Google has successfully positioned itself as the king of search. Despite constant pressure from fierce competitors like Bing (Microsoft), and Yahoo!, Google has clearly established itself as the world’s search engine of choice.
Just how dominant has Google become in the search market? Well, according to a 2016 survey, Google users conduct roughly 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day.
Showing up in Google searches is crucial for any business. However, your dispensary’s success on Google will not just depend on your ability to rank in search results. Google also offers a variety of SEO and marketing initiatives alongside its organic rankings, including Google My Business (GMB).
For years now, GMB has helped businesses identify and promote themselves with ease. However, recent rumors indicate that Google may be seeking to convert GMB into a paid service. Which raises the question: Would you really pay for Google My Business?
How Can GMB Help Your Dispensary’s SEO?
Google My Business is a free tool that lets you manage exactly how your dispensary will appear when searched for.
Your GMB profile will appear alongside search results (on the right) and can feature information such as contact info, business hours, photos, videos, customer reviews, and even current promotions.
Certain GMB signals have been shown to affect a website’s overall SEO performance and search ranking, thus claiming and updating your dispensary’s Google My Business profile should be one of your first steps when implementing a local SEO strategy.
What Features May Be Monetized?
At the moment, it appears that Google is only considering the monetization of certain GMB features, not the whole program. Google is indicating that it is not necessarily looking to monetize the current features of Google My Business. Rather, it is looking to upgrade the system with new features which will require a subscription to access.
A recent survey from BrightLocal found that many businesses were actually willing to pay for certain added features. Changes like the removal of ads from listings and the addition of promoted map pins and verified reviews elicited positive responses.
In addition, many marketers seem willing, if not eager, to pay for more effort from Google. Additions like Google background checks, Google guarantees, and greater access to Google’s customer service team elicited strongly positive responses from those surveyed.
Yet, even with all of these added features, many respondents were unwilling to pay for Google My Business. And those that were, did not want to pay much. A whopping 24% of respondents stated that they were unwilling to pay anything at all for Google My Business. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of respondents indicated that they would only be willing to pay between $1 and $25 per month for the service.
These results indicate there may be a customer base for a paid service after all. However, some marketing experts fear that this may only be a first step towards the monetization of the entire GMB service altogether.
Is It Feasible?
Google’s decision to explore the potential monetization of Google My Business may be indicative of where the service is headed in the future, and so far, the overall response to Google’s memo has been predictably negative.
Some experts have even raised questions about what this could mean for fair and honest competition on the platform. Monetizing even only a few features is predicted to give an advantage to businesses who have the budget to afford them. 76% of the BrightLocal survey’s respondents indicated that the addition of a paid service would hurt their marketing budget and their ability to compete in other marketing areas.
But to what extent is Google concerned with these complaints? After all, Google is a business itself, and an incredibly profitable one at that. Only time will tell!