For the last 10 years and particularly since the onset of the pandemic, Google has tried to compete with Amazon by offering its own unique online shopping experience. Unlike Amazon, which mails you everything you buy, Google instead connects its users with local retailers that have the item being searched for. The search giant’s unique positioning is its ability to connect buyers with sellers who need things locally, immediately, without waiting for the mailman to arrive, and it’s accomplishing this feat using its pre-existing database of local businesses and local inventory feeds. Google Business Profiles (GBP), as a result, are now expanding for all retailers not just as a marketing channel but as a digital storefront.
Online shopping through Google has been available for some time, but most businesses thought of product feeds as advertising rather than an element of their local strategy. But as local, shopping, and product feeds gradually merge, the game is changing. In short, Google has updated its algorithm, updated its help page on how to “Improve your local ranking“, and revealed that product listings—and especially in-store product availability—are now one of the most impactful ways a business can improve its position and visibility.
What is this change so significant?
Google is not kidding when it states that the Local Product Feed, a list of the products you sell in each store, is now a significant ranking factor. Just a casual Google search reveals the three-pack displaying product availability whenever it’s related to the user’s query. Last month, there was zero product inventory integration (as shown on the left side of the image below), but it is now ubiquitous on all high-ranked listings.
Image: Near Media
This update shows Google’s clear and unambiguous intention to evolve local search from a basic business locator to a local product inventory locator for product-driven searches. Local rankings on search and maps already drive an astounding amount of traffic, and now the stakes are even higher for local businesses to break into the coveted top three spots in the local pack.
Seeing the three-pack dominated by retailers with integrated local inventories should be enough to convince anyone to update their own product feed, but that’s not the only way Google is pushing the feature. Along with the usual searches for links and images, Google has also added a new “Browse by product” carousel. While some may dismiss this feature as just another optional tab, like “Shopping”, in this instance the “Browse by product” carousel sits above the traditional list of business locations, occupying the most valuable real estate on the SERP. It is impossible for users to miss, guaranteeing it will generate customer interaction.
How to drive performance via your Local Product Feed
So, what should your business do about this major shift in Google’s approach to product-related queries? The short answer is that inventory integration into your GBP is unavoidable. If you are a retailer or simply any business that sells products along with services, you need to integrate your local inventory to remain competitive. If you do not integrate a Local Product Feed into your listings via Google’s Merchant Center (GMC), your competitors can and will outrank you.
In that sense, GMC has become an essential local search tool almost overnight. When a business successfully submits a Local Product Feed via the GMC, it will then automatically attach itself to the business’s GBP listings—a simple enough concept, but a tricky task for newcomers. Google has issued its own help documents, but it remains a hefty investment of time and resources to port over a business’s entire local inventory.
For instances such as these and indeed everything else involved in Local Presence Management, we have the in-house expertise—and proprietary platforms—to build, maintain, and optimize Local Product Feeds. We have vast experience with the GMC, Google Shopping, product-based ads, and inventory integration with store pages and local listings. Whether you need to capitalize on this opportunity or simply don’t want your top rankings to disappear in this new landscape, you’re in safe hands with DAC. Let’s talk.