speaking to a business. Platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp allow users the ability to connect directly with local businesses, and big tech companies are pushing those businesses to become responsive and engaged right from the platform.
In the specific case of Google My Business. The “My Business” app has become essential for any responsible local business owner to receive immediate notifications and have the ability to reply to questions, reviews or direct messages. With the app, Google enables business owners the following:
- Manage how your local business appears on Google Search and Maps.
- Edit your business information (e.g. address, phone number, and hours).
- Respond to reviews, questions, and messages from customers.
- Share new photos and post updates on special offers and events.
- See how customers find and interact with your business on Google.
Managing how the business appears in Google Search and Maps is vital to a company’s online presence. Google attempts to mimic the offline world, so adding the logo and a cover photo which appear similar to how that business appears in the real world is encouraged. Equally important is ensuring the business information is accurate for consumers. As Google mentions, “Regular updates help ensure we can share the most accurate information with your potential customers.”
In addition, a company’s responsiveness to users is becoming increasingly important. Responses on Google My Business can be broken down into Reviews, Questions, and Direct Messages; and business owners are encouraged to engage with their audience through the “My Business” app. So much so, that “Response Times” are now displayed to users that visit your Google listing. Responsiveness factors lead to trust, and impact consumer confidence in your company.
With this in mind, to keep our clients competitive, OMG National has decided to adopt the Google My Business app into our rank methodology. We encourage our customers to download the app, and keep the notifications on for optimal response times.
Reviews are one of the most important items business owners need to keep in mind. Customer service is essential for any business to be competitive and the fact is that consumers now look for reviews before making purchase decisions. Google understands that. Google actually encourages businesses to request reviews from patrons, and they’ve made it very clear that it’s part of their local ranking algorithm.
As mentioned in their support documents, “Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’ local ranking”. Google also recommends businesses to respond to all reviews for both positive and negative, as best practice.
Historically, calls from Google My Business have been tracked through metrics called “Insights” directly on the GMB platform. Until recently, business owners have been limited to seeing an aggregate of how many calls are directed to their business line on any given week, month, or quarter, without granular call data.
To solve for this, Google is rolling out their “Preview call history (beta)” program to a select few GMB listings. Once enabled, every call from the Google My Business call button will be accompanied by a short message stating it’s a “Call from Google”, before connecting to the prospect.
Furthermore, the “Call History” is logged on the GMB app. This log captures details like the date, time, length of the call, and the phone number of the user that made the call. Businesses can now use this information to call back prospects they might have missed, or to cross-reference with their books to see just how much business is closing from GMB.
Google My Business also offers a messaging feature only available through the app. When enabled, a prompt appears letting the business owner know that all new messages should receive a response within 24 hours or the feature may become disabled.
As if that weren’t indication enough of the importance of messaging responsiveness (as previously mentioned), Google has made the “Average response time” metric visible to potential customers. Users can now see a business’ messaging response time right on the Maps listing. Below a screenshot of how it displays for a business that answers messages quickly:
Since 2017, Google has been toying with their Reserve with Google platform. Starting out with the Beauty industry, then fitness; this revolutionary feature allows for users to schedule appointments directly through Google search or Maps. When the pandemic hit, Google released this (and other features) to hard hit industries such as Dining, and Home Services.
Google has integrated with a myriad of booking software providers to make the integration easy for business owners. Housecall Pro, Bookeo, RESY, to name a few, are Reserve with Google partners and companies with accounts will see the “Booking” option showing on the GMB dashboard.
For a full list of integrations, visit this link.
Restaurants across the world were affected by the pandemic. Luckily, Google had been working on their ordering platform and were ready to roll out options for delivery and pick up food orders. Users don’t have to leave Google to view a restaurant menu and make their orders online, and Google tracks the preparation and estimated time of pickup, or delivery.
Google’s food ordering platform (orderfood.google.com) includes a transactional layer, that simplifies purchasing for users. Users can now order food for delivery or pickup, pay for it, and track the order without ever leaving Google.
Questions and Answers:
Questions on Google listings are increasing. Consumers are looking for answers before making a purchase decision, and being able to provide clear and factual information is important. This is another feature that the GMB app will help control. Ensuring the notifications for the app are on is paramount for optimal results.
As mentioned above, Google wants to display businesses as close to how they are in the real world as possible. To do this, Google encourages businesses to upload photos of their location, their staff, their services/products, menu items, and other images that display authenticity. According to Google, “Businesses with photos are more likely to receive requests for driving directions to their location, as well as clicks through to their websites, than businesses that don’t have photos”.
Google’s main goal is to deliver accurate and relevant results to their users. Google Local search looks to solve the needs of users by giving them results relevant to their search, within a reasonable distance from their location, and they want to ensure that they display the most prominent businesses to their end users.
We now see that responsiveness is also impacting how a listing displays, and, in some cases, how many jobs booked around the area. These indicators are direct signals for Google to discern between highly responsive and engaged businesses, and those that are not.
Whom do you think they’ll favor?