Ep 40: Google My Business Rebrand - Is it a chance to fix GMB or an opportunity to nuke part of the stack?

Ep 40:  Google My Business Rebrand - Is it a chance to fix GMB or an opportunity to nuke part of the stack?
Photo by Kai Wenzel / Unsplash

This week we discuss just one topic, the rebranding of the Google My Business tools to the Business Profile.

With enhanced in-search and in Maps editing, Google is trying (once again) to lure small businesses to edit their listings via new features.

The GMB API will become the Business Profile API and they claim that the GMB dashboard will become the Business Profile Dashboard in 2022. But they also announced the sunsetting of their GMB app. Join us this week as David and Mike bet on the outcome.

Reference Articles

  1. Same Product, New Name: A History of Google Local Profile Name Changes
  2. GMB to GBP: So What?
  3. What You Need to Know about the Google My Business Name Change


Greg: okay. Welcome back to Episode 40, Special Google Business Profile (GPP) Edition of the NearMemo and Mike and David are here with me as always.

David: And we're going to take a while to get used to that. I have to say, but yeah, sure. Some enterprising domainer has already bought up all those domains.

Greg: So we,

Mike: or businessprofile.org,

David: G GBP optimization and all that stuff.


Greg: We, we are talking exclusively about Google business profile, which was the re rebranding from Google, my business, which was the rebranding. Dah, dah dah, that plus pages, local business center. And so on. We'll talk about all of that today.   Mike has, well, I don't know if we're going to talk about this this week.

Mike has made some very interesting messaging discoveries within the dashboard itself, but maybe you'll, you'll save that for the blog post, Mike.

Mike: All right. So the question for me about the rebranding is whether it's more than it seems or less than it seems Google PPAs is positioning it strictly as a rebranding.

And, you know, obviously I take a very long historical view of this with David and I have been at this. What are we on 14 years, David and Greg find longer than that. So to me, it's part of this arc of this rebranding, where it started as a business to a local business center. And then it became a consumer and business tool with places and had a forward facing brand.

And they even went so far as to put places search. I don't know if you remember 2011 on your mirror, they put places search as a dropdown menu in Google store. So there was a forward facing brand to it, which started to dissipate. Once mayor went away and Google plus first it was Google plus local, and then it was just Google plus, and then Google places search got axed.

And then it became Google my business, which was just a business brand. At which point I noted this was 2013 that Google seemed to be doing away with branding of local, as distinct from. And then in 2015, I noted that maps had become the primary sort of brand around local. And this seems to be at some level, just a continuation from a consumer standpoint.

Right. Right. And the question is, what does this rebranding mean? From a business standpoint? Google is positioning it as Google is the brand. The apps are like search and maps. And the product as they call it is the business profile. And they're acquainting that business profile eye level to other business tools like analytics and search console, no Google before them.

And I also see. So in that sense, it is just a rebranding. The question is what does it mean and what they've created? Three brands on our three pro three they're bifurcating the product in three ways. The business profile, which allows small business. Trifurcated trifurcated yes. Sorry. You're correct.

Trifurcated the product directory ways the business profile, which lets businesses just edit directly in search. This is something that we long ago said, why not use search? Business listings. They're finally doing it, the busy, what they call the business profile manager, which is the current dashboard and the business profile API, which has been under active development.

Whereas. I would agree with David on this point, the dashboard has been under inactive development while the business profile and experience in search.

David: Now it's been under active neglect in my opinion,

Mike: active neglect. And so the question is, you know, many, right? Is it more than just a rebranding? Some of one of these elements go away or they all stay.

Is it less than, you know, is it just Google finally getting their branding house in order? Or will it give them a chance to create a really cool dashboard that might actually work? God forbid, well,

Greg: who's, who's that dashboard for, right. It seems like it's for enterprises now and not for.

Mike: Right. And the dashboard always has had this problem originally.

It was for SMB. So it was very constrained. And then as they released more and more features, it became very complicated. SMBs had trouble interacting with it. It didn't work that well for SMBs and it didn't work that well for enterprise either. So

Greg: bugs, it seems to me that this is a fundamental point, right?

