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Local Memo: TikTok’s Continued Rise as a Search Engine


In this week’s update, learn about TikTok’s continued rise as a search engine, instances of Google Map pins being moved; Google’s rollout of SMS and WhatsApp messaging for GBPs; and YouTube testing image-based search through Google Lens.


TikTok’s Continued Rise as a Search Engine 


The News 


It seems like we get new data weekly supporting TikTok’s growth as a discovery platform. Adobe surveyed consumers and business owners alike to better understand how TikTok is being used for product discovery. 


The research found that 41% of those surveyed used TikTok as a search engine, with Gen Z making up the most significant percentage of those using TikTok at 64%


Additionally, Adobe asked what consumers have looked for when using TikTok as a search engine. The answers varied widely, with new recipes, music, and DIY tips making the top three. 



A bar graph showing what TikTok users search most frequently



Why This Matters 


Over the past few months, we have continuously emphasized the importance of leveraging TikTok, especially for brands trying to reach younger audiences. If your brand doesn’t have a presence on TikTok, what are you waiting for? 


Whether you’re looking to optimize a TikTok channel your brand already has or just getting started, our blog on getting the most out of the platform can help. 


Instances of Google Map Pins Being Moved and Impacting Ranking 


The News 


In other news, Darren Shaw of Whitespark posted on LinkedIn revealing that there has been an increase in the number of people reporting that their map pins have been moved on their Google Business Profiles (GBPs). In many instances, competitors are moving the map pins away from the actual business location, impacting the business’s rankings. 


For instance, if your business is located in Austin, TX, a competitor could request to edit your location and move the pin to Dallas, TX. If Google accepts the request, your business would start showing up for relevant searches in Dallas, where your brand may not have any actual locations. 


As you can imagine, this not only changes your map pin location, but drops your local search rankings,  significantly hurting your business’s bottom line. To fix this issue, companies must submit a request to Google to correct it, but there have been instances where Google temporarily suspends a GBP when a correction is requested. 


Why This Matters 


Our 2024 Consumer Behavior Index asked what consumers would do if they visited a store whose online profile says it’s open only to find the business closed. The largest block of consumers, 47%, said they would look for another business.


As a brand, you must pay close attention to your GBP to ensure that it displays accurate information at all times. If not, you risk losing potential customers. Tools like SOCi Listings and Genius Search can help ensure that your brand’s local listings are updated and accurate across all business locations. 


Google Rolls Out SMS and WhatsApp Messaging for GBPs


The News 


We’ve got another update from Google for you! Google has recently started testing SMS and WhatsApp messaging in GBPs. About a month ago, we reported that Google Chat was going away. This new feature appears to replace Google Chat. 


Businesses can now add their phone numbers in a new “Chat” section and select whether to use WhatsApp or SMS. Consumers can then chat with your business through the phone number selected. 



An image of a GBP showing where businesses can add their phone numbers for customers to message them through SMS and WhatsApp


Courtesy: SEO Roundtable 


While this feature is still in beta testing, many expect it to be rolled out to U.S. businesses soon.


Why This Matters 


As a multi-location brand, the more opportunities you have to communicate with your customers, the better. Additionally, research shows that 63% of consumers have said they would switch to a company that offers texting as a form of communication. 


The data speaks for itself. If your brand doesn’t take advantage of this new feature when it’s available, it could miss out on competitors who do. 


YouTube to Test Image-Based Search 


The News 


YouTube has recently begun testing image-based search through Google Lens. The Google Lens icon is to the right of the search bar in the YouTube app. To use it, users can take a picture of whatever they want to search. 


YouTube explains, “Tap the Lens button to search what you see and receive relevant YouTube content as your search results. You’ll also get more information about the visuals by clicking ‘Search on Google.”


This can be helpful when someone wants help fixing an electronic device or to understand something they may be unfamiliar with. After taking a picture with Google Lens, YouTube will then display relevant videos about the item you took a picture of. 


This update is only available for Android users but may be available more widely in the future. 


Why This Matters 


This update emphasizes the continual importance of visual search. As a brand, including high-quality images of your storefront and various product offerings in your social media channels and GBPs is a must. Not only will it help you appear in these visual searches, but it can also boost your overall customer experience. 


Darcy Bickham

As SOCi’s Content Marketing Manager, Darcy Bickham specializes in creating the strategy and developing the content around both localized and digital marketing trends for the SOCi brand. Through her content writing, Darcy has helped to position SOCi as the marketing platform for multi-location brands.

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