The Definitive Guide to Google Business Profile Optimization

What you need to know to optimize your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business Listing)

Allie Margeson

Last Updated: July 21, 2023.

Enabling Chat for your Customers

Messaging is an instant messaging feature built into Google Business Profiles that allows searchers to chat with your business straight from the search results. It’s available on desktop and mobile in the Chrome browser and the Google Maps app.

Aside from the “Call” button, there is no other Google Business Profile feature that puts you in more direct contact with your customers. Enabling this feature opens a new way for searchers to communicate with you, and for you to convert them to customers. It is available for most Google Business Profile categories.

Quick Links

How can searchers chat with your business?

There are three ways to chat with a business:

  1. The chat icon,
  2. The request a quote button, and
  3. The chat button on Posts (mobile only).

Should you use this feature?

The answer to this question is going to be different for every business owner and business type. If you have the staff and the ability to respond immediately to a chat inquiry and it makes sense for your business then this may be the ideal feature for you. Two-way messaging can improve a customer’s experience, especially if it’s a customer that doesn’t want to call to ask a quick question and text is their ideal communication method.

If you are not going to be readily available to answer texts for your business and the response time will be delayed, this is not an ideal feature for you. This is an “on-demand” type of feature, which means expectations for a quick response are high. If you opt-in to use this feature but you don’t respond to incoming messages or you take an unreasonable amount of time to respond, you will lose the feature!

History of Google Business Profile Messaging

Local SEOs often caution to watch what Google does, not what it says. There’s a lot we can learn from the history of Google Business Profile Messaging. This feature is always changing. While that’s not always great for reliability, it has been significantly improved recently. If you’ve given up before, we want to encourage you to test it out again.

In March 2005, Google Local Business Center launched and allowed businesses to update their information on Google Local for accuracy. After years of new launches, merges and deprecations, Google My Business (now known as Google Business Profile) was launched in June 2014.

By November 2016, Messaging was being tested in active beta.

In July 2017, Google started rolling out the Messaging feature in the U.S. on desktop, mobile and the Android search app using SMS and Allo. Messages couldn’t be answered through the Google Business Profile Manager (dashboard) and customers would see a proxy number for the business’s response. It wasn’t very elegant, but it seems it hoped to compete with Facebook’s ability to give business owners a direct chat opportunity from their business page to customers.

In November 2018, customers were given access to their Messages with businesses via the Google Maps app. Messaging continued to roll out to more countries and by December 2018, business owners could answer Messages through the Google My Business app. Mike Blumenthal called it “a clear indication GMB is gaining capabilities for better b-c communications.”

The Messaging strategy was further complicated by the shutdown of some integrated messaging apps, including the impending demise of Google Allo.

In September 2019, Google started to toggle off the functionality of this feature when a business is unresponsive. For businesses already using Messaging via SMS, nothing changed until November 2019 when Google announced “messaging will move from SMS to the free Google My Business app.”

When the Messaging feature is enabled, the business profile may display this additional button. The call-to-action text of this feature cannot be edited by the business and will display “Request a Booking” or “Get a Quote” or similar.

In December 2020, we saw three improvements to Messaging:

  1. Messages can be managed directly in the Google Maps app (not just the My Business app).
  2. A Chat button on Google Posts for businesses with Messaging enabled. (Google will tell you a Message came from a Post, but not which one).
  3. When a searcher calls a business but there’s no answer, there’s a prompt to send a Message instead.

In February 2021, Google updated its Messaging feature so businesses can manage chats with customers in the dashboard on desktop. Although initially pretty unreliable, June 2021 saw the full roll out of web notifications.

In October 2021, Messages notifications started appearing in the desktop version of the Business Profile Manager.

In November 2021, Google announced the rebrand of Google My Business to Google Business Profile. Along with this announcement comes the plan to deprecate the My Business app. Once the app is no longer available, business owners will have a few options to manage Messaging: the NMX (New Merchant Experience), the Google Maps app, on Search, or through a third-party application.

In April 2022, Google emailed business owners to push using Google Maps and Search to update Business Profiles because the Google My Business app is being replaced. Google did not provide a deadline for using the My Business app.


The key benefit of Messaging is the immediacy of the medium – strike while the iron is hot. Messaging adds a new channel of communication, so consider if this feature would be beneficial to your business. Messaging is an additional way for searchers to interact with your business – not everyone wants to call, not everyone is searching for your business when you’re open and available to take a call, not everyone has the patience to wait the 1-2 days that your contact form’s thank you page is telling them to wait.

Messaging can improve user experience.

A recent survey by Leadferno asked what are the top benefits of texting with a business? I think we can extrapolate the most common answers to see what are the benefits to your clients when they have an option to message your business:

  • Easy interaction
  • Fast replies
  • Answers to general questions

Messaging helps your business stand out… It is the feature that powers this HUGE call-to-action button, which gives searchers another option to contact you.

Messaging is now easier to use since Google launched desktop management and web notifications (2021). Now whether you need to manage chats with leads on the go through the app, or at your office or home-base, you have options.

Best practices

  1. Set up notifications
    Turn on notifications for Messaging in the Google Maps app or on desktop/web so you never let a valuable lead slip through the cracks.
  2. Consider a form for new leads
    If you need specific information from every lead – such as service type, city, etc. – create a simple form you can link right away.
  3. Be prepared to answer common questions
    Equip the staff who will be managing Messaging with standard answers to your frequently asked questions to cut down on wait time for leads.
  4. Set up a welcome message
    You can add a custom welcome message with up to 120 characters. This is a great place to include the form mentioned above or set expectations about your response time.

  • Manage Messaging from a professional account
    In the Messaging feature, user profiles for people managing your business profile are not masked as the business. This means that when you reply to a message, the name and photo of the user responding will show as the sender. You may be familiar with how your responses to Google reviews or Questions in the Q&A feature appear as if the business is responding by masking the manager’s identity – that’s not the case for Messaging. As a business, you may want to vet your business profile’s manager(s) name(s) and photo(s), or you could create a new Google account using your business name and logo to manage Messaging to avoid this hiccup altogether.


  • Be responsive
    Customers using chat systems are expecting immediate responses. Respond to every message as quickly as possible. Google can shut off Messaging if you don’t respond quickly.
  • Set Expectations
    You can set expectations in your initial response or custom welcome message, but there are a few ways Google will show leads how responsive your business is: your average response time will be displayed in the chat automatically and is also visible on your profile In Google Search (but you can toggle on/off read receipts).

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