Google My Business launched back in 2014 and revolutionized local business management, enabling SMBs around the world to be more easily discovered online. It propelled local search engine optimization into the mainstream, at the same time making it easier for potential customers to find services and products near them.

Despite GMB being a great feature, Google understands the importance of moving with the times. Google is transitioning single listings to Google Search and Maps, leaving the newly named Google Business Profile to primarily support larger businesses. Continue reading to find out what this means for you as a small business owner.

What Exactly Is Happening?

The Google My Business app is being retired at some point in 2022 in favor of integration into the Google Maps app and Google Search app for small businesses. GMB’s web client is also getting a makeover and a name change, becoming the Business Profile Manager for larger businesses operating across multiple locations.

Google Business Profiles’ Previous Names

The sleuths among you will know that this is far from Google’s first major name change. Google is always looking for ways to improve and streamline its service, and the aim of this is to simplify the business web experience. Previously known as Google + Local and Google Places, it’s safe to say the search engine behemoth’s local business management product is ever-evolving in view of helping as many businesses as possible manage and optimize their online presence.

Local Businesses Use Integrated Local Search and Google Maps’ Respective Apps

Google wants to encourage single-location entities to manage single listings via Google Search and Maps web interface or mobile apps. Instead of using the Google My Business app, SMB owners and operators will be able to use enhanced features on existing Google apps or Google website on desktop. Anyone logged in as admin of a business Google account will be able to edit their profile, communicate with customers and promote products and services via Google Ads.

What’s more, new customers will be able to claim and verify their profile through Search and Maps. Once claimed, you’ll be able to use existing Google apps and web tools to add and edit business information. Another rumored feature coming to Google Search is direct customer messaging, with read receipts for you and your clientele.

Larger Businesses With Multiple Locations Use Google Business Profile Directly

Larger companies and SEO managers will eventually come to rely on Google Business Profile manager, directly accessible from the existing GMB link. If you currently manage multiple locations, there’s not much to note beyond a rebrand and an updated interface. Digital marketing agencies and SEO operators will also use Google Business Profile, which is rumored to include the following additional features:

  • Messaging directly from Google Maps and Search
  • Read receipts for operators and clients
  • Call history for customers in the United States and Canada

A Breakdown of New Features

The Google My Business name was a little confusing and didn’t speak to the incredible potential of the tool. In particular, many online-only businesses were missing out because its utility as a local SEO tool wasn’t explicit in the title.

Adding buttons to business listings on Search and Maps makes optimization more intuitive for business owners, in addition to reducing the amount of steps needed to optimize listings. What’s more, the name Google Business Profile has now been translated for every country, speaking to Google’s intentions of giving this feature a truly local feel.

What Renaming Google My Business Means for You

So let’s break down the new features business owners can expect following the name change from Google My Business to Google Business Profile:

  • Customers can contact businesses in real time from their business profiles. This means you can instantly answer questions and appeal to people before they’ve even walked through the door.
  • Track phone calls and phone history directly through Search and Maps respective apps.
  • Claim and verify small business profiles through your Google account on Google Maps or via Google search results.

Why Is Local SEO So Important for Small Business Owners?

So now you understand the changes that are set to happen in 2022, but you might not realize why it’s crucial for businesses of all sizes to pay attention to local SEO. First, almost half of all Google searches have local intent. When someone uses a mobile device to locate a business nearby, they’re usually planning to spend money at that business in the near future.

Getting to the top of the local pack, which is the three results that display underneath the map in Google Search results, is the holy grail for small businesses. These results tend to get the most click-throughs, and getting to the top of that deck is easier than you might realize. So if your business relies on a local client base, local SEO is worth paying attention to.

Some examples of industries that benefit most from local SEO include:

  • Service companies, such as fitness centers, accountants, hair and beauty salons, HVAC professionals, electricians, florists and locksmiths
  • Lawyers, advocates and other law firms
  • Medical facilities such as addiction treatment centers, hospitals, dentists, doctors and other clinics
  • Hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes and other hospitality venues

In fact, the only types of companies that can’t really use local SEO are e-commerce businesses, online businesses and private sellers.

Where Can Customers Find Local Search Results?

Google’s algorithm determines the three most relevant search results when any local search is inputted based on how complete businesses’ profiles are and a range of other factors. These are displayed as the local pack. Organic search results are listed underneath, and most web users don’t look beyond the first page. Customers use a mixture of organic search results and the local pack when making purchasing decisions.

Remember, a Google Business Profile is completely free and can get your small business onto the coveted first page of the search engine results pages faster than other SEO efforts.

Ranking Factors

Here are the ranking factors that impact where you land on the search engine results page, according to Google itself:

  • Distance: When someone is looking for a product or service, they’re likely to gravitate towards the one closest to them, provided it has a good reputation and is relevant to their query. Even if the customer doesn’t specify where they are, Google will make an assumption based on location information.
  • Relevance: The businesses listed closest to the top will include relevant keywords used by the web user during the search. The more detailed your business information is, the easier it is for Google to display your listing to a potential customer looking to use your company.
  • Prominence: Directories, articles, links and even reviews determine your prominence online. More reviews and more positive reviews enhance rankings, as does having a presence spread across the web. This is one reason content marketing is so important, with press releases, citations and backlinks contributing significantly to how Google perceives a company’s prominence.

Benefits of Optimizing Your Business Listing

Google is an amazing tool for small businesses because the whole point of the search engine is to improve people’s lives. Its goal is to provide web users with the best possible experience by linking them to products and services they’ll use and delight in. It also drives improvements in customer experience by placing a focus on reviews, so the more you optimize your customer experience, the more money you make. It’s win-win!

Let’s look at the core benefits of using Google products to promote your business.

Increase Web Traffic

The benefits of showing up higher in organic search results are pretty obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to go over them. Local SEO doesn’t just increase traffic; it sends traffic your way that’s most likely to convert. However, to show up on the first page and make it into the local pack, you need to understand the complex process of local search optimization.

Better Visibility = More Sales

Once you have enough online business citations, including all essential basic information, Google starts taking you seriously. More citations means more clicks, more sales and ultimately more money for your business.

Get Into the Local Pack

Companies with a verified business profile are significantly more likely to be seen as reputable by search engine users. As such, your ranking on Google’s SERPs is higher when you optimize your listing. What’s more, taking the time to respond to reviews, regularly post and update images and give accurate, useful information all make you more likely to get into the local pack.

Reputation Management

With so many people using and trusting Google to locate products and services, an optimized listing is a great form of reputation management. Getting regular reviews, responding promptly and generating long-form reviews with relevant keywords shows Google and web users that your business is not just up and running but thriving.

Get Help Navigating Business Profile Manager

Optimizing your Google Business Profile or using Maps and Search’s new features requires extensive knowledge of Google’s algorithm. Optimized business descriptions, images, videos, regular and topically enriched posts, citations, social proof, review responses, Q&A responses, products, tags and industry-specific features are just a few ways to inspire better visibility.

Let Online Marketing Standard take care of local search engine optimization so you and your team can focus on delivering a customer experience worth shouting about from the rooftops. Get in touch today for more information or a customized quote.