In June of 2021, Google updated its help document to say “Important: You can no longer create or edit short names. Short names and URLs that already exist will still work.”
A Google My Business (GMB) short name is a feature that helps a business to easily drive users to a GMB Profile or help solicit reviews.
In June of 2019 Google My Business announced the arrival of GMB short names.
Here was the promise:
“Find businesses quicker with short names and URLs: Business owners can now claim a short name and URL for their business. With this URL, businesses can easily refer customers back to their Profile – to catch up on the latest updates, to make a booking, or to write a review after a visit. In the coming months, people will also be able to search short names in Maps.“
But Google (as usual) has other plans.
Well, the booking feature never happened as a feature addon to short names. As a matter of fact, GMB did not really bother to market the short name feature at all, they left it to businesses to find it on the home page of the GMB Web dashboard or for marketers to talk about it.
So this day can only be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Google does this a lot)
On June 2nd, 2021 (one year after launch)
GMB News: Shortnames are being deprecated. If you have an existing shortname it will continue to work. However, you cannot create new ones or edit them.#localseo @rustybrick pic.twitter.com/9juzA3BwTO
— Ben Fisher (@TheSocialDude) June 3, 2021
You can still use your shortname if you have one, but you cannot edit or rename them. You can delete them. They still function perfectly for asking for a review.
Why did this happen?
The official word from GMB is this “Google is constantly launching and iterating, testing new features” – which is not vague at all. But it is standard.
My Personal Thoughts:
I personally found them to be very effective, increasing review solicitation success by almost 40%. The feature was not used enough and therefore not being supported for future developments. However, there was enough usage to keep the feature versus killing it completely. Typical of Google really, take a cool idea that can help merchants, do not continue to develop, do not market, and therefore kill it. – I wonder if product managers get a bonus for failed features?
Thoughts from the SEO Community:
- Mike Blumenthal’s thoughts capture this perfectly “One more non-promoted feature, one more deprecation. Lots of very interesting potential to create transactional capabilities for the Business but no real effort to develop the idea or facilitate uptake. The life cycle of short links is typical of many innovative features.“
- Bill Slawski: I created a GMB short name, looked at it and laughed my head off, closed the page, and forgot it ever happened. The end. It was worth a good laugh, but my name was already memorable and easy to remember, and easy to spell, so a short name was a waste of my time.
- Andy Simpson: They are a good short URL for getting reviews from clients, just add /review at the end and it takes users directly to submit a review on the business’s GMB profile.
- Greg Sterling: Familiar story
- Colan Nielsen: Low adoption.
- Aaron Blaise: Google finally doing something right. I have had more suspensions created from adding the shortcode than anything else as of late.
- Adam Humphreys: I didn’t ever really get excited about those.
- Amy Toman: I know many small businesses who’ve used them with great success. I wish they’d left them, or have a substitute in the works.
- Lily Ray: No but pretty sure they got one of my clients suspended
What do you do if you liked it?
There is a feature on the home page of GMB Web that allows you to grab a horrible-looking URL to drive people to your GMB Profile or to leave a review. As a matter of fact, it predated and functions exactly like a short name. It can be used but it is more than likely not going to be used as much. It is easier to use link generation tools.
In the end, Google giveth and Google taketh away. Use features while they are there and simply adapt to changes. Thanks for all the fish GMB.