Google is finally adding its coveted Trusted Store badge to free shopping listings in search results. 

The badge has been available to reliable brands on the platform for nearly a decade at this point and has been proven to increase trust in online retailers by verifying your reputation. 

Stores running paid shopping listings have been able to take advantage of this by showcasing their Trusted Store badge on their ads, however, this has not been an option for those whose free product listings get shown. 

What Is The Google Trusted Store Badge?

The Google Trusted Store badge is a small icon representing that your business has been recognized by Google for delivering great products, fast shipping, and amazing customer service. 

Though the badge is typically thought to represent pages with consistently high Google customer reviews, eligibility is actually determined by Shopping Experience Scorecard scores. These scores are determined by monitoring submitted data from online stores to assess the speed and quality of service. 

If Google determines that you are an upstanding brand, you will then be notified that you are eligible to be a Google Trusted Store. 

What Is The Benefit of Being a Google Trusted Store?

Beyond earning a badge that will now appear on both paid and free product listings, being a Trusted Store brings several benefits for brands, including increased product listing engagement, more prominently displayed product listings, and increased trust from potential customers.

Perhaps most notably, being a Trusted Store also gives brands the ability to offer free purchase protection for customers, up to a specific amount of money. 

New Analytics Tools For Free Product Listings

Along with announcing that free product listings in Google search results may display the Trusted Store badge, the search engine launched a number of analytics tools for free listings. 

These new reporting tools provide details across several metrics including:

  • Total traffic
  • Impressions
  • Conversion rates
  • Pricing competition

This marks the first time performance data has been available to merchants for free product listings. 

The Big Picture

These upgrades to free product listings bring them more in line with paid shopping listings, making them potentially more attractive to online retailers. Thanks to the introduction of the new reporting tools, brands can also start refining their listings to improve click-through and conversion rates based on their recent performance and shopping trends.

Google Business Profiles (previously known as Google My Business) are a crucial part of any brand’s online presence. Not only does it control how your company appears in local search results, but it also powers Google Maps listings.

So how does Google balance keeping these local listings easily accessible for business owners without leaving listings vulnerable to manipulation or outright fraud?

The search engine explained how it combined everything from its search algorithms and machine learning tools to human reviews to block more than 100 million abusive business profile updates last year. 

Thanks to this approach, the company believes that less than 1% of the content viewed through Google Business Profiles and Google Maps was fraudulent or abusive in 2021. 

How Google Fights Business Profiles Spam

Over the course of 2021, Google says it blocked over 100 million abusive or fraudulent edits to Google Business Profiles. This includes a wide range of activities, including creating fake business listings, fraudulent or abusive reviews, or attempts to hijack business listings. 

Here’s the breakdown of the types of actions taken by Google to fight Google Business Profile abuse:

  • Removed over 7 million fake Business Profiles on Google Maps. Google said more than 630,000 of those Business Profiles were removed through user reports.
  • Prevented 12 million attempts to create fake Business Profiles on Google Maps.
  • Stopped 8 million fraudulent attempts to claim Business Profiles on Google Maps.
  • Disabled over 1 million accounts due to policy-violating activity, such as online vandalism or fraud.
  • Removed or blocked 95 million policy-violating reviews, over 60,000 of which were taken down due to COVID-related instances.
  • 1 million reviews were taken down through user reports.
  • Blocked or removed 190 million photos and 5 million videos that were blurry, low quality, or violated Google’s content policies.

Can Google Make Up For Past Mistakes?

Historically, Google has struggled to prevent misuse or manipulative behavior across its local business listings. There are countless horror stories easily found online from businesses that had their listing stolen from them, vandalized by the competition, or brought down by fraudulent reviews.

Hopefully, with actions like these, the platform can continue to undo this legacy and provide a reliable platform for both users and the businesses included.

If you’re a business owner or operator, you’ve probably been told 100 times by 100 different people that you just HAVE to invest in Search Engine Optimization. Unfortunately, you’ve also likely never really heard why SEO is so important beyond broad mentions of “being found online” or that “everyone uses Google.”

Marketers and salespeople have a bad habit of talking about the power and benefits of optimization without explaining what sets it apart from other types of online marketing, how it impacts your ability to reach new markets, and why many SEO packages don’t cut it. 

So today, I wanted to do just that.

What Is Search Engine Optimization

Before we can talk about what makes SEO special, we have to talk a bit about what it is.

In the simplest terms, search engine optimization is the name for a wide range of strategies and techniques used to increase your visibility on search engines. 

