Changes are constantly happening across the Google My Business landscape–changes that affect your business and consumers’ ability to find it in their critical moments of need. Our Local Business Listings team has been tracking these recent changes across several categories like Google Local Q&A, Google Posts, and Local Business URLs. If you’ve heard of a recent GMB development or two and aren’t sure what it means for your business, check out these updates below and make sure your multi-location and enterprise brand listings are up to snuff.

Google Local Questions & Answers (Q&A)

What is it? This new feature is available on Android & iOS Google Maps and Search (mobile only). All locations now have a feature on the knowledge panel prompting users to ask and answer questions. From what we’ve seen so far, this looks to be positioned to crowdsource both questions and answers. Even though brands can publish verified questions and answers, the verbiage Google is using is ‘ask the community’.

Google Local Questions & Answers for Multi-Location Business

Photo credit: Mike Blumenthal

So what does this mean for your brand? It’s important to be aware that there is a new way for users to interact with your location on Google. For example, multi-location businesses’ challenge is there is no way to monitor or manage this through Google My Business bulk or manually.

This can be monitored and used today on mobile, so if you have a team equipped with cell phones, you may be able to manage this. Otherwise, keep an eye out for when this rolls out to be managed in bulk or via the Google API.

Local Business URLs

What is it? Based on your business category on Google, there may be new URLs you can publish directly to your listing.

Specifically, in Google My Business, brands can add their own URLs for actions including:

  • Booking an appointment
  • Placing an order
  • Reserving a table
  • Searching for items
  • Viewing the menu

What does this mean for your brand? These can be added directly to your Google listings and can be added in bulk or via API.

Google Messaging

What is it? An opt-in local level messaging function directly on the Google knowledge panel.

Google Messaging for Multi-Location Business
Photo credit: Google

What does this mean for your brand? This feature has to be enabled from the brand at the location level. Based on what we’ve seen so far, this is similar to messaging features available on Facebook and Twitter.

Google Posts

What is it? A new content feature allowing you to publish and highlight special promotions, products, and events directly on your Google business listing. You can add a description, images, landing page url, and schedule for events.

Google Posts
Photo credit: Google

What does this mean for your brand? If any of your locations have special details that may be worth highlighting to users on the knowledge panel, this may be something to explore.

Special Hours

What is it? Although this isn’t a new feature, with the holiday season approaching as well as recent hurricanes forcing emergency closures, we want to make sure we’re prepared to publish these for your customers. This allows us to publish special hours for days at a time without overwriting your primary weekly hours on Google.

What does this mean for your brand?

  • Holiday Hours: If there is a regional holiday and you haven’t published special hours, Google will display orange text stating ‘Holiday Hours May Vary’. If we publish the holiday hours as Google Special Hours, this text will change to green and say ‘Holiday Hours’. This makes searchers feel confident they have most accurate location data even on a holiday.
  • Emergency Closures: This will just publish the revised hours for the day we designate without needing to change standard location hours.

Finally, if you still have questions, Contact us and we will be happy to assist.

Author Bio:

Krystal Taing is a Google My Business Gold Product Expert with extensive knowledge and expertise in local marketing and local search.

So, are you ready to drive more foot traffic and revenue for your multi-location business? Activate your FREE Local Presence Audit now to see how your business locations are represented and ranking across Google, Bing, Yahoo and other online search engines and directories.