Welcome to third round of Google Updates – with a focus on local this month! This update focuses on the closure of Google+, branded search share visibility in your Google My Business Insights, and a ‘Book Now’ feature new to the local pack. As always, these additions are working to expand a user’s capabilities online and give them all of the context they need before contacting a business.
Goodbye Old Friend – Google+
RIP Google+, the platform that most everyone has heard of (and we still get questions about), but few people used anymore. Google+ was launched back in 2011 as a social network, similar to Facebook or Twitter with some functionality around commenting and tagging so people could connect with each other, celebs, or businesses. All-in-all, it was the place marketers knew to utilize. Adding +1 buttons to websites became the norm (because it was hinted that it may boost your ranking) and it became a great repository for your brand or your personal information. This was also the first foray into Google Places, which became Google My Business as we know it today.
Not only had Google+ lost basically all of its users (and had almost 0 second view times on pages), but shortly after the announcement of the shut down, news spread about the undisclosed security breach that quietly happened earlier this year. The news came after some large breaches from big players like Facebook and Under Armour and other security concerns/panic after GDPR regulations hit Europe earlier this year. Google discovered that about 500,000 users’ data had been exposed, but there was no formal announcement.
Google+ finally shut down its service in early October 2018.
GMB Insights Adds Branded Searches
As of mid October 2018, you can now view your branded searches in your Google My Business Insights! “Branded searches” are Google’s way of tracking searches like “McDonald’s” that also shows nearby fast food restaurants.
How do you get to your Insights to see your branded searches?
Click into the location you’d like to see insight for
Click “Insights” in the lefthand menu
You’ll see a pie chart broken out by Direct, Discovery, and (if applicable) Branded traffic – as specified below:
We haven’t yet seen much branded traffic coming in for multifamily, but we are keeping our eyes peeled for any movement! We predict that bigger markets may struggle to beat out the ILS’ to show any branded traffic in the near future, but the smaller markets may have more of a chance to stand out in the SERPs.
Book Now Through The Google Local Pack
Users can now book their appointments and services via the local pack in the SERPs. For context, the local pack is the result that shows (usually 3 or more) local results for your search. You can often see the local pack for any local searches, with a large showing for restaurants, barbers, or hotels. A map is shown and listed results are below to guide users to nearby offerings.
As of late October, you can now add a “book” or “schedule” button through their new service, Reserve with Google. Once added, you see this in search results:
Users can click through and use Google to schedule which service and time they would like to come in. As for now, you can’t add the scheduling services unless you are partnering with Reserve with Google.
Our guess is that this will make its way to multifamily in the next months after initial rollouts in other industries. If there is success in the hotel industry, for example, it’s common that apartments comes next.