Top 3 Google products that helped businesses survive 2020
Google has been pleasantly surprising both business owners and customers throughout 2020. What started out as a support on local search by introducing specific COVID-19 attributes and updates, has turned into completely shifting the user experience in alignment to the already changed customer behaviour. Here’s an overview of which Google products for businesses helped us survive 2020 and which ones we are curious to explore in the first months of 2021.
Which Google products for businesses made the biggest impact in 2020?
Free listings were introduced in Google Shopping for the US and EMEA. This allowed businesses to showcase their products in the Shopping tab without any expenses, as long as they qualify for Google Surfaces. This was an extra opportunity for discovery searches, next to paid campaigns.
Free local products were introduced via the local surfaces across Google in Europe. This is a Google-hosted “Shopping Storefront” and the first step towards launching Shopping Actions (selling directly on different Google surfaces).
Google Maps aiming to become the new Social Network
Messaging on Google Maps – customers can interact with businesses in real-time on Google Maps with the messaging functionality Google introduced not long ago. To make use of this feature, messaging should be activated in the Google My Business listings. It can also be added as a CTA under any of the posts under the Updates tab.
Showing web results – Google Maps has started showing web results on both mobile and desktop. If you look for a business on Google Maps or conduct a discovery search while scrolling down you will see the Google My Business profile information, after which there is a “People also search for” feed. The latest addition appears below that in the form of a new section, “Web Results”. The results showing here resemble the ones appearing if you conduct a Google search for a business.
Community feed – Google Maps is definitely one of the most widely used Google products for businesses. It has been upgraded by adding a news feed, where the latest reviews, posts and photos by local experts, people you follow and local food and drink merchants will appear. You can follow the businesses that appear in the feed and you can also give a like on the posts you find amusing. Once you do that, you will start seeing more of them, as they will be added to your recommendations.
The community feed also helps businesses connect with customers. Throughout the year, we have been advising businesses to update their GMB profiles regularly in order to let clients know about their current offerings and operations. We have seen a lot of our clients posting way more often on Google than on Facebook in 2020. And this is well-reasoned – the organic media value of GMB posts exceeds Facebook local pages. In the early testing stage of the community feed, we see that posts from businesses are seen twice more than before the feed was integrated. This means that now even more people will discover you and see whether you are offering a new product/service or have updated your working hours, etc.
This also reminds us of the importance to post regularly on Google My Business, as these updates are going to get extra exposure with the help of the community feed. With people being able to like and share your content, as well as follow your business profile, you will get additional traffic and visibility boost, similarly to other social networks’ algorithms.
Google My Business supporting local businesses
Google My Business is not among the most famous Google products for businesses, but it is certainly a key one. With its help, many industries positively influence their online presence. However, when the pandemic started, a great number of businesses was unsure how to react in terms of re-establishing or discontinuing their services. To ease the tension, Google introduced the opportunity to mark your business as “temporarily closed” and paused user-generated photo uploads and reviews. Google was also quick to respond to the need to comply with local regulations and launched additional attributes for business listings around health and safety measures. What’s more, a new type of post was introduced to the public – the COVID-19 Update post, which eased the communication between businesses and customers. Businesses which made use of this new feature reported better results on local search in terms of impressions gained. The reason – Google rewards those who provide relevant, consistent and up-to-date information, which results in being shown predominantly to users.
Starting December 2020, Google My Business started providing enhanced customer insights for businesses. You are now able to track in more detail the queries people are using to discover you. Since the beginning of 2021, you are also able to see updates in the Performance tab, showing where your customers found you – which platform and which device they were using. So far, this information has been provided to businesses in the shape of running data for one month up to a quarter only. With the newly introduced insights, you will be able to collect data for up to six months. If you are keen on keeping this data for longer, you have to unlock the Google My Business API. Would you like to get these insights (for all your locations) for a longer period of time? You can contact us for a consultation on best practices and a demo of our tool free of charge.
Another thing that we noticed being tested in mid-December was the new interface of Google My Business. This upgrade has officially launched worldwide and we can’t be happier with the new look. Much more compact, intuitive and providing a neat overview of the listings will certainly enhance interaction with the platform for both business owners and marketers. What is still missing, however, is the ability to get insights for all listings at the same time. Do you experience the same struggle? We have the solution – contact us now if you would like to gain an understanding of your business performance with the help of customized reports for all your listings in one overview.