In the past, this could be boiled down to the phrase “making your website the top result on Google searches.” These days, search engines are much more complex and what might be the top result for one user might be completely different for another.

As such, SEO has evolved to focus more on overall visibility across Google’s many systems with the goal of attracting as many potential customers as possible to your site.

How SEO Works

For our purposes today, we aren’t going to go very in-depth discussing the numerous strategies or techniques used in SEO. Otherwise, we’d be here all day.

What matters for this discussion is understanding that these methods affect how Google sees and ranks your site. 

While some strategies are dedicated to helping Google understand the content that is on your site, others are intended to boost the overall value of your site. Combined, these approaches help ensure Google picks your site for relevant searches and gives you the best chance to attract website traffic.

Why SEO Is Essential in 2022

Google Is The Most Visited Site In The World

Marketers always like to say “everyone uses Google” to emphasize the importance of SEO (and they aren’t necessarily wrong), but what does that really mean?

It means that Google is a massive part of daily life for practically everyone around the globe, and can massively influence what information we see, who we do business with, and what products people buy.

To give you an idea of how much influence Google has compared to any other site online, the search engine sees more than 3x the traffic that the second most popular website – YouTube (which is also owned by Google.)

The most popular site in the world NOT owned by Google – Facebook – sees less than a quarter of the traffic seen by Google.com.

No matter how you try to spin it, Google acts as the central hub to the internet for the vast majority of people out there. If you don’t play by their rules, you risk being disconnected from this hub and any potential traffic you might get.

Organic Search is Still The Main Driver of Traffic

When considering where to invest their marketing budget, many businesses find themselves asking the same question: “Why should I spend money on SEO, which is complicated and not guaranteed to pay off, when I could instead run ads that are guaranteed to appear above those search results?”

Organic search results get underestimated because ranking highly is rarely a sure thing – even for the biggest companies. Meanwhile, paid search ads are built around driving results without uncertainty.

Despite this, there is actually a very simple reason you should invest in organic search optimization.

Organic search results drive more than twice the traffic compared to the next leading traffic source. Compared to paid ads, organic search results drive more than 5x the traffic to websites.

At the end of the day, the majority of search results still result in a user clicking an organic link from regular search results. So while it may seem riskier, investing in search engine optimization has the chance for much larger rewards.

Better SEO Means Better User Experience

Every brand wants its website to provide the best user experience possible. A positive user experience increases the likelihood of driving conversions, while negative user experiences can sour people on your company entirely.

So, it should come as good news that the majority of SEO practices are intended to improve user experience in a variety of ways including speeding up your site, making it easier to use, and improving accessibility.

By ensuring you are optimized for search engines, you are also investing in improving your site for the real potential customers who will soon be visiting.

SEO Is a Process That Is Always Changing

Companies looking to save some cash on SEO will have an easy time finding dozens of cheap SEO packages across the web. The problems with the packages are numerous, but the biggest red flag is the assumption that SEO is something you do once.

In reality, SEO is something that needs to be done regularly to have a real impact. 

When left alone, Google assumes websites are becoming outdated or irrelevant. No matter what industry you are in, there are always new products coming out, new information that can benefit your customers, and new ways to improve your site.

Additionally, Google itself is always changing. The company releases new guidelines, algorithm updates, and features for webmasters seemingly every day. Any cheap package deal is unable to take these updates into account and help your company stay ahead of the rapidly changing search results.

SEO Results Amplify With Time

Unlike almost any other form of marketing, search engine optimization is one of the few investments which tends to build on itself for greater and greater results.

As you optimize your website and create quality content to improve your search rankings, you also provide a more robust presence online. Your website becomes an even greater resource to potential customers. You start getting linked to by others in your industry. People start sharing your brand around social media. 

Ads may drive immediate results, but these tend to stabilize with time. Effective search engine optimization, on the other hand, pays increasing dividends the longer you invest in it.


The role search engines play in our lives will only continue to grow as people become more connected and expect information to always be at their fingertips. For all these reasons, it is imperative that companies invest in the best optimization practices possible if they want to continue reaching prospective customers in an increasingly digital world.

Due to the long-term impact of SEO, the best time to start optimizing your website was probably months or years ago. The second best time, however, is now.

Twitter is signaling its plans to let brands establish dedicated shops on the platform through a limited test.

The company revealed it is introducing dedicated shopping pages including up to 50 products to a handful of brands as an experiment ahead of plans to roll out the feature to more retailers later this year. 

