We have stressed several times on how Google My Business is an essential and Free resource which local businesses absolutely have to take advantage of for the benefit of their business.
However, that may be about to change—the free pricing anyway.
Google recently shook SEO land to its core when it sent out surveys to some local businesses to see if they would be willing to pay a fee for the features and bits which they currently get for free with Google My Business.
Sean Bucher was the first to call attention to the survey via Twitter with a screenshot.
Up until now Google My Business has allowed businesses to list their business profile on Google Maps and Google Search for free, helping them reach and engage with local traffic across Google Search and Google Maps as Google provides accurate information to local searchers.
But this survey that was recently rolled out signals Google may be looking to monetize the service. The survey begins by asking some qualifying questions aimed knowing how much your business usually spends on advertising each year.
Further along, the survey starts introducing possible additions to the features on Google My Business which will be considered as premium offerings once rolled out.
All remaining questions in the survey relate to these features, as it asks users to select what they’re most and least interested in.
These new features may include:
- Google customer support
- “Book” button on your business profile
- Promote your “Book” button
- Verified reviews
- Promoted map pin
- Call reports and recordings
- Verified bookings
- Automated message responses
- Automated response for reviews
- Google search results placement
- Get leads from competitor profiles
- Background check
- Instant quote
- Request quote
- Featured review
- Google Guarantee
- Remove ads from your business profile
- Verified licenses
- Video on your business profile
After selecting what you are most interested in and least interested in, the survey takes your favorites and creates mock-ups for possible subscription packages.
And then you are asked which of these possible packages you would most prefer.
But here’s the kicker:
After you have selected your preferred package, Google’s survey then displays what each package would cost each month.
They then ask you to indicate how likely you are to pay by choosing from five options ranging from “Very Likely” to “Very Unlikely”.
Google seems to be mulling over the idea of monetizing Google My Business by offering premium services as subscription bundles.
As you might have guessed, the reactions from SEOs have been mixed with some understanding but several unimpressed about the prospect.
“We all knew that Google was going to try to monetize local at some point. I think this is their initial “toe dip” into gauging customer reaction. Obviously, most actual customers probably don’t have any idea what this is about, but marketers will be up in arms….Our clients will literally lose their shit if they have to start paying for GMB features…,”according to Greg Difford of DealerOn
“This really seems like a step backward into the YP days of local marketing – a total pay to play scenario. Google appears to be looking at this as paid advertising. It seems greedy to me for Google to want us to buy ads and give them a cut of transactions (a la hotels) and pay them every month, which this feels like the direction it’s going in,” said Mary Bowling of Ignitor Digital
“The thing that stuck out to me the most is that this is more or less meaningless for multi-location brands and agencies that service them. This is a giant nothing burger for us. Our clients are already extensively paying for local ads; they need the free part of local search to have better management,” according to Dan Leibson of LocalSEOGuide
Whether or not this idea materializes probably depends strongly on the responses which Google gets through their survey. As you would expect, this has the potential to significantly alter your spend on local SEO.