After analyzing the shift in various SERP (search engine result page) features over the last several days, I noticed that a certain segment of local searches showed an odd bump in list style featured snippets. I replicated the search and it looks like Google is now rolling out top results from Yelp on limited mobile searches.
This screen capture of the left is from when I initially saw the new feature pop up and the right image is a couple of days later.
One thing that’s particularly odd is that, unlike most featured snippets, this block of content doesn’t really help the user answer a question. Yes, a list of the top results from Yelp is displayed. What is missing is any contact information. So, without making an additional click, the information itself is quite useless.
Business owners can use this to skip to the front of the line on Google. This is one of the few featured snippets that allows for a company that has zero ranking for that search to be featured on Google. Think about it for a second. If you have a poorly optimized site, or even no website, you can still get top placement on Google with the Yelp Guaranteed results. If you, as a business owner, have a Yelp page and can push it to the top of Yelp for the searched category then you can skip to the front of the line for that Google search.
Usually, featured snippets attempt to answer the user’s immediate query without having to load another website. So, why would Google give such great bias toward a site that it would create a featured snippet that, instead of keeping the user on the page?
Well, here comes my personal conspiracy theory! (don’t say I didn’t warn you)
Google Ads Shown On Yelp
Right now, on desktop display, Google ads are displayed on the right-hand bar under the map for the list of results. Will Google be pushing this out to mobile? If so, there is a financial benefit to reintroducing the user to more ads from their network. The user didn’t click on ads from the first search. So, here’s a featured result with missing information. Click on to view more and you see more ads.
Testing the snippet’s CTA
Take note of the two screen capture above. They were taken a couple of days apart. You can see that the title of the featured snippet has changed. It appears that Google is testing out different titles to determine how to raise the CTR (click-thru rate).
Google’s expanded trust in Yelp
Google, for some time now, has shown that they hold Yelp in a highly trustworthy position. Google My Business results will often contain Yelp reviews if GMB reviews are unavailable. GMB categories can the created through Yelp (more on in another post). Now, Google dedicates a featured snippet to Yelp. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised the Alphabet acquired Yelp in the near future.
If there is anything to take away from this new snippet it is to not only optimize for Google. A local business must have a Yelp presence and take that presence seriously. Unlike product and on-page reviews where an aggregated five-star review is less trustworthy, a five-star rating from Yelp with a multitude of reviews will maintain it’s credibility as well as position your company to be within the top ten.
If this snippet is expanded, you can position your business for a big win by jumping ahead of everyone in the SERPs to the front of the line. Just know that it takes fifteen five-star reviews to negate that single one-star review and the reviews are one of the primary ranking factors.