Over the last few months there has been a lot of talk in the local SEO industry about the newly released Google My Business API. Speaking as a professional who has been helping businesses manage their Google My Business profiles for several years, this new API is very exciting — and perhaps a little overdue. There has been a large number of major changes and pivots in the Google “local pack”, so when there was talk of an API release, I admit I was a bit skeptical. In fact, when I first caught wind of an API release it was barely a blip on my radar. I simply moved on with my day.
To my complete surprise (and excitement), the rumors proved true: the Google My Business API was and is real! In response, DAC quickly jumped in to develop against this API as we knew there would be huge benefits for us internally and, of course, benefits for our clients. Before the hype and excitement of having a direct API with Google starts to fade away, I want to share with you what this new connection actually does AND, what benefits having this API implemented offer. Allow me to bring some clarity to the topic.
What the Google My Business API is and what it does
The Google My Business API is an automated process that allows authorized representatives to manage business location data for Google Maps, Search, and Ads (https://developers.google.com/my-business/). Essentially, it’s an efficient way to update the data that Google uses for your local business. This could help for things like making changes to your business name, address, or phone number without having to manually log in to your Google My Business profile account.
What are the benefits of this API?
Whether your business has one location or thousands of locations, this API has several benefits.
- It provides a much faster approach to notifying Google of changes to your location information.
- The API is completely automated, leaving less margin for human error.
- A variety of location data changes can be automated through the API, including:
- Changes to core business information such as name, address, and phone number
- Creating / opening new business profiles
- Removing / closing businesses that are no longer active
- Updating and managing business hours of operation
- Updating and managing business photos
- Adding business managers and business accounts
- Setting service areas for the business
What does this API NOT do?
Although there are a lot of positives the API can achieve, there are some limitations:
1. The API cannot verify, or claim, a business profile. Businesses still need to have their locations verified through one of Google’s standard verification processes:
- Verify by postcard
- Verify by phone (when available)
- Instant verification (when available)
- Bulk verification (available for businesses with 10+ locations)
2. The API does not provide businesses with instant profile updates for all of their business information that is being updated.
Even though businesses can now provide Google with real-time information changes on their profile, timelines for Google actually publishing these changes still remain the same: Google has always said that any change to business information will take between 24-48 hours to take effect online. These rules still apply with the new Google My Business API — and while businesses can send location data more frequently, it may still take Google a day or two to push the changes through. It is also good to note that updating or changing photos and logos on a Google My Business profile typically takes much longer than other types of data changes; even with this new API in place, updating a photo on a business profile can take between 5-7 business days before the change is properly reflected online.
3. The API does not replace the need to actively manage your location data accuracy and visibility.
When there is an API created between two systems, it’s easy to assume that this replaces the need to make sure every aspect is working optimally. This is not the case with the Google My Business API. Yes, having this direct connectivity between your business location data and Google is a very good thing, but it does not replace the need to actively manage your location’s visibility and accuracy in Google and other search engines and online publishers. DAC is proud of the way we actively manage, cleanse, optimize and distribute our clients’ location data across the local search ecosystem. This new API does not replace our active management process, but it does make it even more effective!
This new Google My Business API is very exciting, and it represents a huge step forward for Google. Businesses can now take advantage of providing real-time location data changes to ensure that their profiles are being published online with the correct location information. Be wary, though, when someone tells you that they can make “instant” updates to your Google profiles: this API simply does not do that (yet).
This API allows us to speed up the data change process and become more efficient in our client relationships. As such, we are very excited about making the Google My Business API part of our Local Presence Management suite of solutions. If you have any questions as to how this API directly affects your business – we’re here to help!