Ben Fisher is a Platinum Product Expert for Google My Business. He’s a master of the spam redressal form, is always on top of the latest news, and loves to share his knowledge with others. Here, he explains the new ‘Direct Edit’ feature in Google My Business, or, as he’s calling it, the Transparent Merchant Experience.
In 2017, Google My Business (GMB) launched the ability to update your business information, make posts, upload photos, see how many views you have received, and more, within SERPs. The blog post they released was then titled ‘Manage your business listing without leaving Google Search.’
Now fast forward to 2020, and they have upgraded the experience in a blog post titled ‘Update your Business Profile on Google Maps and Search‘. See the difference there?
The main change is how Google says what a knowledge panel is now. As of 2020, it is no longer a business “listing”, it is a business “profile”.
What is the goal of GMB Direct Edit?
The goal is to meet merchants’ expectations and not force them into using GMB web or GMB app, and therefore keep them on Google Search, as this is where these merchants want to engage with their business profiles.
The product, Google has found based on its feedback from merchants, is the business profile, not GMB web or GMB app.
This is because 90% of Google accounts have between one and three GMB profiles. Merchants see that this is what people are using and brings them customers: a business profile.
Internally, Google calls this the New Merchant Xperience (NMX) (They felt that ‘X’ was cooler than ‘E’). In 2017 they called it just ‘editing your business details’. In 2020 some have called it ‘direct editing’ or ‘inline editing’.
I think it is much more than just an editing experience, and I will go into why as we progress.
I call it the ‘Transparent Merchant Experience’ (TME) as I feel this sums up the intent, research, and behavior with this Google Search and GMB feature.
“Why?”, you ask. Well, we need to think about where this is heading by looking at some of the clues in the current form of NMX.
According to a Google spokesperson, features include:
- A new Performance Page that lets merchants see their customer interactions directly in Search or Maps. (Previously, merchants had to go into Google My Business to see this information.)
- A simplified menu on Search and Maps with three sections: ‘Edit your profile’, ‘Promote your business’ (pictured above), and ‘Connect with customers’.
- ‘Q&A’ is now available in the main menu, giving merchants direct access to questions that customers have asked about their business. This feature also lets merchants post Frequently Asked Questions about their business themselves.
- Two new ways to easily access your Business Profile on Search: first, by searching for the name of the business (no need to include your business’ address in your search), and secondly, by searching for “my business.” On the Maps app, there is a new item in the account menu called ‘Your Business Profile’, which brings you directly to your business profile.
The update, and continued expansion, is geared toward that 90% we talked about earlier. When you search for “my business” on Google, if you are a manager or an owner (sorry, this is not available for site managers yet), then you are shown up to three business profiles from your account. This is more than fine for that 90%.
For users like us, as agencies, we will see three business profiles and a ‘view all businesses’ link to redirect us to GMB web.
Why only three listings in Google Search?
The rule of thumb is if an account has more than three listings, then GMB web is the surface of choice. This experience is optimized for single listing merchants or just a few. Remember, 90% of accounts only have a few listings.
Google believes that those who have more than three listings in an account, like an agency, prefer to do things in a list mode or perform bulk actions. I predict Google will do more for those of us who manage more than three listings by enhancing the bulk capabilities of GMB web.
In the meantime, there is an option that is independent of the Direct Edit experience, and that is to search for your business and select it. This will then take you to the Direct Edit pages mentioned earlier.
How will the Direct Edit experience affect agencies?
As an agency, part of your job is to take care of and keep tabs on your clients’ business profiles. This has been around in one form or another for a while.
So rest assured, this update is not a threat. If it were, you would have experienced the consequences already. The goal of this expanded experience is meant to address the single listing owner mainly. And the behavior of most small merchants is just to edit necessary business information.
As an agency, you are handling much more than just GMB. You are helping write content, analyze results, direct strategy, and likely much more. This is not “another way that Google is trying to get between you and the customer”.
This experience has been around since 2017 and has not hindered the ability of agencies to acquire new customers. If anything, it allows merchants to experience GMB for the first time and then seek out professional help.
I would encourage agencies to do this, let your customers know that you have everything under control and that if they need an edit, post, or photo uploaded, then you will handle it. If they want excellent reporting, you can help with that.
This new feature in GMB is not going to change anything. It has been around in one form or the other for a while already.
Let’s talk about that performance page
The new performance page is customer-centered on insights and performance data. Google has historically had a publisher/advertising background, so GMB Insights have been focused on impressions and views.
But merchants want to know that if someone is searching for something, how successfully the business profile is helping customers get what they are looking for.
You can get to this data from the ‘views this month’ on search or the promote chip.
The nice part about the performance page versus Insights is that, while Insights are calculated on a rolling 28-day window and reports on a week, month, and quarter, the performance page (pictured above) is calculated on the first day of the month for the previous month and has custom monthly timeframes, up to 6 months. Plus, the same time frame for a year-over-year comparison is featured.
This is useful, especially for seasonal merchants. If you select only one month, then you can see daily values. And of course, you can explore how your business performed this month compared to the previous year.
What might be added to the performance page?
It is not hard to imagine that performance reports may eventually come in the form of emails and/or mobile notifications.
Currently, the interaction data sets are set to focus on customer interactions — primarily calls and messages. I can see this expanding to include quotes, reviews, bookings, and possibly more interactions, including sales.
What will also be interesting is to see if queries will be included in the performance page. It only makes sense that profile search queries will come to this Direct experience.
Currently, the data is calculated quarterly (with a way of seeing it monthly and weekly) I would assume, if implemented, this will also be monthly and again with no rolling 28-day window.
Lastly, I would love to see how many people discovered my business profile on desktop search, mobile maps, Google search mobile, or even maps desktop. This is something we Product Experts asked for two years ago at our Product Expert Summit. It will be interesting to see if Google decides to implement this in the future.
One thing I believe is certain?
This has been an ongoing experiment for three years at the time of writing this. Google has been experimenting with and taking merchant feedback very seriously. We have seen more and more functionality roll out and it appears to be based on data and what merchants really want. This is great news for agencies! As more merchants become actively involved with Google My Business, an exponential number of merchants will need assistance, which means an ever-growing opportunity for growth.