2017 Latest Google My Business Updates - OK MY Google


Google has been very busy in 2017 with the latest Google My Business updates!

While some updates were widely announced, some go unnoticed even though they bring major upgrades and added features that benefit Google My Business users.

If you feel you are not up to speed on the Google My Business Updates, you can check the Google My Business Updates leading up to 2017 in case you missed any.

1. Create A Free Mobile Website with Google My Business

June 2017 – You can create a free mobile-optimized website to represent your business from your Google My Business listing.  You can customize themes, photos, and text of the site Google creates from the information and photos on your Google My Business Listing.
The free website you create updates automatically whenever you change your business information or add photos. It is also optimized for display on desktop, laptop, and mobile devices.  You can find this option by signing into your Google My Business Listing and clicking on the “Website” menu option.
This free website is meant to be a super simple free website for small businesses that don’t have a website, so absolutely nothing fancy or complicated is going on here.

Latest Google My Business Menu - Website Button

2. Google Posts Now Live for GMB Users

June 2017 – Publish events, products and services directly to Google Search and Maps with Google Posts from your Google My Business listing.  These posts appear to customers in search results and on maps in a few moments.  REMEMBER these posts are supposed to be timely, so they are automatically removed after 7 days or after the event has passed.

Latest Google My Business Post Example

LEARN MORE: What are Google Posts? How to Use this New GMB Feature to Promote Your Business

Create a Google Post on Your Desktop

Latest Google My Business Updates Post - Desktop

Create a Google Post on Your Mobile Device

Latest Google My Business Updates Post - Mobile

3. Google Rolling Out Messaging Feature within GMB

July 2017 – With the new Messaging feature in Google My Business you can message customers from your Google Local Panel in mobile search.  This chat feature is currently available on desktop and mobile browsers, as well as the search app on Android.
The biggest of the latest Google My Business updates, chatting with potential customers can be a game changer for small businesses able to offer the personal touch researching customers crave. There is an in-depth question and answer post on Bluementhals.com that will answer a lot of your questions on what you can and cannot do with this new feature: Google My Business Messaging FAQ
On your Google My Business home page you should see a new section for “Messaging” in the menu and a big box option for “Message with Customers” to get set up by verifying your phone number to receive messages and setting an autoreply to customers who use the chat feature.  Once set up, when your business shows up in the local panel in mobile search people will see a message icon next to the call icon where they can send a text message to the number you selected.

Latest Google My Business Update - Message Icon

4. GMB Updates Insights Email Sent to Businesses

July 2017 – Google My Business Insights gives you an inside look at how people find your business listing on the web. Insights focus on how customers use Search and Maps to find your listing, and what they do once they find it.
Each column in the bulk download serves to provide insights in the following sections:
• How customers find your listing
• Where customers find you on Google
• Customer actions
• Driving directions requests
• Phone calls
• Photos

CLICK & LEARN: Using and Understanding Google My Business Insights – Free Download

With concrete performance data, it is now much easier to justify investing in local SEO as it is a huge advantage to be able to tie this type of activity to direct changes in search performance. If you can pair this up with an effective local keyword tracking tool and URL tracking parameters, then you’ll be able to clearly demonstrate the value Local SEO activity has had to a business.
The new bulk download option provides data broken down into the following columns:
  • Total searches
  • Direct searches
  • Discovery searches
  • Total views
  • Search views
  • Maps views
  • Total actions
  • Website actions
  • Directions actions
  • Phone call actions
Visit Google’s guidelines for descriptions of what each of these columns means.
There’s still only one line per location, so you don’t get a daily breakdown. This means if you want to make any comparisons then you’ll need to download the data in 7 days, 30 days,90 day or custom bursts. Which isn’t ideal but this is still a major improvement.

5. Add Customer Action Links to GMB Listings

Aug 2017 – Include specific action links people viewing your profile can click to do things like make online orders or reservations directly from Google Search or Maps.  I consider this the most impactful of the latest Google My Business updates when looking at increasing sales.  Getting customers exactly what they want with just a click moves them through the sales funnel faster.
These actions include:
  • Booking an appointment
  • Placing an order
  • Reserving a table
  • Searching for items
  • Viewing the menu
If your business already uses a third-party appointment booking service, links to those may appear automatically and cannot be edited in Google My Business.