The feature allows a brand or business to add a simple “View shop” button to its profile page, which will link to a Twitter-hosted e-commerce page. When clicked, the button will then take users to your actual online store or website, where the transaction can be completed. 

As Twitter described the new feature in its blog post announcement:

“People are already talking about products on Twitter. We want Twitter Shops to be the home for merchants on Twitter where they can intentionally curate a catalog of products for their Twitter audience and build upon the product discussions already happening on our service by giving shoppers a point of action where a conversation can become a purchase.”

Only Available to a Select Few

As Twitter Shops are currently considered a beta test, the feature is only available to a small number of brands in the U.S. Specifically, the announcement only mentioned five brands that have utilized the feature so far – Verizon, Arden Cover, the Latinx In Power podcast, Gay Pride Apparel, and All I Do Is Cook.

Additionally, only iPhone users are currently able to view or interact with the shops, though the company plans to roll the feature out to other devices in the future.

Social Stores Are Becoming The Norm

The new feature underscores the increasingly blurry line between social media and online shopping. Several other platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have rolled out their own shopping tools to brands on their platform, though the most obvious comparison is Pinterest’s current shopping system where users can discover brands and shop their products on the platform before finalizing their purchase through retailer’s own sites.

For more, read Twitter’s full announcement here.

It is no secret that the past few years have wildly shaken up the world – especially when it comes to doing business. Coronavirus, international shipping delays, and rising prices have drastically reshaped customer needs and expectations in virtually every market – as a new report from Google makes particularly clear.

Using a comparison of search trends from 2021 to 2022, Google’s data reveals what customers are looking for as we settle into a “new normal” and brace for even more new challenges in the future.

What Customers Want

More than anything, the search trends from Google reveal that customers are looking for brands that can provide the goods and services they are looking for when they need them. This is reflected by significant increases in searches extended hours and quick service. 

For example, the report shows these search phrases saw major increases over the past year:

  • “Late night shopping”: Up 100% year-over-year
  • “24/7 customer service”: Up 500% year-over-year
  • “Next day flower delivery”: Up 800% year-over-year

Return to In-Person Events

Google search data makes it very clear that consumers are itching to get back out and enjoy in-person events again, now that the coronavirus pandemic appears to be winding down. This has led to growth in searches for phrases like:

  • “Cinema near me”: Up 300% year-over-year
  • “Seating chart”: Up 600% year-over-year
  • “Spring break”: Up 100% year-over-year
  • “Unique things to do in”: Up 100% year-over-year

Some Pandemic Trends Linger

While shoppers are eager to ditch some aspects of the pandemic, Google pinpoints a few trends which popped up during quarantines and appear to be sticking around. These “sticky” trends include:

  • “Makeup game”: Up 700% year-over-year
  • “Best movies to stream right now”: Up 300% year-over-year
  • “Nursery plants near me”: Up 100% year-over-year
  • “Hair trends female”: Up 800% year-over-year

For more, check out Google’s full Global Insights Briefing for 2022 here.

At the start of 2022, LinkedIn Chief Product Officer, Tomer Cohen put out a call for suggestions on how to improve the platform for professionals and the brands they represent.

Just over a month later, the company says it is already working to integrate these suggestions with a slew of updates to how users can share content, manage their feed, and track their content’s performance.

We’ve collected the highlights below:

LinkedIn’s Updates Based On Your Feedback

Giving You More Control Over Your Feed

LinkedIn is making it easier to signal the types of content you want to see and to flag content that isn’t relevant to you.

Not only can you more easily follow and unfollow connections, but the company has also introduced quick ways to remove content by clicking the 3-dot icon in the top right corner of posts and selecting “I don’t want to see this.”

Lastly, LinkedIn is making it easier to find the content, pages, and conversations most relevant to your goals with improved search tools.

Connect With Industry Authorities To Build Your Career

LinkedIn has always positioned its platform as a tool for those starting out or looking to grow further to connect with the established experts and leaders in their markets. 

To further this goal, the company is working to create new opportunities for career advancement through live events, live courses, and even the chance to speak with industry-leading content creators like Jonathan Fields and Mita Mallick.

Better Measure Your Content Performance

Lastly, LinkedIn is introducing new ways to track how your posts are performing and refine your content strategy.

In addition to broad metrics like the number of people who view your posts, the company says it is going to be soon adding more granular details about your audience including their job titles, engagement patterns, and helpful demographic information.


