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In this week’s update, learn about justifications in Google Maps; tips for promoting your local business on Instagram; usage growth in messaging apps; UGC as a ranking factor; the top five Google Business Profile questions; and how to get images in local organic SERPs.


Google Showcasing Justifications in Maps


Google has begun displaying justifications directly on the map in the Google Maps app, as first noted by Joy Hawkins. In my own testing, I was able to replicate this on the Maps app but not in mobile or desktop search nor in Maps on desktop. The example below shows both menu highlights and review snippets for a restaurant search. A search for handmade jewelry in Albuquerque showed review snippets and “their website mentions,” as did a search for attorneys offering free consultation in Boston. A search for gyms with saunas in Dallas displayed review snippets only. The common denominator appears to be reviews, perhaps because they provide the richest source of content. Justifications have become common in the abbreviated search results shown in Google 3-Packs and in the Local Finder but this is their first appearance on a map.





Search for birria tacos in San Diego displays review and menu justifications


Tips for Promoting Your Business on Instagram


A post on Search Engine Journal offers tips for promoting your local business on Instagram. According to the social platform, some 70% of shoppers turn to Instagram when contemplating their next purchase, and 50% say they become more interested in a brand when they see ads for it in the platform. Some 200 million businesses are competing for the attention of approximately 1 billion Instagram users globally. 


The most important tip is to engage with influencers and other users, rather than merely posting content. “You must spend engagement to make engagement,” according to the article. Reposting local content is another winning strategy. Businesses are urged to maintain a consistent brand voice across social channels and not to post too much repetitive content. Hashtags which contain the name of your location can help to bring your content into local conversations, and businesses should not forget to geotag all of their posts. The article contains many more recommendations for building local audiences on Instagram. 


WhatsApp Usage Up as Messaging Booms


In a sign of the increasing popularity of messaging apps, 55% of WhatsApp users used the app every day in Q1 2022, up from 39% in Q1 2021. This is according to a new study from SensorTower. App usage also rose for competitors Telegram, LINE, and Messenger during the same period. WhatsApp and Messenger were the most used messaging apps in the U.S. Messenger, though it remains in the top position among U.S. users, has seen its market share drop incrementally over the past two years. Today, Meta apps represent 78% of the U.S. market, with competitors making up the remaining 22%. 





Courtesy Business of Apps


Is UGC a Ranking Factor?


The latest post in an ongoing series of Search Engine Journal articles about search ranking factors asks whether user generated content on your website contributes to ranking. User generated content might include blog comments, reviews, photos, forum posts, and other types of content contributed by someone other than the site owner. The question is whether this content is factored in by Google when deciding how to rank your website.


One piece of evidence comes from Google’s spam guidelines, where the company states that sites overrun by spam comments contributed by other users may end up being demoted in search. Further, Google spokesperson John Mueller has stated that Google does not differentiate between content on your site that is written by the site owner or by other users. One distinction Google does make, according to Mueller, is to automatically disavow links in content shared by users, on the basis that the business will have a hard time controlling their quality. 


Given that UGC is clearly a ranking factor, it’s best to enact strict content policies on your site to keep from being negatively impacted by spam. 


The Top Five Google Business Profile Questions


Sherry Bonelli has shared the five most common questions seen in the Google help forum for Google Business Profile users. These include how to start managing one’s Business Profile in the first place; what to do if your Business Profile gets suspended; what to do if your service area business moves to a new location; how to add managers or owners to a Business Profile; and how to resolve issues with postcard PIN verification. As a Google Product Expert, Bonelli is able to offer detailed advice and steps to resolve many of the problems raised in these common questions. As a whole, they speak to the fact that many businesses struggle with the basics of profile management and with some of the more common pitfalls. 


How to Get Images in Local Organic Results


A post in the Local Search Forum illustrates that it has become fairly common for photos to appear in local organic search results. The author shares examples in a search for eye doctors in St. George, Utah. Given that photo content may make a user more likely to click on the result, businesses should be aware of the tactics that make it more likely for their photos to appear in organic search. A recent article from Sterling Sky shows how to do this for mobile search, though the results should be the same for desktop. Recommendations include posting square images that will display well in search and posting your desired featured image at the top of your page. Coupons or awards won by your business can be helpful in driving conversions.






Featured images in organic SERP, courtesy Local Search Forum

Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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