Google Maps Testing New Feature that May Help Local Marketers

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Next to a website, one of the most valuable listings a local company can have online is with their Google My Business listing, which determines the information shown on the map in Google search results. When searching for things while travelling, many consumers will use Google Maps to learn about local shopping spots, eateries, attractions and more. Google is hoping to make Google Maps even more useful by testing some improved local search suggestion options.

Last week, the Android Police blog reported that Google is testing a new Google Maps interface for Android which shows category search suggestions based on where you are looking at the map. The feature adds a scrolling floating bar of category searches is showing up on the top of the screen.

“Google is always trying new things with the Maps app’s interface, moving items from the side menu to the floating layers button, implementing different designs of the bottom bar in various regions, and lately just dabbling with more and more changes that fall in line with the new Material Design looks,” the post explained. “And now we have a new change: a scrolling floating bar of category searches is showing up on the top of the screen.”

Currently, six categories are showing up: restaurants, cafes, super markets, gas stations, pharmacies, and hospitals. Clicking on the labels will bring up a search for local locations in that category in Google Maps. The search results will also showcase some of the photos from the Google My Business profile for the businesses.

This functionality is already a part of the Google Maps. Users can access these kinds of searches using the Explore tab. The design being tested moves these functions to an overlay where it will be theoretically easier for consumers to find and use.

Right now, the tests are only in the early stages. Google hasn’t announced or commented on anything, so there’s a chance that this new design may never reach your phone. However, since the functionality is already built in, this is a good time for businesses to check on their Google My Business listing.

Many people forget about their Google My Business once they’ve initially set it up. So the listing could have out-of-date information, old pictures, etc. But since people often use the information they find on Google Maps without checking the full site, it’s more important, at times, to make sure the information on Google Maps is accurate.

Local business owners don’t want to miss out on being shown when someone clicks on the Google Map search for cafes or gas stations. Attracting customers who are searching for your services while they are in your area is the most important part of local marketing. Google Maps already helps business owners do that, but making the “Explore” search options easier to use will make Google Maps even more useful to business owners.

For more recent news about changes and updates to Google, read this article about Google’s recent changes to tackle online scammers who target small business owners.

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