Google My Business Upgrade - Would you sign up to a paid subscription?
Google My Business is a tool created by Google with the aim to drive customer engagement. It provides a business listing, complete with a mapped location and search presence.
Businesses create a profile which allows them to connect to other businesses, the listing allows you to post photos, add current offers, contact the business via phone or message and view directions to the location through Google Maps. The listing also has an option to take the user straight to the website, providing a higher click-through-rate and an increase in conversions.
Google My Business shows previous customer reviews and allows new customers to leave a review, helping potential customers to understand the quality of the product or service you provide. Having a business profile means you can track activity to see how many customers are engaging with your business profile. The current tool is free, with companies only needing to create an account to be able to access the functionality.
For years, the tool has been advertised proudly as being a free to use account. However, recently the news has come out that Google could be adding a premium plan for businesses wanting to get more out of their business profile. Rumours have always been in circulation for this feature, however, new images and information have emerged, causing renewed discussion.
Rumours of the upgrade resurfaced when questionnaires from Google My Business began asking users if they would pay for extra features. One question asked the user to select the most preferable options from a set of four feature bundles and a Monthly Subscription Fee ranging from $25-$70 a month. Some of the options listed were automated message responses, verified bookings, verified reviews, instant quotes, call reports and recordings, background checks, promoting a ‘book’ button, get leads from competitor profiles and verified licenses. Screenshots of the survey circulated around Twitter.
Other users were given a message with an option to upgrade their business profile to stand out and be awarded with the Google Guaranteed badge, this was also shared to the world by screenshots on social media. The new upgrade will focus on making businesses profiles more trusted, verified and reliable to customers.
As mentioned above, the initial survey ranged its fees from $25-$70, and the results from this may have impacted Google’s decision to choose a reasonable price. The price seems to have settled at $50 (around £38) a month for eligible businesses, or $600 (almost £460) a year.
There are a few requirements that Google has in order for you to be eligible for the premium upgrade. Businesses will need to meet Google Guaranteed eligibility rules and pass background and business checks, owner checks and licencing checks. In addition to this, insurance requirement checks will need to be met.
The benefits of this service will no doubt include an increase in the trustworthiness of your domain to users but will also include visible benefits. Not only will your business have the Google Guarantee badge which users can use to see which businesses offer a quality, Google Verified service, as well as your listing being more noticeable, but it will also include your business in Google Home/Assistant search results.
There is also a potential to be boosted in search results and in Local Pack/Maps Pack. The Local Pack is a section of the search results that shows the local businesses that relate to a user’s search query.
As well as having more attention drawn to your business or company, it has been predicted that this will increase your click-through-rate (CTR) due to it standing out. CTR is the ratio of people who click on your link to the total users who view a page. It can measure the success of an ad campaign.
All of these factors will help boost your rankings and create greater confidence in your business to those searching.
There are some potential implications that could result from the introduction of this service as a paid option. Google has regularly avoided recommending digital agencies, including those that provide SEO, so having a paid GMB account might be an appealing option. However, with this in mind, are we going to see other digital agencies struggle to have an impact in online search if all their competitors pay, rather than because they don’t provide good enough services?
This can be said for the likes of other local businesses - if all their competitors are showing the Google Guaranteed badge due to paying the $50 fee, will this make the ones that haven’t paid not look as established or trustworthy?
At the moment, it is unclear when this service will be available for anyone to upgrade (if they meet the requirements). The screenshots on Twitter suggest that these messages will pop up for particular accounts as a test. Search Engine Land recently got an email response from Google regarding the update:
‘We are always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers, merchants, and users. This experiment will show the Google Guaranteed badge on the business profile. We don’t have anything additional to announce right now.’
Looks like we have to continue to wait for further developments! For more industry news and company updates, view our other news stories.
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