Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Google GMB Website Builder Beta First Look
Village Dental Care, a general, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontic dentist in Bowral,Australia, had access to the beta trial of Google new SMB website builder pop up in their Google My Business Dashboard and their dental marketing company, Smile Marketing1 kindly shared access to the account for me to take a look at the product.
It is essentially a super simple single page website builder with very little opportunity for customization or change. Upon access to the Website tab in the GMB, it comes up with a default category specific background image and theme image:
Creation – Default View
Added Photos and Content
Photos and info are added via the standard GMB interface. There appears to be a bug where the background image, once selected does not allow replacement. If you don’t upload enough images they will replicated one of the images for display.
I didn’t explore these options so I can’t really speak to the specifics.
There are only four, very limited content areas of the page to which you can add text; Headline, Description, Summary Header & Summary body. There is no opportunity to affect title tags or meta descriptions. I did not test any limits that might be imposed on the various fields but upon re-edit there was a bug in the summary body field that doesn’t show all of the content added to the field. You can see only the first line. No ability to add links and the opportunity for spammy content is limited.
The one button publish process first asks if you want to use this as your new site at your existing URL or as a secondary site. The URL of the live site is http://business.google.com/website/village-dental-care/.
Obviously there are still some quirks. I was unable to change the background image once it was added to the profile image. It self selected a segment of the profile image and did not give me control over that. Adding photos and info (basic business details) jumps the user back to the original pages of the GMB for those inputs and it feels a touch cludgey. There is no ability to control title tags or meta description tags and no ability to link out to other properties. And if it isn’t obvious there is no way to include updated content from Posts or Plus.
What isn’t clear either is how these pages are to be integrated with Maps or the Knowledge Panel.
Looking at a site command: site:business.google.com/website/ reveals some interesting (albeit unreliable) data about the countries where the test is taking place. Obviously this at the base domain only and while the numbers that the site: command returns I think that they might be directionally correct.
- There currently appear to be about 122,000 sites using the Google domain.
- English language based sites are roughly 1/2 of that number.
- And the bulk of those in English are located in India.
- 29,000 appear to be located in Indonesia
- Another 24,000 are in Portuguese and come from Brazil
- Australia seems to have just a few more than 100 sites
- Only 1300 or so are in Spanish and seem to be mostly in Mexico2
Obviously it is a large scale test clocking in north of 100k participants. And to get to that scale it must have been present for a while.
In its current form it really is more like a fully formatted profile page than a website. That being said it is significantly easier to create than a G+ page ever was and unlike G+ is fully integrated with Maps and the verification process. Although if the verification process were even simpler and didn’t require the GMB process that might be appealing and at least for this test that might be the case.2
Calling this page a website seems like a touch of overselling. But I suppose it is easier to “sell” a “free mobile website” than to sell the concept of “verify your business listing on Google”. It effectively has the same outcome for Google of allowing them to “know” the business.
But a long standing SMB issue that Google has is that there is still no compelling reason for the business to return to dashboard to engage or up-purchase an ad campaign. In that regard it would make more sense to me to integrate this and the Posts product in testing into a more compelling package. Although even that might not be enough without customers ultimately driving their engagement ala Facebook.
1 I really want to thank Village Dental Care and Smile Marketing for their assistance in this first look. I particularly want to give a hat tip to Alicia Hardy for alerting me and assisting with the details of this review.
2 This is an odd search result that I uncovered in my site: explorations. Here is the new “website” for el rincon de la hacienda in Iztapalapa, Mexico. And here is a Google brand search for that same restaurant. The local listing is not yet verified. I suppose it is conceivable that in these situations that the website creation tool exists independently of the GMB verification process?