Just when you thought how Google works was getting more complicated and obscure, Google has announced how you can manage how your local business information shows up in search. In the past, we worked with our clients to use Google My Business to manage this information. Now you can add it directly to your website using schema.org. What is Schema.org? In 2011 Google, Yahoo and Bing co-created a semantic search standard to better match user search intent with content on websites. Think of this as code that when installed on your website allows you to to speak to search engines. The code is called schema.org, the area of marketing is called Semantic Search Marketing.
When a local business website provides specific information about the business on their website using the schema.org code, Google will use it to build a knowledge panel for your business. The information they are asking you to add to your website includes but not limited to the business’s name, address, telephone number, physical location and hours of operation. While the feature today is restricted to a pilot group, the intent is that they will “open up the feature ” to a broader audience very soon. This is the first time Google has called out that if you provide this information, that they will use it to generate a feature in search, the local business knowledge panel (see picture on right). What is even more exciting is that the knowledge panel includes the option to add a link to a page or app where a customer can place an order or reservation!
This new feature includes the ability to add actions into your knowledge panel. They have introduced Reserve or Order. This is a a great way to increase your customer engagement or online conversions directly in search. Examples from Google on who should use the features include: a restaurant that accepts delivery orders and table reservations should define both Order and Reserve Actions, or a yoga studio that offers different classes through a single provider should define a reserve action inclusive of all classes.
So what does Google recommend for a single local business vs one that has multi locations? On their Local Business page, they have clearly stated that if you have a single business location you should embed schema.org markup on your official web site. If you have multiple business locations you should provide a schema.org data feed.
What’s a Schema.org data feed? We are not sure yet. The link on the Google Local Business page results in a 404 error. A teaser for now, however something we’ll be watching closely.
Building a solution that scales across your multi-locations is what we specialize in. Contact us to explore how we can help you make managing your local business information in a scalable, and productive way.