You may have heard about the survey Google sent last week to small business owners, asking for their feedback about a range of paid features that could at some point be added to Google My Business. I posted a column yesterday over at Street Fight that covers what's in the survey and offers some speculation about what it means.
In summary, I wrote that although a paid version of Google My Business would be a major change in the 14 year history of Google's local product line, the survey itself does not indicate any concrete plans or any specific timelines. Moreover, it seems to suggest that the current feature set, for the most part, would remain available at no charge, with possible packages of additional features added for a monthly fee.
Now Google has released a statement on the topic to partners:
"We’re always experimenting with new ways to improve the experience for businesses on Google. We consider many features and determine which to roll out based on a variety of factors. We take a very thoughtful approach when determining whether to offer paid experiences and this survey is just one effort to help us understand how we can bring more value to these businesses."
Google's statement is short on specifics, but the use of terms like "experimenting" is notable. I was also told informally that the survey was very much an exploratory activity and that, confirming my earlier speculation, the free model would likely continue for existing features.
We will, of course, keep our ears to the ground for any further developments. As usual, stay tuned to the Brandify blog for the news that matters in local!