Since December of 2015, we have seen Google become more deeply involved in helping brands manage their location data in a seamless way. The Google My Business API rollout has been a welcome development to more quickly and efficiently keep Google listings updated.
For multi-location organizations, accurate and updated local data in each market where the brand has a presence is absolutely critical. Organizations are finding more and more that they need to target consumers at the local level to be successful in achieving the sales they desire across different regions and locations.
Google recognizes the importance of accurate local data, and its My Business API is quickly becoming an immense value add for multi-location organizations across a variety of industries.
One important factor to note, however, is that there are still manual capabilities the API does not currently cover. However, these important location management functions can be managed by the individual brand if they understand what gaps they may still have in their location management strategy.
Below are three areas of local marketing activity that should be manually managed by either the organization’s enterprise marketing team or a partnering marketing solutions providers.
It’s especially important to note that no listings can be managed through the Google My Business API which have not already been verified through Google’s existing process, which means receiving a postcard in the mail at a business location or an automated phone call at a location’s listed phone number. While Google has experimented with exceptions to this rule, most brands will still need manual assistance in making sure their tens, hundreds, or even thousands of locations are consistently being verified on this interface.
The Google My Business API is an excellent tool for maintaining verified businesses, but the verification process still needs to be managed outside the automated path provided by the API. Brands will need an end-to-end solution in which the API becomes a critical component but is part of a larger process.
2. Duplicate Suppression and Ownership Conflict
More often than not, multi-location brands like franchises and retailers will find duplicate locations that have been created by anonymous users across the web or inadvertently added to Google’s location database. When the time comes for a brand to create branded local online properties, they face the challenge of suppressing duplicate pages or even taking ownership of those locations. Currently, neither of these challenges can be handled programmatically through the Google API.
Removal of duplicates and resolution of listing ownership conflict belong to a short list of important items that must still be managed by manually logging in to the Google My Business console.
3. Review Response
Google’s API does not currently include information about customer reviews of a business, nor does it allow brands to respond to reviews. Instead, brands need to be using tools to monitor reviews and develop a response strategy that caters to individual user questions and comments.
Google’s API rollout speaks to the greater question of what it takes to master listings management and the overall customer experience. While having the ability to leverage the GMB API is exciting for brands, marketers will need a Chief Location Officer to deliver both a programmatic offering and manual expertise.
In addition, professionals well-versed in location optimization will be best able to use the API to its full potential by ensuring that a brand’s Google profiles are complete, accurate, and in conformity with Google’s standards and industry best practices.
In short, Google’s latest My Business API release provides organizations an excellent opportunity to take control of the information associated with their individual locations—an important piece of the marketing puzzle for brands looking to compete in an increasingly localized selling environment. However, the Google My Business API can currently only take marketers so far. Organizations must manually engage with the Google team in some cases to verify, suppress duplicates, and take ownership of local properties.
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