In this week’s update, learn about new GMB management features in Search; the “Seen by shoppers” justification in local packs; some GMB issues currently affecting businesses; directions and website clicks in Performance reports; a change to Google’s featured reviews; and the Page Experience rollout.
Google adds more business management features to Search
This week, Google is holding its second annual International Small Business Week, an event marked by several initiatives and new offerings designed to help businesses compete digitally. Among the announcements are some updates related to management of GMB listings directly in Search and Maps -- an initiative that has been slowly rolling out over the last couple of years. Now businesses can list their service offerings -- specific services linked to business categories, such as “eyelash extensions” or “leak repairs” -- directly in Search, and can also schedule Posts. In addition, restaurants can manage menu content using a new Search-based interface, and will soon be able to manage pickup and delivery options in a manner similar to the recently launched Food Ordering tab in the GMB dashboard. Restaurants and service-oriented businesses can also manage online bookings in Search when working with a Reserve with Google partner.
In related news, Google is also offering the Pointy tool to businesses for free until September 30. Pointy, acquired by Google in 2020, helps businesses get their inventory online by means of a simple device attached to the POS system. Finally, Google has launched a new tool called the Local Opportunity Finder that offers recommendations for GMB optimization. It’s live now for businesses in many European countries.
Google's new Local Opportunity Finder tool
Google testing “Seen by shoppers” justification in local packs
Brodie Clark has shared on Twitter a screenshot of a new kind of justification showing up in some local packs: “Seen by shoppers.” Remember, justifications are those snippets of content Google sometimes includes in local pack results to show users why a particular listing is good fit for their search query. Other types of justifications pull content from the business website or from consumer reviews of the business. The new “Seen by shoppers” justification appears to be linked to the questions Google asks users about listings (“Does this store sell sport shoes?”).
Image courtesy Brodie Clark / Search Engine Roundtable
Here’s help with some current GMB issues
Ben Fisher offers some help with current GMB issues in a post in Search Engine Journal. He notes that Google support works hard to correct issues flagged by Product Experts, prioritizing them based on the nature of the issue, its severity, and how many merchants are affected. For instance, a current known issue is that the GMB dashboard may prompt you to add a logo and cover photo, even though you’ve already done so. Because it is not affecting the public listing, Google has marked this bug as low priority -- they’ll fix it, but a fix may not happen until the end of the year. Fisher discusses several other issues: listings disappearing from the GMB dashboard; the “Kansas bug,” still affecting some service area businesses, which causes these businesses to rank in the geographical center of the country; and an issue where legitimate reviews are visible to the reviewer only and not to the business. In each case, Fisher recommends a course of action to help get the issue corrected if your listing is affected.
Driving directions and website clicks are rolling out in Performance reports
Google is finally adding driving directions and website clicks to the new Performance reporting interface that was first launched several months ago. Though these new metrics may not be live yet for all users, they appear to be rolling out as an addition to the timeline that already tracks calls, messages, and bookings, as evidenced in some screenshots from Colan Nielsen. As with these other metrics, driving directions and website clicks appear to be available for a rolling six-month period.
Google has made a subtle but significant adjustment to the way featured reviews work in business listings. Before, there seemed to be no clear logic as to why certain reviews were featured at the top of the review feed, but now, for many listings, the featured reviews mention topics that are also called out in the listing’s Place Topics. Place Topics are those button-like entities that mention a word or phrase appearing in multiple reviews. The alignment between Place Topics and featured reviews means that, for the business owner and the consumer, featured reviews will make more sense, given that they now reflect the topics mentioned most often by reviewers. Businesses must have a sufficient number of reviews before either of these features appears in the listing.
The Page Experience rollout has begun
The long-anticipated rollout of Google’s Page Experience update began on June 15, and is expected to continue through the end of August. The Page Experience update adds Core Web Vitals to the set of criteria used to analyze a website’s performance. As of June 17, Google stopped using AMP as a prerequisite for inclusion in Top Stores on mobile, meaning that sites that perform well according to Page Experience metrics can now compete for top placement. The Page Experience update is not supposed to have a major impact on site ranking, but it can be a differentiating factor between sites that are otherwise similar.