Though other options exists, Google remains the premier tool for local businesses that are trying to succeed with online marketing. Whether this is by directing traffic to their site from search engines, serving as an analytics tool for website owners or giving directions to local customers, there are a lot of ways to use Google to help local businesses. To make the platform even more useful for business owners, Google recently announced some small changes to Image Search and Google My Business that could have a big impact for marketers.
The first change, while small, will definitely help SEO marketers make better sense of the traffic data they receive. Every day, hundreds of millions of people use Google Images to visually discover and explore content on the web. Google’s new plan will make it easier to see how Google Images affects their traffic.
“For webmasters, it hasn’t always been easy to understand the role Google Images plays in driving site traffic,” the company explained in a post about the upcoming change. “To address this, we will roll out a new referrer URL specific to Google Images over the next few months. The referrer URL is part of the HTTP header, and indicates the last page the user was on and clicked to visit the destination webpage.”
For app developers and those that use third-party software to analyze web traffic all they need to do is make sure that they are ingesting the new referer URL, and attribute the traffic to Google Images. The new referer URL is: https://images.google.com. For the most part, the traffic will come from image.google.com, however some users may still choose to go directly to a country specific service, such as google.co.uk for the UK. In these cases, the referer uses that country TLD (for example, images.google.co.uk).
Knowing when people come to a site as a result of an image search is a valuable tool for SEO marketers. It lets them know what kinds of visual content works best and what sort of image searches bring people to their website. This information can be used to create better ALT tags and SEO friendly image names for website content.
Another beneficial change is being made to Google Map listings. Online listing platforms have to take multiple steps to ensure that the people making listings are doing so legitimately. If Google took everyone at their word for listing information, you can easily imagine how many trolls or jokesters would list their business address as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Whether by mistake of malice, if the wrong location information is displayed by Google, it can be a nightmare for consumers and the business itself. This is why it often takes a considerable amount of time for verifications to be finalized. However, this leaves business owners and marketers in a state of limbo while these checks happen.
Last week, Google announced a plan to use a new system to notify business owners when their Google My Business or Google Map listings go live.
“We’re in the process launching a new notification that informs you when your business goes live on Google services, like Search and Maps,” wrote a community manager on the Google Advertise Forum. “You’ll only receive live listing notifications if your business accounts are fewer than 100 listings and your user-language preference is set to “en-US.” Bulk verification accounts currently don’t receive this messaging.”
This may sound like a little thing, but it is a Godsend for business owners or marketers who have to manage a large number of locations. To illustrate, if a chain of local restaurants wants to list all their location, it’s now easier to know when each location’s listing goes live. It will make it easier to keep track of where things are in the process and to point out potential issues with a particular location.
As the post explained, “To confirm your listing’s real-time status, click the direct links on your Your business is on Google card. On the card, you can see your listing’s views in the past 28 days. Visit your Insights tab for more information regarding your listings.”
Some users may already be receiving these messages, as Google says their plan is to roll the feature out broadly in the near future.
For more recent changes from Google, read this article on Google’s new offline conversion tracking tools.