It happened again. Google My Business has released another update. Curious how it’ll affect your storage business? You should be! Your Google My Business listing shows up when people search for your business in Maps or through a traditional query, and changes to the listing could impact the way your leads find you. Read on for more information on the updates and get the deets on how to handle the latest changes.

1. Texting

Or as Google calls it, “Messaging". This brand new feature allows users to text your business from your Google My Business listing, as well as the traditional options to call, get directions, or visit website. It’s just like it sounds: you get a text from Google with the question that the user has, and your response is sent through Google to the user. The goal? Get people who really hate talking on the phone to still connect personally with your business.

A Google My Business listing example with Messaging turned on.

How to use it:

While not all dashboards currently have the messaging feature available, Google ensures us that all U.S. Google My Business dashboards should be able to use the feature shortly. For now, the feature is only available via mobile browsers or the Android Google Maps app. Simply sign in to your Google My Business account and look for the “Chat” option in the menu. For help turning the feature on or off for your listing, check out this support article from Google.

Best practices:

Since the number comes from Google, numbers from Messaging are not trackable leads, so it’s best not to use your facility’s tracked phone number for this feature. If you’d like to use this feature, try setting it up with your cell phone number or Google’s Allo app to make texting easy. (Don’t worry, Google masks your number with a Google number, so your personal phone number doesn’t get out to random Googlers.) You’ll get notifications right from your phone, so you never miss a question. Not into texting through Google My Business? It’s quick and easy to disable the messaging feature.

2. Questions & Answers

Much like reviews, Google Maps has launched a Questions & Answers feature directly into Google My Business listings. This feature will allow customers to post a question on your business listing and for the business owner to provide an answer. The Q&As feature is public, and owners can’t remove or choose which Q&As to show, just like reviews. Users can answer other user’s questions, “thumbs up” content that they find helpful, or flag content that is incorrect or spam.

The mobile view of Google My Business with the new Questions & answers feature.

A question and answer example in the storEDGE Google My Business listing.

How to use it:

Currently, this feature is only available via mobile browsers and the Android Google Maps app, but a full version is expected to roll out this year. On your Android phone (or a friend’s), open the Google Maps app and log into your Google My Business account. From there, you’ll be able to add any commonly asked questions and answers to your listing. When you’re logged in, you’ll be able to get push notifications from Google Maps on Android if a user asks or answers a question about your business.

Best practices:

Just like reviews, this is something you’re going to have to keep an eye on. When a user posts a question, you’ll want to make sure to answer it promptly as a business owner. Since this is a new feature, there’s no telling quite how popular it will become with users. But to get out ahead of it, you can post a few of your own Q&A. If your website has a FAQ page, then you already have Q&A written up! Simply copy and paste some of the questions and answers from your FAQ page into your Google Q&A.

Example questions:

  • What are your office hours?
  • What are your access hours?
  • Do you offer climate controlled storage space?
  • Do I have to provide my own lock?
  • What kind of security features are available?
  • Do you offer boxes and packing supplies?

The list is endless. Start with three to six questions that you feel are frequently asked about your facility, and go from there. Keep a close eye on your business listing - new questions could pop up from curious users at any time!

3. Websites

Say, what? That’s right. You can make a website attached to your Google My Business listing now. It’s super basic, limited to only one page, and simply provides a landing page for small businesses. The tool pulls information from your filled out Google My Business listing to create a one-page website with a customizable theme, photos, and text.

A Google My Business website example displayed on desktop and mobile.

How to use it:

Already have a website? Great. Then you don’t need this tool! Google My Business’s new websites tool works as a very simple, free landing page for small businesses who otherwise wouldn’t have a use for a website. The Google My Business website offers paid upgrades (like a customizable domain name) and does not function with actionable web tools like online move-ins, tracked phone lines, and contact forms.

Best practices:

If you already have a website, don’t enable Google My Business’s website feature. Doing so will remove your actual website link from all Google My Business and Google Maps listings and instead point users to your new Google My Business website - losing all of your lead tracking capability. (Pro tip: If you accidentally enabled this, and you’re a storEDGE website client, never fear - our SEO and local search experts can help you fix it!)

4. Posts

Now, you can post social media-esque status updates on your Google My Business listing with the new Posts feature. The new posts appear right in your Google listing in both search and Maps results. With Google's insights, you can also see how many people viewed your posts.

A Google My Business Posts example expanded on mobile.

A Google My Business Posts example on mobile.

How to use it:

This update left many people scratching their heads and wondering why, until they saw an example. The new Posts feature lets you control the first thing a customer sees about your business in Google search and Maps. You can add event news, an image and a little info about your amenities, or simply wish users a holiday greeting. It brings a little personality to Google My Business!

To start using the feature, simply log into your Google My Business account on your phone, tablet, or computer, and access your listing to create a post. For more help getting started with Posts, follow these tips from the Google team.

Best practices:

Got special holiday hours, a charity drive, or an auction coming up that you want to invite the public to participate in? This is the perfect place to post an eye-catching image and informational post. You can also use the space as free marketing to talk about your self storage businesses amenities and upgrades.

Example posts:

  • share your current online move-in or customer referral specials to encourage new and existing customers to take advantage of your offers
  • promote upcoming charity events and tell customers about upcoming auctions that are happening at your location
  • showcase your top self storage amenities and highlight new features

The sky's the limit for creativity when it comes to the new Posts feature. It’s a fun and easy way to give your Google My Business listing the extra oomph it needs to stand out.

That’s all from the latest update! If you’ve got more questions on Google’s latest features for business listings, we’ve got answers. (We’re total nerds when it comes to Google search.) Check out our other blog posts on this topic, right here: How users search for self storage + the #1 reason why you shouldn't obsessively Google yourself, How to get more Google My Business reviews without having to nag customers, and How to choose between Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.