First up this week, Google My Business has recently increased the type of links available to add to your listing that take users through to complete specific actions on your website. For a while, some listings had the ability to add a link to their menus for instance but most only had the . These include:
This is all dependent on the category your business is listed under however. If you’re a local car garage for instance, you won’t be able to add a URL to link through to a menu, because you shouldn’t really have one. So looking at a client’s Google My Business restaurant listing today I saw the menu URL, order ahead and reservation URLs all available to fill in and also links to third party booking tools like “Bookatable” and “Opentable”. So, it’s already live in the wild in the UK.
Next up, some SEO not news. John Mueller, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, was asked by one SEO during the latest Google Webmaster Hangout, if a site’s Google Analytics data is used in the ranking of that site.
And the answer: NO. No, no, no, no, no.
Why am I bringing this up if it’s not news? Because Google has answered this question many times before, and despite Google’s many denials, this recent question proves there are still several myths surrounding Google Analytics doing the rounds in webmaster circles. These include, but are not limited to; the claim that Google uses data such as bounce rate and time on site gathered from your Google Analytics data to determine rankings, that not having Google Analytics on your site can lead to a penalty, and using Google Analytics on your site gives it a ranking boost. If only it was that easy.
In June 2013 in response to the question of whether Google Analytics data is being used a ranking factor, Googler Gary Illyes, put his hand on his heart and proclaimed “I can do this and say that we don’t use Google Analytics”. As far back as 2011 famous Google spokesperson Matt Cutts said that to the best of his knowledge Google Analytics does not play a part in SERPs. So there you have it, just a few of the many times Google has reinforced that it doesn’t use the tracking code for Google Analytics in any nefarious way, it’s just to help you analyse your website use.
Why is this important? Well, if people believe that Google is studying their Google Analytics data to determine how engaging their site is, they might start filtering out valuable, legitimate traffic in a bid to make the time on site or bounce rate look better. That is silly and avoiding the point. If your Google Analytics data shows that your traffic isn’t converting as you would like, the focus should be on working to improve the site to make it more engaging, not worrying about Google Analytics being a ranking factor.
Finally, Google is rolling out a new feature to its Maps app for Android that lets users ask questions, similar to Amazon or Tripadvisor. Want to know if a restaurant offers vegan food, just ask through the map listing! Want to know the cost of a haircut at your local salon, just ask through the map listing! So rather than using your mobile phone to have an actual phone conversation you’ll soon have another way to avoid that awkward and sometimes terrifying human interaction and still get the information you need.
So if you own a business with a Google Map listing and you want to respond to questions asked through the app you too will need the Android app. You’ll get a notification through that someone has asked a question and if you think it’s a really good question you can upvote it so it gets pushed to the top of the list of questions. Nice.