It’s no secret that Google loves a good update – in 2018 they reported 3,234 changes to their search algorithms alone. Put into context, that’s an average of nine per day! And while that’s great news for end-users seeking the most relevant and up-to-date information for their queries, as marketers, it can be hard to keep up. How do you know which updates are most important to your business’s success? Having a smart and trusty guide like G5’s expert SEO team can help. We do the digging, so you don’t have to. 

Here are five Google search updates you need to know about now.

1. Google My Business: Short Names

Short names are now available for businesses to link to Google My Business listings. This update allows you to create a short name for your GMB page, like @RadRealEstate. Businesses can create a short URL to link directly to GMB listings from promotional materials, making it more accessible to potential customers. This also makes it simple for your existing customers to leave reviews and access your hours or additional information about your business on the fly. 

2. Google Tests Carousel Local Pack with Ads Included

According to Search Engine Land, our friends at Google have also been testing a new design for “local pack” – the results box in local search results. This new design shows local results in a scrollable carousel format and includes a spot for an ad at the top. It is much more interactive than the current iteration and by default only highlights one-and-a-half local results at first glance. The impact is that mobile users must scroll to see additional local search listings and even after selecting a business to learn more about, Google will surface additional options.

3. Welcome Offers on GMB Listings

GMB now offers businesses a new way to connect with current and potential customers with the introduction of welcome offers. Using welcome offers provides an incentive for customers to follow your business on GMB. Draw in new customers by creating offers on your GMB listing such as $100 off the security deposit on new rental agreements or a free lock with a self storage unit rental. Only new followers will see your welcome offer, which encourages new users to follow your updates on GMB. Using this feature helps businesses track conversions from GMB.

4. Linking GMB Photo Quality and Search Performance

BrightLocal’s recent Google My Business Insights Study analyzed GMB Insights for 45,000 businesses in 36 industries across four countries to learn how this data has changed over time. One of the most interesting takeaways was the correlation between the number of images on a GMB profile and the total website visits, phone calls, and direction requests that originated from said profile. The more photos you have on your GMB listing, the better your chances of leading customers from discovery to conversion.

5. Google Completes Rollout of Q&A Auto-Suggest Answers

The auto-responses to GMB’s Q&A feature are getting smarter – and that’s no accident. Google leverages natural language processing and sentiment analysis to surface reviews, posts and existing Q&A that match known nouns and verbs as questions are typed. Often, Google suggests reviews as answer, even going so far as to highlight sentences that relate to the words in the question. Research conducted by GatherUp found that Google is generally agnostic as to whether they will show positive or negative reviews and will pick the review with the closest content regardless of sentiment. 

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