As always, change is afoot in local search. Join us for a whistle-stop tour through all the updates you need to know, from a significant new search trend to a big shake-up in local ranking factors.
“Open now near me” searches explode in popularity
Google recently released its Consumer Insights 2022 Retail Marketing Guide and one of the most striking findings is that searches including “open now near me” have grown globally by over 400% year over year.
Unsurprisingly, results for searches that include the “open now near me” qualifier are largely determined by hours of operation. For instance, a search for “oil change open now near me” will primarily return business listings for nearby locations that are open at the time of the search.
With Google Business Profile (GBP) allowing owners to specify secondary hours, holiday hours, and more, all businesses should take advantage of such features. If your business can open for longer than your competitors—especially locally—Google may well reward you with additional visibility and traffic.
The Local Product Feed is now a major ranking factor
Google’s latest algorithm update has made the Product Feed not just an auxiliary feature of retailers’ local marketing strategies but a mandatory one. For your business to rank well on Google search and on Maps, every business with inventory must include some form of Product Feed within their GBP listing. A simple Google search now shows that the three-pack, which did not display inventory only a month prior, now regularly populates with only business listings that have stock related to the user’s query.
There’s plenty of debate as to how much this change will impacts ranking and how best to keep from falling behind the competition. If you run a retail business and want to stay one step ahead, check out our full analysis of the Local Product Feed and its newfound importance.
Google expands its “Trusted Store” badge to free shopping listings
To further push its platform as a shopping medium, Google is providing perks to free shopping listings it formerly offered only to paid advertisers. One of these methods is the “Trusted Store” badge, a signal by which Google hopes to increase consumer trust (and thereby traffic) towards Google retailers. Google stated that it will offer this clear blue check mark to any merchants that have provided an “excellent customer experience”, with factors including shipping speeds, shipping availability, return costs, and return windows. Beyond the badge acting as a visual upgrade, trusted stores will also receive a direct boost in rankings, allowing free listings to compete with their paid counterparts.
Google is further encouraging free listings in the Google shopping tab by providing improved performance reports: “This new tool shows merchants the total traffic, impressions and conversion rate of their free listings, helping them make decisions about future ones.” Google will add a benefit to any retailer looking to utilize the Google Merchant Center (GMC) by allowing retailers to analyze their total traffic, impressions, and conversion rates as well as grant a “pricing report” that reveals how pricing compares with others in the market.
The potential rank improvement should be incentive enough for most businesses to adopt a Google Product Feed, but for those that wish to go a step beyond, becoming a trusted store will turn Google leads into direct sales.
Google adds booking and appointment availability for healthcare providers
After significantly expanding its booking functionality over the past few years, Google’s latest update is now seeking to enhance healthcare listings. The search giant previously allowed healthcare providers to specify if they were available for either in-person or virtual appointments, but it is now offering additional features to facilitate direct bookings. The ability for healthcare providers to display their appointment availability and book directly through Google is currently only in the test phase, only works in the US, and is seemingly limited to one pilot: MinuteClinic at CVS.
Google hopes to expand this to additional providers in the future. When that time comes, everyone who can use the feature should use the feature. Google’s rankings give heavy preference towards listings that utilize all available functionality in GBP. If you are a healthcare provider, you should accommodate every available customer touch point, especially when the simple presence of those touch points drives up the invaluable factor of search engine rankings.
GIF: Search Engine Land
GBP adds new recycling attributes
In what now feels like a monthly tradition, Google has introduced yet more business attributes. Timed to coincide with Earth Day, Google now allows businesses to display their recycling services. Whether it is clothing, battery, or electronic recycling services, your business category should have all relevant attributes available to you. The feature is already live globally.
Remember that any icon or label you can add to your Google listings will likely improve click-through rates and drive additional traffic. A Google listing that contains every feature available to it tends to look more trustworthy and professional than those that do not.
Want more tips, tricks, tactics, and strategies to drive performance from the enterprise level down to hyperlocal moments? Let’s talk!