I recently noticed a new addition to a client’s Google My Business listing on mobile. The business owner, who uses the primary category “pet sitter,” had a tab appear, to the very far right, for a service that is not mentioned in Services or Products, nor connected with pet sitting itself.
The new tab, called “Boarding”, opens to a search result presumably based on a brand search and the term, and surfaces their home page, which doesn’t mention the key term:
The odd part about this is that the service mentioned, boarding is not provided by that business. It is not mentioned in the GMB, they are not using the category for it, and while it’s not mentioned on the connected website in a positive context.
On some pet sitting business websites, the word “boarding” is used, but most frequently in the negative context, similar to “we do not provide boarding.” My own recent poll of professional pet sitters confirmed that the vast majority consider boarding an entirely different service.
The listing owner says she’s not able to edit this tab, and that there’s nothing in the GMB dashboard that indicates the presence of this new option.
I was able to locate one business that does provide boarding and mentions it in a positive context on their website and has “pet boarding service” as her primary category. When her Boarding tab is opened, the same search result is seen:
For this business, I would’ve expected to see their Services page, on which there is more content about this service, but instead, the home page is there, similar to the other non-boarding sites.
That leads me to consider how GMB decided to use the term, “boarding.” Did they base that on linguistic research? How will that be applied to other businesses? Is it an aberration that this term is only tangentially applicable to the primary business category?
Future uses of the new tab
There are some interesting possibilities for these dynamic tabs. They could be used to surface more information on a term that the GMB hasn’t highlighted or terms that are not available in categories. I’d also wonder if pages getting clicked here would affect positioning in search results.
There are downsides as well. In the primary instance above, GMB assigned the term for the tab, and that term is not relevant to the business. There is a “pet boarding service” category, but this business is not using it, so I only guess that GMB considers boarding to be related to the primary category, pet sitter. But that leads me to question their understanding of that business because boarding is done by fewer than 30% of pet sitters, according to a recent study by a major industry organization.
This misunderstanding of the business model is similar to the “Request a Quote” feature on mobile GMBs. The non-editable services listed there cause similar problems; potential clients see those services listed and request quotes, leaving the listing owner to turn them down and risk disappointment. Many have told me they turned this feature off for this specific reason.
What Does This Mean Going Forward?
While I expect the addition of this new tab is a test, I do wonder about its future use. What value does it provide to users? Upon what criteria was this term used, and how will it be used for other business categories? How do users benefit more from these tabs than from the content of the Services or Products tabs? The Products tabs can be customized with clickable links that navigate to specific pages; is it more valuable to potential clients to land there, or to see the more broad search results in these dynamic tabs? I’m sure Google is gauging the reception, so we’ll see over time.