Google Multisearch Update: Introducing the “Near Me” Expansion

We have great news, and we have even better news: the newest Google Multisearch update has been announced, and it’s a huge win for local business owners.

Not quite as excited as we are just yet? We’ll get you up to speed.

In April 2022, Google introduced Multisearch – an update that promised to provide users with the ability to “go beyond the search box.” With Multisearch, Google users are now able to make searches within an image – for example, snapping a photo of your new succulent plant and searching “care instructions” or taking a screenshot of a pad thai dish and searching “recipe.”

Pretty neat right? It gets even better.

Google I/O 2022 was held this past May, and one of the biggest announcements at this year’s summit was the first Google Multisearch update. What was this update, you ask? “Near me” image searches!

How do these “near me” image searches work, and what does it mean for local businesses? Let’s take a deep dive into how this Google Multisearch update will impact your local SEO, and how you can use it to your advantage.

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    What is the “Near Me” Google Multisearch Update?

    With a name like the “near me” Google Multisearch update, you know this expansion has to have major implications for small local businesses. And it will, as long as your business knows how to use it to your advantage.

    Before we jump into how to benefit from this Google Multisearch update, one important question needs to be answered first: What is it, anyway?

    As the name suggests, the May 2022 Google Multisearch update allows users to make “near me” searches from within an image. Let’s use that same pad thai example from earlier to illustrate. Looking at pictures of a delicious noodle dish would certainly do a number on your appetite, and you might decide you’re in the mood for some right now. After searching for “near me” within the photo, Google will provide you with search results for restaurants in your area that serve pad thai. That way, you can place an order for delivery faster than it would’ve taken you to scour the menus of every Thai restaurant in your city yourself to find the dish you’re craving.

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    This is great news for local businesses who sell products, but what about those that sell services? It’s clear how this image-centric update lends itself to more visual businesses like restaurants and retail stores, but what about cleaning services or HVAC companies?

    Worry not – the “near me” Google Multisearch update has you covered there, too. If you provide a service that can’t be physically seen in an image, your business will still show up in search results as long as your location information is up-to-date and accurate. Of course, this update won’t be as advantageous as it would be for businesses with a rotating door of new products, but it certainly won’t harm your chances of showing up in local search results, either.

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    Why Does the Google Multisearch Update Matter for Your Business?

    This all sounds great from a consumer’s perspective, but why is it such a big deal on the business end? Because this update gives your business the chance to be discovered by people who may not have been aware of your existence before – and there’s a lot of them.

    Google reports that one in three mobile searches are related to location, which means there’s a huge opportunity for local businesses to capitalize on this update. And with Google’s continually growing emphasis on mobile-first indexes, it’s more important than ever for businesses to make themselves visible in local search.

    The “near me” image searches are powered by Google’s object recognition technology, which means businesses will need to make sure their images are high quality and updated regularly to reflect their current product and service offerings. In order for your business to appear in “near me” image search results, Google needs to be able to recognize what it is you’re selling. Prior to this update, Google’s crawlers relied on metadata – like image tags and descriptions – to understand the content of an image. With this update, however, Google is now able to understand the content of an image without any metadata thanks to its advancements in object recognition technology.

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    How to Prepare Your Local SEO Strategy for the Google Multisearch Update

    Of course, simply having a website with images on it won’t guarantee your business will show up in “near me” searches – there’s a bit of work that needs to be done on your end, too. If you want to make sure your local SEO strategy is ready for the Google Multisearch update, here are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success:

    • High-Quality Images: This one is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. In order for your business to show up in “near me” image searches, you need to have high-quality images on your website. Google’s object recognition technology is only as good as the images it’s working with, so make sure they’re clear, well-lit, and reflective of your current product and service offerings.
    • Optimized Metadata: While Google’s object recognition technology doesn’t require metadata to understand the content of an image, it still uses it to determine the context in which an image should be displayed. So, while you don’t need to go overboard with image tags and descriptions, you should still make sure your images are properly optimized to help Google understand the context.
    • Location Information: One of the main criteria Google looks at when determining whether or not to show your business in “near me” searches is your location information. Make sure your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are up-to-date and accurate across all your online listings, as well as on your website. On that note…
    • A Google Business Profile: Speaking of online listings, one of the best ways to ensure your business information is accurate and up-to-date is to create a Google Business Profile. Not only does this give you control over how your business appears in search results, but it also gives you the ability to track your performance and see how customers are interacting with your listing. Google prioritizes businesses with accurate and complete listings, so this is a crucial step in getting your business ready for the Multisearch update.
    • Regular Product and Service Updates: As mentioned before, the “near me” Google Multisearch update is geared towards businesses with a rotating door of new products and services. If your offerings are constantly changing, make sure you’re regularly updating your website and online listings to reflect those changes.
    • A Mobile-Friendly Website: Last but not least, it’s important to have a mobile-friendly website if you want to make the most of the “near me” searches. Google’s mobile-first indexing means that the version of your website that’s displayed in search results is determined by how it performs on mobile devices. So, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re likely not going to show up in “near me” searches – no matter how well-optimized your images are.

    Is Your Business Ready for the “Near Me” Expansion?

    The good news is the “near me” Google Multisearch update won’t be fully unrolled for a few more months. The bad news is businesses who aren’t using this time to prepare may see their local SEO suffer as a result when it does arrive.

    The potential benefits of the Google Multisearch update are significant, but only for businesses that are prepared to take advantage of it. If you want to make sure your local SEO strategy is ready for the “near me” expansion, following the tips above should help you get started. That being said, knowing what to do and having the time to implement it yourself aren’t necessarily aligned. If you need help getting your business ready for the Google Multisearch update, you’re in the right place.

    Level Up Local specializes in small business marketing with a big business impact on the local level. We’re constantly on the pulse of the latest Google updates to ensure our clients’ local SEO strategies are consistently cutting edge and ahead of the curve. Get in touch with us today to unlock the cheat code to your company’s winning local SEO strategy.

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