Hi, SEO fans! We hope everyone is having a wonderful fall. Here’s the October issue of our SEO News Recap. It’s packed with news from the local SEO industry – Google My Business notification updates, appointment buttons to Google local results, new ways to use Google Posts, and the big changes in Google local search. We’ve also covered the end of the Google’s First Click Free and the newly launched Yext for Food. We’ll talk about the latest Facebook and Snapchat’s features that local businesses can benefit from.
GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS
GET BOOKED RIGHT FROM THE LOCAL SERPS
Google announced that customers can make appointments with US local businesses directly from Google Search:
To implement the service you need to sign up for a providers (for now you can choose from the following booking providers Mindbody, Pike13, SalonRunner, MyTime, Setmore, Shore, Supersalon, Yocale, Genbook, Welnessliving, Appointy, Booksy, and Rosy). Once your GMB account is linked with a given provider, expect your Google bookings to pile within a week. You will also be able to track your bookings in your GMB dashboard.
THE NEW OLD LOCAL SERVICES BY GOOGLE
Google rebranded its Home Service Ads into Local Services. At this time, the ads are available for limited number of service categories (locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, garage door services, handyman, and house cleaning services) and areas. Together with the new name, Google announced that small businesses in 30 metro areas across the U.S. will have access to the Google Guaranteed service by the end of the year.
GEOLOCATION CHANGES IN GOOGLE SEARCH
From now on, when users conduct a search on Google they will be automatically redirected to results pages for their current location. Even if they are in the UK and try to search results as seen on google.com by using the Google NCR (“No Country Redirect”) feature, now they will still see the UK search results. From user point of view this update will be useful for people who are often travelling around the world because they will not have to do manual changes to location settings.
NEW WAY TO USE GOOGLE POSTS
The latest version of Google My Business API now allows you to create Google Posts directly through the API. It’s worth knowing that the automated posting capability is currently limited to businesses with up to 10 locations as Mike Blumenthal noted in his blog post. Google also rolled out the following features:
- A direct upload of photos via the API;
- An ability to filter which notifications are sent to users;
- Notification about review updates to be received in real-time;
GOOGLE POSTS’ IMPACT ON LOCAL SEARCH RANKING
The results of a recent case study showed that Google Posts do have a mild influence on local search rankings. However, small business owners need to integrate them other local SEO tactics in order to have a better online visibility.
IMPROVE YOUR ONLINE AND OFFLINE MARKETING
Google updated their Best Practices guide to Local Marketing with AdWords tackling the location extensions, new location reporting and local inventory ads in order to help you improve your online local visibility, drive more store visits and get better insights about how online local ads enhance your offline marketing efforts.
Here are the new features designed to improve your local marketing strategy:
- Location extensions can now be used in Search, Display, and YouTube campaigns;
- You can now promote your offline catalogs and leaflets online by using the local ads for Display;
- You will be able to measure when consumers come to your store after seeing your Display ads even if they don’t click on them;
- You can use the following three new reports to help you get detailed insights about your local ads:
- time lag report, which provides data about how long it takes to users to visit your store after clicking on your ads;
- new vs. returning customer report, which lets you know how many of your store visits come from “returning customers”;
- demographic report, which help you understand which demographic groups are more likely to visit your business location after interacting with our online ads.
SERVICE-AREA BUSINESSES, WELCOME BACK TO LOCAL SEARCH RESULTS
The local SEO expert Joy Hawkins reported that Google is planning to return service-area businesses (including home-based businesses) into the local search result pages. Below you can see the mixed test results containing listings without available physical address:
GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS
NEW IN ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES
Google introduced a pack of new features to its open-source project:
- Scrolling animations, which lets you use “parallax effects, subtle zoom or fade-in of images, and starting or stopping animations as they pass through the viewport”;
- Improved AMP sidebar, which enables you to change “display format based on the width of the viewport”;
- Access to AMP-video analytics, which is currently limited to the AMP video component;
- A consistent Client ID recognition as AMP users flaw between AMP and non-AMP pages;
- Publishers are now able to request ads whose size is unknown thanks to the fluid-ad support.
GOODBYE FIRST CLICK FREE
The “First Click Free” option which helps searchers to find and access content that may require registration or a subscription will be no longer available. Google is replacing it with “Flexing Sampling” that encourages publishers to try different sampling schemes and use the one that work best for them. Google is promoting the following two types of sampling:
- Metering, which lets users read a certain number of free articles, whereafter the access will be restricted and they need to pay to subscribe to the site;
- lead-in, which provides the first few sentences of the article to help readers get an idea how valuable the content will be for them.
YEXT FOR FOOD
If your local restaurant, bar or cafeteria is using Yext, you can now improve your online local search visibility thanks to their brand-new product “Yext for Food”. It helps your business to appear in local SERPs for both general searches like your business name, restaurant type, and for specific food items and attributes offered in your menu like “noodles nearby” or “child-friendly restaurant near me”. You can now use Yext for Food to:
- Shareyour menu across the following social media networks and food delivery guides – Google, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Foursquare, AllMenus, delivery.com, MenuPages, and more;
- Control your information across more food search sites like Postmates, Zomato, delivery.com, MenuPix, and Slice;
- Add more details about your business, like price range, dress code, meals served, happy hours, and more.
DISCOVER NEW LOCATIONS WITH SNAPCHAT’S CONTEXT CARDS
Snapchat rolled out a new feature which gives users an access to detailed locally-specific information about a given business. When a snap is geotagged with the business location geofilter, users can click on it and the so-called “Context Cards” pop up. The cards contain business contact information, customer reviews, an option to make reservations, or book an Uber or Lyft ride. Snapchat is partnering with Foursquare, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and Lyft to provide these functionalities within the app. The new feature aims not only to keep Snapchat users as longer as possible on the platform, but also local businesses to enjoy increased foot traffic.
LATEST FACEBOOK ADVERTISING TESTS
Facebook was spotted testing new options for creating a Custom Audience:
- “Dwell time”, which enables advertisers to create a list of people who have spent time viewing their display ads on Facebook or Instagram;
- “Link sharing”, which creates an audience based on Facebook users who have shared advertiser’s content
- “Instagram business profile” for creating a list of users who have engaged with advertiser’s Instagram profile;
- “Event” for targeting people who have interacted with advertiser’s events on Facebook.
ORDER FOOD DIRECTLY FROM FACEBOOK
Restaurant owners are now able to offer online food ordering options to customers through their Facebook Business Page. They can use one of the delivery sites and apps which partner with Facebook to provide the delivery service, for example EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow, GrubHub , Zuppler, Slice, and Olo. For now, only limited number of restaurants chains take direct orders, for example Papa John’s, Wingstop, and Panera. Customers need to visiting the “Order Food” section in the Explore menu on Facebook, search for the desired restaurant or types of food they want and then click on the “Start Order” button:
That’s all for October! As always, we hope you‘ve enjoyed our SEO News Recap and we’ve managed to inspire you in mastering your SEO and local marketing efforts. If you have anything to add to the article tell us about it in the comments below.