Google continues to focus on being the first and only destination searchers need to turn to during their time of need. In order to achieve this, they must, in turn, consistently refine their technology to better meet consumers’ evolving needs. Lately, it appears Google has been hard at work doing just that, quietly pushing out new functionality with Review attributes and in the Local Pack, as well as adding new features for the hospitality industry.

In this blog post, we will dive into what each of these new updates entails, as well as recommendations from our local search experts on how to make the most of Google’s latest enhancements for local businesses. Let’s find out what’s new with Google. 

Review Attributes Expand

Google seeks to prominently highlight both the positive and negative feedback your business receives to better inform potential customers. In an effort to do bring this critical information to the surface, Google began asking customers to select both positive and negative attributes any time they leave a review for your business (unless they leave a 3-star review). 

When a customer leaves a 4 or 5-star review for your business. Google will then prompt users to select positive attributes to better describe their interaction with your brand with short, concise verbiage. Reviewers will see a dialogue box with the question, “What do you like about this business?” Then, users are asked to select from the designated positive attributes, such as professionalism, punctuality, quality, and value. 

Positive Review Example

Similarly, for 1-2 star reviews, Google will surface the question “What do you not like about this business?”. The customer may then choose between the negative attributes presented. These will appear after the word “Critical” in a review if a user selects a negative attribute.

GatherUp found these positive and negative review attributes display in organic search via the business profile and have expanded to new categories, including lawyers, accountants, financial planners, architects, salons, car repair, and dry cleaning.

Now that Google provides more structure for reviews, multi-location brands cannot neglect their reputation strategy. A strong reputation management strategy starts with monitoring incoming reviews across all your locations. This allows you to better mine for common themes and to determine what needs to be addressed at both the corporate and local level. Additionally, positive feedback can then be more easily shared with upper management to celebrate your successes and helps set the standard for other locations that may have fallen behind in certain areas. 

For more tips on formulating a solid reputation strategy, read our blog post, “How to Implement Reputation Management Strategies at the Enterprise-Level.”

Top-Rated Verbiage Appears on Local Listings

You may be familiar with the  “Open now” label which appears in local listings. Google has introduced a “Top rated” label, which now also appears on some local listings. Although it was first spotted by Sergey Alkov in December of 2019, there had been no further reports of seeing this appear in listings, until now. The new label shows up in the map pack or when clicking on to the local finder, depending on the search query. 

While other Local SEO’s saw the label only appearing for a search with a term that includes the name of the city, we conducted our own search using only the service, without the name of the city. First, we searched, “florist in San Diego”. Next, we simply searched for “florist”. In both search queries, the “Top rated” label appeared.

top-rated label with city included Top-rated label without city

It seems that businesses that have a higher review rating appear as top-rated, although it’s difficult to determine the exact ranking algorithm Google is using to select which business appears first under the label. It also does not appear to be tied to the number of reviews a business receives and some businesses with slightly lower ratings appear before those with slightly higher ratings. 

Regardless of how rank is determined, it’s clear Google is somehow factoring in both overall ranking and number of reviews received to qualify a business as “top rated”. Because of this, we recommend local businesses continue to focus on their reputation management strategy by:

  • Monitoring reviews across all their locations
  • Responding to reviews
  • Encouraging customers to leave honest reviews
  • Listening to customer feedback to learn areas where your location can improve
  • Mining common themes in reviews

For more information on how to perfect your review strategy, check out our ebook, The Guide to Managing Local Reviews at Scale

New Features Now Available for Hotels

As hotels begin to reopen across the nation with stay-at-home orders steadily lifting in most regions and states, it is now a critical time for the hotel industry to check for their attributes in Google My Business (GMB) across all their locations. 

The attributes hotels should indicate if they have available or unavailable include:

  • Internet
  • Food and drink
  • Policies & payments
  • Activities
  • Services
  • Children
  • Pools
  • Parking & transport
  • Wellness
  • Accessibility
  • Business & events
  • Pets

Additionally, hotels should also be informed of new features available to them to better communicate important information to their customers. A new feature we’ve seen Google introduce recently for the hotel industry is the ability to add the number of restaurants a hotel has on-site. Hotels can specify if restaurants are available, not available, or other. If restaurants are available on the property, they can then indicate the number. 

New with Google, hotel functionality

Image courtesy of Google

By providing this information to your customers via Google, you are acting as the source of truth for your brand, building trust and credibility. Consumers are now seeking accurate, up-to-date information now more than ever, as safety protocols and restrictions remain prevalent. Invest time in making these necessary updates across all your locations to improve both your local presence and your user experience. 

At Rio SEO, we strive to be your one-stop-shop for the latest in local marketing resources. We encourage and invite you to check back frequently to stay informed on updates and learn best tips and practices to help your business excel in local marketing. 

We are also here to help during these times of transition and change. If you have questions related to your local marketing strategy and would like extra guidance at this time, reach out to our support team.