Obviously, many of these features were already in progress before LinkedIn surveyed users. Still, they show how the company is looking to expand its capabilities in the exact areas users are also most interested in using to build their careers.

The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented changes to practically every market around the world. While existing businesses struggled with new safety requirements, the number of new business openings slowed significantly.

As we come to the end of the second year of living with the COVID pandemic, though, it appears new business openings are close to reaching pre-pandemic levels, according to Yelp’s COVID-19 Second Anniversary Report

Specifically, new business openings in the second year of the pandemic were just 1% below rates from the year before the pandemic (2019). Over the year, at least 521,926 new businesses were established – up 14% from the first year of the pandemic. 

How New Variants Affected New Business Openings

While new business openings are on the rise overall, this is not happening without setbacks. The Delta and Omicron variants caused dips in openings, especially in the largest cities across the US. In many cities, these hurdles slowed growth enough to cause an overall decrease in openings.

Despite this, other cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Detroit helped offset these losses. 

New Expectations For Businesses

While openings are returning to pre-pandemic rates, Yelp emphasized that the coronavirus pandemic is still strongly influencing consumer behavior. For example, interest in outdoor seating continued to rise by 292% in the second year of the pandemic. 

Similarly, consumer interest continues to be heightened for outdoor activities, including scooter rentals, outdoor movies, and the newly trendy pickleball.

The Big Picture

Businesses continue to stand strong in the face of the COVID pandemic, despite new challenges like labor shortages and supply bottlenecks. Being adaptable has long been a key trait of successful businesses, especially after the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Google has confirmed that it is “slowly” rolling out the Page Experience update for desktop search results.

Back in November, the search engine notified webmasters that it planned to extend the Page Experience update – originally limited to just mobile search results – to desktop search results by February 2022. 

While the update is rolling out on schedule, the company says the update will not be completed until closer to the end of March. 

What You Should Know About The Desktop Page Experience Update

For the most part, the algorithm update looks identical to the update introduced to mobile search results last year. As such, the most important aspect of the update is the use of Core Web Vitals metrics to measure website performance.

“This means the same three Core Web Vitals metrics: LCP, FID, and CLS, and their associated thresholds will apply for desktop ranking. Other aspects of page experience signals, such as HTTPS security and absence of intrusive interstitials, will remain the same as well.”

One factor is being dropped from the desktop Page Experience update, however. For obvious reasons, this version of the update will remove the mobile-friendliness signal which was originally built into the update.

What Does This Mean For Your Site?

If you have been having good performance on mobile search results, you are probably fairly safe from the newer desktop version of the Page Experience update. However, if you’ve seen drops in search visibility or performance from mobile searches in the past year, this update is likely to compound your pain. 

To help you predict how the algorithm update will impact you, Google Search Console is launching a new report specifically dedicated to Page Experience metrics for desktop versions of sites. 

This report is available in the Page Experience tab of Google Search Console, immediately under the mobile report.

As Google Ads continues to release constant new features, upgrades, revamps, and other updates seemingly every day, brands can often get stuck in “reaction” mode – finding out the latest updates and revamping their plans and strategies in response.

It is obviously important to stay up to date with what Google Ads is doing – otherwise, your advertising strategies may become less effective and start costing you more than they are bringing in. At the same time, when you focus too much on the constant stream of updates coming from the company, it leaves very little room for long-term strategies. 

Thankfully, Google Ads Vice President, Jerry Dischler, recently gave all of us a glimpse into the company’s roadmap for 2022 by detailing three top priorities for the company this year: automation, measurement, and privacy.

In a blog post, Dischler explained how Google Ads is using these three priorities to shape its product and provided a clearer view of what businesses can expect from the ad platform moving forward. 

While the three priorities themselves may not be particularly surprising, it is Dischler’s explanation of how the company sees these tenets which provide the most insight into what Google Ads will look like in the future and how brands can start preparing for upcoming changes today.

Automation Is The Norm

As the internet seemingly moves faster and faster each day, brands are relying heavily on automation to keep their online advertising agile and efficient.

Dischler says he has seen this not just in the data from companies across the platform, but also in speaking personally to advertisers around the world:

“In meeting with many advertisers, I’ve heard how readiness, speed and agility have been critical for managing complexity and driving growth in these uncertain times. That’s why advertisers are turning to automation more than ever before. In fact, over 80% of Google advertisers are now using automated bidding to free up time and improve ad performance.”

To ensure these automated tools remain competitive, Google is focusing on improving automation within Performance Max and Discovery campaigns.

