Google recently announced several new Google My Business (GMB) features that are focused on businesses capturing their identity. The new features include:
- welcome offers and discounts
- business short names and URLs
- cover photos
- more prominent logos
- more prominent photos and new captions
- creating offline materials like custom stickers
The business short names are reminiscent of social networks, which enable users to find and associate people and businesses using the @ symbol. Amir Fish, Senior Product Manager for Google Now & Search, described how the new short names work.
Business owners can now claim a short name and URL for their business. With this URL, businesses can easily refer customers back to their Profile – to catch up on the latest updates, to make a booking or to write a review after a visit. In the coming months, people will also be able to search short names in Maps.
Greg Sterling, Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land, attended a pre-announcement event where Google went into more details about the new short names. He wrote that the short names
will be ‘a global namespace,’ so the Bon Vivant cafe in Los Angeles could be competing against a similarly named restaurant in Paris or Vietnam for @bonvivant.
Eric Wu, Head of Product and Growth at BloomNation, told Coywolf that the short names reminded him
of the days of Google+ and how SMBs would utilize Google+ Business Accounts. He did have concerns about how short names would be assigned.
My main concern would be that those who are abusing the local search results with spammy listings will actually be the ones who are able to register the more premium names; and as usual, the real small business owner will not have the opportunity to really own or build their brand.
Wu’s concerns were echoed at the pre-announcement event that Sterling attended. Sterling wrote that
Google projected confidence, without going into detail, that it has a process to address these issues and prevent such conflicts, but he expressed skepticism by appending their statement with,
Based on how short names have been historically used on other platforms (including Google+), it’s likely that Google has bigger plans for them. For now, they’re being used under the guise of identity verification and short URLs, but this may be yet another attempt by Google to try and build a new social platform.