Local Search Marketing Blog
Archive for the ‘Google Places’ Category
Yet another new release from Google comes in the form of a personal recommendation engine called Google Hotpot. It integrates the reviews and ratings from Google Places with a personal dashboard. At the top of your dashboard a counter keeps track of your personal rating and reviews and there is also an option to keep track of your friends activity.
Google have indicated in the latest LatLong blog, that your friends reviews will show up in a new section of the Google Places page under “Recommended because,”. Also, if you’re signed in they will show up in Google search results and as well as when searching on Google Maps and Google Maps for Android.
Google announced a new service in late October, Google Boost. This service was initially only available in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago. Based on ‘great feedback’ Google are rolling in out in an additional 10 US locations in November. This looks like an interesting addition to paid search and we thought we should take a look at how it works.
Google Boost is billed as a ‘new online advertising solution to help local businesses connect with potential customers in their area’. Within your Google Places account you will be able to create ads similar to the image below:
Note the top section highlighted in red. Previously this section was reserved for Adwords adverts. Now there is an additional Boost advert.
Google Boost Ads are similar to Adwords in that you only pay on a per click basis. The ranking of Boost ads are based on relevance and quality factors. It will be interesting to see how Google decides on these factors. Will they adopt a similar system to Adwords where a quality score determines price and rankings. Or will they try something different?
For Local Business, this is one to watch. It appears the plan is to allow smaller businesses to tap into the power of pay per click ads without having to master Adwords.
The LSM Team
Is This the Downfall of Local Directory Sites?
A couple of weeks ago Linda Buquet of Catalyst eMarketing noticed that Google were testing a new layout for local search results. The screenshots and notes were posted over on Mike Blumenthals blog and as well as an updated post on Linda’s own blog.
The Main changes according to Linda are:
1 – The Places listings are 3 times BIGGER and look like the organic results except they have a map pin.
2 – It’s pulling meta description from the site – just like organic. PLUS it adds some snippets from reviews on the Place page. So best of both worlds and BIGGER!
3 – As you scroll down the MAP scrolls with you. So even when you are at bottom of page in the organic listings the map moves down and shows on right.
4 – ONLY 7 (purely) organic listings show and in this instance most are directories or assn. Only 2 are Dentists.
5 – To get on the top TWO screens you need to be in local. Most of the organic are 2 screens BELOW the fold.
6 – Reviews are more prominent
7 – Link to Place Page is marked as such, instead of just “More Info” which means better branding and name recognition for Google Places
Why would Google bring in these changes?
Introducing a layout like this could lead to a potentially massive increase in income for Google from both Google Places and Adwords. Sooner than later all of the listings within Google Places will be using the newly introduced Google Tag ad to promote their services. This feature along with the sponsored listings means that any searches carried out with local intent will be a potential goldmine in revenue for Google through paid clicks.
If this change does come into effect, who are the winners and who are the losers?
Local directory sites like GoldenPages.ie, Yelp.ie and Menupages.ie will see a massive reduction in organic traffic due to their rankings being pushed to the bottom of page 1 or page 2. I wonder did Google’s failure to takeover Yelp influence the possible new layout. I think Andrew Shotland’s hilarious yet fitting post ‘Dead Fingers Walking?’ is an excellent account of how the local directory sites will feel.
And the winners?
Well, apart from Google, any businesses that have a well optimised local search campaign in place.
The third edition of David Mihms ‘Local Search Ranking Factors’ was released last week. It is a must read for anyone with an interest in local SEO. We’d recommend all Irish business owners to take a look at the survey in order to get an understanding of both the positive and negative factors when it comes to the local business rankings.
Before I go through some of the findings of the survey I’ll give you a brief background to it. Over 30 local search analysts from around the world give their opinions on the importance of 69 different factors and the effect they have on local business rankings. They grade each factor using the following scale:
Once all the data is collected each of the factors are ranked in order of importance and agreement rate.
According to this year’s survey the top 10 positive factors are as follows:
1 – General Importance of Claiming Place Page / Local Listing
If you haven’t already claimed your local business listing then make it a priority to do so. The sooner you claim it, the sooner you can start to expand it. Not sure how to go about claiming your listing? Contact us on (01) 6650428 and we’d be happy to help.
2 – Business Address in City of Search
This would seem like a pretty obvious one, although I have seen businesses located outside of specific counties rank within the 7 pack for other county related searches.
3 – Associating Place Page with Proper Categories
This is one area where a lot of Irish businesses get it wrong. When setting up a business listing in Google Places, make use of all 5 categories allocated. Currently, Google requires at least one category to be a default setting. The other 4 should be manually entered using the main service related phrases that you want to rank highly for. (Word of warning here – do not use a location as part of any of the phrases. It could get you kicked off the listings!!)
