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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Local: Direct to Knowledge Panel Updates via Schema

Imagine a world where multi location business no longer have to continually mess with the Google My Business bulk dashboard and could have a direct feed of their critical location data to the Knowledge Panel via their website with schema markup.  Apparently that world is right around the corner.

Rohan Ayyar of E2M pointed out on Twitter the fact that Google had recently moved the local schema page from Webmaster section of their website to a new Google Developer page and announced the pilot using schema to directly populate the Knowledge Panel and local database with location data :

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Google recommended the use of JSON-LD as the data format and to use the most specific LocalBusiness sub-type possible “e.g. RestaurantDaySpaHealthClub.”

The specification supports the standard array of schema options including address, lat-long and phone as well as the recently added place actions like reservations and ordering, special hours and departmental detail.  For more examples visit this page.

With this direct schema to Knowledge Panel pilot and the broad rollout of the Google My Business API, Google is signaling a more open and flexible approach to allowing multi location businesses to provide detailed location information to Google.

It is a radical shift from the day of “do it our way, or the highway” approach that has long affected Google’s local efforts. The question remains as to whether Google’s crawling and populating the local database can keep up with updating the Knowledge Panel in time to deal with the messy world of not just opening hours but other changing realities. It would seem for example that it would work best with businesses that don’t change hours that frequently and use the special hours feature well in advance for those days that don’t fit the norm. Whether Google can keep up with the ever changing hour needs of the amusement parks of the world is another question.

If you are currently in the pilot or know of any companies that are, I would love to hear how it is going.