Big News for entrepreneurs and SEO experts! Another major update from Google is that the Google Business Profile Chat will soon come to an end.

Say goodbye to those easy, in-the-moment chats with your clients straight from your GMB listing as of July 31, 2024.

Google appears to be having a lot of fun lately, introducing new features and changing the algorithm frequently, which keeps us SEO professionals on the alert.

This time, they’re removing an important resource that a lot of companies have grown to rely on. But, that’s Google for you—always striving for perfection.

Brief Summary

Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free tool that puts your business on the map, quite literally.

It boosts your visibility in local searches, showcasing essential information like reviews, hours, and directions, helping potential customers find and choose you.

This is especially crucial for businesses targeting local customers, as GBP helps bridge the gap between a customer’s need and your solution.

The Near Me Factor

GBP capitalises on the “near me” search trend. When people use phrases like “best restaurants near me” or “plumbers near me,” Google prioritises businesses with optimised GBP listings.

This means your business appears prominently in search results when potential customers are actively looking for services in your area, increasing your chances of attracting new leads and customers.

So, What's the Deal?

Google Business Profile Chat

Here’s the Google Business Profile Chat Countdown:

July 15, 2024: Customers won’t be able to start new chats with you.
July 31, 2024: The chat feature gets completely cut down.  No more incoming messages.

Now, this doesn’t mean your customers can’t reach you anymore.

They’ll still find you on Google Search and Maps, but they’ll have to use those good old-fashioned methods like phone calls, emails, or visiting your website.

Why Chat Was Important

Direct Communication: Instant connection for inquiries and real-time support.
Increased Engagement: Fostered interaction and stronger customer relationships.
Lead Generation: Captured potential customer information and facilitated conversions.
Convenience: Enabled on-the-go communication and instant responses.
Competitive Advantage: Offers a more responsive and interactive customer experience.

Why is Google Doing This?

While Google hasn’t officially given any solid reason, they claim it’s all about improving the overall user experience.

They want to make sure the features they offer are actually useful and valuable to both businesses and customers.

So, they’re cutting the chat feature, which they say wasn’t adding much value.

What Can You Do About It?

Don’t panic! There are still plenty of ways to keep in touch with your customers:

1. Download Your Chat History

Before July 31st, make sure you grab all your past conversations using Google Takeout. It’s a good idea to have a record of those interactions.

2. Update Your Google Business Profile

Double-check that all your contact info is up-to-date and accurate. Make sure you have a clickable phone number, email address, and website link prominently displayed.

3. Explore Alternative Communication Channels

Consider adding live chat to your website or using social media messaging to connect with customers.

Google's Commitment to User Experience

Google is all about that user experience.

They’re constantly experimenting with new features and changing  their algorithms to make sure people get the best possible results when they search online.

This change might be a pain in the neck for some businesses, but it’s all part of Google’s mission to provide the most relevant and helpful information to users.

The AI Generative Search Update

Speaking of new features, Google’s recent AI Generative Search update is another game-changer for businesses.

This technology has the potential to shake up organic search results, making it even more crucial for businesses to optimise their online presence and stay ahead of the curve.

With AI-powered search, the competition for those top spots is getting more dense. 

The Bigger Picture

This change is just another reminder that the digital landscape is constantly evolving.

As businesses, we need to be adaptable and willing to embrace new technologies and strategies to stay ahead of the game.

While the Google Business Profile chat feature may be going away, there are plenty of other ways to connect with your customers and grow your business online.

Be Proactive

Look beyond the situation and take it as an opportunity to improve your content. Ensure high user experience, a leading ranking factor according to Google. Instead of blaming AI for dropping results, leverage it to your advantage. It may sound cliché, but being proactive is the only way forward.