Update Nov 5, 2021: Search Engine Land has reported that “if … you are a local SEO that manages a number of businesses, you will still continue to use an interface like Google My Business, renamed to Business Profile Manager going forward,” so that should put some local SEOs’ fears to rest.
Google has announced that it’s renaming Google My Business to Google Business Profile, amid a number of additional developments within the local business management tool.
Local SEO experts have been quick to react to the update, and we’ve taken our own look to see what has actually changed for local business owners.
What’s new with Google Business Profiles?
In addition to the name change, Google has announced that single listings will now be managed directly within Google Maps and Google Search.
To manage a listing, the owner can simply type their business name into Google Search. They’ll then be presented with this control panel:
Managers can easily edit their profiles in this way without leaving Search.
It’s worth noting that this is not a new feature, and listings managers have been able to control their assets in this way for a while.
However, the company is now making it clear that all single listings should be managed in this way, as opposed to through the soon-to-be-outdated Google My Business model. In 2022, the company plans to retire the Google My Business app entirely to encourage merchants to take full advantage of the upgraded Search and Maps functions. (Update: this has now been discontinued as of July 2022.)
What about businesses with multiple locations?
For those with multiple locations to manage, the existing GMB interface—now known as Business Profile Manager—will continue to be the place to manage these listings.
Google has explained that the existing Google My Business web experience will eventually transition to primarily support large multi-location businesses.
More Power to Google Maps and Search
Google has also announced that additional tools will soon become available to help businesses understand and boost their local search performance.
For now, it’s added the ability to do more things directly from Google Maps and Search, including:
- Claim a business listing
- Verify the listing
- Send and receive messages to customers
- Manage reviews and Q&As
- Track data on inbound calls that came from Google Business Profile (US and Canada to start with, potentially rolling out to other countries soon)
Local SEO Experts React to the News
Google has stated that the reason for the name change is to “keep things simple,” however, some local business marketers have expressed cynicism regarding the sudden development, while others agree that not a great deal has changed.
Dan Leibson, COO of Local SEO Guide, said,
“It’s not surprising that Google wants to limit the amount of support it’s providing to the millions of SMBs and their marketers. The changes they have been going through on the support side have illustrated their lack of ability to handle support in high volumes.
“What I think is surprising is that Google has centered multi-location businesses and brands in their GMB strategy, by thinking about how detrimental this change would be if rolled out to them. Does this signal a shift away from SMBs and toward brands in Google Local?”
Joy Hawkins, Founder of Sterling Sky, commented,
“This update really isn’t a big deal. Google is simply looking for a simplified name that people can remember.
“I still hear people refer to the profile as Google Places listing, which is name Google got rid of years ago, so I’m sure we will continue to call it a GMB listing for quite some time”.
Google Platinum Product Expert, Ben Fisher at Steady Demand, downplayed the changes and assured us that most of them were in the works anyway:
“There are not a ton of new things going on here. You may have noticed this has been working for the better part of a year already. Slowly Google has been working towards making all new features available in the search version of Google Profile Manager.
“It also makes sense to Google, based on their data and tests. I’m not saying it is awesome for us as agencies, but to them it is, and also allows resources to be spent elsewhere. For example, deprecating the mobile app and moving resources to where 90% or merchants are looking for themselves (and already suggesting edits) inside of search.
“Agencies can still manage in bulk and via the API; nothing there has changed. Additionally, new functionality will probably be developed. (Have feedback? DM me)
“Some notes about the creation of new listings or verifying: this will actually be made simpler and discoverable via the web now versus having to go into business.google.com. And as far as edits go, editing your own profile can be done via search, as Google found out most merchants would type in their name to make an edit. (So this reaction is in part to how merchants actually behave around the world).
“So in a nutshell, resources will be spent in places that will benefit the majority while enhancing features for multi-location users.”
Senior SEO specialist Andy Simpson added,
“I think my biggest concern is that it appears that small business owners will be losing the GMB dashboard/control panel.
“You’ll no longer need to use the separate Google My Business website or mobile app. This could lead to business owners making ‘willy-nilly’ edits, editing their business name (name spam), playing with different categories, etc. Without a dedicated area ‘dashboard’ it just feels like it’s going to be much harder to educate the small business owner who only wants the best from their listing. 2022 is going to be a very confusing year for many to pick up these new changes.”
Tim Capper, GMB Product Expert and Local SEO Consultant at Online Ownership, commented,
“Another changed name for businesses to get to grips with; let’s hope Google does ongoing marketing to get the message across this time round.
“It’s been in the pipeline for some time. Not sure if anyone noticed but they started referring to a listing or page as a profile in support docs around 12 months ago.
