Google rolls out updated business profiles for Google Maps and Search

·Chief Tech Correspondent
Source: Google
Source: Google

Google (GOOG, GOOGL) has rolled out a number of new features for businesses to make their profiles more unique when they appear in Google Search and Google Maps.

The Mountain View, California-based tech giant announced on Thursday new features for Google My Business, its free tool that lets businesses create and edit their business profiles that show up in Google Search and Google Maps. In addition to letting businesses list information, such as its address, hours, phone number, website and customer reviews, now businesses will be able to upload cover photos, display logos, and photo captions, as well send customers who choose to “follow” their business digital offers and discounts.

“We really needed to create a way for businesses to get online so they can get found by the millions of people searching for places every single day,” said Peter Chane, senior director of SMB Product Management for Google.

Here are the new features Google announced for Google My Business:

Welcome Offers: According to Google, more than half of online customers are looking for an offer or discount. To help meet that demand, Google My Business will now let shoppers click a new “Follow” button near the top of a business’ profile. Shoppers who follow a business can receive a digital coupon, such as a 20% off discount for a meal at a restaurant or 10% off a first haircut.

Cover photos and logos: Businesses can also choose a “cover photo,” a preferred photo that will show up atop their online business listing in a Google search. (Previously, a random photo of a business merely showed up as the first photo on a business profile.) Likewise, businesses will also now be able to upload their logos, which will show up at the top right-hand side of their profiles.

Photo displays and captions: Google also updated the business profile so more recently-taken photos show up in general. Businesses can now add photo captions to provide consumers with additional context.

Short names and URLs: Business owners can now claim a “short name.” The unique name generated by Google can also be used to create a distinct web URL for referring customers back to a business’s Google profile. According to Google, customers in the coming months will also be able to search for businesses by their short names inside of Google Maps.

According to Google, over 150 million local businesses have created online business profiles through Google My Business since the tech giant launched the ability to do so five years ago. The Mountain View, California tech giant also said it “enables” more than 3 billion “connections” between merchants and customers every month through businesses’ online Google profiles.

It’s technically free for businesses to create and manage their profiles through Google My Business, but for the tech giant, it’s an important tool to keep internet users engaged with Google, which remains the number one most-trafficked website in the world, according to the internet tracking site Alexa, with users spending an average of eight minutes and six seconds on Google each day. Keeping users engaged increases the likelihood that they will click on an ad placed on Google, through which the tech giant generated almost 85% of its revenues during first-quarter 2019.

Google’s dominance in areas including advertising, search, and mobile has gotten the tech giant in trouble with regulators several times in the past. This March, the tech giant was fined $1.7 billion by the European Commission for its allegedlly anti-competitive search practices, which included forbidding publishers from placing search ads from competitors on their search results pages. (Google is currently challenging the fine.) The company also appealed a $5 billion fine for unfair business practices around its Android operating system.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Justice Department plans to investigate Google’s online search practices and how those practices affect its rivals, according to a Wall Street Journal report in early June, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

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