Google This Week: Google Tests New Features for Local Businesses

by | Nov 27, 2020

Google This Week
10 min read

Google seems to be focussing on local business this week with the Google Guaranteed Badge now in Google Maps, years in business being featured in the Local Pack, a new messaging button added and hotel review rating averages and other attributes appearing on Google Maps pins.

ICYMI, here’s what happened at Google This Week.

Google Guaranteed Badge Appearing in Google Maps

Google appears to be testing out the Google Guaranteed badge in Google Maps listings. As part of an “upgraded profile” the Guaranteed badge costs $50 per month and will appear on the local business profile and in the Local Pack. Google has labelled it as “an experiment” and now they’re testing outside of the LSA program, in Google Maps.

Google Guaranteed Badge Appearing in Google Maps

New Internal Filter Types in Google Analytics 4

You can now use Internal Traffic Filters and Developer Traffic Filters in Google Analytics to ensure this user data does not permanently impact your reports. If you exclude developer traffic via filter, you can still see it in DebugView, so your developers can always validate their Google Analytics instrumentation.

Cross-domain Measurement in GA4

Google Analytics 4 now supports cross-domain measurement in web data streams. This allows user and session identifiers from first-party cookies to persist when users navigate between different domains that are tagged with the same measurement ID. This can easily be set up in GA4 and improves the accuracy of reports with important user journeys across multiple domains.

Google Tests Highlighting Snippets to Refine Search

In Search, Google is testing a new feature that allows you to search for a phrase you’ve highlighted in a snippet. This looks to be a Google Search or Google Chrome test.

Google Tests Highlighting Snippets to Refine Search

Manual Actions Bug Fixed

Last week, we reported that there was a bug with manual actions in Google Search Console, where users were not seeing those manual actions. This week, Google’s Daniel Waisberg said: “Everything should be back to normal.” He also said that “it affected only a tiny number of sites.”

If you were seeing a “no issues detected” message in the manual actions viewer in GSC last week, best to check again.

Google Tests Years in Business in Local Pack

Once again Google looks to be testing showing how many years you’ve been in business in the local pack. More and more people are spotting this in the wild so it could be that Google will be rolling out this information soon.

Google show the number of years a business has been in operation directly in the local pack.

YouTube to Show Ads on Non-monetised Channels

In a change to the site’s terms of service, YouTube has stated that ads will now be shown on channels that have not opted into monetisation. And they won’t be paying for it. Ordinarily, creators have to join the YouTube Partner Program to allow ads and get a share of the revenue. Smaller channels who don’t meet the requirements of the partner program will now be showing ads but will not receive a share of the profits.

New Crawl Stats Report in Google Search Console

Google has launched a new crawl stats report in Google Search Console to make it easier for you to find issues with crawling.

What’s new?

  1. Total number of requests grouped by response code, crawled file type, crawl purpose, and Googlebot type
  2. Detailed information on host status
  3. URL examples to show where in your site requests occurred
  4. Comprehensive summary for properties with multiple hosts and support for domain properties

New Crawl Stats Report in Google Search Console

Google Testing Multiple Contextual Links in Featured Snippets

Google is testing multiple contextual links within featured snippets. Brodie Clark first spotted this in action earlier this week. When you hover over a phrase with dotted lines in the featured snippet, Google overlays content from a third-party site. If you click on the dotted line, Google will take you to the third-party site, not the site featured in the snippet.

Google Testing Multiple Contextual Links in Featured SnippetsA Google Spokesperson confirmed with Search Engine Land that this is a test, saying it’s a small experiment. They also said the example shown was not triggering the result in an ideal fashion.

Update: Google Deletes Autogenerated Web Stories Which Now 404

Above, we reported that Google was testing out multiple contextual links within featured snippets. Some of these featured snippets were autogenerated web stories by Google’s own AI techniques. Now it seems Google has deleted and 404ed those web stories.

Google has deleted over 20,000 of its autogenerated web stories. For now, we’re not sure why but there are certain ethical considerations concerning Google using AI to write content and then rank its own content.

Hotel Review Rating Averages & Other Attributes on Google Maps Pins

Google looks to be testing Google Maps overlaying hotel attributes on map pins for hotel listings. Lluc Berrio Penycate first spotted it in the wild and posted screenshots on Twitter.

The overlays show the average review ratings of hotels, category, pricing and other attributes.

Hotel Review Rating Averages & Other Attributes on Google Maps Pins


Lluc commented “So, at the moment hotels are displaying 3 different information lines below the name, 1) a description of the hotel, 2) the best price available and the date and 3) the average reviews and hotel category. Which is the most useful for the user?”


Messaging Button Added to Google Posts in Local

Google has added a message button on Google Posts for local business profiles. Claire Carlile first spotted this new feature and posted screenshots on Twitter.


She said, “there are many possible implications here – Google making even more of a land grab for customer interaction within the gated Googlescape, the requirement that businesses need to monitor this if they’ve switched it on and the need to use call tracking because Google’s insights on calling is less than marvelous.”

Automatic Image Improvements Now on Buy on Google

Google is expanding the coverage of automatic image improvements from products that are advertised with Shopping ads only to also include Buy on Google products.

Google reviews non-compliant images and tries to automatically fix them, by removing promotional overlays. If successful, the image is replaced and the offer reapproved. If you’ve already opted in for these improvements then no action is needed.


Thank You for Reading

Have you noticed any changes from Google this week?

Check back next Friday for the latest from Google This Week.

Paul Hewett

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