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In this week’s update, learn about a lawsuit targeting Google’s food ordering tools; attributes in the GBP Search interface; trends shaping social commerce; Yelp’s broad reach in the automotive space; E.A.T. for local businesses; and the new Local SEO Blackbelt Quiz. 


Lawsuit Alleges Unfair Practices in Google Food Ordering


A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Google by the operator of six Lime Fresh Mexican Grill restaurants in Miami, alleging that the company dealt unfairly with the restaurant and with consumers by posting “Order Online” links on its Google listings that showcased third-party ordering platforms. According to the suit, Google both violated the restaurant’s intellectual property rights and deliberately fooled customers into thinking they were ordering from the restaurant directly. 


The suit alleges that Google “intercepted” some 1,000 orders between January and August 2020 that otherwise would have been taken by one of the six restaurant locations, charging up to 30% to the restaurant in fees and taking some of the profits. Any U.S. restaurant with an ordering button on its Google profile is invited to join the class action. 


Launched in 2019, the “Order Online” button for restaurants once only permitted third-party services but now allows the restaurant to list its own delivery and pickup options and to have them appear first. Despite the changes, this new legal action takes the position, echoed in recently proposed Congressional legislation, that online platforms like Google are assuming a right to represent businesses online that more properly falls to the businesses themselves. 




Google Food Ordering interface for Lime Fresh Mexican Grill location in Miami


Attributes Added to GBP Search Interface


Local Search Forum user Professor M has reported that attributes have made their way to the Search interface for Google Business Profiles, another sign that Google is working to migrate all prior Google My Business dashboard features into Search (and Maps). Although most informational fields in Google profiles could be modified in Search under the “Edit profile” button, attributes before this update could only be edited in the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard. The Search version of the attribute editor is somewhat more user friendly, walking the user through the steps and explaining where information will appear, as shown in the screenshot.




New attribute editor in Search


Trends Shaping Social Commerce


A new post from Meta for Business reports that social shopping continues to grow. According to the post, 41% of consumers say they shop daily or weekly via smartphone, compared with only 12% five years ago; and some 48% of social media users say they’ve made a purchase via a social platform. The post identifies three important trends in social commerce. First, people want to buy based on trusted recommendations from their friends, from groups they belong to, and from influencers, creators, and celebrities. Brands can earn consumer trust by acting as a source of trusted recommendations. 


Second, 56% of global consumers say it’s important that a brand shares their values, and many consumers are looking for brands to uphold their commitment to shopping sustainably. Third, consumers are showing interest in immersive tools, such as Live Shopping and AR Try On, that help them experience products before purchasing. Meta believes these immersive experiences will pave the way toward commerce in the metaverse.


Yelp Content Available in More than Half of New U.S. Vehicles


A blog post from Yelp’s Chad Richard claims that Yelp content is now available in more than half of the new automobiles sold in the U.S. The post notes that Yelp has integrations with “dozens” of automotive brands, including Ford and Audi, and that Yelp Fusion Automotive, a car-specific version of its Fusion development platform, works seamlessly with automotive tech such as Cerence conversational AI and Telenav mapping and navigation. In addition to cars, Yelp content forms a local information layer in many consumer apps and products – outside well-known examples like Apple Maps, Amazon Alexa, and newly added Uber. For instance, Yelp offers tire installer recommendations for SimpleTire as well as local content for Neeva, a privacy-focused search engine. 


E.A.T. for Local Businesses


SEO expert Lily Ray gave a detailed and informative talk on E.A.T. for local businesses at the last Whitespark Local Search Summit, now available as a blog post. As you may know, E.A.T. stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust, and is often used to convey the criteria Google applies when deciding how to rank websites, especially those that contain information or offer services that can have a large impact on a user’s health and happiness – so-called YMYL (“Your Money or Your Life”) sites. 


Ray explains that E.A.T. is important in many other ways as a test of trustworthiness, and that E.A.T. standards help to guide Google’s decisions as to whether and how a business should be represented in its Knowledge Graph. In Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, a restaurant website is given as an example of an authoritative site, because it offers reliable and thorough information about itself including its contact information but also its history, details about its owners, what visitors can expect, and so on. 


Businesses following many of the same best practices that can help with local ranking and conversion will also be conveying to Google the qualities that the E.A.T. standard looks for, such as complete business profiles, up-to-date hours, and images that show your real staff and location. To go the extra mile, businesses should create content that showcases their expertise, and multi-location businesses should add content to each local store page that offers something distinct, whether it’s the history of that location, comments from employees, or info on local events or city highlights. 





Take the Local SEO Blackbelt Quiz, If You Dare


Sterling Sky’s Colan Nielsen has just published this year’s edition of the Local SEO Blackbelt Quiz. For the fourth year in a row, this quiz (I haven’t taken it yet) is likely to offer a roller coaster ride through the landscape of local SEO, from the highs to the lows and everything in between. The quiz last year, completed by over 700 people, had some tough questions, even for those of us who like to think we keep up with the latest news in local. Give it a try this year and see where you stand!

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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