More threads by Rich Owings

I'm not surprised by this. I'm not happy, but I'm not surprised, either.
Interesting business model. Make billions of people dependent on your services. Expand to a trillion dollar international corporation with a virtual monopoly. Quietly strangle your "do no evil" motto in its sleep. Then start charging people money to meet your goal of becoming richer and more powerful than most nations or the Vatican.

It's the same business model used by drug dealers.
Probably not a good development, I agree, but I think the silver lining is that Google would bungle the paid GMB components so badly that most businesses won't bother using them. They'll continue to rustle up what they can.

The "drug dealer" comparison works the other way, too: Google's also addicted to local searches, because the volume is huge, because many of those searches have buying intent (i.e. they'll click on ads), and because there's so much to learn about searchers' habits. If Google consumes its own stuff too much and turns into Tony Montana, people won't pay as much attention to the local map, and that won't end well for customers or for Google. So I think there's a built-in incentive for Google to change (monetize) GMB only slowly, and maybe not too wildly.
Face it peeps, "Google loves Google!" I can remember in August, 2015, Google said; "Bye-Bye "Seven pack". That was not a good day to be an SEO'er. I lost some serious biz that week. Even worse, thousands of SEO companies could be put out of business overnight, and you all realize it as well. Businesses won't pay to fight for page two, and why should they. I'm glad I'm Google Ads Certified, because that's where I'm steering my clients. Soon, Free Ad space will be worth what you paid for it, but some paid a lot for "See More" I can still rank in the three pack, but for how long?
Has anyone discussed this with clients yet? I'm considering sending out a little info blast on it but don't want to jump the gun.

Also as @JoyHawkins said, we knew this was coming. And I expect this will evolve into a Local SMB CRM at some point.

I know we don't like when stuff thats free becomes paid, but based on the pricing and features, is this really all bad? Certainly some of the mentioned features like Removing Ads from Business Profile and Get Leads from Competitor Profiles would flatly piss me off. But I'd love some built in call reporting and recordings (without the workarounds we use now with tracking numbers)!

Verified Licenses, Background checks, verified reviews would all really help my very real and honest clients stand out from the Spam, and if it costs $25-30 a month to get those features that drive more traffic and get higher conversion rate and be able to show that, that sounds like a pretty great idea for a lot of my clients.

We'll have to see what it actually ends up looking like, but however it does, I'll choose to find a way to make it a positive for clients rather than fighting it.
Lanerizz brought up a good point. A fee would cut a lot of spam businesses out. However, that's not a system, especially if you're not in the 3 pack. I believe, it will ultimately come down to all businesses must become Google Guaranteed. (Business licensed, registered, insured and biz name verified, along with location) After that, your are eligible to join in on the keyword auctioning platform. Come On Down, the price is right. Google will then apply the same "Quality Score" based on keywords, ad language, CTR, relevance, landing page relevance, overall advertising history and Price bid. The ad icon will be removed, and Google will have a system capable of slowly rising ad bids. The system is secretive, easy to manipulate and the only game in town.
So, you like doing business in your neighborhood, you gotta pay a little more, then a little more.
So in my opinion, most articles and stuff I've seen on Twitter is blowing this way out of proportion. It was just a survey. It doesn't mean that Google is even considering anything that was on it. I think it was just a good way for them to get some feedback on what items people would be willing to pay for.

Either way, I'm not overly concerned.

Colan shared some really great advice that we should all take into consideration :)

I too thought sooner or later google would charge one for a GMB listing. If google were to be business savvy, they would invest the money back into the product improving the features and support?
Thanks @JoyHawkins the more I think about it, the more I lean toward pausing and waiting for more developments before causing unnecessary panic.

And that Colan tweet is spot on, a mantra we all need to keep in mind in a world where most of the tools we use are free for our clients to sign up for...
I agree with Colan that we don't have much to worry about for now, but I'm pretty concerned about where this could go in the long term.

With so many features in the SERPS, it's going to be increasingly difficult for users to tell the difference between paid and organic results, which might interest regulators like the European Commission. If business owners have to pay to earn significant traffic for a term as relevant as their own business name, that's a fundamental shift in how Google works.

Fighting spam is expensive and the extend to which Google can afford to, or be expected to, we can't really determine. But I think there are better ways to fund GMB and protect the integrity of the product than this.
I wanted to update you all that I asked Google about this and they said the survey was just one effort for them to help understand how they can bring more value to users. (Joy's translation: Nothing really specific to worry about).
...that they're willing to disclose at this time.

Still, I agree that monetized GMB results aren't necessarily all bad news, and probably wouldn't even change the local landscape that much.
It was only a matter of time before Google tried to squeeze more out of local businesses. AdWords management still relies on middlemen (agencies) which makes the sales funnel longer to secure the advertising money. By making it easier for business owners to pay for their own enhanced presence on Google this cuts out that middle man.

This sounds an awful lot like Yelp. Hopefully they don't turn to the same extortion-like tactics.
Hi everyone. Just wanted to say 'hi' and thanks to Rich for sharing my article.

As a long time 'lurker' here it kinda made my day for someone to post my stuff on LSF. :)

I think I made my thoughts pretty clear in the piece. This seems pretty worrying to me. As someone that works with a lot of small, local businesses £700/$900 a year is not a small amount; whereas for some of their big, multinational competitors it's a drop in the ocean.

I appreciate "it's just a survey" and that, via Joy (thanks Joy!) we have some reassurance it's nothing to worry about - but that smacks of a politicians answer to me. From what I saw in that survey, the intent is pretty clear. I don't think this was a throwaway survey or some intern's project.

Google, supposedly, wants to be 'the answer machine' but if small businesses are frightened/priced/or mobbed out of SERPs, then the answers Google gives will be less helpful. When I search for "great burgers near me" I don't want only McDonalds and Burger King, because local biz couldn't afford to pay-to-play.

As GMB is, the incentive is for everyone to make their GMB listing as impactful (and useful) as possible. This feels like a step in the wrong direction.


P.S. I forgot - if anyone wants to see the survey without having to go through all 40 agonising questions, I screenshot the whole thing here:
@optimisey it's about time you joined.😉

I agree the answer is very PR-ish.

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