in Local Search

SearchEngineLand.com reports:

New pilot feature in Google My Business lets you do live chat with your customers directly from the Google search results.

Google My Business has posted in their help documents about a new pilot program that allows some businesses to chat with their customers directly via the local knowledge graph panel.

A new “message” button is added to your local listing on Google when you are in this test feature. The message button will initiate a chat between your business and the searcher. Google said that “Google My Business allows you to chat directly with customers who find your business listing on Google Search.”

Google said they sent some businesses emails “inviting you to participate in the pilot.” If you have not been invited, you will not have access to this feature.

If any of our readers are in this trial program by Google, here is a Google Help Document for it.

This would be a significant change to the relationship between the Main Street business and Google’s Local Search. Smart move, on it’s face. We can speak to the effectiveness of offering Instant Chat from the Brand website. Will be interesting to see if and how this is further monetized.

My reservations are this… it’s another move by a big portal site doing everything it can to keep it’s visitors from leaving to another site. And if that means YOUR business sees fewer visitors every month, because these prospects are simply calling or contacting via chat from the search page… are you sure that’s the best thing for YOUR bottom line?

There’s a few good arguments why this is not optimal for YOU.

When a visitor comes to your site, it’s a “time to shine” moment. Your making your first impression, with your online presence, in that moment. For those who have been smart about the site design and content… it’s a significant advantage. An advantage you can’t reap if, say, the would-be visitor’s first contact with you is a chat message on a Google Search page, not your site.

My advice to anyone in this program… follow Google’s lead. Get that potential customer away from Google’s search page where they found you and onto a page on your brand’s domain. Have a hot offer page ready for this purpose. And keep going with your ‘Retarget’ program for that and every like visitor with an appropriate message or offer.

If you don’t know what ‘Retarget’ means… give us a call at (888) 406-3484, because you are missing out on more leads, customers and growth.