In this week’s update, learn about new performance metrics in Google My Business; a new health and safety overlay for local businesses; the introduction of subtopic ranking; dynamic tabs in GMB listings; third-party booking services for attorneys; and anomalies with GMB Insights data.
New performance metrics in Google My Business
Google will soon be modifying the format and display of GMB Insights, as signaled by a notice in the Insights tab of the GMB dashboard that reads, “Your insights are moving. Your metrics will move to a new-look report. Search queries are visible, and more metrics will be added in a few months.” Clicking a button labeled “See new profile performance” takes the user to a popup screen displaying two new data displays, with the headings “How people interacted with you” and “How people discovered you.”
The first display, a timeline chart, shows total interactions over a date range, and allows the user to choose Calls or Messages specifically, notably omitting any reference to website clicks or requests for directions. The second display, a table, shows a tally of the number of searches (within the specified date range) that returned your business profile, and then lists specific search queries that returned your listing, in order of greatest volume. This table appears to be an update to the current “Queries used to find your business” table.
In a recently published help page, Google notes that the new performance reports will eventually be showcased in Search and Maps and removed from the GMB dashboard. It’s unclear whether this means that GMB Insights as a whole will be migrating to these new entry points, as well as whether missing data points in the current preview, such as driving directions and website clicks, will be added to the new display.
New interactions chart in GMB Insights
Google displaying health and safety overlay for local businesses
Google has begun displaying health and safety information, as well as certain important attributes, for local businesses in a special popup display with icons for each attribute. Health and safety attributes are now showcased in the knowledge panel under a “Health & safety” heading, which appears in a prominent position between hours of operation and the business phone number. Clicking a “More details” link in that section causes a popup to display on desktop, whereas on mobile devices it brings up a new screen. In the new screen or popup, Google shows all health and safety protocols for the business, as well as a section labeled “Service options” that lists items such as online appointments. The new display is clearly designed to give special emphasis to features that will be of greatest concern to consumers.
New health and safety attribute display, courtesy Search Engine Roundtable
Google introduces subtopic ranking
Google’s Danny Sullivan has confirmed that the company rolled out a new component in its ranking algorithm in mid-November which has been termed subtopic ranking. The idea is that, for search queries that are broad and general in nature, Google is now able to rank subtopics related to those queries. Google previewed this update in October, explaining that subtopic rankings consist of “neural nets to understand subtopics around an interest, which helps deliver a greater diversity of content when you search for something broad.” For example, “if you search for ‘home exercise equipment,’ we can now understand relevant subtopics, such as budget equipment, premium picks, or small space ideas, and show a wider range of content for you on the search results page.”
According to Sullivan, subtopic ranking does not involve any change to the visual display of search results, but relates instead to the results themselves that Google chooses to display. The focus, in other words, is on understanding that broad queries may have a range of intents, each of which should rank results independently.
Illustration of subtopic rankings, courtesy Google
Dynamic tabs appearing in some GMB listings
Amy Toman, writing on the LocalU blog, has noted that Google is displaying a new dynamic tab for certain businesses in search results on mobile. Mobile results generally display tabs at the top of the business profile, grouping information about the business into categories like Overview, Menu, Reviews, and Photos. Now, Toman has noticed a new tab appearing for certain pet grooming businesses with “Boarding” as the tab heading. She points out that, in the case of her own pet grooming client, boarding was not a service offered by the business. Most websites for pet grooming businesses, if they mention boarding at all, do so in order to emphasize that they do not offer this service. Still, it appears that Google is either indexing this information from business websites, or pulling it from another source, and applying it to the business profile for certain pet grooming businesses. There is, according to Toman, no way to edit this information in the GMB dashboard.
This appears to be a limited test, and at least in one instance noted by Toman, the “Boarding” tab was in fact an accurate reflection of services offered by the business. Broadly speaking, if Google can improve the accuracy of the feature, the notion of dynamic tabs suggests that the company is expanding its efforts to link businesses to the intent of specific queries.
Dynamic “Boarding” tab for pet sitting business, courtesy LocalU
Third-party booking service showcased in GMB listings for attorneys
For some time now, restaurants have seen “Order Now” buttons appearing in GMB profiles, linked to third-party ordering and delivery services such as Doordash and Postmates. The only way for restaurants to influence the appearance of these links was to contact the delivery service directly and request that their business be removed. GMB launched an “Order ahead links” feature in 2020 to help restaurants manage ordering URLs, permitting business owners to list their own ordering services in preference to third-party services, but unwanted delivery services have remained a point of frustration for many businesses.
Now, Ben Fisher has noted that some attorney listings are displaying a booking link that directs the user to Yocale, a third-party booking service that charges $50 per booked appointment, without the authorization of the business owner. In this case, Fisher’s client was able to call the service and have the booking feature removed. Businesses in service categories will do well to be vigilant about the appearance of unauthorized third-party services in GMB listings.
GMB Insights data was temporarily missing
Numerous local SEOs have reported that GMB Insights data went missing last week for the dates of December 27 and December 28. The issue was reported by Barry Schwartz on January 5, but by the next day, Google had corrected the problem. By most accounts, it appears that the missing data for late December has now been restored. No indication from Google as to the root cause of the problem.