If you’re not a search engine optimization geek then you may not have noticed, but Google now allows businesses to add lists of services to their Google My Business (GMB) pages.
The rollout appears to be happening quietly but also pretty quickly. We’ve tested a few GMB listings for our clients and it seems like about half of them have the option to add service menus. If this change sticks around, expect it to reach most of the North American GMB community in a few days.
The change was reported on by various search engine marketing industry blogs over the last week. At LinkNow Media we’re always trying to find new ways to improve our clients’ local search rankings and we expect this will be a great tool moving into the future.
Have you ever performed a search for a laundromat near you? Go ahead and do it right now.
Check the first result. What does it say in their business description?
Here’s what it says in my first result:
It’s got their business name, hours, telephone number, and a few photos. There are a couple reviews—mixed, as you might expect—but otherwise, that’s it.
If I’m looking for a full laundry service—meaning that they’ll launder, fold, and iron my clothes for me—how likely am I to visit this establishment? Not very.
Imagine if beneath the location listed for that laundromat was a full list of all the services they provide, like this:
- Drying – self-serve 25 cents for 5 minutes, full-service $0.75 per item
- Washing – full-service $10 per load
- Dry-Cleaning $4.50 per item
- Same-Day Delivery $5
Suddenly this business looks a lot more attractive, and I didn’t even have to visit their website to find all this stuff out. You can bet I’m heading there after work because their Google My Business listing gave me all the information I need.
I’m sure you can see why this is going to be an awesome tool for any service-industry business as long as it remains a consistent feature of the GMB toolbox.
Isn’t This Similar to GMB ‘Menus’?
Well, sort of. You update it through the same sub-menu of the GMB dashboard, under the ‘Info’ tab. But the difference is that this is designed for every service business and not only for the food and beverage industry.
Unlike when Google rolled out the Menus function, there’s no messy rollout that requires third-party menu hosting services. GMB has allowed small business owners (and their local marketing agencies) to edit these directly.
We’re skipping the confusing interface, as well as the arcane rules that seemed to penalize small or single-location businesses using GMB’s ‘Menus’ feature the first time around when Menus launched in 2017.
When Does This Become Official?
As far as we can tell, it already is, in a way. It seems like a lot of businesses (at least those in English-speaking locales) can edit their service menus as of now. Like I said earlier, we’re running at about 50%, but I expect that number to rise by the end of the month.
What About in Search?
We actually don’t know. This seems to be on the business owners side only for now. Google is usually secretive about their developments and this seems to be in line with that. We don’t even know if they’re beta testing this or it will immediately become a permanent feature, but that’s no reason not to start playing around with it anyway.
How Can This Help My Business?
Information is power. The more information you give potential customers, the better. But this is part of an overall strategy for optimizing your GMB listings (and therefore your web presence). I’m not going to lie to you and tell you this is a magic bullet for all your local search needs—if it were, I’d be out of a job.
Of course, local search listings are still super important. Your website, your GMB listing, and your Facebook (okay, your Bing listing too) are still the holy trinity when it comes to getting your business onto your customers’ screens. And with the rise of mobile still eclipsing all other trends in search, GMB listings aren’t going away anytime soon.
Are Service Menus Contributing to Google’s Ranking Algorithms?
It’s still way too early to speculate about this. It’s possible. Google already favors businesses with active Google My Business listings, and why wouldn’t they? They want to promote their product and to promote reputable businesses with good Internet presence.
Somehow, I doubt it. This seems like an improvement designed to make customers’ lives easier. Of course, nothing in the world of search is completely altruistic, but this does seem like more of a ‘quality-of-life’ upgrade than ‘your-search-ranking-tanks-without-this’ upgrade. Mobilegeddon this is not.
Why Should I Use This Feature?
When it comes to local listing optimizations, there’s never a good reason not to be doing everything you can to make information about your business clear and consistent. We know it’s a lot of work. It’s what we do all day. So no matter what sort of service business you are, you should play around with this feature.
How Do I Get Started?
This all depends on what sort of business you have, but always start by featuring your most popular service, especially you offer it at a competitive price. Most of you will probably have more than one service you want to feature.
Do you have a ‘loss leader’ service? Absolutely put this first on your service menu! Customers want affordable pricing. Generate that initial conversion and up-sell them later.
