Google is testing at least two buttons for on-SERP restaurant booking, Search Engine Land reported this week. The buttons, called Tables Tomorrow and Reserve a Table, allow searchers to see a number of potential times for a following-day reservation and to select one of those times right on SERPs, avoiding a trip to the local business’ website.
Right now, this specific development in the Google local-booking saga looks like it may even be an error, as the two buttons in this case appear redundant. But the news is an important signal that local-commerce options like Reserve with Google will get sleeker and more dominant in the years to come.
The news also calls to mind a crucial local-search debate: Will Google SERPs and the many options for engagement with local brick-and-mortars on them effectively supplant the local business website as the crucial interface for interacting with customers?
David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal outlined this change in a Street Fight column last year, explaining why Google is becoming the new homepage for local businesses. Their colleague Miriam Ellis at Moz pointed out last week that 64% of local business marketers surveyed by her company believe Mihm and Blumenthal are correct in that assessment.
Tracing Google’s emergence as a competitor to local websites, Ellis argues nonetheless that websites remain essential for local business, underlining specifically that high organic rank is strongly correlated to high local pack rankings.
Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s managing editor. Send him a line at email@example.com if you have thoughts on this story.