It's that is that initially this was conceived of as a small business facing product and enterprises wanted in, you know, sort of through their agents. And it didn't really accommodate them very well. And they, and they've, they recognize that this is, you know, that they want that business. Obviously they want those enterprises to participate and they need different features for the small business and the enterprise, and

Mike: they need the Yext’s and the Uberall’s of the world, because this is how they really are getting business listings.

I mean, it's really the most reliable way for them to get business, right? So they need API

Greg: APIs and they need sophisticated tools and sophisticated reports

Mike: and they need sophisticated companies going out, finding businesses as they crop up on this. You know, or as they need services. The one question I have about that though, is I think I'm going to pull up Google Edwards on the eyebrows and the X to the world, and essentially obviate the knee, you know, or will they, you know, leave it in your hands and get rid of something like the dashboard, right?

This is

David: even I have been in yes, as we've been chatting, in a private slack channel, prior to today's podcast, I actually think your, your verb bifurcate is more of the long-term direction that Google is heading here. That the API is really what they expect, enterprises and Yext and Uber all to use.

And the search result is what they expect small businesses to use. And I think there actually that this is the sort of first step down, a path of deep productizing, the business profile manager, all things.  I see this not as elevating or, or at least repositioning the profile manager on the same level as analytics and search console.

Those are both very heavily invested in as products as web applications that users interact with and derive value from. And the historically the dashboard has, as I said, has been under active neglect.  if anything, it is. The experience of managing listings.  certainly more frustrating than it, than it has been historically,  over the last, I would say three years or so.

it's been on a pretty steady decline since Google's sort of ramp up and investment in features that you chronicled so well in about 2017. So I see this as, as Google really turning the act of managing a, a listing or a profile,  as a, as a. Search feature for SMBs,  and that they expect bigger brands to work with an agency that has an API integration or have an in-house development team.

That's feeding, Google all this data directly. So that's kind of, I think that, there's what I think is really interesting, which Claire Carlisle and I were discussing,  is where do all of the sort of, where does all the rich functionality that the app,  Sort of promoting and enabling things like posts and review responses and all of this stuff, I've just feel like needs a home as a product.

Where does all that stuff go? Well, you has a plan that they haven't announced yet, but it just feels like a huge degradation and experience. And I thought it was a completely disingenuous statement from whoever the product was. That announced, this was that, oh, we're, we're going to decide we're going to,  whatever, remove the app in 2022 so that businesses can have the advantage of taking advantage of the ability to edit their information in the search in the search feature.

Those two things are completely separate just because you're giving businesses the ability to have a better experience in the, it doesn't mean you have to remove the app. I just think they're giving up on that. They're giving up on trying to engage SMBs in a, in a, do you

Mike: think though, giving up on the app is something is somewhat a function of them wanting more control.

There always been a web based company and the app puts apple in control to some extent of too many things. And so by moving to a web based interface, they're basically cutting apple out of the equation.

David: I don't think I see it. I see it not as app as a,  As something you install on a phone. I see it as a product geared towards a certain audience, right?

So I'm using app as a, as an ad platform, agnostic platform, agnostic set of features.

Greg: This is really a valid question. The point that you raised about where do these posts and messages and you know, where, where all of this going to happen? Is it going to happen through some search

David: UI? Where do I go to toggle off the, I want calls from Google.

Right. Where does, where does that kind of thing exist in

Mike: this world? Well, according to, you know, I mean, Google is contending that the individual location functionality within the dashboard and within the profile and search are going to be a parody at some point.  now just let me read you a Google statement about the dashboard for what it's worth the existing Google, my business web expense.

We'll transition to primarily support large, larger businesses with multiple locations and will be renamed business profile manager will share more details on these changes in the months ahead. That was their statement. Now you're saying that that's totally just a red herring.

David: I'm saying I think that it, that again, that they've basically given up, they've done a.

