What’s New with Google & Yelp?

What’s Inside:

  • Google’s passage ranking update will affect 7% of search queries.
  • Yelp now displays user-generated feedback on if a business is enforcing social distancing and if their staff is wearing masks.
  • Google Messaging is now available in desktop browsers.

Are you keeping up with the latest Google and Yelp updates? From Yelp’s recent addition of user-submitted feedback on a business’s health and safety protocols to Google’s passage ranking update and more, it’s important for businesses to be aware of these changes and adapt accordingly. Read more to learn about what each of these updates mean and how it will impact your business’s local SEO and reputation management strategy.


Yelp Adds User-Submitted Feedback on Health and Safety Practices


To increase awareness on healthy & safety measures taken by businesses, Yelp is now displaying user-submitted feedback about enforcement on social distancing and masks worn by staff. This new update will display whether or not a business is taking precautions with “social distancing enforced” and “staff wears masks” signs. This information can be found on a business’s Yelp profile under  “Health & Safety Measures”.

To ensure that this feedback is a fair and accurate representation, Yelp is requiring certain criteria to be met before the feedback is displayed:

  • The business will need validation from multiple users on whether or not there are social distancing is being enforced and if staff are consistently seen wearing masks.
  • Yelp will only be displaying recent feedback from the previous 28 days.
  • Multi-location businesses will only have user feedback displayed on the business page for the related location.

Source: Yelp

In addition, Yelp has added these new service offerings and health & safety practices that your business can now add:

  • Staff checked for symptoms (all businesses)
  • Disposable or contactless menu (restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Heated outdoor seating (restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Covered outdoor seating (restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Indoor dining (restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
  • Private dining restaurants)
  • DIY meal kits (restaurants)
  • Outdoor services (fitness and beauty businesses)
  • 1:1 sessions available  (fitness businesses)
  • Limited group sessions available (fitness businesses)

Why this matters for your business:  Health & safety continues to remain a top priority for consumers in their search for businesses. These new service offerings in addition to Yelp’s added health and safety information will help businesses communicate their current service offerings, as well as help consumers understand what precautionary measures businesses are taking. Businesses should update their Yelp profile if any of these service offerings apply. Additionally, they should continue monitoring their locations to ensure they are enforcing health & safety protocols. For in-depth insights, brands should also leverage text and sentiment analysis tools, like our Pulse tool, to identify which business troubles are experiencing safety regulations according to your customers. Look to your reviews to identify these issues before they appear as a Yelp consumer notice.


Google Displays Years in Business in Local Pack


Google recently launched a new label that now shows how many years a brand has been in business within the Google Local Pack and Google Maps. Businesses can get this label by heading to their GMB profile, clicking on their location, selecting “info”, and adding the opening date. This feature is available to all businesses.

Why this matters for your business: Google wants to direct consumers to the most reputable and relevant businesses. If your business has been operating for a long time, it shows consumers that you’re an expert in your industry. Adding this label can drive a consumer to take further action on your GMB listing, whether it’s to call or visit your business.


GMB Adds Messaging to Desktop Browsers


Business owners will soon be able to reply to messages in Google My Business (GMB) through desktop browsers. Previously, business owners were only able to message customers through the GMB mobile app. This new functionality is expected to be rolled out within the next few days, although it’s reportedly been seen in some users’ GMB dashboards.

How to Turn on GMB Messages on Your Desktop:

  1. Login to your GMB account on any desktop browser.
  2. Visit the “Messages” tab.
  3. Click “Turn on messaging & quote requests”.
  4. Optional: Turn on web alerts for new messages from customers on Google.

Why this matters for your business: This new feature will make it much easier for businesses to respond faster and more easily to customers. Whether it’s through the GMB app or desktop, businesses need to ensure they’re consistently monitoring and respond to customer inquiries on GMB messages.


Google Passage Ranking is Available in the U.S. 


On February 10th, passage ranking on Google became live in the U.S. English search results.


“We’ve recently made a breakthrough in ranking and are now able to not just index web pages, but individual passages from the pages. By better understanding the relevancy of specific passages, not just the overall page, we can find that needle-in-a-haystack information you’re looking for.” – Google. 


Instead of ranking one page, Google will be able to rank various pieces of content from the page. Now, the algorithm can read through long forms of content and decipher which passage(s) are about one query, while also determining which other passage(s) are about another query. Google will not be indexing the specific passages within the same piece of content separately. Rather than indexing the passages individually, it’s more about ranking the passages from the existing web page. This algorithm update is intended to help users get more relevant search results for specific search queries.


However, be sure not to confuse passage ranking with featured snippets. While featured snippets are for identifying the most relevant passage to a user’s search query and appears at the top of the search engine results page, passage ranking is solely for Google to determine the relevance of a web page by reading separate passages. Passage ranking also does not affect the appearance of how anything looks in Google Search, since it’s not user interface related and is rankings based.


Why this matters for your business: If your web rankings have been affected, this may be why. When Google initially launched passage ranking (previously known as passage indexing), they announced this would affect 7% of search queries. However, there’s no need to make any changes to your content yet. Google has stated this update is simply about how Google is understanding content and doesn’t require a change from how a business needs to update their SEO strategy.

Google plans to roll out this update globally in the future.


Businesses should take these new updates from Google & Yelp as a sign to refresh their business information. Head over to your listings to update your service offerings in Yelp and fill in how many years your business has operated for in Google. It’s also a good practice to remind your brand’s team that they can now check GMB Messages through their desktop, so you have more eyes on customer messages.


Are you looking to see how your business can optimize your local SEO and reputation management strategy in light of these changes? Reach out to our team to see how we can help your business.