Serious signs of competition between Amazon and Google were first witnessed when the Popular Products feature within Organic Search was rolled out by Google. It enabled retailers to leverage Google’s Merchant Feed and product schemes to get their products highlighted in Organic Search. All the participating retailers got to appear in this feature for free.
Google announced this year that due to the financial strain caused by COVID-19, they have sped up their timeline and are now offering businesses free of charge inclusion into Google Shopping that was initially available in the US as of May 1st, later followed by other countries.
“Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.
For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.”
The Google Shopping results will appear to be quite similar to that of organic results, including Paid results at the top/bottom and Organic results in the middle.
Those new to the Merchant Center should know that creating an account will let them feed product details and information directly to Google. You do not have to wait for it to get picked up from your product schema. Additionally, there are a ton of other useful features.
Google also announced building ties with various other platforms to further simplify processing sales.
“We’re also kicking off a new partnership with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts. This will speed up our onboarding process and ensure we’re surfacing the highest quality results for our users. And we’re continuing to work closely with many of our existing partners that help merchants manage their products and inventory, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce, to make digital commerce more accessible for businesses of all sizes.”
Action Plan – With this permanent change, the opportunity is here to stay. But if you are selling products online, you should definitely make it a point to get started with this as soon as possible. All you will require is a Google Merchant Center account and will have to opt into surfaces across Google in order to show up in the Organic Google Shopping results.
Know that product markup will help Google understand your products well for features like Popular Products. So get it done as well.
For further guidance, use Google’s Help center page or get in touch with us to get your products listed on Google!
Google My Business (GMB) has become one of the most significant aspects for local SEOs as well as the one-stop-shop for consumers to know about store hours, closures, services offered, and other relevant information.
Shifting Engagement on GMB: Consumer engagement has changed considerably during the pandemic, as shown by the click and call data. With this, online buying behavior has also been impacted.
For example, the search query “takeout near me” has spiked way up as compared to those for “restaurant reservations” since at-home orders came into force.
Directions, Clicks, Calls, and Reviews: Although requests for directions have come down considerably since the COVID-19 outbreak, there hasn’t been much of an effect on calls and website visits driven by GMB. According to new data from Reputation.com, “GMB driving-direction clicks are down 60% across all verticals.” Website clicks and calls have decreased by 31% & 21%, respectively.
When it comes to GMB, Reputation.com reports a notable decline in retail, restaurant, and automotive industry but also a modest recovery in consumer engagement. This could very well be the catalyst in online shopping and e-commerce spending driven by stimulus checks and by the thought that we’re almost at the end of the lockdown period.
Being hit by the pandemic, Google had stopped publishing new comments from users & replies from business owners until now. Reviews are making their way back in, and it will be interesting to see if and how the patterns have changed amid the lockdown.
Post-COVID, GMB will continue to be a local business lifeline: As businesses reopen, local marketers can once again turn to GMB for operating hours, products, and service availability. GMB could emerge more powerful than ever post COVID-19 with local features such as posts that allow businesses to communicate seamlessly have a high chance of gaining wider adoption and prominence, with Google possibly accelerating the rollout of other tools in the pipeline.
According to a survey by BrightLocal, 68% of local marketing experts said GMB was more crucial at this time than it was a year ago. Even Moz’s recent Local Ranking Factors study concluded that the top-ranking factor for Google Local Pack and #4 for local SEO is GMB signals. Another survey by BrightLocal concluded that 87% of local marketers considered growing reviews to be the most important to local marketing success.
Not to forget the fake reviews problem faced by Google, fighting spam (fake listings, illegitimate reviews) on Google was #2 to local marketing success.
Why It Matters: Get ready to experience a huge evolution of GMB. Local search will be redefined and will not be limited to using tools and information to make purchase decisions offline. GMB is no longer just a way to get content to Google but rather a dynamic channel streamlining transactions between consumers and business owners.
There will be a much tighter integration of digital tools such as inventory, booking, ordering, and payments with offline fulfillment post-COVID. TheOrderingApp.com and Pointy are examples of how Google is trying to bridge the gap between digital and offline operations while being a trusted, back-office-like platform for local businesses.
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