You’ve probably heard – or seen – that Google My Business is changing its name. More than that, Google is retconning the entire platform, redirecting larger businesses to its new service: Google Business Platform and funneling smaller businesses to directly engage with its customer base in Search and Maps.

Why? More importantly, how will this affect you? Google is planning on retiring Google My Business entirely in 2022. Per Google, the reason is to “keep things simple.”

In their recent blog, “Connect with local holiday shoppers,” Google encouraged small business owners to begin using “upgraded experiences” in Search and Maps to prepare for the shift, summarizing to readers:

“The existing Google My Business web experience will transition to primarily support larger businesses with multiple locations, and will be renamed “Business Profile Manager.” We’ll share more details on these changes in the months ahead.”

If you’re scratching your head, wondering what Google’s new shift means for your business, you’re not alone. Let us walk you through what the changes will mean for you – and why it’s more critical than ever to diversify your listings.

Keeping it simple?

According to Google’s business page, the new process for marketing your business is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Claim or manage your existing business profile on Google Search or Google Maps. Then, you can add or update your store hours, add photos and virtual tours, and even interact directly with comments, reviews, and customer queries.

Wait … doesn’t this sound a bit more like social media than search engines? In a way, it does. Advice Local even reported that Google is shifting in a big way to behave more like a social network.

More than ever, user-generated content, the type of content where users engage with the platform (think: like, comment, share), is becoming more important for your rankings in Google’s listings. Therefore, answering comments on your business pages and including more content like menu items, promotions, and updating your hours and photos regularly will make your business more visible.

Bringing us to the million-dollar question: could Google’s new way of managing local search phase out more traditional SEO strategies like using focus keywords and local citations? If you look closer, another question also pops up: is Google’s new way of managing your Google listing less substance and more smoke and mirrors?

Politics, politics

So, you’ve claimed your business and you’re scrolling through the menu. Notice anything talking about pending legislation that could affect your business? Even more annoying, is it the first thing popping up before you can update your listing or add some new photos?

Unsurprisingly, antitrust legislation is coming down the pipe sooner or later. According to an article by Mike Blumenthal, the update is merely a tool to mobilize small businesses to campaign on behalf of the tech giant.

Optimizing local search

Politics aside, are these new bells and whistles really phasing out tried-and-true ways to let your customers know you exist? Empirically, no. According to a study by Moz, after tracking 6,000 small businesses for thirteen months, it’s better to look beyond Google and the “big four” search engines; these also include Facebook, Apple Maps, and Bing. In fact, business who used ten or more other directories were seen way more:

“Results were conclusive – those syndicated to the wider network were featured in a significantly higher percentage of local packs. Results included direct search (89%), indirect search (77%), search view (65%) and maps view (91%).”

Bringing us to the apparent moral in Google’s new chapter of search management: no matter what curveballs Google or Congress throws, maintaining accurate listings across a wide variety of search engines is the way to go. Also, ensuring every listing is up to date and contains more than just your business name, address, phone number and hours is critical.

However, managing dozens of listings sounds like a headache and a half! Fortunately, managing your local listings, SEO, and business reputation is what we specialize in. If you’re struggling with keeping every listing updated, we can help! Give us a call at (248) 684-0500 and boost your reach!

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