Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | January 2, 2019

How To Keep Up With Google Maps Updates

On October 24th, Google Maps announced its most recent update to their Android app that lets users follow businesses. As the #1 mapping application in the world, businesses rely on Google Maps optimization to drive traffic to their storefronts. But with so many feature improvements and updates to the algorithm, keeping your business listings optimized might seem overwhelming. Here’s a look at some of the latest feature additions to Google Maps and what you can do to keep your listings optimized no matter what updates occur.

How many features are too many features?

From a consumer standpoint, I like the new features on Google Maps. I personally get a ton of use out of things like the group planning tool. But I have to admit I’m starting to feel a little overwhelmed with all the features. (Did you know you can change the blue navigation arrow to a cartoon car?) What’s the point of having so many features if users can’t even enjoy them and how are businesses supposed to keep up with all the changes?

Here’s a look at some of the latest Google Maps local search features:

Follow a Business

This feature allows users (currently limited to Android users) to keep up with the latest news from a local business, much like Twitter or Instagram. Users will then be able to see updates from the business in their “For You” tab. In addition to the follow feature, businesses that are opening new locations can now set up a business profile up to 3-months before the opening date. This date will then be displayed on the listing in orange. Users can then follow new businesses and stay up-to-date with any events or news prior to when the business opens.

Group Planning

The group planning tool helps friends to coordinate a dinner by creating a collaborative list and sharing it with friends. Friends can then vote on their favorite place to eat all from within Google Maps. You can take this one step further by sending your ETA to your friends.

Your Match

According to an interview by Travel and Leisure with Google Maps Senior Product Manager Sophia Lin, the Your Match suggestion feature on Google Maps came from consumer “4-star fatigue” after combing through so many reviews, ratings, and lists. To set up matches, a user defines their food and drink preferences. The app will then assign a percentage match on each restaurant for the user based on their preferences, frequented areas, and reviews.

The Explore Tab

The ever-growing explore tab includes many of the features above in addition to lists, events and more. This tab gives users an at-a-glance look at some of the best restaurants and events in the area.

How can businesses keep up with all the changes to Google Maps?

If you’re like me and still trying to wrap your head around all the features found in what should be a simple map tool, don’t worry Chatmeter is here to help. Features come and go, but your business needs to be at the forefront of local search no matter how customers find you. Here’s what you can do to make sure your business is prepared for any Google update.

1. Listing Accuracy

Your first focus should always be making sure every location has accurate listing information. The business name, phone number, address, and website need to maintain accuracy at all times. If you have multiple business locations, it helps to have a tool like Chatmeter’s Workflow to monitor and alert you of changes to your business listings. This gives you the power to quickly take action and fix any listing inaccuracies.

2. Optimize Your GMB Listing

Is your brand taking advantage of everything Google My Business (GMB) has to offer? Complete your listing to the fullest by adding the right categories, photos, business hours, about section, and menus or services. Optimize your listings one step further by taking advantage of the following GMB features:

Google Q&A

The community can both ask and answer questions about your business with this GMB feature. Control the conversation by regularly monitoring and responding to questions before the community can.

Google Posts

Google Posts are a great way to become featured on the Explore Tab by adding an Event. Google Posts are free,  last up to seven days (events last until the event ends) and encourages businesses to keep fresh content on their GMB listings. If you’re paying for PPC ads and not taking advantage of Google Posts you’re missing out on a great opportunity to share brand messages and timely promotions that can help drive in-store conversions. Learn more about Google Posts here.

Google Messaging

Unlock Google Messaging and allow customers to send messages directly to the business through your GMB listing.

Google Bookings

If you take appointments or reservations, this feature is a great way to create a seamless booking experience.

3. Consider Local Search Ads

Local search ads are a great way to secure a top spot for your business. Local search ads are featured on both desktop and mobile result pages. Regardless of any updates to the Google Map algorithm or feature set, ads will always have a place at the top of the search results.

There’s a reason Google Maps is the #1 used navigation application in the world. Its accuracy is unmatched and its ability to get you where you need to be when you need to be there is better than any other application on the market. However, as the number of features continues to rise, it’s getting more difficult for businesses to stay on top of all the changes. Using a tool like Chatmeter helps businesses to monitor, track, and make adjustments to their GMB listings for every location. We monitor each and every update to Google Maps and other local listing directories so you don’t have to.