Is the Future Pay-to-Play?

Google seems to be hinting at offering more paid-for options for businesses

At the end of April, Google sent out a survey to some Google My Business users asking for which configuration of options they’d be willing to pay a monthly subscription.

Here’s what it looked like:

We’re going to talk at length about why they sent out the survey in this manner and what will probably be the result of it.

First, let’s recap the options they suggested that they might sell followed by a breakdown of what the SEO community thinks is meant by each:

  1. Video on your Business Profile: When someone searches for you directly or selects your businesses Google My Business (GMB) profile to analyze your info, a video could be featured prominently.
  2. Background Check: This would simply state when a business has been background checked.
  3. Offers: This one is a bit of a puzzle as you can already put offers on your listing via GMB posts. Maybe they’ll have it featured more prominently?
  4. Google Guarantee(d): A little badge that states you’re Google Guaranteed. Google already does this with Google Local Services. Google has yet to really advertise to the public what it means to be “Google Guaranteed”.
    *Since I originally wrote this article a month ago, Google is already advertising contractors as Google Guaranteed when someone looks up that contractor directly.
  5. Google Customer Support: This is thought to be a return to the good ‘ol days of being able to “easily” talk to a real human being over the phone.
  6. Get Leads from Competitor Profiles: You get to advertise on your competitors GMB profiles.
  7. Instant Quote: This is a tricky one for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Speculation seems to be that this would give a generalized “blanket” quote regarding services. In our industry, yeah… that sounds great.
  8. Verified Reviews: This would flag specific reviews where Google has been able to prove via some means that this person has actually purchased a service from a business.
  9. Featured Reviews: This would allow you to hand-pick several reviews to feature more prominently on your GMB profile. Basically, this would turn your GMB listing into a paid Yelp listing.
  10. Remove Ads from your Business Profile: You get to block others from advertising on your GMB listing (it’s essentially the anti-#6).
  11. Promote your “Book” Button: Feature a “Schedule Service-esque” call to action button prominently on your GMB listing.

So, how likely is it that Google will offer these as paid configurations in the near future? Some experts seem to agree that it’s a long shot, at least as it was presented. They instead believe that Google is trying to gauge demand for features by asking what a business may be willing to pay to have access to certain features. These options will most likely surface in some capacity, some of which may be paid in some respect (Google Local Services, Pay-Per-Click, or otherwise).

See, not too long before this, a survey was released that showed that the public still was fairly skeptical of the validity of info presented in GMB listings. I’m sure Google caught wind of this and wants to know which features consumers might appreciate that would increase the perceived accuracy and value of their GMB listings. It’s important to remember though that Google wants to monetize everything they reasonably can. If consumers like it, they will want to make businesses pay for it.

While I can definitely see agencies (like ourselves) being interested in using most of these features, your average business owner probably wouldn’t be as eager. I find it particularly interesting that this directly addresses that Google is considering allowing businesses to advertise in another’s GMB space. I can see people paying way more than $60 to keep others from advertising in their space or to be able to advertise in someone else’s. For that simple reason alone, I don’t think there’s any real chance Google would release these features as suggested. Rest assured though, changes surely are a-comin’.

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