Tech-savvy law firms will be familiar with the name Google My Business (GMB), a platform for managing their business profiles on Google, but that all comes to an end this month with the app rebranding to Google Business Profile.
The reason Google gave for the rebrand was to ‘keep things simple’, presumably because the name Google My Business isn’t very telling of what the service provides to anyone who isn’t already in-the-know.
The rebrand also comes with major changes to the way businesses and law firms manage their profiles and marks the end of the Google My Business app which will be retired sometime in 2022.
So, what are the changes that come along with the Google Business Profile rebrand and how do they affect law firms?
What are the major changes to Google Business Profiles?
So far Google hasn’t changed a lot, but the changes they have made are a sign of things to come. Here are the changes that have been made so far:
Single listings should be managed in the SERP
For a long time now, law firms with a single location have been able to manage their listing directly in the search engine results page (SERP) or in Google Maps. No actual changes have been made to this process, but Google now recommends SERP management as the preferred method.
As the Google My Business app (now called the Business Profile Manager) will be out of commission sometime in 2022, this recommendation is a heads up from Google to start managing your profile in the SERP before the app is taken down.
If you don’t know how to manage a listing in the SERP, all you have to do is search the name of your law firm in Google Search and you’ll be presented with a control panel where you can make edits to your listing’s details.
Multiple listings can’t be managed in the SERP, yet
Those of you with multiple listings for your law firm will have to continue managing them from the Business Profile Manager interface, until Google gets around to allowing edits for multiple listings in the SERP which they said they will eventually transition to.
Listings can now be claimed and verified in the SERP
The only changes Google have made so far are that you can do the following in the SERP:
- Claim and verify a listing
- Message and respond to customers
- Respond to and report reviews
- Manage your Q&As
- View your call history (this is only available in the US and Canada for now)
Additional tools will be made available in future but as of today, these are the only extra management features you’ll have access to on top of the SERP management that was already available.
How do these changes affect law firms?
There are several ways these changes, and managing your profile in the SERP in general, can impact law firms.
More control over your listings
Law firms that don’t outsource their SEO work will be able to create and edit their listings more easily without having to learn the ins and outs of the Business Profile Manager app.
However, managing profiles can be tricky and your law firm would need to learn SEO best practice for representing their business on Google before making changes that could affect their Google rankings.
Therefore, it’s much safer to seek professional advice from an SEO agency or consultancy before making potentially detrimental changes to your listings.
Connect with clients more easily
It’s always better for law firms to speak with their clients directly through messaging, Q&As and responding to reviews, than to outsource it.
With the ability to respond to clients directly in the SERP, law firms can leave all the fiddly Business Profile Manager work to the SEO experts and focus on interacting with their customers.
The more interaction you have with your clients, the more searchers who have happened upon your profile will see it and know that you care about providing a decent service. It also helps that responding to your clients is a local ranking factor.
Are the Google Business Profile changes good for law firms or not?
In this post we’ve covered why Google My Business rebranded to Google Business Profile, what changes came along with this rebrand and how they impact law firms.
The ability to edit listings in the SERP is a double-edged sword as editing details without understanding Google’s best practice could disturb your listing’s rankings, however, engaging with your customers should help boost your rankings.
The best way to handle these changes would be to have someone who knows Google’s best practice fill out the details of your listing and stay on top of it, whilst someone at the firm responds to clients. That way you’ll get the best of both worlds.