4 – Volume of Citations from Major Data Providers + *IYP Portals
This has been recognised as one of the most important off page factors. Aim to get your site mentioned on as many good quality local websites and directories as possible. *IYP = Internet Yellow Pages.
5 - General Importance of Off-Page / Off-Listing Criteria
The search engines regard data about your website on other websites as an important factor.
6 – General Importance of Customer Reviews
There was a mixed response from many of the experts surveyed. Overall it was agreed that is it still a very important factor, but a few felt it was becoming less important than it once was. Here at Local Search Marketing – we feel it is still essential to try and get positive customer reviews – for both ranking purposes and reputation. The customers always right!
7 – Quality of Citations from Major Data Providers + IYP Portals
As mentioned above in factors 4 and 5 – citations are very important. If they are coming from trusted sources then this will also help.
8 – Product / Service Keyword in Place Page Business Title
This is something that still works very well but is technically against the guidelines and could be considered spam. Don’t overdo it. If you do your listing may well disappear.
9 – Volume of Customer Reviews associated with Your Business
Still considered very important and will be for the foreseeable future. If your competitors have no reviews then make an effort to get a couple. It may make a big difference. ‘Practice what you preach’ I hear you say! – Were working on them! : )
10 – Quality of Unstructured Citations
Citations from a local, themed & high value are valuable.
To read the results of the full survey click here. If you are looking for advice or need help with your Google Places account, please contact us and we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.
As we have discussed in previous posts the Irish version of Google Places lacks many of the features of the US equivalent. But things are unlikely to stay like that for long.
Here is a ‘how-to’ webinar from Google about the new features in Google Places. Please note some of these features are not yet available in Ireland.
Word of warning it’s a little long, but on the positive side it gives a great insight into how useful this service will be for local Irish business. You might want to skip the first two minutes, its more of a general introduction.
One of the most important points coming from this video is the importance of claiming your business listing. If you run a business based in Ireland there is a good chance your Google Places listing already exists. Claim it today.
The LSM Team
Google announced yesterday (20th April 2010) that they are changing the name of the Google Local Business Centre to Google Places. Along with the rebranding, they have also officially announced a number of new features including:
- Services Areas – you can now target services areas instead of having to rely on your business address (as discussed last month)
- Tag Ads – A way to enhance your Google business listing (Februarys post on Enhanced Local Listings)
- Business Photo Shoots – businesses in selected US cities can request a free photo shoot for their business.
- Customised QR codes for US businesses. QR Codes allow smart phones to scan and store business information.
- 50,000 more businesses will receive window decals as part of Favourite Places. Again, this is for US businesses only.
What does this all mean for Irish businesses? Unfortunately not a whole lot for the moment. Out of the 5 new features mentioned above, the first one is the only one that will be available within Ireland. We are still way behind the majority of countries when it comes to the features available with the Local Business Centre (LBC) account. I’ve heard that we may soon get access to monthly map listings impressions, something that has been available in other countries since last year. We’ll keep an eye out for any new features available to the Irish market once they become available and let you know.
Google have updated the Local Business Centre with a feature that is long overdue. Before now, it was a necessity to include an address when signing up which was displayed as part of their listing. Why is that such a big deal you may ask?
Lets imagine you owned a driving school based in Balbriggan in north County Dublin. Your services areas include both north and south Dublin as well as the surrounding counties of Louth and Meath. Any learner drivers searching online for a driving instructor may be put off by the Balbriggan address because they feel it is too far from where they live. This could result in a lot of lost business. This factor may have been effecting many services including trades people, flower delivery, cleaning companies and many more.
The upgrade that Google made yesterday now allows business owners to define the areas that they want to target. There is also an option to hide your business address.
In order to avail of the new options tick the ‘Yes, this business serves customers at their locations’.
If you want to hide your address tick the box for ‘Do not show my business address on my Maps listing’.
Here’s a screenshot of what you will be presented with -
However a word of warning. The geo targeting feature within Google is far from accurate and you also have to consider where a persons ISP is located. In the example above, the default ‘Distance from one location’ was only 20 miles. If you are going to use this feature make sure that the distance is increased substancially or else choose the other ‘List of Areas Served‘ option. And cover a large target area.
On the right hand side of the screen you will see the area that is now covered.
Remember, this new feature was only released within the last couple of days so it’s quite possible there will be a few teething problems initially. For more information on this new Google Local Business Centre feature or any other local search marketing query contact us on (01) 6650428.
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