Google launched version 4.8 of its Google My Business (GMB) API in mid-December, 2020. What does this update mean for enterprise and multi-location brands?
In this post, we’ll take a look at what this update impacts enterprise brands, specifically focusing on the two verticals it affects most: hospitality and healthcare.
What’s New for Hospitality Brands?
Historically, hospitality listings have been more generic in GMB than on other hotel comparison and booking sites. With the GMB API 4.8 update, hotels and other lodging brands now have access to 100 new attributes for hospitality businesses and their room types. This better enables hotel brands to differentiate themselves from their competition and in turn, communicate more information upfront to those searching for information about their property.
Among the new hospitality and lodging attributes in GMB:
- Pandemic-inspired attributes such as IncreasedFoodSafety, EnhancedCleaning, and MinimizedContact.
- Accessibility-related attributes such as LanguagesSpoken and LivingAreaAccessiblity.
- Amenities such as Parking, Connectivity, and Housekeeping.
- Features such as GuestUnit Type, LivingAreaEating, ViewsFromUnit, and GuestUnitFeatures.
This update begs the question, why weren’t these attributes prioritized for hotel brands until now? The short answer: Google hasn’t been incentivized to offer additional GMB features to hospitality until the pandemic. Now that the hotel industry has been understandably impacted by COVID, there may be some impact on Google’s advertising revenue from this sector driving the updates.
These updates are just the start of other potential updates that will benefit hotel brands and their local marketing efforts. Other changes we’d like to see to the GMB API for hotels:
- Currently, Google Posts are not available to hospitality businesses.
- The Business Description cannot be written in GMB, either; it is generated by GMB’s algorithm using content pulled from websites, reviews, and other content.
Giving hospitality brands greater control and access to these features would help them power through a universally trying time for hotels.
What’s New for Healthcare Brands?
The most pertinent change for healthcare brands is the ability to list insurance providers accepted by location as attributes.
As Google continues to advance its healthcare search functionality, one day perhaps a consumer might be able to query using insurance providers as a filter. Right now, you can consider it a conversion element, however, in the future, it might impact your ability to be considered at all. This is why healthcare brands should take advantage of this change today and list all the insurance providers they accept.
Here’s what that looks like—see the “Check insurance info” link just below key business information:
And here’s what it looks like when you click and explore that attribute:
Learn how to pull the list of all insurance networks supported by Google here.
The GMB API as Google’s Single Source of Location Data Truth
These are certainly welcome changes to the GMB API for hotel brands. What brands have been able to control through GMB has been limited in years past, although listings have been more robust since the hotel search update in 2018. Even so, in order to influence any of that information, you had to be using paid ads.
The GMB API and Google Ads have always been intricately linked; in fact, it was launched by the Google Ads development team back in October 2015. Having separate APIs for AdWords, Maps, Search, and Google Plus (remember that?) resulted in too many duplications of location information. Errors were prevalent as something as simple as an address change had to be input in each of the different systems.
In his Google My Business API launch presentation, AdWords API Developer Advocate Zhuo Chen explained Google’s motivation for combining all of this data into the GMB API: “Locations exist once in reality, and should also exist only once in our system. The answer is Google My Business locations.”
This is what we mean when we talk about the importance of your brand having a single source of truth for location data. Just as Google houses all of its location information in the GMB API, you need one fully integrated, intuitive, and accessible dashboard for location information across the local search ecosystem.
One that can communicate updates in real-time to Google, but also ensure that your listings are accurate across directories, search engines, social networks, review sites, and more.
Use the API to pull back all information and make sure you’re using as many attributes as you can access for each location. This will be dependent on the primary category you’ve selected for your business. Then perform a local search audit to see exactly how each of your brand’s locations is being presented to searchers at the local level.