On December 15, Google launched the Google My Business API, which creates a completely new way for brands and platforms to get information about their locations into Google Search and Google Maps.
The API changes the game by allowing owners of locations more control over how they appear to customers in search, and it improves the consumer experience by delivering more accurate, more comprehensive information.
This investment underscores the central importance of location as a data element in the Google ecosystem across maps, search and ads — something many experts in the industry prognosticated about at the close of last year.
Google My Business (GMB) is the interface through which businesses manage their business listings on Google. Using GMB, businesses can add and claim locations, edit listing information (such as opening hours), clean up closed and duplicate locations and more.
Prior to the Google My Business API, all businesses made updates manually in the GMB dashboard one location at a time or by bulk uploading information in a spreadsheet. That could take hours every month for a single location.
The process was (perhaps) manageable for an individual, small business, and even some small chains, but for large enterprises or large digital marketing platforms, it was a choke point in the flow of information. Large enterprises and large digital marketing platforms that manage thousands of small and medium-sized business clients were suffering through hundreds of manual updates across thousands of listings each day.
The Google My Business API removes most of the manual work by feeding information directly into Google. But the API isn’t open to just anyone. Google will only accept data from approved, trusted providers that meet strict standards for data quality. Since the information will appear to consumers across the Google ecosystem, it has to be reliable.
The API is designed for use by enterprises and location management platforms that serve as the source of truth for brands’ location data. Small businesses that manage their location information on their own will continue to make updates through the GMB dashboard.
By streamlining GMB with the API, Google will receive more frequent content updates — since the extra steps involved with manual entry and bulk uploads mean that updates happen less frequently. With the API, businesses can send a stream of fresh data to Google’s servers. And better data is a win for customers and businesses.
In the launch announcement, Google used the example of setting special hours for the holiday season as an example of the type of updates that a business can make using the API.
Consumers rely on Google to get around, and they expect the information to be current, correct and comprehensive, even in special situations like the holidays. With the API, Google is making it as easy as possible for businesses to meet customers’ very high expectations.
The API also opens new sources of information to Google. Business listing information on Google frequently comes from crawling third-party sites or compiling data from outdated lists instead of from the businesses themselves.;