We've all three of us have chronicled Google struggles in understanding small merchants and reaching them and getting them to engage with Google at anywhere near the level that Facebook and Instagram have.  and I think that this is Google potentially, or at least the current leadership in Google,  potentially acknowledging that it's just not something they're ever going to be good at and degrading the experience for small.

Greg: W what, what do you do? What do you do for the…, it seems like the experiences, the experience really bifurcating in the sense that you're going to have a sophisticated API, multi location, enterprise facing experience. And then you're going to have this search experience really aimed at single location businesses, you know, not, you know, it's like, it's like theTargets and the Costcos and the Walmarts of the world. And then over here, you've got the true mom and pops, but what about the folks in the middle who,  you know, may work with small agencies,  you know, the sort of local SEO world that we, we know these small agencies that work with individual businesses, but they also work with these sort of small enterprises types.

I mean, where do those folks fit in here? I

Mike: mean, did it go to like moment feed overall as it.  I mean, he's Google pushing everybody to, to, I mean, the question is, is Google relying on bigger people or relying on them less? That's really the question going forward. So I

Greg: don't have perspective on that from an, you know, I'm not in the direct conversation with Google, with Uber all, but I can tell you that there I'm I'm I'm my instinct is that, is that it will, it will rely more for.

business acquisition on its, on its partners like that it's big partners, but I'm

Mike: speculating. I mean, I, from where I sit, I think it gives them an opportunity to actually invest in the,  group, in the manager profile manager.  so as to provide a real multi location experience that works, you know, and that David and I actually have made.

We have

David: our one beer, one get standard unit

Mike: of Wayfair. I think I've won the last couple. Although the last

David: three, I think,

Mike: although it's always an issue of when the story ends, I won the one on Google plus, but you know, it lasted a year or two longer. I went and lost it. It's right. So I think it always matters when these, when these bats end, but we have a friendly wager and I'm saying I am wagering that Google is not being disingenuous.

They do not have plans to nuke the dashboard that they are intending to actually make it work for the businesses that you talk about. Greg, that three to 300 locations that are trying to manage listings on their own and use Google as a core functionality.

Greg: Well, and as I'm often, as I'm often inclined to say the tooth may be somewhere in between or the truth is out there as the case may be.

I think what Google may be doing is waiting, you know, the testing. A methodology that Adam Dorfman referenced in his article on,  on Google business profile. That's on,  on near, near, near media.  they may be doing this to see how the market reacts and, and ho you know, the jury may still be out on this so

Mike: never will hesitate to throw away a product if they don't think it's meeting their goals, regardless of how important the practice to them, they may not

David: have vision.

Greg: They may not have it. A roadmap clearly defined. You know, this is what I'm

Mike: trying to say, and they may have a roadmap declined and they still will throw a product away. This is, this is how they work. I mean, they just don't care about what a business needs in terms of planning. I mean, no businesses think in terms of five years, commitments to a product, that kind of thing they think in terms of six months or a year or 18 months, and these two are incompatible views of technical reality makes it really hard for businesses to build a system that works.


Greg: to what extent do you think this is driven? I mean, there's a number of motivations here potentially, but to what extent do you think this is really driven to the gravitational force shifting to the enterprise or conversely, do you think that they just failed to get businesses to adopt the app and really engage with it at the, to the degree that they wanted.

And so they're going to, they're walking away.

David: Strategy, right. I'm I'm all in on the ladder. I think it's an admission of failure and cutting their losses much more than a strategic shift to enterprise.

Mike: Right? I mean, I think it's a little of both. I think they've learned that they've never, they never successfully positioned, still doing.

Position search as a, not just an alternative to Facebook, but as a significantly better source of real leads than Facebook. They'd never communicated that very effectively. They still don't. And so of necessity given that they don't want to advertise, they don't want. You know,  do the things in marketing that is needed to do that.

They're going to continue to fail in that regard. I think the search interface makes more sense because it's more visible to those very small businesses. I think there is a lot of opportunity in a working dashboard. And I think that their plan currently is to have three things and to invest in three things.

Going forward. And the reason I think that is that I think that their maintenance costs are going to go down. If they have a really good API and they build out large elements of the single business interface through search, all that can be integrated into a dashboard that focuses on multi-user needs from it.

