[IMI POV] Google Industry Updates October 2017

Google algorithm and industry updates - October 2017Google My Business (GBM) Listing Updates

Released September 6, 2017

Google gives local businesses the ability to edit their GMB listing directly in a Google search result. Testing for this feature began in July 2017, and has now officially gone live.

Google says, “You can complete and enhance your listing, share photos and posts related to your business, and see how many views you’re getting.”

How do local businesses use this new feature?

  1. Find your business on Google Search.
  2. Log in with the account credentials to your GMB account.
  3. A new menu will be available directly above the search results.
  4. Click the “edit” button, and the fields available to edit will be highlighted for you.

Business editing view on desktop:

Business editing view on desktop of Google My Business update

What can you do from the search results editing feature? (Available from both desktop and mobile.)

  1. Add or correct business information (example: updated hours).
  2. Post on Google to stay engaged with your customers.
  3. Share photos.
  4. See how many views your listing is getting.
  5. Access detailed information about your listing’s performance.
  6. Know when other users upload photos of your business.
  7. Quickly take the most important actions to complete and enhance your business listing.

Google has rolled out this update in an attempt to encourage business owners to be more proactive with updating their business listings.

Google Enhances Mobile Search Card: Adds 4 More Tabs for Certain Queries

Released September 11, 2017

Google updated the content on mobile Knowledge Graph cards to include more tabs, starting with movie queries, and plans to expand to bookMobile search cards updated with extra tabss and stocks.  

Ever since Google’s creation of Knowledge Graphs in 2012, it has continued to make enhancements to provide immediate and direct answers. These new tabs are the perfect example of how Google strives to give searchers comprehensive results based on their queries, essentially predicting what the searcher could benefit from beyond the simple query.

The new tabs allow users to receive more in-depth information about the movie titles they are searching for, in addition to the existing tabs – Overview, Showtimes, Cast, and Reviews.

The new tabs available are (shown in “IT” movie query):

  • Search
  • Top stories related to the movie title
  • Trailers & clips
  • Similar movies

Questions yet to be addressed:

  • When will the Knowledge Graph updates be officially rolled out? As of now, the new tabs only appear to a select audience.
  • Will other Knowledge Graph cards, beyond movie queries, books and stocks, be getting the same or similar updates?
  • Users will have all the information listed on movie websites (movie theater site, film review sites, etc.) right in the knowledge graph. Will traffic to movie websites be hurt by this update?

It’s clear users will have convenient access to a more comprehensive set of results for movie queries, but some tabs are hidden until the user manually scrolls to view those new tabs.

Example: The knowledge box as seen without any scrolling for the search query “Wonder Woman.”

Wonder Woman Knowledge Graph example

As you can see, the only tabs shown without scrolling to the right primarily include the existing tabs (Overview, Showtimes, & Cast for this specific example) and only one of the newer tabs “Top Stories.” It is uncertain how Google decides the order of the search card tabs. Will users not utilize the new tabs simply because they don’t know they are there? In that case, movie website traffic should not be affected.

Google Releases ‘Hawk’: A Local Algorithm Update

The Hawk update was released on August 22, 2017. This was a strictly local update and had no apparent impact on non-local organic results.

The main change this update appears to have made is the way Google filters and selects local results.

Google Hawk algorithm update

To give a little history on this subject, Google introduced the Possum algorithm update in September of 2016. In addition to filtering out listings that shared the same phone number or website, Google started filtering out listings physically located near each other.

However, this was causing problems for some businesses because it meant if another business in the same industry was also located within the same building, or even down the street, it could then cause that business to get filtered out of local search results.

With this latest Hawk update, Google refined the proximity filter to be a bit stricter. While it still seems to be filtering out businesses within the same building, it no longer filters out businesses that are close by.

Local organic search results pre-and post-Hawk update example one:

Below is a before-and-after screenshot that shows how the local results changed as a result of the Hawk update; notice how Weber was completely missing from the results a few months prior to the update. After the Hawk update, Weber is shown in the results.

Hawk update example

Local organic search results pre-and post-Hawk update example two

In the example to the right, we take a look at four hotels in Killeen, Texas. The first screenshot reflects the local results prior to the Hawk update. As shown below, only two of the four listings in close proximity were included in the results. The Candlewood Suites and Residence Inn were both omitted from the results due to the close proximity to the Fairfield Inn and Holiday Inn.

Google Hawk update hotel example

The screenshot below was taken after the Hawk update. It clearly reflects that all four of the hotels are present in the local SERPs.

Google Hawk update - hotel example

Google Flights & Hotel Search Upgrades: Interactive Maps, Grids & More

Google announced August 29, 2017 upgrades would be rolled out for Google Flights and hotel search features to improve the user experience when planning travel. These updates to travel search will allow users to easily access flight and hotel information in one, convenient spot.

Google Flights

The newest feature on Google Flights is a “Dates” option that allows the user to see price insights in a calendar view. Cheapest dates to fly will be highlighted in green, while the most expensive flights will be highlighted red.

Users may also view airfare price variations across a window of time in the “Price Graph” feature to get a better understanding of trends.

Currently, only available on mobile search, new Google Flights features will be available on desktop later this year.

Google Flights upgrades

Similar to the Google Flights upgraded features, hotel search has also gotten easier with the addition of a calendar view for room rates and a price trend tool, helping users find the best dates to travel.

Once users have selected their preferred hotel, check in and check out date ranges can be set to view nightly rates during their preferred travel period.

Google hotel search upgrades

Interactive Maps

Lastly, Google is introducing an interactive map for locating nearby airports, allowing users to see price variations between flights at different locations. This feature offers a look into more flights and airports users may have previously overlooked.

An interactive map is also available as an overview of hotel prices in the area, providing an easy snapshot of local offerings.

Google Flights Interactive Map            Hotel Search Interactive Map

Interactive Maps on mobile

Takeaways & Recommendations | GMB Editable Listings

IMI recommends keeping a close eye on your GMB listing so you can be sure to provide potential customers with the information they are looking for. Enhancing this information with photos and Google posts will help bring your business to life in the eyes of the reader, even before they click through to your website.

Takeaways & Recommendations | Enhanced Mobile Search Card

How this information is pulled is not yet available, IMI recommends keeping a close eye on the update. Benefits of this update as it pertains to certain businesses can be better assessed once this information is available.

Takeaways & Recommendations | Hawk Update

For most local businesses, the Hawk update is beneficial because it reduces the chances of businesses being filtered out of search results due to close proximity to similar businesses.

Takeaways & Recommendations | Flights & Hotel Search Upgrades

This upgrade will primarily affect airlines and hotel companies. This feature may drive these types of businesses to make their pricing more competitive, as it makes prices more transparent to the consumer.  

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