Hi there! Hope all you U.S. SEO geeks and local business owners had a Happy Thanksgiving! In the November edition of our SEO News Recap we’ll explore the changes into the local, product, and publisher Knowledge Panels, Google Maps, as well as the launch of Google’s chatbot analytics service and Facebook Local. We’ll also share some valuable insights from two latest surveys in the realm of Local SEO. Grab a warm drink, settle down and enjoy the news and insights we have compiled just for you.
GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS
SKIP THE LINE
Google is adding average wait times to the local Knowledge Panels for local businesses like restaurants. The information will be based on anonymized historical data and will also be available on Google Maps. The new feature will show just below the live-streaming “Popular times” graph, which indicates how busy a location is at a particular hour and day of the week:
There is still no information about if and how local businesses could edit any inaccurate data related to queues, which can prevent potential clients from vising their venue.
GOOGLE MAPS WITH NEW LOOK AND DESKTOP FEATURES
Google announced that Google Maps will be enhanced with new color scheme and icons to better represent places, outdoor activities, shopping, transport, civil and local services on the driving, navigation, transit and explore maps. The update will also be available in all Google products working with Google Maps, like the Assistant, Search, Earth, and Android Auto. For example, if a searcher is looking for emergency medical services, he will easily find the nearest hospital on the map by selecting the red icon, which is the color for the “Health” category.
Below are snapshots of all new colors and icons for the “Food & Drink”, “Shopping” and “Entertainment/Leisure” categories:
Another local update allows you to create and share lists of places on the desktop version of Google Maps. Just type in the name of a given location and select under the “Save” tab in which list you wish to save the place.
You can easily access your saved lists in the menu on the side bar of Google Maps and share them with friends:
NEW LOCAL SEARCH PANELS FOR MULTI-LOCATION BUSINESSES
Google was spotted testing a hybrid version of search results for businesses that have a Knowledge Panel for brand queries and multiple places in the searcher’s area. It’s combining the feature that shows the nearby locations, a tab providing information from the Knowledge Panel and sometimes a “Posts” tab which has the local business’ Google posts:
GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS
GET SHOPPING INFORMATION IN A SNAP
Google made some big changes to its product Knowledge Panels on mobile. Together with product photos, videos, user reviews, and descriptions, they are now pimped up with editorial reviews and a “Store” tab providing stock availability information for specific stores.
Have a look at the new KPs’ interface and features:
FIREFOX ONCE AGAIN TEAMS UP WITH GOOGLE
Mozilla recently released the latest version of its Firefox, called Firefox Quantum. One of the new features of the updated web browser includes relaunching Google as а default search engine in the following countries: the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Back in 2014, the US Firefox users had stopped seeing Google as their default search engine and were offered Yahoo instead.
NEWS PUBLISHERS WITH UPDATED KNOWLEDGE PANELS
Google is now showing new tabs in the publisher Knowledge Panel featuring the following information:
- What topics the given publisher most frequently writes about;
- What awards the publisher has received;
- When a significant amount of a publisher’s recent content has been reviewed by an authoritative third parties, а „Reviewed claims“ tab will appear.
From publisher’s point of view, the only way to get this type of Knowledge Panel is to regularly create fresh and quality new related content. There are also no options to opt-out from having a Knowledge Panel.
ANALYZE YOUR CHATBOTS
Google’s cloud-based analytics service for chatbots builders, Chatbase, is now opened to all developers. The service is free and provides detailed analytics for text and voice bots. It tracks user growth, engagement, retention, completed transactions, and much more. It can be used to analyze and optimize any type of chatbot platform, for example Allo, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Line, Skype, Twitter, and WeChat. It relies on Google’s machine learning capabilities to identify bot issues. There are 5 types of reports that can help bot builders optimize their bots:
- Sessions Flow report – shows conversations paths and exit points;
- Messages report – makes groups of user messages that the bot does not handle well and provides opportunities to optimize the time spend between the bot and the user;
- Transcripts report – allows developers to drill down into conversations and quickly optimize them;
- Cohorts report – helps bot builders understand user retention based on acquisition date or user intent;
- Funnels report – shows the steps users take to complete a task and their success rate for each step.
RESTRICTIONS IN ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES FOR PUBLISHERS
From Feb 1, 2018 Google is going to crack down on sites using AMP as a tease content. The announcement came as a result of increased number of cases in which webmasters publish content on an AMP page that is not similar to the content on the non-AMP equivalent. Having to click twice to reach the real content could hardly be qualified as a user-friendly experience. The change won’t hurt pages’ search rankings. However, such pages won’t be taken into account when creating the Search features that require AMP, such as the Top Stories carousel with AMP.
INDUSTRY SURVEYS AND REPORTS
LOCAL CONSUMER REVIEW SURVEY
BrightLocal’s latest survey deep dives into how consumers use reviews and ratings when choosing a local business. Here are some of the key takeaways from the survey that will make you rethink your approach to online consumer reviews and implement a review acquisition strategy to enhance your local SEO efforts:
- 97% of consumers pay attention to online reviews when searching for local businesses;
- 85% of consumers believe online reviews can help them as much as recommendations from friends, family and colleagues;
- 73% of consumers said that positive reviews made them more likely to use the services/products provided by a given business;
- Nearly 70% of consumers will leave a review when asked. Despite that, 26% of consumers admitted that they have never been asked to leave a feedback;
- 79% said that they have encountered a fake review. However, the majority of the interviewed people admitted that cannot recognize spam or fake reviews;
- People turn mostly to the following review sites Yelp, Facebook, Google, and bbb.org when searching for reviews;
- 40% оf people have changed their minds about using the services of a local businesses after reading negative reviews.
THE LOCAL SEARCH RANKING FACTORS STUDY
The guys from Local SEO Guide just published their annual Local Ranking Factors study. It covers over 200 ranking factors and more than 100,000 local businesses in 150 cities to determine what is most effective when trying to win in local organic search. Some of the key finding from the study are:
- Traditional SEO tactics can be implemented within local SEO strategy, because having high organic search rankings, i.e. consistently good website performance, also boosts local search visibility;
- Features such as the number of reviews mentioning keyword and city, average monthly reviews, the number of negative reviews and number of reviews with city and state both mentioned play a significant role in affecting local rankings;
- Engagement activity, such as the number of reviews with keywords or city in them, the number of responded reviews, the number of photo reviews, and number of negative reviews not responded to, also has an impact on rankings;
- Despite the low quality and low authority links that websites have, Google still ranks those pages;
- Clean citation profile and having local citation links and reviews on citation sites can improve business’ local pack performance;
DISCOVER NEW LOCATIONS AND LOCAL EVENTS WITH FACEBOOK LOCAL
Facebook rolled out an improved version of Facebook’s Events app, called Facebook Local, which will help users find local events and businesses while searching by business category. The enhanced app combines a map, user-generated photos, Facebook users’ reviews, friends’ check-ins and businesses’ contact information and busy times. That’s Business owners must revision their review management strategy because Facebook seems to use users’ reviews and rankings as a ranking factor. Moreover, as the app integrates a business directory with an event calendar, local business owners should consider hosting more local events as this increases their local visibility within the new platform.
Thanks for reading our SEO News Recap and hope you’re a little bit wiser in the art of SEO and local digital marketing. We’ll be happy if you share it with others who might be interested in it!