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Will Google start charging for local search?

In this week’s Wednesday Workshop, we break down Google’s recent survey about paid features in Google My Business and what it might signal for the future. See what’s cool, what’s not that special, and what’s absolutely mind-blowing – watch it now!


Welcome back to another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn. We’ve got a crazy bit of news for you this week… It looks like Google is thinking about monetizing local search.

Actually, this isn’t much of a surprise, most of us in the Local SEO game have expected that Google would try to monetize this area for quite a while now.

A few weeks ago, Google sent out a survey with lots of strange questions about various Google My Business features, what you’d be likely to pay for those features, and which packages of features you’d be most willing to pay for.

If you’re curious, there’s an awesome write-up of the survey over on my friend Andrew’s site at – you can check it out at (I shortened the link ‘cause I’m too lazy to read out the actual long one).

He’s got a full walk through of the survey, including screen captures.

Here are a few of the most interesting features mentioned or proposed in the survey:

Removing ads from your Google My Business profile.

Yikes. So Google’s thinking about maybe showing ads for competitors on your own business profile? Think about it. Someone searches SPECIFICALLY for your dealership, and on the knowledge panel on the right, there’s a bright and shiny ad for your biggest local competitor. Definitely terrifying!

Promote your “book” button

The included details says “Get a book button on the search results, in addition to your business profile”. So basically, you’d be able to pay to get a “book” button included in the standard search results if your business is already showing up there. This one’s actually an interesting idea.

Promote a special offer or discount on your Business profile

Yikes again. You can already do that with Google Posts. Sounds like they’re going to start charging for something that’s currently free.

Call reports and recordings

Tons of businesses are already using call tracking, so this isn’t anything new. Only difference here is that it’s offered by Google, and will be nicely integrated into Google My Business. This one’s a no-brainer, especially since it makes it super easy to track organic search calls for businesses that aren’t already using call tracking

Featured review

You’ll be able to choose a featured review to display at the top of your profile. Meh. In most cases, who cares? Of course you’d pick a glowing 5 star review – most people won’t care. The only place I’d see this working would be if you had a lot of bad reviews, or a recent string of bad reviews, and you wanted to distract attention.

Automated review responses

You can create messages so Google can respond on your behalf. Aw hell no! We’ve talked about review responses in past videos – they HAVE to be genuine and “real” – automating your responses is an awful idea. You’ll look lazy and uninterested. Definitely a bad idea.

Google search results placement

The description says you can show up in a section near the top of search results. Which you can already do with Google Ads. So this is either expanding the ads section or adding a new local placement section below it. Awesome. Let’s push the legit organic listings even further down the page.

So far, a mixed bag. Some interesting stuff, some scary stuff, and some stuff we don’t really care about. The final three are major bombs.

Verified reviews

Heck yes, Google! Review spam has been a huge problem for years, and it’s been especially bad for car dealers. While it sucks to have to pay for this, it’s awesome. You’d know the reviews that show up for your dealership are actual people who were actual customers.

Google customer support

Lots of people complained about this one, but with the millions of local businesses out there, providing support just isn’t feasible. Now, if you could pay something like 25 bucks a month to have access to a Google my Business support team? Absolute no-brainer. This could be a game-changer.

And the craziest one of all…

Get leads from competitor profiles.

The description says “when a customer messages a business that offers the same services as you, Google will show your business to the customer so they can message you too”

So if you’re a Ford dealer, and someone searches for you BY THE NAME OF YOUR DEALERSHIP and decides to message you through Google My Business, Google will show them other Ford dealers in your area so they can message them as well. Well, only the ones who are paying for the feature.

What the H E double hockey sticks, Google? So, so bad…

The survey ended with package and pricing options, trying to gauge what groups of features people would most likely be willing to buy and at what price point… Prices ranged from as low as $25 a month up to $75 a month.

Nothing’s happening here yet, but obviously this is a direction Google wants to go if they’re sending out surveys that are spelling out what the paid features will look like.

So what do y’all think? Let us know in the comments below.

That’s all the time we’ve got for this week’s video. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again next week with another Wednesday Workshop from DealerOn.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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