It’s been six months since the worldwide introduction of Google Websites, their free, single page web builder for Google My Business listings. Google has confirmed that the total number of websites created has surpassed 1 million some time in early November.
The number of sites created is impressive and should give pause to companies that are creating websites, what is even more interesting about that number is that since the last time I checked in mid September, the pace has accelerated from just under 6000 a day to over 7000 a day.
Initially from June through July, Google was adding slightly over 6000 sites a day. I assumed at the time that was due to introduction buzz.
From mid July, when Google had hit 250,000 Websites, until mid September they were still adding 5800 or so a day. While a slightly lower rate, still significant. However since my last check in September over two months ago, Google has been adding 7300 a day.
On a country by country basis India and Indonesia continue to lead the total count with both having more than doubled in slightly under 3 months. Turkey has pulled into 4th place with a 134% increase bypassing Brazil which seems to have stalled.
Increase since 9/15
And while the product was designed to attract small businesses in the developing world, it has continued to gain ground in the developed world as well. Note that the United States, Italy, Japan, Germany, the UK, Poland, Canada and Australia show in the top 20 with most gaining gaining more than 125% since the last count.
Today Google has announced on their blog that the Google Assistant will now start helping you find local service providers.
In the U.S., this feature will start rolling out over the coming week, so help is just around the corner. In many cities the Google Assistant will suggest providers that have been prescreened by Google and companies like HomeAdvisor and Porch so you can feel confident they’re ready to take on the job. And if you’re in a city that doesn’t have any available guaranteed or screened providers, you’ll still get an answer from the Assistant with other nearby results.
But as Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky pointed out on Twitter, the example that Google is showing are not of HomeAdvisor or Porch but of the new Google Local Services ads.
If you wondered how Google was going to monetize Home, this provides a good framework for that with its ability to facet the search into discreet elements and provide a single answer if needed. It mirrors closely the conversation David Mihm and I had on Streetfight at the beginning of the week where we asked How Far Can Google Local Services Expand?
Now we know the first baby step.
According to Google it’ll be available for eight different categories at launch, including:
Heating and air conditioning services
Garage door repair services
Appliance repair services
For businesses within the above categories, local services on the Assistant is currently free for any business that can pass the Local Services by Google vetting process. Businesses that want to participate can fill out this interest form and someone from the Local Services team will reach out to help them onboard after validating their location and category. Businesses do not have to pay to go through the background check process.
Homewdvisor, in their pre-release about this feature noted:
The experience includes the option to instantly connect users with a HomeAdvisor pre-screened professional through HomeAdvisor’s Instant Connect technology. The experience is available via the Google Assistant on eligible Android phones, iPhones and on voice activated speakers like Google Home.
Google Q & A, periodically visible on the desktop, seems to be finally rolling out full force to both PCs and Macs.
Earlier in the week, after the feature had largely gone missing even on mobile. Danny Sullivan (now of Google) noted that it was but a temporary bug. It would seem that it was a precursor to the full roll out which appears to be happening now.
As you can see, it is viisble in the Knowledge Panel AND the Local Finder. It is not yet visible in Google Maps.
First rolled out this summer with a mobile only visibiliy, desktop visibility will increase both how easy it is to find them as well as make it easier to have them created. I am seeing a surprising number of them both rurally and in urban environments although the questions are not always valuable or appropriate.
The feature is not yet visible in Google Maps nor in the Google My Business Dashboard. Google has though recently started alerting business owners to their existence by way of the newly expanded Search Dashboard. We are hoping to see more active alerts via the full GMB dashboard at some point.
Google Q & A has been one of the most problematic recent introductions because the questions can so readily impact the reputation of a business.
And even more problematic because there is not active notification of the business owner that a new question or answer exists and these questions are not yet visible on the desktop although there have been lots of sightings of them on the desktop in the wilds. (To view these on the desktop read this article: Hack: Seeing Google Questions & Answers on the Desktop).
In one of a long line of recent (and approaching spammy) GMB related emails, Google has started sending out emails educating owners of verified businesses that they can now “Meet your new dashboard on Google Search”
When clicking the email call to action it takes the user to interact with the new(ish)mini dashboard visible on a brand search when they are logged in.
When the user clicks on the “see my new dashboard” they presented with links to go into the Google My Business dashboard or given specific tasks that need to be done.
Between the many new, free features over the last 6 months (Posts, Websites, Chat, Q&A, API 4.0, Appointments…) and the incredible barrage of emails from the GMB, there seems to be an all out effort to attract businesses into the dashboard. The features rolled out seem to each appeal to a different subset of users from bricks and mortars to agencies all with the same focus of getting the SMB back into the dashboard to keep their data up to and (one presumes) buy some AdWords Express or HSA ads.
And it seems to be working. In the recent earning call “Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told analysts that efforts to attract “both large and small advertisers” around the world were paying off, especially in Asia, where sales rose 29 percent to $4.2 billion”.
LocalU Advanced is rapidly approaching. Its only a few weeks away and the seats are filling.
It should be a great event with incredible speakers and sponsors. Speakers include Joy Hawkins, Darren Shaw, Joel Headley (ex Googler), Marissa Nordahl (Google) and myself amongst many others. We have 14 speakers overall.
Sponsors include ZipSprout, Moz Local, GetFiveStars and WhiteSpark… regardless the price increases on November 10th and you can save $200 on your ticket if you buy now. If you use the code “blume” you can save an additional $50.. You won’t find a better local conference. At any price.
But I couldn’t resist this example of systemic name abuse occurring in the jewelry business in Toronto. As well as every other vertical and in every other market. This example shows the degree of degradation that occurs in some search results:
Google has announced the release of V 4.0 of the Google My Business API. While there are a number of new features, the most notable is the ability for 3rd Party platforms to now post Google Posts on for the businesses using the platform.
The API currently supports posting for any business with fewer than 10 locations. Large chains are not yet able to use the API for their postings. When larger chains might be able to post is unclear although Google seems to have been testing this feature.
In addition to the posting capabilities, the new version of the API supports
multiple value attributes like credit cards accepted (Amex, Discover, Visa)
Photos has been upgraded to Media to allow for richer media types like video in the future
More granular notifications as to the types of notifications they wish to receive
Notifications of reviews being updated
Posts analytics such as times a Post was viewed or the CTA was clicked
The API is still missing some critical features for agencies and tool providers like the inability for large chains to post or to be able to use a 3rd party platform for verification. But the regular updates are a positive sign that Google has finally committed to local on both the level of the SMB and larger users.
It’s been a blast building GetFiveStars. One of the things that I love the most is the support I get for projects like this new ebook.
As you probably know while I think its important to “optimize your review process” I think it’s even more important for you to “optimize your business”. Every process, not just lead generation, needs to be focused on the customer and needs to be well thought out. Then when you do ask for a review you will have earned it.
One area that sometimes is left to chance by local businesses is customer complaints. I am of the belief that you need to anticipate and plan for the bad experience. Thinking through how you are going to handle that complaint when it finally does come will help you keep that customer and avoid the issue from turning into a bad review. The ROI on a well thought out complaint plan is huge.