Backlink Breaker #11 - New Features from Google My Business and Yelp

Google My Business and Yelp both released new feature batches. Predictably, Yelp’s features are all paid upgrades while GMB’s features come free. We’re witnessing billion dollar business models in microcosm here people, take notes!

The News

Google My Business released a set of new features aimed at SMB branding and listing promotion.

  • Short names allow businesses to register for a g.page/shortname URL and @shortname handle. The URL lets customers link directly to a GMB profile, while the @ handle can be found when searching in Google Maps

  • Local favorites provides listings with a “favorites” badge. Google will award these badges to the top 5% of local businesses, but did not share the criteria for selection. Clearly, these badges will provide a big competitive advantage to the businesses that receive them, since it’s basically a stamp of approval from Google for potential customers.

  • Other new features: Profile logo, cover photo, dynamic photo module, welcome offers, and promotional assets.

Since we’re already talking about Google My Business, they’re currently reporting a 2–3 week delays on support emails. This is super frustrating, especially with the growing importance and value of GMB listings (along with all those nice new features they just released). I’ve seen firsthand how tough it is to get clear, timely support from GMB. I really hope this changes soon. Also, did you know there are over 11 million fake listings on Google Maps? Gives you an idea of the crazy scope of the platform.

Not to be outdone, Yelp released its own set of features, focused on paid profile upgrades, and all designed to help business owners stand out from local competition.

  • The Yelp Verified License gives your Yelp page a giant blue checkmark, so everyone knows you’re legit. Costs $1/day.

  • Business Highlights let you pick icons to promote your business. Things like, “family owned.” For certain businesses this is probably really important, particularly if you have a lot of local competition and need a way to differentiate your offerings. $2/day

  • The Portfolio features opens up the ability to showcase projects with unlimited photos and featured CTAs to request quotes or a chat. Another $2/day charge.

Moving on from Yelp and GMB, Google has deprecated social markup for knowledge panels, and now recommends you now claim your knowledge panel manually.

Google Search Console released some sharp new testing tools. The search within markup feature lets you find the code you want to change or highlight (yeah, this didn’t exist before!). Then, you can copy the code and see if your changes pass markup validation. These are nice, basic updates to make it easier to diagnose and fix structured data issues within the console.

A good reminder from Google: Nofollow external ad urls.

Shocking! Google credits Limp Bizkit as original artist for Behind Blue Eyes.

URLs disallowed through robots.txt do not affect crawl budget . Useful piece of information if you’re organizing a site with a large number of pages that you do not want crawled.

Temporary sitemaps can work to get pages indexed or refreshed. This is a really cool piece of info, and a smart tactic you can use if a large number of pages need index updating but you don’t have the ability to update (or create) a standard sitemap.

Google has multiple indexes for images and videos, so don’t expect your image or video content to behave the same way as text-based documents.

Hopefully you’ve never done this, but please don’t stuff alt attribute tags, they are designed to describe an image, and if you spam them, they won’t help users or your SEO.

Adam Tanguay