Google’s latest Maps and GMB features up the ante for competing platforms; Wednesday’s daily brief
Plus, Neeva is in beta testing and Twitter's rumored community page feature.
Search Engine Land’s daily brief features daily insights, news, tips, and essential bits of wisdom for today’s search marketer. If you would like to read this before the rest of the internet does, sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox daily.
Good morning, Marketers, I’m hosting #SEOchat on Twitter tomorrow at 1pm ET and would be delighted if you drop by to say hi!
The topic of the discussion will be the zero-click stat (zero-click searches reportedly rose to almost 65% last year) that SimilarWeb and Rand Fishkin put out early last week. I’ll be stirring the pot a little, but my goal is also to see how much weight we, as search professionals, give to these kinds of studies. And, it’s April Fools tomorrow as well, so I’ll be asking you to share your best April Fools finds!
Today’s newsletter has plenty more for you to dig into, so keep on reading.
Pickup and delivery attributes, indoor Live View and more AI-powered features are coming to Google Maps and GMB
Yesterday morning, Google announced a deluge of AI-powered features for Maps and GMB that may help it maintain an advantage over competitors as an all-in-one local search destination. And, with the way consumer preferences are going, that could make Google the de facto intermediary between our online and offline activities. Here’s what it announced:
- Pickup and delivery attributes (shown above) – Businesses can display details about pickup and delivery options, like timeframes, fees and minimum orders, within Google search and eventually Maps, beginning with Instacart and select Albertsons Co. stores.
- Pickup with Google Maps – A pilot program that will enable customers to input order details into Maps to facilitate curbside pickup. Google will notify the customer when it’s time to leave to pick up their order and share the arrival time with the store.
- Indoor Live View – Google’s AR walking navigation feature is coming to airports, transit stations and malls. It’s powered by technology that scans billions of Street View images to understand orientation, as well as advancements that enable it to estimate altitude and the location of objects within a building.
- Updated directions interface – The new UI shows users a more comprehensive view of how long it’ll take to get to their destination via car, public transit, a rideshare app, and on bike or on foot, without the need to toggle between tabs.
There were also several new features that focus on eco-friendliness, such as low emission zone notifications, weather and air quality layers and eco-friendly driving routes.
Neeva, the ad-free, private search engine founded by Google’s former SVP of ads, is in beta testing
When was the last time you saw a search results page without ads, especially for queries that may have a commercial intent? A few days ago, Neeva sent me a three-question survey (what country do I live in, what’s my primary browser, and how would I like to on-board with Neeva), in exchange, it offered me “at least 3 months” of Neeva for free. We know Neeva’s going to charge a subscription fee, but the company hasn’t announced any pricing yet.
Here are my very early impressions: First, it asks you to install Neeva’s browser extension. After you do, Neeva becomes your default search engine (although it doesn’t explicitly tell you that when you’re installing it). I’ve found that I can also use it without the browser extension by heading to this page, so long as I’m signed in.
It’s weird seeing a results page entirely void of ads, and not just for super long-tail queries. As far as the experience and actual results go, it feels a lot more like DuckDuckGo than Google or Bing. There are a ton of images and recommendations for commerce-related searches (my search for “best vacuums for dog hair” only had two standard listings — the final two on the page) which suggests to me that Neeva is attempting to distinguish itself through more robust e-commerce support.
It’s way too early to tell if there’s something promising here, but as far as new search engines go, I’ve definitely had worse experiences — however, I didn’t have to pay a subscription fee for those. This all has me returning to the question: What would it take for new search engines to succeed?
Community pages may be coming to Twitter
Renowned feature-hunter Jane Manchun Wong has shared that Twitter is working on a community page. Inferring from the screenshot above, the community pages are created by individuals, unlike hashtags that anyone can use. At this point, we don’t know much else, but I can’t help but think that this feature may help Twitter compete with Clubhouse.
Why we care. Imagine SEO/PPC Twitter, but in a community page where we can easily access the collective wisdom of our peers. This might make it easier to access breaking news, such as when a tool or platform is down, and it could enable the Googles and Facebooks of the world to source feedback from one central location. It might also get out of hand, as passionate individuals and social media often do, but at least it’d be confined to a community page instead of splattered all over your feed. We’ll keep you posted when more details become available.
Can Google become a serious Amazon competitor?
Will the increasing number of shopping listings and merchants that appear in Google’s search results ever change online shopping habits? That’s the question at the heart of the New York Times recent article focusing on Google’s efforts to make headway against Amazon over the years. The author, Daisuke Wakabayashi, listed Google’s failed attempts as follows:
“It tried to challenge Amazon directly by piloting its own same-day delivery service, but it shuttered the project as costs ballooned. It tried to forge partnerships with traditional retail giants, only to see the alliances wilt from a lack of sales. It built its own marketplace to make it easier for shoppers to buy the things they find on Google, but was not able to break consumers from their Amazon habit.”
From free shopping listings to using augmented reality to differentiate its capabilities, we’ve covered all of Google’s efforts and I must admit, very little seems to stick. However, Google offers merchants a number of advantages over Amazon, namely site traffic. Amazon’s fees are unpopular with sellers, who probably also aren’t fans of the limited branding opportunities due to their products living on Amazon’s site. But, that doesn’t seem to matter to customers who are at least partially responsible for Amazon’s non-stop year-over-year revenue growth (remember, Amazon is a lot more than just B2C goods).
It seems to me that a business taking on Amazon in e-commerce is as tall an order as a business looking to challenge Google in search. The difference is, Amazon doesn’t seem to care about traditional search, so is Google just spinning its wheels, or will it eventually break through? Let me know what you think, email me at email@example.com, with the subject line: Shopping spree!