Surveys sent out by Google to some local businesses have raised concerns that the search giant is preparing to charge for Google My Business listing features.
Google has been sending out surveys over the past week or so to local businesses, asking them how much they would be prepared to pay for Google My Business features that are currently free.
Google My Business is a completely free service from Google that allows local businesses to create a listing for their business to be shown in Google Maps and in the Local Pack on search results pages. This means businesses can keep their information up to date and Google’s search results are as accurate as possible for local search terms.
Judging by the surveys that many business owners have been sharing on Twitter, Google may decide to start charging for this free service in the future:
— x-Sean Bucher (@spbucher) April 25, 2019
The link to see and take the full survey is here.
The survey features questions regarding how often a local business pays to advertise online, whether the advertising is organised by the business itself or via an agency and what the monthly advertising budget for the business is.
It then goes on to suggest some potential new features that Google My Business could offer, such as verified reviews, company background checks and verifications, Google search results placements, promoted map pins and calls to action, adding a video to your profile, removing ads and so on.
The worry with this is that local businesses will soon be forced into a ‘pay to play’ scenario within local search results pages, where only those that are prepared to pay Google will get any sort of traffic. Traditionally Google has monetised search results by adding ads to the results page and leaving the organic listings to be ordered by their ranking algorithm.
This new development suggests Local SEO may soon be replaced by simply paying to be listed in the Google Local Pack results – meaning more expense for local businesses trying to reach customers who are searching on Google for their services.