A Google Survey Sent to Google My Business Users Suggests Fees and Paid-for-Features To Come
In April 2019, Google sent out a survey asking Google My Business (GMB) users what paid-for-features might interest them — the survey listed 20 possible new features. As search engines continue to develop in sophistication a critical point comes to mind — how valuable is an SEO expert?
Should businesses look for an SEO-based agency or are digital marketers just pulling the many Google “levers” without much-valued expertise? This blogger found that the more sophisticated search engines become, logically, SEO experts will increase in value.
Google My Business Began as a Free Service
Google My Business — which began as a free service — gives businesses the ability to update their listing information and in exchange provides online customers with local search results that are relevant and accurate. This survey specifically asked local businesses how much they would pay monthly for GMB services — suggesting future subscription fees for new, improved, and current GMB features.
Initially, when GMB was first launched, Google relied on third-party providers to give them local data for business listings. But the data was often out of date, which led Google to allow users to update their own information. GMB has now become a necessity for business owners and marketing agencies. Currently, Google monetizes on its search ads — such as Google Ads or Google Ads Express — and not the search results from its users.
Some highlights of the survey’s new and improved features include:
Conversions and Leads — Most are related to Local Service Ads. These would drive more value out of Google, and bring its users more understanding (metrics, statistics, etc.) of the value.
Visibility — These SERP related features might continue with bid prices or guaranteed “organic” boosts from the aforementioned subscription fees, which the survey didn’t determine.
Customer Services — Automated AI answers to customers’ reviews and questions for local businesses.
Trust and Verification — Verified licenses and verified bookings would weed out the suspect business that lead consumers away from GMB. Overall a win-win for business, consumers, and agencies.
Reviews — These features might help with review spam, with verified reviews.
In sum, the survey listed many possible pay-to-play enhancements as well as upgrade paths and subscription models.
How Might This Affect Local Businesses?
From agencies to local businesses to freelance marketers, the digital marketing community would be affected if Google began charging for search marketing services. GMB paid-for-features would substantially increase the marketing service price for business owners looking to advertise — meaning everybody’s services would become more expensive.
Our Beloved Digital Marketing Community Responds
Digital marketers have seen Google’s search results go through a whirlwind of changes over the past 2 years. Modern-day search results have continued to produce more vibrant, quality results — such as Featured Snippets, People Also Ask boxes, maps, images, among other enhancements. Google is slowly providing for most needs a modern-day Internet user might have. Currently, you can browse for flights, hotels, jobs, events, to name just a few directly on Google’s pages.
The best SEO experts are paid for their ability to think and skillfully manage the growing sophistication of search marketing.
Ultimately, if search marketing paid-for-features become the norm, this will affect organic traffic. More SERP enhancements and growth in “position 0” means less organic traffic for both agencies and business owners to use without Google interfering. SEO experts must stay keenly aware of Google’s evolving landscape. The rise of features and search query sophistication continues to aid and complicate the digital marketing and business community.
SEO Experts will Become More Valuable
Regardless of what Google does, the digital marketing community is continuing to lead businesses to successful growth. This blogger has found that the more sophisticated search queries become — with Google leading the development — the more SEO experts will be needed. Google’s features bring more sophistication to the SEO landscape. This may lead to some businesses merely paying more money, depending on their desired vertical reach. But for most business owners, an SEO expert will continue to be an asset.