5 New Google My Business Features That You Should Use for Better Local Search Engine Presence

April 18, 2019

While Facebook Local can help your business with its social media presence, Google My Business (GMB) is a powerful tool that helps people find your business in search results. GMB is also a more complete business marketing solution that provides your business with multiple ways to connect and interact with the desired audience. 

Google My Business  (GMB) is a free tool that allows users to control how their business appears in Google searches and maps.

It is one of the best local optimization tools on the internet that lets people manage what people see when they search for their business. It also allows businesses to understand what people are searching for. 

Are you a local business that wants more sales and leads? Concentrate your efforts on creating, optimizing, and promoting your GMB profile using these 5 new features. 

How Does Google My Business compare to Facebook Local?

Facebook Local and GMB have similar features. They both can control how businesses are perceived. 

While there is nothing wrong with the tool itself, Facebook Local is no match for GMB. 

The Facebook Local app is divided into three sections. 

The first “home” section offers quick searches for restaurants or bars, plus a list of events happening nearby that may interest you. You can also see the events that interest your friends. It is important for you to tag yourself in these events.

Facebook Local vs. Google My Business

The second section is a map and a search engine. You can search "Starbucks" or "Greek food," or sort by "open now." These filters are similar to those on Yelp but yield fewer results.  

To Facebook’s credit, it lets you differentiate categories more specifically. For example, Facebook Local lets you search "standup comedy" or "literature," rather than a broad category like "events."

The third tab is your calendar, which is populated by Facebook events you've responded to. The calendar also can sync to other calendars on your phone or computer.  

On the other hand, GMB is a complete business solution. While you can use Facebook Local to promote your events and specials, GMB lets you do all that and much more. 

GMB lets you manage your business presence online, connect with your customers, and make your events more accessible to a wider audience. 

GMB listings show up on regular Google searches through Google Places and Google Events search results. 

Google often updates GMB, and local businesses should know about these new features and use them. These features will help your business receive a better search rank on local results. 

Using GMB, people in your city will see you as a responsive and internet savvy business that cares about technology and your digital reputation. 

In 2018, Google added a lot of great features to GMB including: 

  • Google Posts
  • Appointment Bookings
  • Questions and Answers
  • Messaging
  • Business Descriptions

Check these features out, so you can learn how to use them for your business. 

1. Google Posts

Google Posts can be an easy platform to use for writing event blogs. 

Google Posts

What do we mean by an event blog? It means blogging for an event at your business. 

Google Posts are removed 7 days after they publish on GMB. However, if you mention the date of your event, and the event is more than 7 days away, the blog will stay up until the date of your event. 

Use Google posts to create short blog posts linking to your events pages on your website. Service businesses such as HVAC repair companies or local roofing companies can run specials or charitable events and invite locals to be a part of the event. 

GMB will help you appear in searches in your area. Use schema markups on your events page or use Data Highlighter in search console to tell Google everything about your event.

2. Appointment Bookings

Appointment Bookings is a GMB feature that helps service businesses offer appointments. 

If you’re a chiropractor, a healthcare provider, a salon, a local restaurant, or a law firm, appointment booking is a handy tool to get appointments. 

Appointment Booking

The Appointment Bookings feature on GMB can be used to promote the booking calendar page of your website. Your customers will see a link that they can click to go to your booking calendar. 

If you do not have a website or a booking calendar on your website, don’t worry. Google offers a list of supported scheduling providers. To choose a provider:

  1. Open the GMB app and go to the “Bookings” tab. Note: If you don't see this tab, then bookings aren’t available for your business, category, or region.
  2. Tap the menu on the top-right, then tap “choose a booking provider.”
  3. Sign up with the provider of your choice.
  4. Within one week, your scheduling account is automatically linked to your GMB account. After linking, you can receive bookings through Google

Google's Appointment Bookings is a useful tool to streamline how your customer sets up appointments at your business. 

3. Questions and Answers 

Google offers you full control to answer users’ questions about your business, products, or services. 

If someone has already asked questions about your products, pricing or details, you can answer these questions from the “Questions and Answers section” of your GMB account. 

Responding quickly to a user's question demonstrates you value their time and want to provide excellent customer service. The GMB "Questions and Answers" section gives your customers an accessible place to post queries and learn more about your company. 

4. Messaging 

The messaging app, Allo, is a little-used feature of GMB that is very helpful. Allo is an online chat service where customers can send you SMS text messages. 

Say Allo App

You should download the Allo app to answer customer questions. Below is how you can download Allo on your phone: 

  1. Download Google Allo from the Android Play Store or iOS App Store. 
  2. Register Allo with the same number you used to sign up for messaging on GMB. 
  3. Messages will start to appear on Google Allo instead of SMS.

Be aware that if you turn messaging on, your response times will be publicly available. This means that you should try to reply to users promptly to demonstrate your impressive customer service. Consult with a digital marketing agency if you want more insight into how customer service can improve brand reputation

5. Business Descriptions 

A well-written business description is a great way to promote your business. Show local customers how you plan to make a change and why you do what you do. 

“Business Description” is the place where you differentiate your business from your competition. 

Google Business Descriptions

GMB allows business descriptions to include up to 750 characters, which is around 250 words, so make the most of this opportunity. 

Treat your business description like a page on your site by providing users with helpful content and not just words that are there to fill up space.

Use Google My Business to Promote Your Business

Use these five new GMB features to promote your business. They help you connect better with people in your area. GMB is more than just a citation service and more than a review aggregator. It is a channel to successfully promote your business in local search results.

With these new updates, Google has taken the social world by surprise. Contact Cibirix, a digital marketing agency, when you need any information or help with your local SEO. 

About the Author

Headshot of Ashish RoySince founding Cibirix, Ashish has used his marketing expertise to lead the agency in creating truly meaningful digital marketing experiences for clients.