Google My Business is an outstanding resource for businesses, allowing them to create a profile through Google so that they can show up in relevant searches, manage their reviews, and provide potential customers with key business information at a quick glance.
Google My Business (GMB) has always been free to use in its entirety, making it even more valuable for businesses of all sizes and all budgets. Now, that could be changing.
A paid version of GMB could change the game for a lot of businesses who rely on the platform, skewing things slightly. Let’s take a look at what we know about the potential for paying for GMB and what it means for small businesses.
What We Know
Google My Business has always been free. Even their own search results’ title and meta description still currently highlights this as of May 31st, putting a big emphasis on “free.”
Last month in April, news broke that Google was doing some recon work to assess how businesses might feel about potential changes to the platform– including “premium” features that could come at the cost of a paid fee. The survey reportedly asked users about updated features and potential pricing for them.
Right now, it looks like Google would offer premium features in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. The range Google seemed to be gauging was between $10 per month and $70 per month, which is obviously a pretty wide range.
Potential features that were mentioned in the surveys include automated review responses, verified reviews, booking buttons, placements in the search results, and the ability for users to request a quote. These would all be new features, with the goal of improving the functionality for both users and businesses, which is always good news for the business in the long run.
If GMB starts offering paid features, there’s a good chance that the free version of the tool would still exist as it currently does but that businesses who wanted to take advantage of those premium capabilities would need to shell out for them.
What Features Are Possibly On the Horizon?
In the survey Google sent out, they were gauging interest in a big chunk of brand new features, which may or may not end up being part of a subscription package (if they even roll out at all). Note that we have no guarantee that any of these will be developed, but as of right now, we know that there’s potential for these features to come as part of the paid subscription:
- Booking CTAs on your profile, and the ability to promote it
- Verified reviews (likely from “verified” past customers to help you mitigate false negative reviews)
- Google customer support for your business
- Promoted map pins, to help you show up higher in searches
- Call reports and recordings when users call you through the GMB call CTA
- Verified Bookings
- Automated responses for incoming messages and public reviews
- Improved ranking in the SERPs with your GMB profile
- The opportunity to snag leads from your competitor’s profiles (though we’re not sure exactly how this would work yet)
- The ability to provide instant quotes for standard services or products
- The ability for users to request custom quotes
- The option to feature offers that users can claim
- Being able to feature a specific review, showcasing that glowing, well-written review at the top of your page to draw in customers
- The option to remove ads from your business profile, keeping all the attention on you
- Video capabilities being added to your profile
What This Means for Businesses
Right now, it’s important to stress that we don’t know if Google will actually implement paid subscription features; the survey only went out at the end of April, and they’re clearly gauging interest.
If paid features do become available, there are good and bad ways that this could impact businesses of all sizes. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Paid Google My Business Features: The Pros
The pros to these paid subscription features is that businesses who take the platform seriously (which is actually under 50% of them– more than half of all businesses haven’t even claimed their listing) can invest in some great features that could help them make the most of their profile.
The ability to potentially pay for higher placements would obviously be appealing to plenty of businesses, and functionalities like call or appointment booking straight through the GMB profile would be useful and effective.
The featured review option would give you more control in what content searchers see when they first visit your listing; choosing to highlight a well-written review swearing that your business is the second coming will help you attract customers.
Both the booking and quote options are also huge advantages for businesses, facilitating more users to get in touch in the way that works best for them.
In some cases, businesses who can afford to invest in the new features could easily see the benefit in having these added on to the platform. If it fits into the budget, why not?
Paid Google My Business Features: The Cons
Right now one of the very best things about GMB is that it’s free. Free means that all businesses can afford to get in on this platform’s greatness, and– just as importantly– everyone is on equal footing, with customer reviews and profile activity weighing heavily on success.
If some brands start paying for improved placements, that puts those who can’t afford to do so at a direct advantage. It becomes about sponsored promotions instead of actual value to the client, which is bad for both search users and businesses who are on tighter budgets.
Some of the other paid features may also not be entirely worthwhile, depending on the cost and how they’re using them. Automated review responses, for example, sound useful at a first glance, but responding to each review with a warm, personalized response will yield too much warmer receptions and give you a reputation boost.
Google My Business has always been free, and it would definitely be disappointing if that was no longer the case. Requiring businesses to funnel in more money to rank well here could take the advantage away from some smaller businesses who have worked hard to rank well in local or GMB searches, and having big businesses with big budgets able to pay to outrank them could affect this.
We’ll keep an eye on everything as it plays out in the coming months, but in the meantime, the best thing you can do is continue to fully optimize your listing and continue trying to rank well organically. If you do this, you should be in good shape no matter what new features come out.
Want a little extra help improving your ranking and your online reputation? Schedule a call with us to see how we can help!
What do you think? How do you feel about the idea of a paid version of GMB? Would you invest in any of the premium features? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!