New Survey Suggests Google My Business May Soon Offer Paid Access to Certain Services
On April 27, news broke that some Google My Business (GMB) users were being invited to participate in a survey that asked for feedback and opinions on paid subscription features on the platform. Based on this survey, it looks like Google is gauging business owner interest in “premium” paid GMB features. The survey (no longer available) started off with a few qualifying questions about business advertising spend before introducing potential new GMB features as paid offerings. These new features include:
- Google customer support
- A “Book” button on business profiles
- Promotion of this “Book” button
- Verified reviews
- Promoted map pins on Google Maps
- Call reports and recordings
- Verified bookings
- Automated message/review responses
- Google search results placement
- Leads from competitor profiles
- Background checks
- Instant quotes and requests for quotes
- Featured reviews
- Google Guarantee
- Removal of ads form business profiles
- Verified licenses
- Videos on business profiles
It’s important to note that some of these features are already in play through some of Google’s other offerings. Promoted map pins have been around for a while, and Google’s also just announced an expansion of their Posts features to let business owners show off testimonials in GMB, Maps, and even standard search results. Still, this feels different and could signal a more aggressive shift towards monetizing GMB.
What Does this Mean For Local SEO?
There’s plenty to unpack here. Cynical SEOs might decry this push towards “pay to win” as further proof that Google’s more concerned with profit than they are with providing users with reliable information. A lot of these potential features could prove highly valuable to businesses and SEO—as well as their competitors. For example, local businesses could feel the heat if larger competitors decide they want leads from competitor profiles. Think Amazon or Indigo poaching traffic whenever someone looks up “Ottawa Neighbourhood Bookshops.” There’s nothing stopping the local businesses from doing this, provided they’ve got the money to play in the space. A lot of the features suggested in this survey are available elsewhere, like call tracking and reporting. As anyone who’s ever been on a website will know, quote request features are available there—so Google centralizing these features in their own platform feels like a way for them to continue to keep users on SERPs. Google My Business has always been free, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t continue to be free on some level. These paid features, if they do roll out, could significantly impact the nature of SEO by adding more “pay-to-play” elements that can give users a leg up on the competition. In the meantime, there’s never been a better reason to optimize your Google My Business listing. Need a hand? We’ve got you covered!