Google unveils a set of fresh search features and tools geared towards enhancing the visibility and customer reach of small businesses during this holiday shopping season. Among the key additions are AI-generated product images and increased prominence of business information, all with the overarching aim of bolstering the success of small merchants during this festive season.
Google has unveiled a fresh set of features designed to foster connections between holiday shoppers and small, local businesses, reaffirming its continued commitment to supporting smaller merchants on its platforms.
In a blog post, Google outlined forthcoming modifications to Search, Maps, and Merchant Center, all aimed at elevating the visibility of small businesses. These enhancements encompass AI-driven product image creation, enriched business information panels, and distinct labels marking “small business” listings.
Introducing “Small Business” Tags on Search and Maps
As part of its latest features, Google is introducing a “small business” label to the listings of qualifying companies on Search and Maps. This new label aims to simplify discovering and supporting small businesses, particularly during the crucial shopping season. Small businesses can self-identify as such on Google’s Merchant Center and Business Profile platforms. Additionally, Google will automatically apply the label based on various factors, such as the number of products offered and web traffic.
Matt Madrigal, Vice President and GM of Merchant Shopping at Google, emphasized the importance of this feature, stating, “Shoppers are actively seeking out small businesses, with 84% of people expressing their commitment to supporting local and small businesses.”
AI-Enhanced Product Image Creation with Product Studio
In addition to the labeling feature, Google is extending access to its AI-powered Product Studio tool to all users of U.S. Merchant Center Next, as well as to Shopify merchants utilizing the Google & YouTube app. The innovative scene generation capability employs a text-to-image AI model, enabling merchants to insert their products into any imagined setting they describe.
Merchants have the flexibility to fine-tune and reuse effective prompts, ensuring the consistent generation of on-brand, creative images. This tool facilitates background removal and offers one-click enhancements to optimize image quality.
Early tester Doppeltree, for instance, experienced a significant increase in the speed of creating diverse social media and e-commerce images by harnessing these free AI tools within Product Studio.
Enhanced Business Details Now in Search Results
Google also enhances the display of critical business information directly within its Search results. This includes special offers, shipping policies, and customer reviews. The primary objective is to cultivate trust and confidence among consumers, especially when interacting with lesser-known but legitimate small businesses.
This expansion mirrors the success of similar comprehensive panels, which, in 2022, generated more than 2.3 billion complimentary interactions like calls, directions, and reviews for local businesses featured on Google Business Profiles. Importantly, these panels will feature authoritative business information collected from various online sources, going beyond what merchants themselves provide.
To make the most of these panels, merchants are encouraged to ensure the accuracy of their information in the Merchant Center listings. Accurate data, including deals, customer service particulars, and shipping/return policies, can significantly benefit holiday shoppers.
Critical Period for Small Business Sales During the Holidays
For numerous small businesses, the holiday season signifies a significant sales window. Supporting small, locally-owned businesses has evolved into a fundamental consumer value.
Google has faced persistent criticism for potentially favoring more giant corporations over small businesses with its products. Introducing tools to bolster the success of smaller merchants may address some of these concerns.
It remains to be seen whether these new features will have a significant impact on smaller merchants, but it’s prudent for business owners to acquaint themselves with these updates. Additionally, small businesses can gain a competitive advantage by harnessing complimentary tools like AI-powered visual generation in Product Studio.
Ensuring the accuracy of the information in your Google Business Profile and Merchant Center accounts is crucial to benefit from these enhancements fully.
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