While the company is likely to continue introducing automation into other areas of Google Ads as well, the company is emphasizing these two campaign types because they offer a number of specific benefits:

  • Easier Ad Management
  • Cross-Channel Reach
  • Improvements in Incremental Conversions
  • Lower Cost Per Action (Cost Per Click)

Measurement In A New Era of User Privacy

Data measurement has always been a key benefit of online advertising, making it possible to not only target your ads based on collected user data but to also track the success of your campaigns in real-time. 

Recently, though, this has been severely complicated by a wave of new privacy protection measures led by Apple’s iOS14 update. Since the release of this update, Apple users have to opt-in to sharing their data with sites and advertising platforms, rather than allowing their information to be collected by default. 

As this approach to user privacy continues to spread, with Google set to introduce their own versions of these tools soon, the company says it is also working on new solutions which will allow brands to properly measure the value of their marketing efforts.

These solutions include:

  • Enhanced Conversions
  • Consent mode
  • Conversion Modeling
  • Data-Driven Attribution
  • Focus on First-Party Data and Privacy-Safe APIs.

Changes To Privacy Guidelines

While Google wants to ensure advertisers can track their ad performance and measure the value of their online advertising efforts, the company also wants to be more transparent about its data collection methods and give users more control over their personal information. 

To do this, the company has made broad changes to its privacy guidelines, including a significant update to its Privacy Playbook. These changes reframe Google’s approach to better balance the needs of both advertisers and users by highlighting three specific goals for the future:

  • Building direct relationships with customers
  • Keeping data accurate and actionable
  • Keep your ads relevant

Be Ready For The Future of Google Ads

If you want to be ready for the changes coming to Google Ads in 2022, Dischler makes it clear. Brands need to go back to the drawing board.

Instead of focusing on creating great ads one at a time, successful brands are looking to automation to keep their ads as relevant as possible, using direct customer connections to keep their advertising data accurate, and redoubling their commitments to protect their users’ privacy.

Any small-to-medium-sized business owner or operator is all too aware that it often feels like the odds are stacked against them – especially when it comes to competing with larger companies on Google. 

It’s something Google rarely addresses outright, but it seems clear that big companies have several advantages which can make it hard to compete. This is why one person decided to ask Google’s John Mueller about the situation during a recent Office Hours hangout chat with Google Search Advocate.

As Mueller acknowledges, Google is well aware that big brands often receive natural competitive advantages. But, he also had some advice for smaller brands trying to rank against massive brands – big sites face their own unique problems and limitations which can give you a chance to get the upper hand.

John Mueller’s Advice For Small Companies On Google

The original question posed to Mueller included two parts, but it was the second half that the Search Advocate decided to focus on. Specifically, he was asked:

“Do smaller organizations have a chance in competing with larger companies?”

From the outset, he says its a bit of a broader “philosophical” question, but he does his best to show how smaller companies have consistently been able to turn the tables against larger brands. For example, Mueller points to how many larger companies were so invested in using Macromedia Flash, they stuck with it long after it became clear it was not helping their SEO. Meanwhile, smaller sites often knew better and were able to use this against their competition.

“One of the things that I’ve noticed over time is that in the beginning, a lot of large companies were, essentially, incompetent with regards to the web and they made terrible websites.

And their visibility in the search results was really bad.

And it was easy for small websites to get in and kind of like say, well, here’s my small website or my small bookstore, and suddenly your content is visible to a large amount of users.

And you can have that success moment early on.

But over time, as large companies also see the value of search and of the web overall, they’ve grown their websites.

They have really competent teams, they work really hard on making a fantastic web experience.

And that kind of means for smaller companies that it’s a lot harder to gain a foothold there, especially if there is a very competitive existing market out there.

And it’s less about large companies or small companies.

It’s really more about the competitive environment in general.”

While it is true that it can seem very difficult to compete with the seemingly unlimited resources of bigger brands, history has shown time and time again that bigger brands face their own challenges. 

As Mueller concludes:

“As a small company, you should probably focus more on your strengths and the weaknesses of the competitors and try to find an angle where you can shine, where other people don’t have the ability to shine as well.

Which could be specific kinds of content, or specific audiences or anything along those lines.

Kind of like how you would do that with a normal, physical business as well.”

In the end, big brands competing are much like David facing down Goliath; if they know how to use their strengths and talents to their advantage they can overcome seemingly unbeatable challengers.

You can watch Mueller’s answer in the video below, starting around 38:14.