4 New GBP Features SEOs Should Know in 2021

With limited travel during COVID-19, local search is as important as ever. To help, Google is integrating more GBP information into SERP answer boxes so that consumers can easily access up-to-date information.

To help you stand out in the local search results, here are some new key GBP features heading into 2021.

A Local Community Feed

In major news, Google is trying to bridge the interactions between local businesses and consumers by launching a community feed on the Google Maps platform.

With this feature, users will be able to view updates, recent Local Guides reviews, news articles, and posts from nearby businesses on the Google Maps feed. Google will use these recommended posts to expand the user’s interactions and push the “explore” tab beyond the accounts the user is following.

For businesses, this means a review from a Local Guide or mention in a prominent local publication could work wonders for your digital reach and GBP presence. As such, consider how non-digital PR and marketing tactics may help supplement local SEO efforts.

Updates to “Suggest Edits”

Users now have more edit suggestion options — like proposing a new business address — and may include a photo to go along with their suggestion. Hopefully, this will help prioritize accurate information with photographic evidence made by public users over unverified, anonymous changes.

While this development aims to help build verification, GBP owners should understand that the “suggest edits” function is still prone to spam. As such, SEOs should constantly monitor citations and ensure that NAP information is up-to-date at all times.

‘Google Guaranteed’ Badges Expand Reach

In 2020, Google Business Profile unveiled a new $50 per month upgrade offering ‘Google Guaranteed’ verification badges for use in Local Service Ads (LSAs).

Now, these verification tags are being offered to those outside of LSA sectors and may appear in local pack and Google Maps listings. Currently, Google says that this is only an experiment, but it could also suggest an expansion of ‘Google Guaranteed’ badges throughout the platform. If so, this could create a divide between the verification’s “haves” and “have-nots,” making the badge a deciding factor in consumer decision making.

“Years in Business” Tag

In the past, GBP accounts’ “years in business” information had limited visibility. Now, Google is adding this label to some businesses in the local pack.

Like the Google review ratings or ‘Google Guaranteed’ badges, a “years in business” tag signals business prestige and longevity. By adding the years in business, a firm can represent its experience and knowledge within a particular sector, attracting more clients.

Local Search’s Outlook for 2021

With COVID-19 dictating how consumers searched and interacted with businesses, Google is taking further steps to improve its SERPs. Through features like the community feed and “suggest edits” update, Google will continue to equip the consumer with up-to-date information regarding business’ procedures, hours and more.

Moreover, ‘Google Guaranteed’ and “years in business” badges enable businesses to signal service quality and longevity. With these developments, SEOs can leverage new GBP and local search features aimed at improving user experience by ensuring their digital presence is up-to-date. With more and more user-friendly features added, SEOs should stay alert for new opportunities to engage with online users and stand out in local search.