Google has made major updates to the Local Three Pack, Google My Business (GMB), and Google Posts this month. These changes can’t be ignored as they are fundamental to how Google will function going forward. Whether you’re a restaurant, dry-cleaner, nightclub, or any other type of business, these changes will affect you and your business going forward.
Extensions in Local Pack results
When getting results in the Local Three Pack, you are always given the business name, an image, their review score, and the business’s contact information. Now there is an additional layer of information given in this valuable search space.
“Extensions” have been added to some results providing additional snippets of information about your business. These snippets are pulled when a query matches up with a component of a potential snippet. The bolded snippet can either be a component of the search query or a synonym.
There are four sources these snippets can be pulled from. Each one comes with its own unique icon to indicate its origin.
- Review Mentions: Due to the high volume of reviews and usage of keywords, review mentions are the most common source. Having reviews immediately visible to users can help entice them to click on your GMB listings. Responding to your reviews will encourage customers to leave more detailed feedback as they feel someone is reading them and their effort is making a difference.
- Website Mentions: Especially for new locations that have yet to receive a high volume of reviews, it’s up to business owners to generate their own extension content. It’s important to have a strong internal linking structure so the bot associates your local pages and for those pages to have different keyword variations.
- Sold Here: ‘Sold Here’ labels appear in the map pack after Google Maps users have visited your location and are prompted to answer questions. There is no way to control this potential extension but it’s a way that even the customers who don’t take time to leave reviews may help generate content for your listing.
- Google Post Mentions: Google Post Mentions can be seen in the map pack and local finder when a search query matches the content within a Google Post. This will give your posts more visibility and increase your CTR. Any keyword-heavy Google Post could be used for the extension—even those over seven days old and no longer active. Also, clicking on this type of snippet within the local pack brings the full post up under “Related to your search”. This will be especially useful when a post is related to a current promotion or event.
Google Launches Public Event Creation
Google Maps is currently rolling out the ability for users to create public events at a specific business or location. This new ability to add an event via the Contribute tab in the Google Maps app on Android is now live. Previously, you could only answer questions, and add images and reviews from this tab. Note, this is only live for the Google Maps app on Android.
During the setup process, you can add an ‘Event name’, tag the location, and add a time and date. There is also the option to give the event description, an image header, and even tag what the event entails.
With Google Posts, following businesses, and now Event Creation, it looks like Google is gearing up to challenge Facebook as the platform to keep up to date with businesses. Facebook remains one of the most popular platforms for organizing events but for smaller businesses, consolidating Public Events with their already existing Google Maps listings is an easier way to promote without splitting their audience.
GMB Product Editor and Product Catalogue
This month has seen a limited Beta that allows small retail merchants to upload products to their Google business listings directly. The “Product Editor” allows merchants to showcase their products and drive consumer interactions. The Product Editor is geared towards small and medium individual businesses. Larger chains can provide data about the products that they sell and their availability via Local Inventory Ads.
Business owners can add their products through the Products (Beta) tab in their GMB dashboard. This will only be available if you are part of the Beta but it’s good to be aware of this feature early in case it becomes ubiquitous in the future.
GMB Short Names
Google has started the rollout of “Short Names” which gives businesses the ability to create a custom short URL that can be used for easy access to their business profile on Google. Customers would type in the format “g.page/[customname]” to go directly to a business’s profile.
Businesses will be able to make changes to their short name although there will be limits on the frequency of the changes. The GMB interface will encourage a business to claim and share this short URL where it makes sense.
Use cases for these URLs are currently limited but Google has already given some examples of how these short URLs could be useful. Google has demonstrated that review links could be made very short by this process and even as something simple to put on the bottom of receipts.
There is a newly released help page where Google details how to create a short name as well as how users and business owners can “flag a name for impersonation, offensive, fake, spam or inappropriate content issues”.