Wednesday, September 28 saw Google’s Search On 2022 event; a conference announcing the newest features arriving to Google. We’ve rounded up all the exciting local search updates coming to Google this year, as outlined at the event.
Multisearch Near Me
“Your camera is the next keyboard” explained Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President at Google.
Updates to Multisearch will now include ‘near me’ terminology. Users will be able to search through photos and images, alongside fewer words, to find what they are looking for, and stores nearby that sell it. Whilst we have known about this update for a few months, it’s now been confirmed that this will start rolling out across the US.
Find the food you love
You’ll now be able to search (using both text, and images) for a specific dish. This is a really intriguing update that will help you find the exact dish you want at restaurants near you.
Try searching ‘soup dumplings near me’, for example, to find restaurants near you, serving that dish. Exact dish results will show on SERPs, and users will be able to browse menus, and view dishes and their details. You’ll also be able to book a reservation at the restaurant there and then.
We don’t know what this will look like for restaurant owners, but it could mean more attention is needed on their Google Business Profiles to show up in SERPs.
We’ve all been there… a food craving you can’t get off your mind. In the coming months you can search for a specific dish, like "soup dumplings near me," and quickly see what local restaurants offer it, with pictures and reviews — satisfying that craving in no time. #SearchOn pic.twitter.com/E1oDdk3S0z
— Google (@Google) September 28, 2022
Google Maps Neighborhood Vibe
Popular spots on Google Maps will soon come to life as users explore the area. When browsing Google Maps, you’ll be able to see user-uploaded photos and videos of the area, to get a real ‘vibe’ of the neighborhood. This seems like a nod to the rise of social search and appears to replicate what Instagram is already doing with its immersive map. It also acknowledges platforms like TikTok where video-first content gives a more authentic view of particular neighborhoods and locations.
Are we about to see a new age of local influencers on Neighborhood Vibe?
If you’re visiting a new place, it can be hard to figure out what's worth exploring. Soon on @GoogleMaps, you’ll be able to get the vibe of a neighborhood at a glance with photos and videos of the most popular spots coming to life on your map. #SearchOn pic.twitter.com/jr7UogG7hB
— Google (@Google) September 28, 2022
Google Maps Live View
You can now explore nearby places with a live view, using the new Maps overlay. Simply lift your phone to search, and Maps will show you what’s around you, including details like business hours, and how busy a location is.
Source: Search On 2022
A Move Away From Reviews?
It seems as though Google is also pointing users away from Google reviews, as Sophia Lin, GM of Food at Google explains, “Star ratings are helpful, but they don’t tell you everything about a restaurant.”
Upcoming rollouts include AI that will take helpful insights from other sources such as user-uploaded images, to help you evaluate a location and make a decision that doesn’t solely rely on reviews.
Greg Sterling, Near Media has said “This was subtle, but Google seemed to be deemphasizing reviews as a consumer tool in favor of other types of information.” He added on Twitter, “One of the most interesting things said at #SearchOn today was a passing comment suggesting reviews are less helpful now for consumers, and pointing to other qualitative and visual content to make decisions about restaurants.”
While it may not mean the death of reviews, it may just mean they’re less of a factor that could affect your rankings.
Multisearch and immersive features seem to be the common theme with these new updates, with Google pushing for users to use visual search more than text search.
It looks as though they’ve also finally taken notice of the possible distrust in reviews and are giving users more ways to evaluate their purchase decisions through real-world features.