That's the only thing they have to do. Everything else has already built. So I think it reduces their maintenance across the board and can allow them before. So we're not talking about search.

David: A search result is not a purpose-built product for the small business right there. That is going to be a, if we thought that the dashboard was a bad SMB experience, the SMB experience of trying to manage a listing in a search result is going to be atrocious.

Yeah, it seems, it

Greg: seems, it seems it's very, it seems very awkward

Mike: to me. Maybe that's where they're walking away from in this.

Greg: So earlier this week,  I wrote about a,  it's not exactly a study, an analysis by a company called web find U, which is a marketing firm that argued it kind of in vague terms that 92% of small businesses could not afford what they call true digital marketing, which was a kind of all-in definition of web hosting and paid media or media.

you know, it's, it's, it's, it's kind of interesting to think about that's for another time, but the reason I bring it up now is because as you pointed out, David Facebook has had so much more success bringing in small businesses than Google has from a direct self-service perspective and hanging

Mike: on to them five years after.


David: it's the retention and the game, the ongoing engagement of those businesses that's even more compelling. But,

Greg: but I mean, as we talked about with, with Joyce findings, that GMB was driving a lot more leads than, than organic search and Mike, your, your work,  for the diner, that was a GMB only marketing strategy.

That was pretty successful. GMB is really a, a underutilized.  tool for small businesses, which is free. And if you have no budget or you don't have a sufficient budget to do all these things that you're supposed to be doing, that seems to be the place that that should be the number one place that you go to optimize your, your digital marketing opportunity.

And it's, it's just not happening straight. It's

Mike: always been too complicated and it's been up to twos and Google's been intentionally a few suffocates. The reality of it. They don't want to give too much away. It's going to cause the bam. And

David: unlike, unlike your Facebook page and unlike your Instagram profile, you don't own your Google business profile.

Google does. And I, I really wonder where you know, where that philosophy is going to come down. When you have a business trying to. Edit things that users have contributed right. In an inline search result and continuing to get frustrated.

Mike: The one thing that really

David: pisses me off. Right. Right. Why can't I, how, how do I get rid of this photo of the toilet that's showing up front and center on my GBP.

so I don't, I think it's just, there's, there's a sort of an inherent conflict in the way Google thinks about who owns the profile. And a inherent and inherent, inability on their part to understand how to make an interface and a product that is going to excite and continue to engage a business owner.

And I don't see either of those things getting resolved by this, by this recent,  rollout.

Mike: So I would agree with you that they may not be resolved, but I disagree with you in that. I think that they are moving down this three path direction of API dashboard and. Say it merchant interface, search interface.

Right. And again, I, I guess I agree. I hadn't thought about how painful it might be to do certain things in the search interface for sure.  well

Greg: mean, I mean, what's interesting is, is this going to reduce the likelihood that we're going to. More images and posts and products and other things from small businesses.

Well, that's

David: what I, so I actually think that they're, that, that by deep productizing, local, they're going to push merchants into whatever other Google products. Yeah. So it could be ads could be,  Google merchant center. It could, yeah. Like bright location extensions might, you know, the enterprise dashboard.

GVP might eventually get folded into ads as location extensions manager,  is something I could very easily see happening. So I feel like we, we may not lose a lot of the features that we see in the business profile today as consumers, but merchants might have to access those in multiple fragmented,

Greg: fragmented

Mike: ways.

Yeah. When I see them, if the government takes them away, oh my God.

David: That's it that's a teaser for next week's near memo episodes.

Mike: I can't believe the brazen bullshit. That one hit me with. It's like, Google's telling me how, how I need to advocate on their behalf as if I don't have enough trouble advocating on my own behalf.

Greg: Yeah. You're being slightly oblique, but that's a teaser for Mike's next blog post and next week's discussion.

you know, I, I, I wonder, I wonder,  you know, Google hasn't. Has not had success with true small businesses in Edwards, really. I mean, I think, you know, there are some, but it's been a, there's been a chronic churn problem.  and I'm just wondering whether,  you know, there, there, there was some revenue associated with GMB,  delivery revenue and certain other small revenue, but I'm wondering if they're trying to force people into an advertising and.

