Local Rank Flux
Change in the local SERPS has stabilized over the last few days as evidenced by BrightLocal’s Local Rank Flux activity.
While there have been peaks, we’re seeing stability over the last 3 days and leveling out below 3.0. We’ve been hearing a bit of grumbling about an organic SEO update and, of course, most of the grumbling is not too favorable given the state of the world right now.
We’ve not seen that same evidence in local results, but as we know, they are generated and created with 2 different algorithms. Honestly, now would be a terrible time to push an update, so hopefully we see fairly calm waters for the next month or so.
Temporarily Closed Option in Google My Business
Google has given business owners a “Temporarily Closed” option within their dashboard. They can use this to let customers know they’ve had to suspend operations due to the COVID-19 closures / restrictions.
That being said, our recommendation is to leave this option alone and use other avenues to inform your customers of changes in your open status and hours. There is likely going to be a lag in getting back online once you’ve removed the “temporarily closed’ label (some sources say 3 days and some say “upon review”).
Instead we recommend updating your hours, using Google Q&A to ask a question and answer it, updating the beginning of your business description, and putting up a Google Post that conveys what the current status is. A word of caution with this tactic, however. Too many edits at once can cause a suspension in some cases. We recommend making and saving one change at a time then waiting a few minutes between each one. Don’t implement all of your edits at once.
Also, it looks like the “temporarily closed” label is not always initiated by the business owner — it’s showing up on businesses that have not marked themselves closed — so be sure to keep an eye on your listing.
Search for Health Conditions Link to Local Search Results
Searching for medical conditions has produced a knowledge panel for quite some time. However, Google is now showing a “specialists” tab on mobile that then links to search results (including local packs) for practitioners and clinics nearby that focus on that specialty. This is a good way to lead searchers to someone who can help them get help and a diagnosis.
The medical condition knowledge graph has changed over time since it was first spotted in 2015. This new version is definitely a step towards making the pure knowledge graph a piece of “local search.”
Google Uses Duplex AI to Confirm Business Hours & Open Status
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has deployed it’s Duplex artificial intelligence program to call local business owners and confirm the open status and store hours. This is actually a great use for this technology, but we’re not quite sure what would trigger the call. A business owner edit to the listing? A user edit? It doesn’t seem realistic to think that they’re calling ALL businesses to confirm hours, although you might not even be able to tell.
If you’ve received a random call asking for open status and hours, it could have been Google Duplex. In most cases, you can’t tell the difference between a live person and the Duplex AI-generated voice, complete with pauses, “ums” and “ahs.”