Google released updates for multiple facets of the search experience this week. Local search has been updated with a new feature for restaurants. Google Flights has been updated with cutting-edge technology that can help you avoid delays. Google Analytics has been updated with a report that captures new segments of data.
In addition, Google announced a few updates that will be rolled out to featured snippets, and explained why there is data missing from the new Search Console. The company also began testing a new app which is focused on sharing hyperlocal news updates.
More details about each of these top stories are included in this week’s SEO news roundup.
Google My Business Lets Restaurants Add Menus
Google My Business has a new feature which lets restaurants add menus directly within their Google My Business listing. Previously, Google only let restaurants add menus through the Google My Business API or third-party menu services.
Now restaurants can add menus just by logging into the Google My Business web interface. Menus can be added using the GMB Info tab. The editor will allow restaurants to add menus with multiple sections (appetizers, entrees, drinks, etc.), which can include the title, description, and price of items.
The new menu editor is available now. When menus are added to a Google My Business listing they will only be accessible by users on mobile devices.
Google Flights Will Now Predict Delays
A few interesting updates have been added to Google Flights, one of which is said to predict flight delays even before the airlines do. Using a combination of historical flight data and machine learning, Google says its Flights service can predict delays with up to 80% accuracy.
When a delay has been 100% confirmed, Google Flights will explain the reason behind it. Lastly, the service will now be able to return cheaper flights with the addition of Basic Economy airfares.
New Google Analytics ‘Audiences’ Report
A new report is in the process of being rolled out to Google Analytics. The report is designed around analyzing the performance of various custom audience segments. A custom audience is a group of visitors that have met a pre-defined condition. For example, audiences can be created for new visitors, returning visitors, past purchasers, users who have visited a specific section of a site, and so on.
The report can be accessed manually by opening “Reports,” expanding the “Audience” tab and clicking on “Audiences.” The report will only collect data if custom audiences have been set up, otherwise it will appear blank. Once audiences have been created, the Audiences report will begin to display the following metrics:
- Acquisition: The volume of users an audience is sending you, and how well the audience works to generate potential new business.
- Behavior: How well a site engages a particular audience based on bounce rate, pages per session, and time on site.
- Conversions: How well an audience is performing in terms of goal completions and transactions.
It appears this report is being rolled out gradually, so if you do not have access to it yet you likely will in the near future.
The Future of Featured Snippets
Former SEO-journalist-turned-Googler, Danny Sullivan, published a write up last week detailing the future of featured snippets. A “snippet” is a relevant quote from a website that is usually shown beneath the title of the web page. In a featured snippet the website content is shown first, i.e. it is featured.
Google chooses to display featured snippets when it determines that it will help users find what they are searching for, especially for mobile and voice searches. Going forward, Google intends to improve the featured snippet experience to make them even more useful.
One of the ways featured snippets will improve is through the introduction of more than one featured snippet. Previously a search results page would feature no more than one featured snippet, if one were chosen to appear at all. Soon, multiple featured snippets may appear for certain queries.
This will be rolled out in two different ways. A featured snippet may display multiple pieces of information in the same box. For example, a query like “how to set up call forwarding” may return a featured snippet with directions on how to set up call forwarding for different carriers. Alternatively, Google may display multiple traditional featured snippets for a single query.
One of the downsides of this update is that multiple featured snippets will cause regular organic listings to appear even further down the first page. This is an update that is designed more for searchers than it is for publishers.
New Google Search Console Has Missing Data
In a recent news update, we provided details about the beta launch of the new Google Search Console. Those who have been using the new search console report that they’re not seeing the same amount of data as in the traditional search console.
Technically the new Search Console provides more data, 16 months instead of 3 months, but when it comes to individual data sets it’s lagging behind its predecessor. Google knows about this and says it’s because all data hasn’t migrated over yet. As a beta version, the new Search Console isn’t 100% complete. All data from the classic version will eventually exist in the new version.
Another possible reason why people aren’t seeing their usual data in the new Search Console is because Google has found a different way to display it. Data sets that used to exist in their own reports may have become grouped together as part of another report.
In any case— if the new Search Console doesn’t have all the data you need yet then you can still switch back to the classic version at any time.
Google’s New ‘Bulletin’ App
Google has launched a new app in an extremely limited test for users in Nashville and Oakland. Called ‘Bulletin,” the app is designed for users to share hyperlocal news stories to a community bulletin board which can be seen by other local users.
When a story is published to Bulletin it will also be published to the web, which means it can be seen by people who may not be using the app. Still in its infancy and limited to only two cities at the moment, it remains to be seen how people will engage with Bulletin. If it ends up being successful it could be an invaluable tool for local marketers.
To wrap everything up, this past week’s top headlines included:
- Restaurants can easily add menus to their Google My Business listing.
- Google Flights will now predict delays and return super cheap airfares.
- Google Analytics has added a new report dedicated to custom audiences.
- Multiple featured snippets can now appear on one search results page.
- The new Google Search Console is missing some data, but it will be migrated over eventually.
- Google is testing out a new app for sharing hyperlocal news stories.