Today, Google announced the release of v4.6 of the Google My Business API. This new API version introduces several features related to Google's support for service lists, also known as service attributes. More detail can be found in the change log page of the GMB API documentation.
Already live in the Google My Business dashboard, service lists allow businesses to indicate services they offer in relation to their chosen business categories. Unlike GMB attributes, which are tied to the primary category of a business only, service lists can be attached both to primary and secondary categories.
A service differs from an attribute. Attributes are, broadly speaking, what we usually think of as amenities for a category like hotels -- special features that may be available at certain locations, such as free parking or wifi, or that may be associated with the business itself rather than its offerings, such as LGBTQ friendly or women-led.
Services, on the other hand, are specific business offerings -- things you probably charge for -- that help to differentiate you from similar businesses and to highlight the terms that consumers might have searched for in order to find you. For example, here's what service lists look like in the GMB dashboard for a business using the category "Gas station":
Services like fuel delivery and oil change are commonly performed by gas stations, so Google includes them as preconfigured items that you can click to enable if your business offers them. All categories -- even those with no predefined services -- also have a free text option, indicated by the button marked "Add custom service," where a business can type in any services they offer that are linked closely to the chosen category.
Businesses should make sure the services they select -- especially those entered in custom fields -- are truly relevant and accurate, and should not use these fields to enter brand names or keywords just for the purpose of trying to rank for more searches. Multi-location brands should use consistent wording across all locations for common services, so that, to the extent Google may index this content for long-tail queries, voice searches, and featured snippets, you'll stand the best chance of having your business offerings properly understood and treated consistently.
With the new API update, of course, it will be far easier for multi-location brands to make use of service lists, since the barrier of manually adding them one location at a time has been removed. The API update also makes it easy to query for available predefined services across all GMB categories.