As we round the corner into the second half of 2017, let’s take stock of two changes to Google My Business (GMB) guidelines that will affect all businesses with listings on that platform.
1. Google My Business Messaging (US businesses only)
After a year in beta testing, GMB has made Google My Business messaging available to all America-based businesses. The feature rolled out mid-July, so might not yet be available for your company on its GMB page just yet. You’ll know you have the capability when your dashboard prompts you to opt-in to messaging.
GMB messaging is like most social media tools: it’s effective…when used correctly. Harness the power of GMB messaging by ensuring customers enquiring via the messaging system receive prompt responses. It is worth noting that “via the messaging system” equivocates to SMS or Google Allo, as the GMB dashboard itself is not (yet) built for sending or receiving messages.
Before turning GMB messaging on, it is advisable to pause and take stock of your employees’ temporal resources. Slow responses are apt to negatively affect consumers’ (first?) impression of your company, potentially resulting in missed sales. If you discern you have a trustworthy employee to manage GMB messages, be sure to add him or her as an “owner” or “manager” in the GMB dashboard. Counterintuitively, designating a user with access to “communication” does not allow for utilization of the GMB functions.
Keep in mind users will be able to message your business around the clock when the GMB messaging function is switched on, so take care to toggle the settings before the last employee-responder logs off for the night.
As your Google Allo responses accumulate clicks, you will be able to view stats regarding the engagement of each message on your GMB dashboard.
2. Google My Business Service-Area Business Restriction
For those familiar with existing Google My Business terminology, we’ll lead with the scoop in Google jargon. Service-area businesses are hereby prohibited from using a virtual office location on their corresponding Google My Business pages.
Now to break down the technical terms for those who don’t use Google My Business regularly.
In layman’s terms, a “service-area business” is simply a business without a physical storefront. In other words, customers shop for your products in their homes (or on their mobile devices on the go) rather than approaching your physical storefront.
To translate: if your business does not welcome customers into a physical location and/or deliver a same-day product to customers’ homes, do not list an address of any kind on your Google My Business page. Doing so will result in suspension of your company’s page.
Unfortunately, it is not enough to engage or communicate with customers while at your listed location during business hours. The aforementioned Google My Business messaging is a nice add-on for all US-based businesses, but still won’t qualify your e-commerce shop for a business address listing on GMB.
The point of difference between a brick-and-mortar business (able to list a location on Google My Business) and a service-area business (virtual shop, unable to list a location on GMB) is whether the shop is meant to receive and/or deliver to customers during business hours.
It is possible for a business to be dual brick-and-mortar storefront and virtual (“service-area”). Again, to qualify for this hybrid (and be able to list an address on GMB), the storefront must be staffed during normal business hours. Staff must also be on hand, i.e. readily available for the express purpose of receiving customers. It’s acceptable for you to list your home address as your e-commerce shop headquarters when registering your business with the local and/or federal government. However, you would be prohibited from listing this same (home) location on a Google My Business page. Be warned: doing so will result in imminent suspension of your Google My Business page.
Many pizza chains are a great example of this dual model. During posted hours, you can walk into a physical Domino’s Pizza shop and order a pizza. You can also access a Domino’s ordering interface via the internet or their mobile app, and have a pizza delivered to your home after a relatively short wait. Such hybrid businesses are entitled to post their address on GMB profiles.
Thank you for allowing us to provide you with a GMB overview with the above content. Review the full list of Google My Business guidelines here.
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