Author: Damian Rollison (Damian Rollison) - vice president of product strategy Brandify. The company specializes in solutions in the field of local SEO.
In a recent post in the blog SparkToro founder Moz and an expert in the field of search engine marketing Rand Fishkin has predicted that 2020 will be the year when Google will turn from "the search engine for all" into "universal competitor."
In its forecasts Fishkin referenced on Google monopoly in web search and on trend, coupled with the growth of the so-called « zero-the click of requests " - when a search session ends without going to the site, and the user receives all the necessary information and answers directly in the search results.
Fishkin reinforces its argument a number of examples, including the song Portal Genius, which is judged to Google for display of song lyrics in search results, news sites, suffering from traffic reduction, tourism resources, such as Expedia and the Kayak, and others.
Recommendations of cafés and restaurants, weather forecasts, video games - nearly every vertical has been affected by the influence of several interrelated functions, actively developed by Google. Among them appear:
- ready answers
- Cards Knowledge Network
- vertical search
- Zero-click transaction (Reserve with Google program)
- Transaction further down the funnel (Google Shopping, Google Travel)
- Blocks local issuing (Local Pack)
All these areas are interconnected both technologically and strategically.
From a technological point of view, we are talking about building a network of knowledge and widespread use of machine learning - almost everything that Google offers to find.
In terms of Google's strategy promotes a potentially suitable source of information and is committed to take a leading position in each vertical.
In this article, we want to share their own thoughts about how all this affects the local search in those areas which will be expanded in 2020 with a high probability.
It seems that Google is very closely followed by how users perform search in different verticals - from travel and shopping to restaurants and services - and finely tuned local search function, to create an even more vertikalizirovanny UX and get an even larger share of the funnel.
By taking these steps, Google wants to strengthen its position in the local search and protect yourself from the competition. In other words, Google wants to be the best search engine in this segment worldwide. Achieving leadership in universal search options use, then the company is likely to move in the direction of increasing verticalization. And that's not all.
In a scenario where the search engine seeks results that exceed the wildest dreams, niche sites and directories that serve as yet a significant part of the population, they leave the stage, and then to connect consumers and businesses remains only to Google. And this is the direction in which the moving company.
Below - a few examples of this trend.
This is the case when many small changes over time completely changed the user experience. Recently, Google has become increasingly indicate the availability of goods in local stores, even if the search query does not have a local intent expressed:
Below the search results page for the same Google search unit displays the local issue, which acts as a means for customized presentation of content that meets the needs of the user.
Please note that Target the main category was changed to "toy store» (Toy store), to suit the user's intent, and all three listing show that Google's relevance took the data from the company's website. As a result, the company does not need to broadcast via the Google My Business availability of certain goods:
It is in search of the commodity in recent months, Google has also paid great attention to fotokontentu and changing display product listings to show those photos that match specific search queries.
As demonstrated Mike Blumenthal (Mike Blumenthal), it is especially clearly seen when looking at the request related to jewelry.
In the example below Google selects among the images of photos and earrings makes them visible in the Local Park. The search engine is also able to determine the earrings in the photo with other commodities.
Fishkin also talks about this, but we believe that hotels should discuss it in the context of local, because our hotel search facility has undergone significant changes as compared to the other local categories. In 2019 Local Pack became «Hotel Pack».
While block search results for hotels looks like a Local Pack, really Hotel Pack is a portal to a completely different search experience.
At the end of 2018 Google introduced a new version of Local Finder Unit for hotels with more filters and a tiled layout of search results. At present, the interface is already a thing of the past. To replace him came a separate section for hotels on the portal of the Google the Travel , where each hotel is now available much more information:
The profile hotels following tabs are now displayed: "Overview", "Price", "Reviews", "Location", "Description" and "Photo". Google also began to provide information on attractions and places for entertainment near the hotel, as well as photos from the company, search for users and third-party sources.
Cafes and restaurants
"Cafe and Restaurant" - a vertical line, which has a long history of specialization. A very long history, if you remember the times Hotpot and a number of other Google experiments designed to raise the profiles of restaurants to find and attract users, who would otherwise go to Yelp or another platform, where you can find information about schools.
A recent study Brandify showed that 84% of consumers were looking for restaurants online at least once in the last 30 days, which is much higher than for all other business categories.
To date, the search results for queries related to the eating facilities are not much different from the issue of common needs, but there are several differences, including the addition of photos of dishes.
Units of local issuance of cafes and restaurants also include special filters for reviews, cuisine, price, hours of use. Users can also search by the institutions that they have previously visited or which have not yet been. To do this, Google will use your location history.
Despite the fact that over the past few years, Google has consistently introducing new functions for advertising local services (Local Service Ads), such as a program guaranteed refund and service checks Google Screened license, the initiative seems to be sold only half.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that many vertical still do not have access to buy Local Service Ads.
The final list today includes about 30 business categories including locksmiths, plumbers, photographers and cleaners premises. Advertising local services also run not in all regions of the US, and only in some parts of the world, although its coverage is gradually increasing.
As for the user experience in this vertical, it is somewhat "anemic" compared with Google Shopping or Google Travel.
For example, a search query [house cleaners anaheim ca] at the top of the page displays Google ad carousel, and immediately below it - a local issuing unit that competes for traffic.
Unlike Google Hotels, in this case, the user is much less incentive to select the paid results.
Meanwhile, the Local Service Ads existence says about Google's interest to ensure that in the future, become a kind of "home counselor" for users. And it is possible that at some point the company will introduce service recommendations, created on the basis of this functionality.
Today, companies operating in the service sector, are sandwiched between the need to pay for advertising and trying to take a place next to other businesses in Google Maps and local issue that has traditionally been for them a huge problem. And this is one of the reasons why the service-oriented categories, such as plumbers and even lawyers, began to spread spam.
Where Google is sent next?
Given the activity that Google launched in the verticalization of the user experience, there is a high probability that the company will continue to add new verticals to its list in 2020 and beyond.
The company's move in this direction may indicate a recent report published on the website Think with Google. In the "Traditional industries are transformed into digital" referred to food, cars and finances.
Google notes that in the past two years the number of mobile search sessions on request [grocery app] has increased by 900% at the request of [electric cars] - 85%, and on financial management and planning - 70%. This kind of demand signals that are data-driven company such as Google, definitely pays attention when determining where to create the new feature sets.
In this verticalization - this is an interesting case where the desktop, not mobile devices come to the fore in terms of innovation. Google, of course, working on the approximation of the mobile and desktop versions of their products, but if you take, for example, a search for hotels, then it is more convenient to use a computer than on a smartphone.
Meanwhile, Google Maps, which account for most of the growth in local search, is still not switched to the new interface for hotels.
In this regard, particularly interesting to see how Google will balance the verticalization of priority with the growing popularity of Google Maps as the first choice among the local search users.