The online and offline worlds are blurring. Through mobile, the internet now touches most local activities and offline purchases – and the pace of change is accelerating. In the opening keynote at Rio SEO’s Local Search Summit (#LSS2016) in San Diego, Google My Business Content Strategist Willys DeVoll shared Google’s perspective on this rapidly evolving local space, mobile technologies, and how Google aims to meet the needs of businesses in this environment.
The vast majority of customers aren’t thinking about search engines, he said. They’re simply thinking about what they want. As far as Google is concerned, it’s their job to make it easier for consumers to get what they want. The shift to mobile is well documented and it’s a huge force in local, and Google knows they have to keep this constantly top of mind. We’re no longer dealing with the traditional funnel, DeVoll said, where a person’s choices are gradually whittled down until they’re left with one logical choice.
We need to be ready now to serve them, wherever they are, with precisely what it is they want.
DeVoll reinforced what Greg Sterling had said at #LSS2016 in his opening presentation: mobile queries are inherently local in nature.
(What people want) + (mobile) = local intent
In Google’s wheelhouse alone, marketers can use YouTube, Maps, Search, Shopping and many other tools to connect with consumers in their most motivated moments. Perhaps the most important of these, he said, is Google My Business.
How Google My Business Makes Life Easier for Local Businesses
Google My Business is a one-stop shop for local business owners, DeVoll said. Maintaining their GMB presence is the top way to deliver on those queries with local intent.
Updating your hours for special occasions and holidays, for example, shows consumers the business is engaged and also delivers on the experience they expect, with accurate business information. Google wants to go beyond just delivering basic business information like Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) with rich content including photos, directions, integrated user generated content and more.
New features in their most recent GMB updates included marking listings as permanently open or closed, enabling listings for download and latitude and longitude.
GMB is delivering on the needs of SMBs, but is it scaleable?
Google My Business for Multi-Location Retailers: The GMB API
Managing local marketing at scale takes detailed, accurate local data management. Google took huge steps in accommodating larger, multi-location businesses with their recently released GMB API. They’re still actively working on the API and it’s improving by the day, DeVoll said, so you’ll want to keep a close eye.
The API isn’t as easy to manage as a UI, he noted. We’ve found that many of the alerts available in the UI aren’t available with the API, for example. Resolution of errors around ownership conflicts, incorrect NAP data and MAP pin errors are all updates we’re looking forward to.
Because the API can be difficult to manage, Rio SEO has integrated the Google My Business API to give brands the greater control and additional functionality of the API, with the added benefit of simpler, continuous management. It solves for the problematic issue of bulk upload changes to listings requiring an approval process that can take up to several days to complete. With Rio SEO API integration, these changes are pushed live to search results in real-time.
Read more about the new Google My Business features and API integration here.