Network News: GMB Services Gain Importance, Bing Favors Facebook Reviews Over Yelp, and More

In response to consumers’ ever-evolving online search behavior, popular discovery networks like Google, Yelp, Apple Maps, Bing, and Facebook continually develop and update the features and capabilities of their business listings.

To help our readers stay abreast of the latest network changes, MomentFeed is starting a new blog series with a quick roundup of “network news” on the channels that matter most for local search visibility. Read on for the latest network updates released during the first quarter of 2021, along with the steps you should take to help ensure consumers can find – and choose – your business.

Google Updates:

GMB service labels now displaying in local search results and map pack

  • Impact: Google has enabled “services justifications” adding to a growing list of justifications added in 2019 including Google posts, Google reviews, and website mentions. Justifications are displayed in the GMB listings within the Google 3-Pack. This increases the chance of a consumer clicking on a GMB listing when they are searching for related keywords.
  • What it means for you: Adding “Services” to your GMB profile could result in a lift in your GMB click-through-rate (CTR) as your listing may appear more relevant to the searcher.
  • What this looks like: The different justifications that show up in the Google 3-Pack are identifiable by an icon - the new “services justification” has a checkmark icon in front of it, see example below.
GMB service labels

Google search now includes ‘Years in Business’ label

  • Impact: This feature shows consumers at-a-glance how long you’ve been in business by displaying your business’s “opening date” as a label in local search results. As consumers are more likely to choose businesses that have been operating for longer than their competitors, the “years in business” label can impact your CTR.
  • What it means for you: Businesses may have an opening date in their master location data files, but it’s worth filling out the field on GMB listings as well. Since ‘open dates’ can be notoriously tricky to pin down and can change as the result of construction delays, multi-location brands only need to input a rough month and year of opening, the exact date isn’t necessary. Using this field can put brands that have locations that are decades old and have a long-term presence in their local markets at an advantage, compared to their competitors.
  • What this looks like: The new “years in business” label displays just below the star rating and category labels. The prominence of this label gives it more importance.
GMB years in business - open date label

Google added a wave of new GMB categories, as well as quick filters for takeout, delivery, and other popular categories and attributes

  • Impact: The new categories available are mostly for specialized restaurants, while new local search filters allow users to browse by popular restaurant categories (Mexican restaurant, pizza) and attributes (outdoor dining, delivery).
  • What it means for you: For maximum local search visibility, businesses should take full advantage of these new categories and filters by updating their GMB listings to include as many detailed categories and attributes as are relevant. Keep in mind, however, that you are limited to 10 categories per listing and Google recommends choosing the fewest number of categories to describe your business. With attributes you have a lot more flexibility, but again attributes should accurately reflect your product and service offerings for the best search experience.
  • What this looks like: A ribbon menu with photos to filter options by popular categories and attributes.
GMB browse by filters - new categories

Learn how to optimize Google My Business listings for your multi-location brand.

Yelp Updates:

Yelp allows users to fact check COVID-19 updates on business listings

  • Impact: Consumers will have the ability to provide feedback on whether businesses on Yelp are compliant with COVID-19 related protocols, like social distancing and mask regulations.
  • What it means for you: Brands should ensure their Yelp business profiles always include accurate and up-to-date COVID-specific information and appropriately labeled attributes, and quickly address any related customer feedback.
  • What this looks like: User verification on COVID-19 attributes is now displayed on Yelp business profiles. In addition, users can click through from the business profile to take a short survey verifying the information is accurate.
Yelp - user verified COVID data

Apple Maps Updates:

Apple Maps is now pulling in menus for restaurant listings, primarily from Yelp

  • Impact: Apple has given businesses the ability to control their menu data directly via Apple’s partners through a field called “Action Links." Businesses can now place Action Links – like Order, Reserve, or Book Now – directly on their Apple Maps listings. Apple Maps also allows businesses to activate a feature granting Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Open Table access to place Action Links on their Apple Maps listings as well.
  • What it means for you: Businesses should update the menus across their location listings on Yelp to help ensure any menu data being pulled by Apple Maps is accurate and up-to-date.
  • What this looks like: Yelp menu display on iPhone.
Apple pulling menu data from Yelp

Apple Maps plays a bigger role in local discovery

  • Impact: Apple has identified that Apple Maps will play a bigger role within growing parts of the iOS experience, particularly for search.
    • Apple Maps now includes the App Clips feature that any business with an online order, booking, or appointment-setting feature within their mobile application can take advantage of.
    • Apple Maps powers anything local in search on Apple devices that is category or brand specific. You can now pull up full maps listings in search without having to jump over to the actual Maps app – this appears to be Apple's version of Google's local Knowledge Panel.
    • Apple Maps listings now also show up when users are in the Apple Wallet app.
  • What it means for you: The bigger role that Apple Maps plays, the more usage the platform gets, which means more visibility and lead opportunity for multi-location brands, and all the more important it is to be optimized for local search on this network, in addition to Google.

Apple Maps to display [crowd-sourced] live status updates on how busy a business is

  • Impact: Apple Maps is working on a new feature that allows users to know at a glance how busy a place of interest is based on crowd-sourced data. This new feature is another indication Apple is becoming a more robust local search platform like Google.
  • What it means for you: See above recommendation.
  • What this will look like:
Apple Maps live busy status indicator

Bing Updates:

Bing’s local listings are now using Facebook as its primary review source, over Yelp

  • Impact: Facebook reviews have an even more extended reach, as this update makes them readable outside of the Facebook platform.
  • What it means for you: This is a strong example of the local value of Facebook for search – and the importance of maintaining a strong Facebook customer review program. In addition to promptly addressing reviews and customer feedback on Facebook, businesses can bolster their brand visibility – on both Facebook and Bing – by leveraging local-level Facebook content to drive engagement and build customer loyalty.
  • What this looks like:
Bing using Facebook for reviews over Yelp

Bing updates its search results interface to make it more visually immersive

  • Impact: New infographic-like UI will place a heavier emphasis on a business’s photos, reviews, and keyword-heavy attributes, and will include an expandable search carousel.
  • What it means for you: Businesses should up their photo/imagery game by including as many visually engaging elements as possible to help distinguish their business listings and boost their search visibility on Bing. Additionally, incorporating relevant keywords in both their listings and review responses will help your business appear at the top of search carousel results, driving more more clicks and engagement actions.
  • What it looks like:
Bing - visually immersive search results

Facebook Updates:

Google may now be crawling local Facebook pages

  • Impact: Not only is local Facebook page content being crawled, Google appears to be taking what is essentially unstructured data within a Facebook post and transforming it into a structured attribute that is then featured on the Knowledge Panel of a business’s GMB page.
  • What it means for you: It’s critical for multi-location businesses to take advantage of incorporating keyword-rich content into their local Facebook pages and social posts - Google may be watching!
  • What this may look like:
Google pulling from Facebook posts

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