Who Will Make the Cut in the New GMB Agency Directory?
May 25, 2018 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
Earlier this month at LSA18 Google announced new APIs, a new Google My Business agency dashboard and the launch of a partner program. In a more recent blog post about the actions Google is taking against scammers targeting local businesses (SMBs), the company again mentioned the new “Google My Business Partners program.”
This will be a directory of “trusted partners” (agencies and those operating as agencies) for SMBs to choose from when seeking help managing listings. It’s not clear whether it will extend beyond SEO into other marketing services/channels. My guess is it probably will.
There has reportedly been high demand to be included in this program, following the announcement and related publicity after LSA18. The criteria Google is using for evaluation and inclusion haven’t been announced. Will NPS/customer satisfaction or customer ratings be a factor? Will campaign performance or churn rates? Will ethical conduct be a criterion?
LSA struggled with a version of these questions when we formulated our own Certification program. In the end, we decided not to get into performance and to focus entirely on policies, transparency and business ethics. On a basic level, however, SMBs would prefer referrals not just to agencies that are honest but to those that are more likely to perform. Yet performance data are hard to obtain and often difficult to compare — unless you’re comparing NPS or standardized customer satisfaction scores.
We’ll see who makes the cut in this new Google directory. There will almost certainly be a geographical component but Google will also need to find ways to sort and filter the list so it’s not unmanageable for SMBs. That will be a challenge.
If the program is done well it could have a significant impact on the market as a go-to resource for local businesses. In that way it might negatively affect traditional sales outreach efforts (e.g., phone calls) among companies seeking to acquire SMB advertisers. Part of what Google is trying to do is minimize the noise in the market and marginalize dubious sales claims and scams.
But this is all speculation before the list is made public, which will happen soon I believe.