Google My Business’s App Redesign Reflects Local Business Search, Listings Needs
But will it be enough to revitalize Google’s local efforts and attract a significant number of new SMBs?
In a bid to align its primary search business with its continuing rollout of SMB services, Google My Business is getting a facelift intended to clearly outline the range of tools that have recently been added to connect local marketers and consumers.
Essentially, the upgrade aims to provide a more streamlined experience for SMBs who want to use the tool to manage their digital presence, but who may have small marketing budgets and/or may not be particularly tech savvy. Plus, as the world becomes increasingly mobile-first, building a mobile app with functionality on par with or better than the desktop interface is key — an area in which Google appears to have succeeded.
The deeper question is whether the effort is actually enough to bolster Google’s local efforts and attract more SMBs.
As local search consultant Mike Blumenthal wrote on his blog, “while this tool is likely to be easy to use by the SMB, [I don’t think it] highlights the benefits of Google local search and makes it clear to the business owner how a business will really benefit from participating in the project and what they need to do to succeed. Given Google’s recent reduced visibility of local results, the ever present complexity of doing well in search, the rise of Facebook as a small business resource and the demise of Plus as an SMB communication platform, this upgrade, while welcome, seems a bit like chair shuffling on the deck of the Titanic.”
On the other hand, some early users have found a lot to like in the update, particularly in the way in which it enables a business to easily view how its different locations actually appear, both online and in the physical world.
“The user interface is super easy to understand and navigate through,” Local SEO Guide’s Andrew Shotland told GeoMarketing. “I particularly like the feature where you can view how your business looks in various Google SERPs. When we are working on a tricky issue with a multi-location location, it’s convenient to be able to see how their different locations appear from different physical locations. For SMBs the review response feature is probably the most practical, particularly for those businesses that get a lot of reviews, such as restaurants, that merit quick responses.”
The user interface seems that it will largely deliver on its promise to simplify the GMB mobile experience. But Shotland also echoed an oft-repeated SMB complaint: How should I know when to prioritize using GMB versus, for example, a Yelp profile, or all of the other management tools out there?
“While Google has done a great job of simplifying using GMB, it’s still one of too many tasks local marketing managers need to tend to,” Shotland said. “They need to create a way to roll all of these local business marketing apps into one, or else these kind of services [may still] remain largely the province of agencies who deal with everything [too complex] for the average business owner.”