We’re quickly approaching the season of giving, but Google has already given local business owners plenty of reasons to be thankful with their latest update! During their fall 2022 Search On conference, Google announced several major updates to their local search algorithm. Not only do these updates have significant implications for users, but they also spell good news for businesses that rely on local search traffic to drive conversions.
What are these updates, and how could they impact your business’ ranking in local search results? Here’s a rundown of Google’s latest local search capabilities and what they mean for your local SEO strategy:
1. Highlight Restaurant Specialties
A five-star rating is great, but it doesn’t explain what sets your restaurant apart from any other top-rated restaurant in your area. Today’s foodies are looking for more than great cuisine – they’re looking for a great culinary experience. Whether it’s a unique ambiance, top-notch service or a generations-old secret recipe, diners want to know exactly what makes a restaurant special before they make a reservation. And with Google’s latest local search update, they can.
With this new update, Google will be able to read through customer reviews and images to form a snapshot of what your restaurant is known for. They’ll then display this information prominently on your business listing, giving potential customers all the information they need to confidently make a reservation knowing the cuisine, atmosphere and service are exactly what they’re looking for.
Key Takeaway: Ask your customers to leave positive reviews, and ask them consistently. The more detailed reviews Google has to pull from, the better they’ll be able to understand and communicate what it is that makes your restaurant special.
2. Search by Dish
We’ve all been there – you’re craving one specific meal, but the thought of searching through dozens of menus to find it is enough to make you lose your appetite. With Google’s new dish-based search feature, users will no longer have to play the guessing game when it comes to finding their perfect meal in their area.
Now, users will be able to type in the name of a specific dish they’re looking for (e.g. “pineapple pizza near me”) and see a list of restaurants in their area that serve it. This way, they can quickly and easily find a place that meets their needs without wading through endless menus – and potentially endless disappointment. This new feature also allows users to filter dishes based on dietary needs, such as allergies, spice levels or vegan/vegetarian.
Key Takeaway: Make sure your online menu is updated! Google will be pulling dish information from your menu to populate search results, so if your menu is outdated, you could be missing out on valuable traffic.
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3. Enhanced Digital Menus
Another big win for restaurants – Google is now giving users the ability to view digital menus directly from a company’s Google Business Profile. This means that when a potential customer searches for your restaurant on Google, they’ll be able to see your menu and photos of your meals front and center, no extra clicks required. Your digital menu will also note common dietary restrictions, like vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. No more having to call to ask if your meal is made with meat sauce!
This is a great way to increase the visibility of your menu items and give potential customers a better sense of what your restaurant has to offer without having to visit your website. The fewer clicks it takes for a customer to find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to convert.
Key Takeaway: Much like with the update above, it’s critical that your online menu is up-to-date to ensure that Google is pulling the most accurate information possible. The last thing you want is to lose a customer because your outdated menu caused them to receive something they weren’t expecting. If you haven’t already set up a Google Business Profile, now is the perfect time to ensure your restaurant shows up in local search rankings.
4. Immersive Interior Views
You’ve seen street view, but what about interior view? Google’s latest update will allow users to take a virtual walk through your local business before they even step foot inside. This new immersive interior view feature uses Google’s Street View technology to give potential customers a 360-degree view of your office space, store or restaurant. It even provides them with real-time updates about how busy your business is and what the weather would be at a chosen date or time.
This update falls in line with Google’s initiative to ensure their customers know exactly what they’re getting into before they make a purchase or visit a business. The more information they can provide, the better – and this update is sure to give customers the confidence they need to visit your business in person.
Key Takeaway: Get your interior camera-ready and request Google’s street view services! From a local SEO perspective, this update is all about giving users the most accurate and up-to-date information possible. Google wants to make sure that when a customer searches for your business, they have as much information as possible to make a decision – and that includes seeing what your business looks like inside. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a Google camera inside your business, you can opt out of this feature. However, keep in mind that this could limit the visibility of your Google Business Profile in Google Maps search results.
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5. Neighborhood Vibe Checks
When you’re planning a trip to somewhere new, what’s one of the first things you search for? Probably something along the lines of “Must-sees,” “Best-ofs” or “Things to do.” Fortunately, Google’s latest update is making it easier than ever for potential customers to find local businesses to include in their itineraries with their new “vibe check” update.
How does this vibe check feature work, exactly? Simply search for a neighborhood on Google Maps and Google’s local search results will populate with businesses that best represent the vibe of the area. For example, a search for the Latin Quarter in Paris will provide you with a curated list of top-rated landmarks, tourist destinations and hidden gems in the area. Of course, being included in this list is no accident – it requires a strong local SEO strategy to ensure your business shows up on Google’s – and your target audience’s – radar.
Key Takeaway: Give your local business the best possible chance of showing up in Google’s latest “vibe check” update by optimizing your Google Business Profile listing. Ensure that your NAP (name, address and phone number) information is up-to-date and accurate, and ask your customers to leave positive reviews that accurately represent the vibe of your business. In addition, take advantage of Google’s Questions and Answers feature to provide potential customers with the information they need to feel confident adding your local business to their travel itinerary.
6. Enhanced Live View
How many times have you opened up Google Maps to try to navigate yourself around an unfamiliar area, only to read it incorrectly and end up going the wrong way? Yeah, we’ve all been there. But Google’s latest update is here to help with their new and improved Live View feature.
Live View is an augmented reality (AR) feature that superimposes walking directions directly onto your phone’s camera view. This makes it easier than ever to follow Google Maps directions, as you can simply hold up your phone and watch the arrows appear in real-time, telling you exactly where to go. The best part? This update also includes search integration with Google Business Profile, so business information will also appear in Live View. According to Google,
“Say you’re heading to an outdoor market and need to take cash out. With search with Live View, simply lift your phone to search and instantly see the ATMs in an area. You can also spot different places — including coffee shops, grocery stores and transit stations. We’ll show you business hours and how busy a place is, and you can tap on any location to view more details, like what services the barber shop down the street offers.”
Key Takeaway: With this update, there’s even more reason to make sure your Google Business Profile is up-to-date and accurate. Be sure to include plenty of relevant keywords in your business description, as this is one of the factors that will determine whether or not your business appears in Live View search results. Improving your local search ranking will also give you a better chance of being included in this new feature, so focus on building quality backlinks and driving positive reviews from your customers.
Incorporating These Google Updates Into Your Local SEO Strategy
Now that we’ve covered what these Google updates mean for local SEO, it’s time to start implementing them into your own marketing strategy. Of course, knowing what to do and having the time to do it are two very different things. That’s where we come in.
At Level Up Local, we specialize in helping local businesses like yours improve their online visibility and attract more qualified leads. Our team of local SEO experts will work with you to develop a personalized marketing plan that takes these Google updates into account, ensuring that your business is able to take advantage of all the latest features and changes. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you level up your local SEO strategy.
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