“So this change I think has been achieved seamlessly. Nothing is really changing in the grand scheme of things, however the removal of the app so soon is probably going to create the largest pinch point for users.
“What we tend to forget in the industry is that the main users of the product are single businesses and they typically use the app to manage it, especially in Asia and Africa, and there are quite a few missing options in the new search experience that is not available yet.
“Once you get into the new experience, it’s clean, logical and functional for the most part with some bugs to iron out. For example, if I want to check reviews, I select ‘customers’, then ‘reviews’, but then get taken to reviews in my Knowledge Panel, where I have to scroll down to the review, then hit the tiny ‘edit’ button to respond. Whereas the app presented all the reviews without the Knowledge Panel clutter in a quick and easy overview.
“I have yet to figure out how to access the website (business site) which 10 million small businesses rely on. Some areas of the profile in Google Search I like, and others (like reviews above) are horrible. The change makes sense, just not the speed that they want to remove the app, although they don’t specify when this will happen in 2022.”
SEO Strategist Kim Doughty, of RicketyRoo, said,
“On one hand, I’m optimistic that this change will make business verification easier for single-location business owners. Many SMBs don’t know or care to manage their listing in a separate app or account—all they know is that their listing is on Google. The best case scenario here is that more businesses will be able to easily update basic information like their business hours and services without the help of an ‘expert.’
“At the same time, there are a lot of questions unanswered with this update: How easy will it be for a single-location business to transition to managing multiple locations within Business Profile Manager? How will Google Posts work? How will access to their listings’ analytics be affected? How will owners manage listing suspensions? Will this make spam more common in Google Maps? I expect a lot of growing pains, particularly for us marketers and savvy business owners who are accustomed to the GMB platform and now have to deal with a new set of names and changes in functionality.”
Colan Neilson, Vice President of Sterling Sky, commented,
“I think this is a very exciting update. One of the biggest challenges I see this solving is the high number of businesses that haven’t ever claimed their GMB, I mean GBP listing, or didn’t even know that it was something they could do in the first place.
“Making the claim process more visible and obvious directly in the SERP is a good thing and should increase awareness. I’m still blown away every time I am in my town speaking with business owners and they are clueless to the fact that this powerful free marketing tool even exists. As far as the name rebrand goes, I like it. It makes more sense and I’ve always struggled saying “Google My Business” in the past as it is just an odd phrase.”
Moz’s Miriam Ellis said,
“Only Google would say “Google My Business” is no longer a thing, but do Google “my business” to find your business! Seriously, losing count of the rebrands Google has rolled out to ‘make things simple’.
“I see the change as offering, perhaps, nominal gains in ease of use for single location business owners who eventually notice them, but given that these are likely to be the very brands with the least spare to time to stay on top of minute-by-minute changes in Googleland, it will likely end up confusing them for some time.
“Agencies will adapt, do a massive search and replace on our existing documentation to try to reflect the changes, and keep calling Google products by the wrong names for the next two years, rather than promoting solid branding, which is what most businesses aim for. Ah, well, by 2024, we’ll likely have a new name to learn!”
Liz Linder, SEO strategist at Kick Point, stated,
“This change doesn’t feel helpful to business owners. Google has continuously promoted their “commitment” to small businesses in helping them promote their own businesses, but this feels like a step in the opposite direction. Business owners aren’t all local search professionals. I don’t know about you, but from my experience guiding someone on what a SERP is, isn’t always a straightforward process, let alone how to use one.
“Whether you’ve used the app or not, this was a feature that made managing a business profile easy and portable. My biggest concern is what this will look like in terms of posting on Google, responding to messages, updating images, etc. I question this change doesn’t actually make managing a business profile more accessible, but rather, less.
“I’d like to add one more thing, if you’re signed into the Google account that manages your profile and someone else gets a hold of your computer or phone, it would be so easy now to make updates. This feels messy.
“Overall, I don’t think this change is too big of a deal, Google is trying to make Profiles easier to update, but I think what’s easy to them isn’t necessarily easy to the end user.”
Amy Toman, SEO specialist at Digital Law Marketing, said,
“This should enhance the ability of small business owners to control their listings. By having their listing’s editing controls front and center in Search and Maps, it will be easier for them to update without going through the extra step of logging into the dashboard.
“While that’s not a problem for most, there are some who don’t update very often and lose track of the process. If they can do it from ‘the front’ this should encourage them to interact with their listings more consistently.”
What do you think?
What’s your take on this development? Is it a fundamental shift for the local SEO platform, or just a name change with a few additional features? From our end, we’re not looking forward to the natural confusion between GBP as Google Business Profile and Great British Pound!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.