In mid-December, Google launched its new Google My Business API, allowing brands and developers alike to automate the management of their business listings without the need for bulk files and tedious spreadsheets. Now, local marketers can create and edit locations via the API, but also manage special hours, control access at the local level, set service areas and more.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of the API is that it enables brands to push critical business information to Google Search and Maps in near real time, without the lengthy verification process to which Google My Business UI changes are subjected. This is critically important in an age where Google is gradually turning mobile search into an app-like experience, as Local Search Association’s Greg Sterling discussed in a recent column.
Recent updates in SERPs (search engine results pages) and Maps have mobile users more accustomed to seeing the information and options they seek without having to actually navigate to your website. When it comes to hours, business description, phone number, or directions to a nearby location, consumers expect to see that information in Google listings. In their critical moments of need, it had better be accurate or they’ll go elsewhere.
The Benefits of the Google My Business API Integration
The GMB API makes it simpler and more efficient for multi-location brands to manage their local listings. Traditionally, GMB would accept a bulk upload with information for 10 or more locations, which would be reviewed and published out to search results. You could expect this process to take anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days (with some discrepencies along the way).
This presents a major challenge for larger brands, especially when a listing needed to be changed immediately and/or temporarily.
Consider an inclement weather event like a hurricane, for example, where a decision is made to shut 15 stores down early for the day and until further notice. It’s critical that business listings across Google Search and Maps immediately reflect that change. Using the Google My Business dashboard, a local marketer could submit changes for those 15 stores, but it might be days before your requests are verified and the correct information appears to mobile searchers.
With the API, those changes go live in near real-time to the Google SERPs.
Overall, it’s a far more scalable approach for updating location information, with these key attributes brands have been waiting for:
- Create business locations with information such as name, address, phone number category, business hours, and more
- Manage special hours
- Mark a business location as permanently closed
- Manage business photos
- List, invite and remove managers on locations and business accounts
- Read listing state to identify Google updated, duplicate and suspended locations
- Search/Filter locations by name, category and label
- Set the service area for a business either by specifying a point and radius or Place IDs
I was at Google recently, and can tell you that providing accurate business information is top of mind for the Google teams. User experience is a powerful incentive driving the evolution of the SERPs and Maps, as Google strives to provide the best answer for every query.
So while submitting using the API isn’t a complete win in itself (many of the alerts in the GMB UI aren’t available via API, for example), we are looking forward to more features rolling out — particularly the resolution of errors such as ownership conflicts, bad NAP data, and Map pin errors — as their project continues to evolve.
Early in February, Rio SEO announced the integration of the Google My Business API. Our team has been working with brands as they’ve explored the new GMB API. What they quickly discovered was that with the greater control and additional features of the API came more responsibility for continuous management.