Appointment booking via Google could mean big things for small businesses – and Google itself

Google recent­ly rolled out the abil­i­ty to book appoint­ments at US salons and spas direct­ly with­in search results and Google Maps. Whether it expands fur­ther remains to be seen, but, in the mean­time, it offers inter­est­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for both Google and small...

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Google recent­ly rolled out the abil­i­ty to book appoint­ments at US salons and spas direct­ly with­in search results and Google Maps.

Whether it expands fur­ther remains to be seen, but, in the mean­time, it offers inter­est­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for both Google and small busi­ness­es.


Accord­ing to Tom LaVec­chia, pres­i­dent of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm X Fac­tor Media, the move marks Google beef­ing up its own local pres­ence, which has been some­what weak so far.

And, for Mar­cus Miller, head of SEO and PPC at dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm Bowler Hat, the main take­away is Google allow­ing con­sumers to do more with­in search results.

Google by its very nature is always send­ing peo­ple away from the search engine, con­trary to Face­book or [oth­er social plat­forms] where users spend far more actu­al time,” Miller said. “By weav­ing more func­tion­al­i­ty into the search results, local or oth­er­wise, they can keep peo­ple on the search engine longer and have more [of a] chance to get peo­ple to click ads.”

For his part, David Erick­son, vice pres­i­dent of online mar­ket­ing at Kar­woski & Courage Pub­lic Rela­tions, agreed Google is insert­ing itself into the cus­tomer jour­ney at a point where said con­sumer might break away, which could be ben­e­fi­cial for small busi­ness­es that don’t already have the abil­i­ty to book appoint­ments on their web­sites. How­ev­er, he not­ed the com­pa­nies that want to con­trol the book­ing expe­ri­ence and gath­er data on their web­sites could see this as an unwant­ed intru­sion.

Miller said he also wouldn’t be sur­prised to see this ini­tial­ly free fea­ture even­tu­al­ly become paid.

Per Miller, this means it’s even more impor­tant than ever that small busi­ness­es stay abreast of what is hap­pen­ing in local search so they can ben­e­fit from rel­e­vant fea­tures “and make sure they are ear­ly movers to ben­e­fit before the paid ele­ments even­tu­al­ly creep in”.

Erick­son also advised small busi­ness­es imple­ment a sys­tem to solic­it feed­back of cus­tomer reviews as “star rat­ings and cus­tomer reviews with­in the search results and the knowl­edge pan­el will play a huge role in whether or not a poten­tial cus­tomer decides to use the book­ing fea­ture”.

This could also be a sign that, like jobs and trav­el, Google is con­sid­er­ing a move into online book­ing and appoint­ment ser­vices.

With Gmail and Google Cal­en­dar, the fun­da­men­tal infra­struc­ture is there for Google to enter that mar­ket,” Erick­son added.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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