In this week’s update, learn about Local Cards as a potential replacement for the 3-Pack; Google’s new “LGBTQ+ owned” attribute; the Musk team’s request for more Twitter data; the impact of page speed on local search performance; Google’s latest statement on keywords in domains; and consumer sentiment on ad personalization.
Local Cards May Foreshadow the Death of the 3-Pack
First spotted by Brian Freiesleben in 2021, an alternate format for Google local results has been appearing more frequently of late. Dubbed Local Cards, these results showcase Google Business Profiles in a single-business display that is associated with an organic search result. For instance, in the screenshot below, a search for Good Thins crackers returns an organic product page from Walmart, with a snippet showing that the product is in stock. A Local Card below the organic result briefly indicates the location of the nearest Walmart as well as the fact that the store is open now. Clicking on the Local Card takes the user to the Google Business Profile, with no intermediary Local Finder as there would be with the 3-Pack. These results have been seen on mobile only as far as I know.
Mike Blumenthal speculates that the Local Card may represent one alternative Google may resort to if antitrust legislation forces the company to abandon the 3-Pack in order to level the competitive playing field. The imminent threat is the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), which would ban tech companies from self-preferencing and which has broad bipartisan support. We don’t know, of course, if the Local Card option truly represents Google’s anticipation of an antitrust ruling, or whether these changes would meet the requirements of any pending legislation.
Courtesy Brian Freiesleben
Google Adds LGBTQ+ Owned to GBP Attributes
Google has added support for “LGBTQ+ owned” as an option in the list of so-called identity attributes for Google Business Profiles. The list already included Black-owned, Latino-owned, veteran-owned, and women-owned. Previously, Google allowed businesses to flag themselves as LGBTQ+ friendly and as transgender safespaces, but did not have a method for indicating LGBTQ+ ownership. Yelp launched a similar attribute in May 2021. Google has also added an icon, as seen in the graphic below, that will help to highlight LGBTQ+ ownership in public profiles. Other identity attributes, such as women-owned and Black-owned, have been demonstrated to influence rankings in cases where Google users search for businesses with the specified ownership; presumably, the same will be true for the new LGBTQ+ attribute.
Musk Team Requests More Twitter Bot Data
In the latest chapter of the ongoing Twitter takeover saga, Elon Musk’s team has asked Twitter to provide further data backing up its claim that bots represent only 5% of all Twitter users. Twitter had previously provided Musk with the “full firehose” of tweets for a select period, but the Musk team said they needed more information. In response, Twitter has provided real-time data to Musk that may include tweet content, engagements, authors, mentions, dates and times, devices, and location information – all of this before Musk has any official role at the company, though he and his team are bound by nondisclosure laws. Presumably, the data provided will be sufficient for the Musk team to make an independent assessment of bot activity. It’s worth remembering, of course, that it was partly on the promise of cleaning up rampant bot activity that Musk proposed taking over Twitter in the first place.
The Impact of Page Speed on Local Search Performance
Amanda Jordan has published a new case study demonstrating that improvements to Core Web Vitals metrics – metrics that measure various aspects of page speed and performance and that were added to Google’s core search algorithm last year – can have an impact on local search performance. The study concerns a residential cleaning company with 40 locations, for whom Jordan’s agency RicketyRoo provided only page speed optimization services. The team focused on disabling unused plugins in the clients’ WordPress site, reducing the size of large images, and other changes. As a result, they saw improvement in rankings for non-branded keywords, as well as a 32% boost in new users, 47% more phone calls, and 63% more quote requests compared to the previous year. Aside from improvements in direct traffic to the client’s website, these improvements are likely due in part to the indirect influence of organic search performance on local GBP ranking.
Image courtesy Amanda Jordan
Google Says Keywords in Domains Are “Overrated”
Google continued its campaign of discouragement towards keywords in domain names recently, when search spokesperson John Mueller posted on Twitter that keywords in domains are “overrated” in his opinion. Mueller advised that instead of focusing on keywords, SEOs should “pick something for your business, pick something for the long term.” In his writeup on Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz shares a long list of articles tracking Google’s history of comments on this topic. Back in 2012, Google introduced a penalty designed to reduce the ranking benefit of exact keyword matches in domains (such as “cheap online prescriptions” matching to cheap-online-prescriptions.com). Some domains with keywords do, in fact, continue to rank well, but there is no guarantee, and Google discourages the practice given that it is usually driven by a desire to rank rather than to establish a distinct name as an entity publishing useful content.
Consumers Want Personalization, But Distrust Brands with Data
A study from Twilio finds that 62% of today’s consumers expect to see ads personalized to their interests and preferences, though only 40% trust brands to be responsible in the use of the personal data needed to enable such personalization. The key to this conundrum appears to be trustworthiness; 60% of consumers say trust and transparency influence their purchasing decisions. Moreover, 63% say they don’t mind if brands use their personal information as long as it is sourced directly and not from third parties. So it seems that consumers are looking for personalization as long as the brand takes full responsibility for the management and safekeeping of first-party data.