As of April 30, 2022, the Google My Business API will change name. It will be the Google Business Profile API. Companies will have to adapt to their size and the number of managed sites.
Google My Business API users have two months to prepare: As of April 30, the API will be permanently replaced by the Google Business Profile API, and therefore, Google warns, “existing endpoints will be abandoned and eventually disappear.” Main change: Only companies with multiple sites can continue to work on the API. Indeed, Google is announcing “evolving to support mainly large companies with multiple sites”.
There are simply no APIs for small businesses. To use the Google service, they now need to connect by doing a Google search for their business name. Or, while connected, type “my company” into the search engine and go to their profile. These companies will also be able to access their profile directly from the Google Maps application.
The challenge for companies to properly manage API changes is great. According to a study by customer opinion manager Custplace, the number of searches referring to a local retail outlet increased by more than 900% between early 2020 and mid-2021. Nearly half of Google searches also involve local information according to the survey, conducted from January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 at more than 50,000 retail outlets, 90% of which are part of a large network.
However, to be well positioned in local searches, managing Google My Business listings is very important. These listings are one of the most important local SEO factors, whether for organic search or for the local package.
In this context, how do you make this API change a success for companies? Barry Schwartz, editor of Search Engine Land, identifies two cases. “Most businesses, I would say 99%, don’t use this API. This change won’t affect it. It only affects those using the old Google My Business API. Those using it through third-party software or their own software, should be aware of API changes and adapt accordingly.”
For this, Google offers a Google My Business API “drop-out schedule”. The Mountain View company page shows the migration dates from the legacy resource to the API replacement resource.
Google explains: “The term ‘discontinued’ means that the API version will continue to work as intended, but may no longer be updated or fix bugs. In addition, support is limited. The term ‘disappeared’ indicates that the API version has been discontinued and is no longer available.” And to clarify: “We recommend migrating to the latest version as soon as possible after launch.”
The new resources are REST resources. The Google Business Profile API is indeed a REST API. This has the specificity of using intermediaries and helps developers manipulate data. REST works with url and http requests such as Get, Post, Put… The server is requested by a URL suggested by the API creator.
After the request, the computer receives data in JSON, in the case of the Google Business Profile API. This language is no longer only used to set priorities, as is the case with the HTML structuring language, but also to give meaning to the content.
For simplicity, Google’s REST resources allow you to store and label objects by category. For example, they offer the possibility to specify the type of account that the person has: a personal or user account, or a professional account.
For example, the replacement resource “Account Locations” lists “Service Item” as new. “Service item” is a message describing a single service item. It is used to describe the type of service provided by the merchant. For example, cutting can be a service.
These novelties will a priori enable a finer approach. According to Mike Blumenthal, local search SEO specialist at Near Media, “It helps meet the more complex needs of multi-location businesses.” For him, the Mountain View company is “moving from a centralized and massive Google My Business API to a multitude of small APIs with very specific functions.”
Nevertheless, if Google wants to optimize business awareness with Google Business Profile, this API change raises questions about the risk of a two-speed situation that this could create between businesses. In between, multisite, manage an API and take advantage of all its power. And on the other hand, small businesses with only one site, which will necessarily have a much more “manual” approach to the tool, may be less effective.