From there, move onto the niche services your business provides. This is a good way to set you apart from your competitors. Again, we don’t know if this will make a difference in your site ranking, but it’s nice for your potential customers to know if there’s something you do best that nobody else is doing.
Can I Use AdWords in Conjunction With the Service Menu List?
Guys, I don’t work for Google. I don’t know. Don’t stuff your menu with AdWords keywords unless it’s relevant.
How Can I Abuse This Service?
Keyword stuffing. We’ve seen it with business names, which has been fixed. This is not an opportunity for you to add 50 service categories, each of which reads something like:
Local Dentistry Services – broken teeth mouth floss dentist dental certified dentist oral hygiene $50
Not to mention that over the years Google has demonstrated a consistent willingness to punish abuse of their algorithms. They may be the name in search, but they work hard to maintain that.
If you’re making the GMB services list look foolish, they’ll scrap it or they’ll roll out a new policy designed to fix those vulnerabilities.
Five Business Types That Will Benefit From This Change
Not every service business is poised to capitalize on this change. Some will benefit more than others. If you only offer a single service at an hourly rate, add it anyway, but I don’t think this feature is for you. If you’re one of these five business types, however, go wild!
If you’re truly a jack or jill-of-all-trades when it comes to contracting, your service menu might become too long, but we bet most of you have specialties that make you really proud. Adding a list of services with price ranges is a big sell to your business when potential customers are shopping for the best options (especially if you begin with the most economical items at the top, like we suggest above).
Combined with a beautiful portfolio in the Images gallery and some five-star reviews and you’ve got yourself a listing that should soar up the ranking charts.
Obviously, every job is different. But give an estimate. You can even offer different service menu items for the same category job to demonstrate the range of cost of an item, like this:
- Service – Kitchen Remodeling – small - $15k
- Service – Kitchen Remodeling – average – 35k
- Service – Kitchen Remodeling – large/luxury – 50k
Doctors’ Offices and Other Healthcare Facilities
If you’re an American clinic, offering a list of your prices up-front can be a great way to entice patients to visit your clinic, especially if they’re insured.
This is particularly relevant for specialists who offer a range of services, not all of which might be totally necessary. We’re thinking dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons, audiologists, and chiropractors are keen to benefit from this—we make websites for them pretty much every day, after all.
Electricians and Plumbers
Customers are usually upset when they’re looking for electricians—even though we all should, nobody ever calls an electrician until something breaks.
Why not take sticker shock out of the equation and provide a standardized list of service and prices ahead of time? Your customers will appreciate your honesty and this should lower the barrier to having them make a call.
But don’t use this as an opportunity to game the system. These are two industries liable to SEO abuse. Don’t jam pack it with keywords. Just be honest. Clients appreciate that.
Beauty Salons, Nail Salons, Estheticians, Spas
No joke, we have seen businesses in the personal care industry register as restaurants so they could add a menu to their listing. What a mess. Small salons and beauty bars rejoice! Let your website speak to the strength of your staff and your portfolio and let your prices do most of the talking.
If your business name doesn’t give ordinary people a clue about what it is you do, this could be a big boon (as long as you’re operating a more obscure service, like balloon animals for parties, for example). Clarity at last.
Two Business Types That Won’t Benefit From This Change
Like we said before, not everybody is going to benefit equally from this change. If you work in either of these two industries, don’t even think about it.
Trick category. But I’m serious! Restaurants: this is not for you. You’ve been able to use a variant of this feature designed specifically for your needs for years. And don’t even think about using this to put your menu up a second time—it’ll make your listing uglier and customers will get overwhelmed by the volume of data.
Retail and E-Commerce Sites
If you think that this could be a convenient alternative to some of the major e-commerce platforms, please, for the love of god, just invest in a major e-commerce platform instead. Save yourself some time and nobody gets hurt.
Exciting Changes on the Horizon
Like I said before, this isn’t an earth-shattering update. But it does demonstrate that Google is consistently optimizing Google My Business to benefit business owners and customers.
And furthermore, it absolutely shows that when it comes to search—mobile is still king—a trend we can expect to continue until at least 2020. Maybe as voice search becomes more popular, voice search apps could even read out the service menu when you search for it. The future looks bright.
If you made it to the end of this article and still don’t know what a Google My Business listing is, give us a call. We’ve helped over 9,000 small businesses keep their web presence where it needs to be and we offer comprehensive GMB management in addition to a ton of other Local SEO services.
Give us a call today!