Google is trying to make search more sophisticated and user friendly. They also confirmed that their BERT algorithm is being used on almost every search query to understand the intent behind natural language.
The three main tools they have announced to bridge between the online and offline world are: using Duplex to update local business information; using Busyness data for physical locations and adding AR information about local businesses.
Google Duplex is a virtual assistant tool which was originally designed to help with appointments and reservations for businesses. This tool now reaches out to businesses using Google My Business to encourage them to fully update their profiles. Google has said that this tool has been essential in over 3 million business updates on the platform.
Google has been indicating popular times on local profiles for businesses to help users know the best times to visit. However due to the changes in traffic to storefronts and restaurants caused by Covid-19 they have been relying on more recent data. Google has been implementing ‘live busyness’ data for locations based on real-time mobile user data. However, some businesses have noticed inaccuracies in this information.
Lastly, Google is still talking about implementing AR into Maps using Google Lens capabilities. During their SearchOn event they spoke about a long-promised tool which allows users to point their camera at businesses they’re passing to show their Google My Business profile. This is a tool which has been long in the works and has been tried by competitors. It’ll be interesting to see how these new features benefit local businesses and whether or not Google can finally get their location AR features fully off the ground.