In case you didn’t know, Google likes to update its algorithms fairly frequently. As well as the big changes they roll out every year or so (usually with an adorable name like ‘penguin’, ‘panda’, or hummingbird’), Google makes lots of tiny changes to the way their engine works every single day. This includes changes to their applications as well. And last weekend, they announced two big changes to the way Google My Business listings work, and what you can do with them. So, without further ado, let’s find out what those are!
New Business Opening Dates
The first change really only matters to businesses who haven’t opened yet. Up until this update, you could only claim and set up a Google My Business listing once you had opened for trading. While this made sense from a search perspective (its rare people will want to find a business that hadn’t opened yet) but for businesses who are trying to generate some interest before they open, it was a significant drawback. But for the last few months, Google has been testing out ‘new business opening dates’, where the search engine will show a business listing in Google Maps before it opens. The test listings were clear that the business was opening in future, and gave an opening date as well. This might seem like a small thing, but for businesses who are gearing up to launch it can be a great way to build their online presence and be ready for day one. With this new feature, businesses can set a future opening date, engage with customers and announce when and where they will be open for business.
Local Business Service Areas
Ok, that was a great warm up. But this is the big ticket item – the thing that’s got people really excited. Up until now, businesses who operate in multiple locations have been hamstrung by the various limitations on Google My Business. Since you could only have one location or service radius on a Google My Business listing, businesses who worked in many different areas or had bases in different locations struggled to build up an online presence effectively. A common workaround was to set up a listing for each location, but that quickly becomes difficult to manage and very time intensive.
But not anymore. Google have listened to the demands of its users, and have now given businesses the ability to fill in separate fields within Google My Business for your business address and service area. So now, when you update your business information, you’ll have the option to enter your address, service area, or both. You have two options with this:
- If you don’t serve customers at your business address, then you can leave the address blank and only enter your service area. This is particularly useful for service-based businesses who are run from a residential address, as it means the owners don’t have to publish their home address for the world to see!
- If you serve customers at your business address AND have a service area you deliver to or work in, you can now enter both. So you can enter your physical address as your base, and then separate service areas for all of the areas you work in.
In practical terms, this means no more running multiple accounts. Instead, you can use one account, and specify each service area individually by region, city or postcode. So if you run a retail business in Newbury, and you also have a branch in Windsor, you could include them both in a single listing.
They might sound small, but these changes have businesses and Google My Business experts like us jumping for joy. This not only improves the listing service for multi-location businesses, but it also clears up the mess caused by multiple listings, and it allows new businesses a head start in an ever-competitive world. If you’ve found this article helpful and would like to know more about how Google My Business works (and what it can do for you), just get in touch with the team at Ad-Extra today and book your free, no obligation consultation.