In today's Monday Memo, we cover Google's new GMB service options; GMB insights showing in Maps; the removal of the older Attributes for hotels; Google's inconsistent handling of third-party reviews; the highlighting of website content; a new study on video as a shopping tool; and Bing's new Google sync option.
Google adds new service options to GMB
New options have been addedto the Services tab in Google My Business for qualifying business categories, such as plumbers and storage facilities. In these categories, Google is suggesting specific services your business may offer; as a user, you can enable these services by clicking on each item. You can also choose “Select all” and, if your service isn’t listed, you can add it as a custom service. In some service categories, like music instruction, only the custom service option is available. These new settings appear to be rolling out globally with many, though not all, users reporting they are now available.
Image courtesy Local Search Forum
Google now showing GMB insights directly in Maps
For logged-in users who visit the Google Maps listing for their business, Google is now displaying a snippet of insights data from the Google My Business dashboard. The screenshot shows an example where views data is displayed underneath the “You manage this Business Profile” tag. The change is likely designed to get more business owners to pay attention to insights and to note recent trends in consumer engagement.
Image courtesy Search Engine Roundtable
Hotels lose old GMB attributes
According to our own customer support teams, the Google My Business dashboard for hotel locations is no longer displaying the old Attributes section. Only the new Hotel Attributes section is now available. If you recall from a few weeks back, we reported that the old Attributes and the new Hotel Attributes, which contains hundreds of new settings, were showing up alongside each other with lots of overlapping content. Now, hotels can only adjust their attributes using the new settings. Google has confirmed this and reports that the API currently cannot accept hotel attribute content at all, pending updates to catch up with the dashboard changes.
Google’s inconsistent handling of third-party reviews
In a recent article on Search Engine Land, Joy Hawkins relays several examples that demonstrate inconsistency in Google’s publication of third-party review information in the Knowledge Panels of various businesses. In one example, the Knowledge Panel for a law firm reports 1 5-star review from Lawyers.com, but visiting the firm’s profile on the site reveals that the firm has no published reviews. Another example shows a confusing 1-star average for a landscaper on Angie’s List based on 19 reviews, when the actual Angie’s List profile shows 10 reviews, grouped by grades rather than stars, but seeming to equate to at least a 2.8 star average. Hawkins also cites examples taken from Facebook and Foursquare where ratings and review counts don’t add up, and examples from other sites where reviews are actually duplicated from Google and elsewhere.
Because this is an anecdotal study, it’s hard to say how widespread such issues may be, but it’s certainly worth double-checking any anomalous review averages on your Knowledge Profiles to be sure Google’s math is correct.
Google is now highlighting website content based on your search terms
In some cases, Google is now highlightingthe content on a web page that matches your search terms, and moving you down to that area of the page when you click on a search result. The effect would appear to be similar to that of HTML anchor tags that bring the user directly to a specific area of the page where an anchor is placed. A Google engineer has confirmed that this feature is currently being tested among approximately 5% of the Google user community. Though the feature may seem like a minor change in itself, it points to the ever-increasing specificity of Google’s approach to serving up content. In a way, you can view highlighted results as a kind of featured snippet, where in this case Google is framing the snippet within the context of the web page on which it appears. The move once more reinforces the importance of creating useful content that answers popular user questions.
55% of consumers use video for shopping research
In a new study of search behavior, Google claims that 55% of today’s consumers use online videos to research products and services in the store before buying. The study found various reasons for this behavior. Some consumers watch how-to or recipe videos to be reminded of the list of products they need to purchase. Some watch videos for guidance about complex services in areas like auto repair. And many consumers use product review videos to help make purchase decisions. According to the study, “People reference video in-store when they need to make that final call on which brand or product best suits their needs. The quantitative research showed us that more than half of shoppers say online video has helped them decide which specific brand or product to buy.”
Bing now lets you sync your local data with Google My Business
Bing Places has recently addedan option whereby you can sync your business listing information with Google My Business. Apparently, the new feature links your Bing Places account with your Google My Business account and keeps the listings in Bing continually in sync by reflecting any changes made on the Google My Business side. The feature may offer convenience for some users, but many may find it only a partial solution to the challenge of synchronizing location data across all major consumer channels.