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Google Maps Launches AI-Powered Local Business Search

March 3, 2024 /
All industries  /   Algorithm Updates 

Google has begun to rollout a new AI-Powered Local Business Search for select local guides in the U.S. More than a test, soft launches such as these are given to a smaller group of users to confirm functionality, the kinks ironed out before programs see mass adoption. Once the new AI Local Business Search is proven to work through this beta test, it will see a hard launch in the rest of the world and to all Google users.

Google’s new AI-Powered Local Business Search is like the voice search assistance of the past. Using natural language processing, users will be able to ask conversational questions to Google and the engine will return personalized results. The example Google used in its announcement of this feature is a user searching for “places with a vintage vibe in San Francisco.” A user asking this will see results back for businesses, events, restaurants, and activities in the area. Depending on the specificity of the query, Google’s results may only bring up a single type of business, that being clothing retailers or record stores. These results will be categorized with photos and review highlights to explain why they meet the user’s criteria.

Google is not complete magic (yet) so this new AI isn’t able to fully suss out every aspect of a business from nothing. Anyone who’s been paying any attention to Google over the past four years will know how vehemently they’ve been pushing “attributes.” The attributes section of a Google Business Profile covers everything from services, prices, menus, or even vibes. Google will ask a business to specify if it is “kid friendly,” “Veteran-Owned,” or when it has its “Happy Hour.” Given the examples Google gives as to what type of queries a user could have, it is clear that they intend their AI to look over a business’s listed attributes in place of the users themselves.

The AI-Powered local search aims to enhance local discovery and exploration in Google Maps but it is not drawing from any sources that users themselves couldn’t already discover. What the AI is doing is providing an ease of use where all the businesses already listed as having “vintage vibes” will appear grouped together and immediately when a user searches for that type of business. The AI-powered search will potentially driving more qualified traffic to niche businesses or lesser-known attractions and events, but business owners will need to make sure that all their data is properly uploaded to their Google Business Profiles just as before. The AI search will not compensate for any business’s listing’s lack of data.