Now because they, there's not enough revenue coming out of GMB.

David: I will say, Greg, I'll add a qualifier to your statement though. That LSA has seemed to be a successful for both Google and merchants. And I have to think that the retention there is much better than I was not thinking about that. That's

Greg: that's in fact, true.

One interesting point that,  you know,  last week I wrote about the fake reviews report that,  that we produced together with Curtis Boyd's transparency company. And he and I were talking.  and you know, in a lot of these articles about fake reviews, talk about,  you know, is Google making money?

Is Google not making money? Why are they not enforcing,  you know, aggressively and now with LSAs that include reviews as a piece of that, some of those fake reviews are making their way into a Google ad product. So some of those

Mike: profiles are fake link locations.

Greg: And so, so the the ad product now, which as you rightly point out David is, is, is very successful, is being tainted by fraud.

and that's really something that Google needs to do something about, but that's a different, different

Mike: topic. You would think it's a different type of, but it's so amazing to me that LSA like Google, local GMB, people learned a lot about spam and about locations and about, and none of that information seems to have been shared with.

As far as I can tell. So, I mean, all the you're seeing all the same. That were early problems with GMB. They've gotten more sophisticated, but

Greg: it's probably because there's an entirely different group of people that are in control of that third

David: different silence, the ad silo and the look and the right. I don't even know what the silent was called anymore, but I

Mike: think for merging these silent previous, I mean, you could see under Carter Maslin and, and,  mercenary.

They had grand hopes for local is as a branded product. And that was for whatever reason never came to

Greg: and they, and in a way they don't need it. Right? Because Google is the place that people go to for local business reviews. And it is the place where people go to for this local information and

Mike: do for navigation, which is right, which

Greg: is another piece of it.

And, and Google Contiki continues to press. On the ad side, you know, now they introduce Optum optimization for in store visits, right. And in store sales. So they continue to sort of emphasize local and pressing ahead with local on the ad side. And now sort of deemphasizing it as a product as you're pointing out David,  on the SMB side of things as a free product.

That is all right. Have we certainly. Have we

Mike: exhausted. The topic was certainly when we indicate an end of our, of our era, right? The era of leveraging these free resources to maximize lead generation. And I mean, I'll miss it, but I won't miss it, you know?

David: Yes, no. I think as we said less, as we said last week, or maybe it was two weeks ago now, like to me, this is a pretty exciting time to be in marketing because I think we, we actually.

Reached a new era where the sort of quick and easy, you know, enter a custom category and rank instantly kind of days are gone. And the, you know, the cheap Facebook ads that led to thousands of conversions for a hundred dollars are gone. So we're kind of in this new, this new world, which I think is going to spur some, some really interesting marketing concepts moving forward.

So,  I don't know that I'll miss it that much either.  but I will, I. As you and I have talked many times, Mike, I continue to be frustrated that Google doesn't take its monopolistic position.  seriously, these are the experience and the support they provide small businesses. And this seems like a step in the wrong direction,  on that note.

Mike: Yeah, I just, as along those lines, there, there they're theoretic. How are we going to deal with suspensions in this interface and verifications in this interface? Those are all.  which I think, you know, which are interesting and complicated problems, and we're going to see how they do it. Okay.

Greg: to be continued now,

David: stay tuned for part two next week on episode 41, where you'll understand what Mike was referring to about 10 minutes ago.


Mike: I'm not sure I understand it. It's like.

Greg: Alright. And JFK junior will be our special guests next week.

yes, that's right. So how about I have a great rest of your week or weekend as the case may be, and we will see you next week.

Mike: It's clear to me how any weekend when they change time,  you know, is a good weekend. Can't be, you know,

Greg: well, you get an extra

David: hour of sleep, right? Gaining an hour. You're gaining an hour this

Mike: weekend, losing I'll be grabbing them.


Greg: Okay. All right. All right. See you next week.