Add Customer Action URL to Your GMB Listing:

Latest Google My Business Updates - Add Links

6. GMB Lets Businesses Edit their Listings Directly in Search Results

September 2017 – Businesses can quickly edit their Google My Business local listing directly in Google Search results.  Google has created a business dashboard visible to you right in Google Search.  To see your editing options, first make sure you logged into your GMB account, find your business on Google Search, and click on the “EDIT” button that appears above your listing.
Latest Google My Business Update - Edit in Search
On this search dashboard you can:
  • Add or correct business information, post updated hours, and more.
  • Post on Google and stay engaged with your customers.
  • Share photos that make your business stand out.
  • See how many views your listing gets, and easily access detailed information about your listing’s performance.
  • Know when users upload photos of your business.
  • Quickly take the most important actions to complete and enhance your business listing.
1.Google removes permanently closed listings from the Local Finder
If you look at the picture from my article last year about permanently closed listings, you’ll see that there used to be tons of “permanently closed” listings ranking in the Local Finder. They would typically show up at the end of the list (after the open ones), and if you edited a ranking listing to make it appear permanently closed, it would instantly drop to the back of the list.
I haven’t seen a single “permanently closed” listing in the Local Finder in months. This is mostly a good thing, since they aren’t overly useful for users.
The “permanently closed” label is problematic for local SEOs in a couple of scenarios. The first would be for businesses that have practitioners. These are the industries that are most likely to have “permanently closed” listings floating out there that they don’t know about for their practitioners. They are now harder to find, but customers could still be seeing them while searching on Google.
Tip: Search for all your existing and former practitioners on Google by name + city and make sure you don’t have any of these out there.
The second problematic scenario would be when spammers start marking competitors as “permanently closed” to make them disappear. You won’t get any type of notification from Google when this happens to your business (Thanks, Google!) unless you visit your Google My Business dashboard daily.
Tip: Since not everyone has time to do that, my suggestion would be to utilize a ranking tracker that also sends you alerts when they notice changes on your listing, like BrightLocal does.

2. Google removes the ability to access the classic version of Google Plus

Google came out with the new version of Google Plus back in 2015, but up until a couple of months ago, they still kept the classic version accessible — and it was the version that Google cached in their search results.
Why does this matter for local SEOs? The classic version had all the Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) data on it that we loved so much, and the new version gives you none of this info. Many of us used the site:plus.google.com search to find duplicate listings for clients, and this function no longer works, since the cached version of Google Plus has no phone number, no address and no reviews.
Tip: Unless you’re using Google Plus for posts that get lots of engagement, you don’t have much else to do over there, since it’s now almost completely divorced from Google My Business. Posting random links to your blog articles won’t help you unless they get shares, +1s or comments.

3. Google launches a platform for reviewing edits to business listings on Google Maps on Desktop

Since MapMaker shut down, lots of people are under the impression that reviewing edits to business listings is no longer possible. Google has had the ability to review edits on the Google Maps app for quite some time, but since those of us in the local SEO industry rarely sit around doing client work on our phones, lots of people don’t realize this is possible. In March, Google also launched a “Check the Facts” feature on Desktop for Local Guides. This is a very simplified version of editing and isn’t really comparable to what we used to have on MapMaker, but it does allow for users to approve or deny each other’s edits to business listings. When this first launched, it was only available to Local Guides who were a Level 5 but rolled out to all Local Guides levels a few weeks later.  


4.Google removes pending edits for a listing’s status from showing up on the Google Maps app

I outlined in this article how spammers were attacking legit business listings by reporting their listings as spam just to get the pending status to show up on their listing on mobile. Indeed, these spammers shifted their focus to Trump Tower at one point, and searching for it on the Google Maps app produced the following listing:
Google removed pending edits for a listing’s status shortly after I wrote that article, so now if someone reports you as spam, you don’t have to worry unless the edit actually publishes.

5. Google rolls out the Snack Pack to more industries in the USA

Different from the 3-pack, the “Snack Pack” refers to the local layout that that is missing the links to the business website or driving directions; instead of seeing these (useful) buttons, you get an image.
For some reason, Google decided earlier this year that all of us who search on Google would love to see pictures of bugs when searching for pest control instead of a website that would tell us more about the company we’re potentially hiring.
Mike Blumenthal pointed out that in addition to pest control, jewelers and sporting goods stores also now have this layout.

6. Businesses can now access 18 months of data from Insights inside their Google My Business dashboard

In April, Google added bulk insights to the dashboard, which might look unimpressive at first if you don’t catch the fact that you can now select a custom date range for data and aren’t stuck looking at one-week, one-month, or one-quarter intervals! This is a huge plus for agencies who onboard new clients and want the ability to see how their stats look before they start improving things.
Tip: Compare data year over year instead of month over month. I find this gives a much more accurate picture of improvement, especially for seasonal businesses.

7. Google starts actively showing local pack ads on mobile

I first heard that this AdWords feature was coming last year while at SMX Advanced in Seattle. After tweeting a really blurry picture of the feature, we heard very little from Google about it until I noticed the ads starting to show up everywhere a couple months ago. Here is a picture of what they look like that I took using Mobile Moxie’s Mobile Search Simulator:

Notice anything else?

Tons of other updates have happened in the last few months, but I wanted to highlight the ones I found got very little coverage that you might have missed. Were there any other major things you noticed that didn’t make the list?

CLICK & LEARN: How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Complete listings also influence search engine user behavior as one study shows that users who view more complete listings are about 30% more likely to report an intention to visit a store or purchase from it (Gybo 2014).  Don’t miss out on new business when these seven easy Google My Business optimization tips.

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