Local Search News: April 2022
As always, change is coming in local search. Join us for a grand tour through all the updates you should consider, from an important new search trend to a big shake-up in local ranking factors.
“Open now near me” searches explode in popularity
Recently, Google released its Consumer Insights 2022 Retail Marketing Guide and one of the most noteworthy findings is that globally, searches including “open now near me” have increased by over 400% year over year.
Naturally, results for searches including “open now near me” depend on hours of operation. For example, a search for “oil change open now near me” will above all return business listings for locations that are open at the time of the search.
Since Google Business Profile (GBP) allows owners to specify secondary hours, holiday hours, and more, it’s important for businesses to advantage and utilize this handy feature. If your business has longer open hours than your competitors—especially locally—Google may reward you with increased visibility and traffic.
The Local Product Feed is now an important ranking factor
Google’s latest algorithm update has made the Product Feed a mandatory feature of retailers’ local marketing strategies instead of an auxiliary one. For your business to rank high on Google search and on Maps, all businesses with inventory must include some form of Product Feed as part of their GBP listing. A month ago, a simple Google search would not display inventory in the three-pack, but it will now regularly provide only business listings that have stock related to the user’s query.
Google expands its “Trusted Store” badge to free shopping listings
To further promote its platform as a shopping medium, Google is offering perks to free shopping listings it previously only allowed paid advertisers to access. One of these features is the “Trusted Store” badge, which Google hopes will increase consumer trust (and traffic) towards Google retailers. Google announced that it will offer this clear blue check mark to any merchants that have provided an “excellent customer experience”, with factors including shipping availability, shipping speeds, return windows, and return costs. In addition to the badge, trusted stores will also receive a direct ranking boost, which will allow free listings to compete with their paid counterparts.
Google is taking another step to encourage free listings in the Google shopping tab by providing improved performance reports: “This new tool shows merchants the total traffic, impressions and conversion rate of their free listings, helping them make decisions about future ones.” Google will add a benefit to any retailer looking to utilize the Google Merchant Center (GMC) by allowing retailers to analyze their total traffic, conversion rates and impressions as well as provide a “pricing report” analysis for how pricing compares with others in the market.
The potential rank improvement should be plenty of incentive for most businesses to adopt a Google Product Feed, but for those looking for a little extra, becoming a trusted store is sure to help turn Google leads into direct sales.
Google adds booking and appointment availability for healthcare providers
After expanding its booking functionality significantly over the last few years, Google’s newest update is now aiming to improve healthcare listings. Previously, the search giant allowed healthcare providers to specify if they were offering either in-person or virtual appointments, but it has now added features to facilitate direct online bookings. The ability for healthcare providers to display their appointment availability and provide the option to book directly through Google is currently only in the test phase, only works in the US, and is appears to be limited to one pilot: MinuteClinic at CVS.
Google hopes to expand this to more providers in the future. When that time comes, everyone who can use the feature should use the feature. Google’s rankings heavily prefer listings that utilize all available functionality in GBP. If you are a healthcare provider, make it a priority to accommodate every available customer touch point, especially when the simple presence of those touch points has a positive impact on your search engine rankings.
GBP adds new recycling attributes
In what now feels like a monthly occurrence, Google has introduced a new set of business attributes. Timed to coincide with Earth Day, Google now gives businesses that option to display their recycling services. From clothing and home goods to battery, electronic recycling services and more, your business category should have all relevant attributes available to you. The feature is already live globally.
Remember that any label or icon you add to your Google listings will most likely improve click-through rates and drive increased traffic. A Google listing that utilizes every relevant feature available to it tends to look more professional and trustworthy than those that do not.
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