Local Marketing Week in Review – May 8, 2020

Week in Review

Hi gang, we’ve made it through another week. I hope all of you are doing OK. Here’s what you need to know about what happened this week when it comes to local marketing.

Local Search Update

Let’s start off with some local search news courtesy of our friends at Sterling Sky.

Major Google Search Algorithm Change

Since April 23, we’ve seen some changes happening with local search rankings. But the last few days have been particularly volatile as you can see in BrightLocal’s Local RankFlux tool.

BrightLocal Local RankFlux

We’re seeing rankings change across retail, lawyers, home services, and restaurants. Local search discussions are packed with people protesting their demotion from the 3-pack only to see their positions come back a day or two later. BrightLocal says that the biggest fluctuations have been in hotels & B&B’s, medical practices, and real estate and property businesses.

Google released a core algorithm update on May 5th, but it’s not clear if this is what is affecting local search ranks as well. Joy Hawkins has asked Google’s Danny Sullivan if the local algorithms were also impacted, but as of this update, Danny wasn’t sure and was checking into it.

In an effort to take a larger look at how rankings are changing over time, we looked at the rank flux since April 20th. Colan Nielsen put together a chart that shows the changes in local search rankings for the past couple of weeks including the local algorithm update in April.

Local Rank Flux from April 20 - May 7

As Joy Hawkins points out, not all change is bad. Sometimes high “flux” days are good meaning things have gone back to normal. We’re still investigating the ramifications of the past few days, but have no specific tactic in mind to combat a ranking loss at this point. This may change as we understand more about the recent changes.

If you’ve been impacted, we’d like to reiterate the Mike Blumenthal local search rank prescription, “Relax, take 2 beers, and check back in 72 hours.”

Is Your GMB Location Being Filtered?

Google My Business will sometimes filter out listings in search results if, for example, there are multiple nearby locations for the same business, or a bunch of similar businesses at the same address. Sometimes these business listings are simply a lower priority and suppressed from the view, and sometimes listings seem to be completely removed. Check out the article that Joy Hawkins wrote on LocalU about GMB listings getting filtered.

Should You Use a Google My Business Website?

Within your Google My Business dashboard, you have the ability to create a simple, one-page website that is powered by the data in your listing. Mike Blumenthal did a deep dive into the adoption numbers for GMB websites and the pros and cons of starting out with this low-barrier-to-entry option. Mike points out that over 36 million GMB websites have been created and shares the use case for why these might be a good first step for a startup or small business that doesn’t have the budget for a full-blown website.

Yelp Pushing Harder in Financial Markets

Yelp is more well-known for finding restaurants, but recently has been pushing hard to become more established in other markets. They’ve been highlighting home services for a while, but recently started making a stronger push into home finance as well. Yelp is an important listing that all businesses should claim not only for Yelp itself, but because Yelp powers local business reviews and photos for Apple Maps, Bing and even Amazon Alexa.

Yelp Financial Services

Big Time Pushback on Grubhub Charges

About a week ago, pizza store owner and consultant, Giuseppe Badalamenti, published a photo on Facebook that he claimed was a Grubhub invoice from one of his clients. It showed that out of $1042 worth of orders, the restaurant only kept $376. This has led to a huge amount of outrage with over 1500 comments and 6100 shares of his original post.

Interestingly, just a few days earlier, Seattle passed a law capping 3rd-party restaurant delivery fees at 15%. San Fransisco temporarily instituted the same 15% cap in mid-April. New York is looking at a 10% cap and other cities are following suit.

While these caps seem good on the surface, one member of the Local Marketing Institute Connect Facebook group wondered if the “government should be telling business what to charge for their service.” He pointed out that delivery services haven’t upped their fees during this COVID crisis. Pushback “needs to come from restaurants, not the government.”

Another member pointed out that online booking systems for hotels, inns and resorts are also exorbitant. Maybe it is indeed time for local businesses like these to start pushing back or developing their own services.

What’s Happening at Local Marketing Institute

And finally, here’s what’s happening at LMI this week.

  1. Ask Ben Fisher Anything About Google My Business – This amazing Office Hours session is now available on-demand at the Local Marketing Institute website. Ben is a GMB platinum product expert and spent an entire hour answering people’s questions about Google My Business. You can also listen to his session on our podcast.
  2. How to Write Good Website Content Out Loud – In this week’s installment of Local Search Tuesdays, Greg Gifford has a quick video tip that will revolutionize the way you look at and write copy for your website. The advice is so simple that you’ll kick yourself that you didn’t think of it sooner.
  3. Ecommerce for Local Businesses – LMI founder, Eric Shanfelt, will be doing next week’s Office Hours webinar on ecommerce for local businesses. You’ll learn how ecommerce should fit with your point-of-sale system, what systems you should consider, and how to integrate it with your Google My Business listing, Google Shopping, your Facebook page, Facebook ads and Amazon. Be sure to sign up for this session.

That’s it for this week’s update. I hope you have a wonderful weekend with friends and family and we’ll catch up again next week!