There’s no denying that Google has changed the way businesses work. For the last five years, Google My Business (GMB) has been an effective marketing channel for companies of all sizes. In our experience, this channel has been the best way for our clients to promote their business or services to a local, targeted audience and has yielded great results. Historically, GMB has always been free for users to list their brick and mortar information to be used on Google Maps or Google Search Engine results. Google has recently been toying with the idea of adding a monthly subscription-based fee for GMB users. While there’s still no official word on whether Google is moving forward with this plan, this change will certainly impact your business.
What’s With This Update?
Typically, users who search for businesses on Google have high search intent and are looking to make an immediate conversion, whether it’s visiting a physical location, a website, or making a phone call. This is essentially free marketing for businesses as the users have immediate access to contact information. Now, Google is considering a monthly charge to customize and add additional features to your GMB listings. According to their survey, Google is considering charges ranging from $10-$70 per month, depending on the plan you select.
Some of the proposed pay-to-play options include adding a video to your business profile, adding competitor ads on a related business’ GMB post, verified badges and reviews for your business, and automated message responses. Google believes that adding these options could enhance your business’ presence on Google Search.
How Will This Impact Your Business or Clients?
Businesses have a lot to consider if Google moves forward with these new features. For a B2C brand in the local sector, the traffic from GMB posts typically results in the best conversions for their business. Those who rely on local search as their driving channel, will have to consider the possibility of paying for features that are currently free, like appointment URLs and booking integrations.
This change would also add a whole new line item to consider when building your marketing budget for the year. Depending on the size of your business, this change could add a serious dent to your marketing budget. For example, if you’re a small business owner with one location and you select a $25 per month option, that’s only adding $25 to your monthly costs. If you’re a regional business with 50 locations and select the same $25 plan, you’d be paying around $1250 a month to add these features to each location’s GMB post. That adds up to about $15,000 a year that you weren’t paying Google before.
If you’re a small business, this could give you a leg up on the competition. Larger companies may not think investing in these features is worthwhile for their business, especially if they’ve got multiple locations, allowing mom and pop shops to reap the benefits. On the other hand, it could also be detrimental to small businesses. If there are too many large businesses on board with paying for these features, it could cause smaller businesses to become extinct.
For agencies, this adds an entirely new discussion with clients. Businesses and agencies will have to reprioritize their initiatives and potentially reallocate budget in other essential areas to make up for this additional cost.
How Should You Prepare?
Although this concept is still in the ideation stage, businesses should prepare for the possibility of this subscription plan becoming a reality. For now, you should be weighing your options and looking into how effective local search actually is for your business before further investing in these features. Agencies and businesses should be prepared to strategically analyze what features are available and would benefit their clients or company, respectively, in case these features go live. If you’ve got multiple business units, consider strategizing around each of them to provide the right model for their needs.
Interested in learning how local search can help your business? Give us a call.