Google Tests New GMB Upgrade
Earlier this month, some users noticed a new option when it came to using and updating their Google Business profiles. Google didn’t officially announce the option, but reportedly they’re testing an upgraded version that costs $50/month.
When clients signed up, messaging offered to upgrade that business’s account by adding a Google Guaranteed badge to their listing. When SEOs heard the news, it sounded like GMB was becoming a paid product, which could have a huge impact on local businesses and the online community.
The Facts Thus Far
Google plays it pretty close to the chest, and the first upgrade notice sightings were July 22nd. So far, only two things are certain:
- This is still in testing. Google tests things frequently, but testing alone doesn’t mean something is going to become reality.
- The idea of paid GMB features aren’t new. In 2019 a survey circulated that asked users what fees they’d be willing to pay to use.
Almost as soon as Google sent out the 2019 survey, Bright Local polled users and found that 59 percent of them had concerns about paying for GMB services. It may be the backlash is great enough paid Google My Business is a thing of the far-off future, or one that never comes to pass at all.
On the topic, Google was characteristically vague, stating:
We’re always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers, merchants and users. This experiment will show the Google Guaranteed badge on the business profile. We don’t have anything additional to announce right now.
How The Google Guarantee Works
Google says when businesses pass the screening process, they become backed by the Google Guarantee. At that point, customers have reassurance similar to what they get from BBB accredited businesses. If customers aren’t happy with services booked through Google Local Services, they can submit a claim. Google contacts the business owner and conducts an investigation, then decides on a resolution.
Why It Matters
A trust badge signaling a business is “Google Guaranteed” could be a powerful influencing factor. Google already has a screening and qualification process, so businesses would be subject to eligibility rules, but if they do, standing out is only a matter of money.
Imagine the impact on click-through rates for two competitors if one has the Google Guarantee badge and the other does not. The badge stands out both on Profile and in Local Pack.
Google has long been on the lookout for ways to increase revenue from businesses who seldom or never use Ads. Presenting a paid option creates pressure – as businesses start losing customers to their Google Guaranteed competitor, they’ll have to choose between forking over their own $600/year or falling significantly behind on search.
What Do You Think?
According to Archive.org, the new program just made its debut on April 30, 2020. Yelp already offers trust badging to signal trust, but until now all GMB features have been free. One theory is Google will add more features for paying businesses over time.
So what about you? Would you pay for additional features on your business profile that could make your business stand out? What features would be worth paying for, and how much would you be willing to pay?
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