Week-long Google Update

A number of our reporting tools were showing dramatic changes for sites for a week in the middle of May.

Google spokespeople mention that they make regular updates which cause rankings to fluctuate. However, in cases like this, there is often a specific target for which they are attempting to improve the algorithm.

You can find out more on this extended algorithm update on Search Engine Roundtable.

Updated Hotel Review Features

Google have upgraded the features available in the reviews for hotels in the local listings.

Users can now see specific rating averages from different types of guests. It is also possible to filter the reviews to show only those from third-party sites like Expedia.com and Hotels.com.

Hotels have had some special functionality for a while in the ability to book and see pricing directly from the listings on Google.

Bing Introduces Business Chatbots

Microsoft is beginning to roll out automatic chatbots to local businesses. These are available to restaurants only initially and when activated they can be accessed through search Bing search results.

The chatbots use information available through Bing Places to answer the questions, otherwise referring to the business’ phone number. They will work with both Facebook Messenger and Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant.

Highlights in Local Google Listings

Some locations on Google are beginning to show highlights in their listings on mobile. These are specific perks for visiting consumers.

Examples of highlights shown include “quiet”, “good for kids”, “casual”, “good for groups”, “bar games”, “great cocktails” and “on critics’ lists”.

The data to display these highlights likely comes from responses to questions answered through the Local Guides programme.

Google is Now an Art Expert

Google has updated their Maps and Search functionality to provide more information about works of art and where they are housed.

Search results now display specific details about the artwork and the artist(s) and when the art was created.

In Maps, you can now take a virtual tour of art museums. Google have used visual recognition software to scan the walls, so each artwork is labeled with useful annotations.