Local Search News: September 2022
September 2022 broad core update
Following last month’s helpful content update, Google released a core algorithm update to make incremental improvements to its search rankings. Webmasters may have noticed ranking fluctuations dating from the third week of September, but most users won’t have seen any notable differences.
It’s important to know exactly when Google makes these updates so you can understand if ranking changes are due to an algorithm change or something you did yourself. Algorithm update or not, it’s always smart to observe SEO best practices and maintain an organic presence that’s less likely to be impacted by algorithm volatility.
New “Products” tab for Google Business Profile (GBP) listings
From “See what’s in store” functionality to highlighting listed products directly in search results, Google has spent much of the last two years pushing its product features. The new “Products” tab in Google Business Profile (GBP) listings is the latest addition to the search giant’s arsenal in its ongoing battle with Amazon. It allows customers to:
- click a featured product card to view product details;
- click a product category to view an overview;
- click a product within a product category to view product details;
- chat or call you to find out more, or click on the button leading to your website to order online;
- and provide feedback in case there are copyright or legal issues.
At the same time, Google updated its Product Editor policies for retailers and advertisers who want to add products to their GBP listings. The policies include new guidelines on banned products such as:
- Financial services
- Unapproved supplements
- Health and medical devices
The holiday season is approaching (yes, really!), so marketers need to use every tool at their disposal. Do everything you can to optimize your listings before the frenzy begins.
Google experiments with “sub-topic” reviews
Reviews on Google listings are filtered by recommended keywords. Taking the next logical step, Google is asking users directly about these topics of interest. With “sub-topics”, reviewers are requested to write focused reviews about specific aspects of particular businesses. It’s a move likely to make Google a much more robust review platform, especially for businesses seeking to highlight their differentiators.
Sub-topic review requests have so far only appeared when Google Local Guides begin writing reviews, but expect it to become a standard feature. After all, pretty much every new review feature becomes permanent after initial testing.
Google prohibits incentivizing the removal of negative reviews
In its efforts to minimize spam and non-representative feedback, Google has always banned incentivizing positive reviews. Working in the opposite direction, it has now updated its Google Maps contributor guidelines to disallow the incentivization of the removal of negative reviews:
“Contributions to Google Maps should reflect a genuine experience at a place or business. Fake engagement is not allowed and will be removed… Content that has been incentivized by a business in exchange for discounts, free goods and/or services… This includes merchant requests for revision or removal of a negative review through offered discounts, free goods or services, or other incentives.”
New attributes specifically for hotel knowledge panels
Hotels’ health, safety, and sustainability information have always been visible in hotel landing pages within Google results. These attributes are now directly visible within knowledge panels, meaning users no longer have to click through to Google’s dedicated hotel browser.
Whether these new attributes improve your ranking or enhance your relevance for a wider range of queries, remember that new listing features have the potential to drive additional traffic and improve click-through rates. Why? Simply because listings that utilize every available feature appear more trustworthy and professional than those that do not.
Not yet making the most of the local listings ecosystem? Then it’s time to schedule a friendly chat with our experts. We’ll show you exactly how much more you can do.