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Three New Features for Google Business Profiles; Preferred Menus, Amenities on Websites, and Local Review Reactions

May 2, 2024 /
Restaurants and Hospitality / Algorithm Updates 

Google released several minor updates to Google Business Profiles (GBPs). Individually, they are small changes but cumulatively, business owners shouldn’t ignore this shift in the digital landscape.

The first will settle an issue that many restaurant owners face. Google now allows for a preferred source to where users can see online menus. This update will ensure that users see the most current and maintained website from the business owner first, rather than alternative customer touchpoints utilized for reach. This is similar to how Google recently allowed business owners to set preferred ordering services. While that was done in efforts to avoid third-party fees, this selection of preferred menu hosting will do more to ensure accuracy of information.

Restaurants have three options now for their menus: create or copy a menu, copy from a website, or pick a third-party platform to take the menu from. The selected menu will appear publicly on those Business Profiles, with it being up to the business to recopy their menu or maintain accuracy on those third-party websites. The ability to choose will be a definite benefit, as each restaurant’s frequency of changes and other marketing strategies are always unique to them.

The second feature involves new integrations of Google Business Profiles with those businesses’ websites. Google added a new feature which allows the list of amenities curated for GBPs to easily copy over to the business website proper. With Google constantly learning of new amenities that its users search fir, following Google’s lead in what to billboard online will take a lot of guesswork away from business owners. Customers do want to know if there’s parking or if they can take their dogs inside, but knowing which amenities to list and where can cause a lot of issues for webmasters. Google now presents a simple copy and paste code that will highlight these amenities in an easily digestible way. All a GBP manager has to do is click the new “Add Amenity to your Website” button.

The third and final addition to Google Business Profiles is the full rollout of a feature that began this past November. Some users saw that they were able to give “heart” reactions to local photos and some reviews. As of April 2024, this ability is close to seeing a full rollout. While reactions have some utility in knowing which photos and reviews most resonate with users, what is highly likely is that these hearted bits of content will see greater promotion than those which don’t have reactions.

Google Q&A for example highlights any questions that receive multiple thumbs up, placing them directly in the local panel, viewable without any need to click through. Google is highly unlikely to not implement something similar for photos and reviews when it put in effort to add reaction utility. When particular photos or reviews get a significant number of reactions, we can bet that those will be billboarded far more than others within GBPs. Reviews currently have a semi-random selection of highlighted comments appearing at the bottom of Search’s local panels. Rather than the algorithm Google currently uses to determine those, we can assume that heart reactions will play a role in weighing those selections. The same could be true for the ordering of business images. Rather than having the sole base of upload date, reactions will bring the most preferred photos to the top. As this new feature sees a full rollout and adoption by users, we will see how it affects the billboarding algorithms currently in place.