Coming in hot from last week’s Google update that allowed you to set appointments straight from the search results, the mighty search engine has once again made an attempt at making our customers’ lives easier.
Around the end of July, we noticed Google rolling out a brand new feature entitled “Popular Times”. Seeing this feature appear in other verticals, we knew it would only be a matter of time before the automotive industry also received this upgrade, and here it is:
Google is now delivering data to searchers in regards to when your company is most “popular” during your business’ operating hours.
Great, now I know about it but how can we get it?
This is an automatic update that is being rolled out to local businesses across the web. In order to be eligible for this information, some of your visitors have to have location sharing enabled on their smart phones. Based on the business’ website visitors, Google’s traffic information, and other metrics, Google can make a determination for when they believe are your busiest times of the day.
What’s the catch-22?
While overall I approve of the changes made, it isn’t without its shortcomings. The biggest issue I foresee is the implication that the most popular times may be perceived as the busiest times, and that it may coincide with long wait times, or other negative connotations. Ultimately, popular times isn’t indicative to how well a business is prepared to handle a surge in customers. For example, just because a company is busiest at 1pm doesn’t mean they don’t have the capability to handle more business at that time.
Can I Opt Out?
As of now there are no ways to opt-out of this feature, and frankly I don’t see one coming. In Google’s mind this would be tantamount to removing reviews, or any other (arguably) unbiased source of information that a customer would or otherwise could find helpful.