Wouldn’t it be nice if Google Maps gave you an instant flavour of the particular area you’re looking at? The platform, after all, is no longer used for driving directions alone—it’s a fully fledged discovery engine for almost every purpose imaginable.
Well, that’s exactly what the search giant has done. At its recent Search On conference, Google announced a new “Neighbourhood Vibe” feature that will highlight photos, video and other media from the Google Maps community to give users a sense of the most popular and noteworthy places in a given neighbourhood.
How does Neighbourhood Vibe work?
According to Google, Maps users add more than 20 million reviews, photos and videos each day. That’s an awful lot of data to accommodate, and most of it is siloed into Google Business Profile (GBP) listings and knowledge panels for specific locations, attractions and businesses. Neighbourhood Vibe is Google’s attempt to surface this valuable content—leveraging its considerable AI capabilities—for a richer, more holistic Maps experience.
Acknowledging that it can be hard to figure out what’s worth exploring, Google explains that users will be able to select a neighbourhood and see the most popular spots come to life thanks to helpful photos and information from the Google Maps community right on the map:
When you’re looking at the map of an area, we can highlight the handful of places that are popular in that area, so it gives you a way to quickly see what’s interesting about that area. It’s not just places to eat; it could also be a park or it could be things that the community that live in that neighbourhood have helped tell the map what matters so it helps other people.
– Chris Phillips, VP and GM of Geo, Google
What do businesses need to do?
The short answer is nothing. The longer answer is that you should continue to follow best practices for your listings, all of which signal to Google that your business is legitimate, trustworthy, active, and worthy of prominent placement on its platforms. In short, make sure you:
- use Google Posts to engage your search audiences;
- regularly upload new photos and videos;
- maintain accurate opening hours and contact information;
- update your services and products offered;
- encourage customers to leave reviews;
- and respond to those reviews, whether they’re good or bad!
Features like Neighbourhood Vibe are supposed to surface the “best” of any given locale, so it won’t hurt to have plenty of reviews describing your business as the best at what it does. Bear in mind, though, that it will likely to skip over insurance agents, plumbers, and other everyday businesses in favour of parks, restaurants, bars, museums, and non-standard places of interest. This is very much a travel and tourism-focused upgrade to the Google Maps ecosystem.
Neighbourhood Vibe starts rolling out globally in the coming months on Android and iOS. Want to whip your listings into shape before then? From Local Optimisation Plans to ongoing local listings management, we’re ready to help.