Under Construction – Three Things We Hope Google is Working On
Google, like any business, is consistently updating, changing, and reworking its platform to optimize the user experience. With its algorithm, ad display changes, and search appearance changes, for example, it is hard for Google to keep up with them all at once. Below are three areas we believe Google could keep working on to improve the experience their users have.
We always hope to see Google make their process as seamless as possible in order to provide a positive user experience and connect its users with relevant businesses in a timely manner. One issue that has been a hurdle to companies is trying to communicate with users directly and efficiently is the inability for seamless messaging through their Google My Business profile.
A key component of a business’s online presence is easy communication with potential customers. With Facebook, a potential customer can message a business with a question and receive an answer in real time, with little delay—if the company monitors their page. Moreover, the process to send and receive, as well as respond to messages on Facebook is easier than the process currently used in Google. This has been a known issue; however, it is unknown when it will be fixed. We hope to see this feature improved for a more seamless profile for businesses.
Business Name Spamming
Another complication that Google is running into with their local ranking algorithm is business name spamming. Companies across industries will create a fake or spammed Google My Business listing that is stuffed with keywords for a term they want to rank for.
This allows a spammy Google Profile to rank well locally, pushing it to the top of listings for that location. There is also the possibility for a company to create a handful of these fake Google Profiles with various phone numbers that all lead back to a root company, which then reaps all of the rewards and thereby defeats the purpose of providing users with options. Not only does this funnel customers to a single business, but it also hurts the legitimate companies within that area that are using Google My Business profiles ethically and responsibly. See our blog, Playing Google’s Local 3 Pack Game, that dives further into the issue of business name spamming.
We are hoping to see the value given to a business’ name increase as they prove themselves over time. In tandem, we hope to see the priority of a spammy profile be diminished or removed as Google’s algorithm improves to account for these profiles. Google is striving to provide a quality user experience, and when spammy listings rank well, it diminishes the credibility of the platform as a whole.
The suggestion feature is present on many Google profiles and allows users to submit or change information for a business. Google also allows customers to add questions, updates, and suggest edits to Google My Business Profiles that are lacking key information. For example, anyone can suggest an edit to the Google My Business knowledge cards with the simple click of a button. This will prompt a user to offer information, such as missing hours of operation. However, there is also a way for the competition to use this feature for their benefit.
With the ability to suggest edits to any field that is filled in on the backend of the Google My Business Profile, such as business name, address, photos, categories, and much more, competing businesses can manipulate a Google feature for their own gain.
For example, competitors have been known to use the suggest feature to remove practice areas, change the business name, address, or phone number in order to add discrepancies in the business’ online profile. Sometimes, this goes so far as adding incorrect storefront or company photos. If a business is constantly checking their Google profile, these small changes are just nuisances. However, if a business is not monitoring their Google My Business regularly, these suggestions could turn into actual updates to their profile—regardless of accuracy.
Because of this, it is important for businesses to have their Google My Business notifications turned on. This way, suggestion alerts can be sent to their email every time a person suggests an edit to their profile. Furthermore, it can be beneficial for a business to check their Google Profile to see if there are any pending suggestions. Sometimes, if a person with a trusted Google Profile suggests an edit, the suggestion will automatically be updated. At the end of the day, being vigilant and notified if someone suggests an edit is the best way to prevent any unwarranted changes to a business’s Google Profile.
What Google Needs to Do
With competition across practice areas and industries, Google has a duty to make sure that everyone plays fair and that the integrity of the search engine is not compromised. Unfortunately, it is often not enough for Google to simply update their algorithms and code frequently. Because a strong internet presence is as crucial to a business as their physical location, when a business is targeted by their competition, there are far too many ways for a competitor to sabotage them with no true repercussions—under the current platform.
In the future, we believe Google should implement features that allow a user to see a history of any changes, or suggested changes, to their profile. This can help a business prove a timeline of targeted suggestion edits, where currently no such option exists. This might also save a business the time and energy it takes to continuously check their profile for suggested edits and refuse the same suggestions over and over again.
Google should also monitor who is actually making suggestions. Yes, there are credible individuals who periodically suggest edits to businesses with legitimate holes in their profile. However, if a single user or business is constantly attacking profiles in a specific practice area, or if the user constantly suggests incorrect information, there must be a vetting system. With the current system, there is no way for a business to monitor who is making the changes, which creates additional difficulties for a business trying to maintain a legitimate Google My Business profile.
Google’s Future Improvements
All in all, Google has infinite room to expand upon its software, services, and search engine algorithms to improve their user experience. Although we only mentioned a few key areas for growth, there is undoubtedly a multitude of other areas that Google could tweak and change for overall UX improvement.
Just as maintaining a well-organized physical location can give authority to a business in its community, a strong and consistent online profile is becoming more and more important for professionals across numerous industries. If Google implements these suggested changes, it might enhance the experience businesses and their customers have on the platform, as well as prevent competitors from sabotaging their competition through unethical practices.
Google, for many businesses, can be a lifeline between their customers and their main location. With thoughtful revisions, Google can continue to offer a distinguished service for users across the globe.