Google Begins Nationwide Rollout of Tags and Adds New Features

Google Tags on MobileGoogle has just announced at the LatLong Blog, the beginning of a nationwide rollout of Tags, their paid, local listing enhancement. The feature, first tested in early February and rolled out to 11 cities last month, will first be available in the states where they have already had Tags (California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Washington, and Colorado). Google will update this page as additional states go live.

Tags will now also appear on mobile searches and a new Tag type, called Posts, will be available. A Post allows a business owner to create a custom message that can be changed as often as owner would like. This new feature could be used to highlight special discounts or a limited-time offer and seems likely to be popular. It would be more useful if it were allowed to also link back to a web page but maybe now coupons will finally get the exposure they deserve.

At a flat rate of $25/mo per business, Google Maps will have a simple to use paid product in place. Google has noted that 2 million businesses have claimed their listings. If there is even only a 10% adoption rate, it will mean income of $60 million/year for Google. I would guess that the uptake will be higher than that and once one 7-Pack entrant adds a Tag, there will be a certain pressure, logic not withstanding, for others in the 7-pack to do so as well.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Begins Nationwide Rollout of Tags and Adds New Features by

24 thoughts on “Google Begins Nationwide Rollout of Tags and Adds New Features”

  1. The sponsored listing enhancement feature is in it’s infancy and we search marketers need some help in understanding what Goooge wants.

    First and foremost, there has been some strange and unpredictable behavior as of late with regards to the Google Map Listings and many listings have gone into a “Needs Action” status with no specific reason why only a link to the help section which spells everything out but what is the specific field needing to be addressed?

    The type of clients we are dealing with here are willing to spend money online but have been taken in the past and still have their doubts.

    That’s what really hurts me is that with their doubts already front and center and wanting to see their ad magically appear over night, we can’t make any guarantees only vague 30 60 90 days or 2 to 4 to 6 weeks later statements as Google will not provide a definitive directive.

    Way too much speculation going on everywhere and is my opinion that the power to be has a reason, my speculation is a not wanting to share the wealth / growth?

    –Dennis

  2. interesting…but before I sell same to our client roster, I’m gonna try it ourownselves for one of our sites….

    it does however look interesting….now if only such a ‘buy’ would ‘guarantee’ a 7Pack placement…

    …sigh…

    :-)

    Jim

  3. Tx for the update Mike. I’m deeply curious as to how effective this will be. I’ll be using it as soon as the rollout hits my regions.

    I looked at your example; a hair salon in Washington DC. Noted a couple of things.

    A) the single user in that maps grouping was showing at #4 or #5 in a couple of different 7 pacs for appropriate phrases.
    B) Dependant on how a screen layouts it may or may not be all that visable.
    C) In that case, clicking on the particular tag in the example was powerful. Ironical, in the sense that the tag blasts out a coupon within Google Maps (a feature that Google has implemented but never mastered or made easily visable)
    D) the tag was powerful, IMHO.

    Can’t help but think that tag for that phrase, showing as the only such tag for that search phrase can’t help but work in spades for that business.

    Powerful.

    Dave

  4. Mike,

    It seems that Google was able to push this revenue stream live rather quickly. What do you think is going to happen to the Local Listing Ads that they tested a while back in San Francisco and San Diego? I actually really liked the idea of the LLAs, a flat fee for top placement WITH a blue marker!

  5. @Dennis
    For the most part, Google does not think that it needs the likes of folks who all to often attempt to manipulate their algo. I would venture a guess that they are attempting to obfusicate the whys and wherefores of the system. It is not so much, keeping it for themselves as being perceived as in their self interest

    @Jim
    Let us know when it makes it to Canada. Unless you have become the 51st state without me noticing, Google said specifically that the rollout was throughout the U.S

    @Dave
    My personal opinion is that it will appear more affective than it actually is at driving traffic. I could be wrong. It will certainly offer a compelling reason to spend the $25 if someone else has done so in the 7 – pack but it is not clear that the metrics are in place to evaluate its worth.

    @Kyle & Tom
    Yes given that Tags have rolled out and LLAs have not, I would think that at a minimum LLAs will undergo radical reworking before showing up

  6. Hey Mike,
    A new member over at Cre8asite reported that he has been using tags for his clients in the small list of cities that were previously approved and that his clients have experienced:

    a- An increase in business

    b- Apparently, higher 7 pack rankings!

    Have to see some more of this in action to be convinced about the part B point, but I thought it was interesting to hear from someone who has been working with these for clients.

  7. @Miriam

    While it might make sense for Google to highlight those listings that are paying, they have categorically said that is not happening. The claim of higher rankings is unlikely to true.

    I would love to see the methods that they used to track before and after on the tag….I hope it leads to more business…it might give advertising a good name.

  8. I have a client who is in a very competitive space (boulder dentist) and I have been using tags for him. Interestingly, within 1 day of adding a tag to his local listing, he went from #45 to about #18 (obviously still not in the coveted 7-pack, but moving closer). Within a week however, he fell back down to about #25 which is where he is still sitting. Because he doesn’t have a website, I am doubtful of how much the tag helps, but for now it definitely is not hurting us!

  9. Mike & all,

    Let say a business isn’t ranking in the 7-Pack for a competitive phrase. Is there any indication that purchasing a Tag will get them in the 7-Pack?

  10. @Tom

    I have not seen that result with my client. There is actually another dentist in Boulder who has tagged his listing, and I have not seen him move up into the 7-pack either. He was always higher than we were, and seems to have remained in the same place.

  11. @Lora and Tom

    There is the behavior within maps that I term “velocity”…there are a number of things that offer temporary bumps to standing; claiming a listing, a number of reviews, etc….my sense is that this “activity” is used by Google to identify “live” businesses. In that sense any and all activity about your business; reviews, new links, edits in the Places, all add up to knowledge on Google’s part that the business is a going concern. In that sense it adds up to Google finding the right place for that business.

    If I were a betting man, I would venture that this is the type of signal to Google that is taking place….

    @Lora
    If he isn’t in the 7-pack then what benefit do you see from it? While it isn’t hurting you in a ranking sense it is hurting you in a limited financial sense. Does it produce as much or more value than spending $00/yr on adwords or Facebook ads?

  12. Mike -

    You make a good point about how this will pan out as it becomes popular.

    My feeling (not having data at this point, but generalizing from similar “highlights,” such as specifying your state in regular paid search) is that this will pay off very well for the first advertisers.

    But then everyone will start doing it – and nobody’s really highlighted relative to their competitors, yet everyone’s paying $300/year to Google. It’s good to be a (near?) monopoly.

  13. Chris

    I think that you have nailed the basic arc of the benefit & cost curve over time. I think it imperative that folks continue to measure and assess the benefit.

    As everyone starts doing it, the message may become more important than the visual aspects leading me to think that Google may have finally found a way to get some traction on their coupon product (and get paid for it to boot)…

  14. I recently purchased the tag for our listing. I noticed that our rankings in the 7-pack went from the middle to the top of the pack. Not sure if the sponsored feature had anything to do with it. I’m not sure whether this is a positive thing or not, but it sure is distracting.

  15. Interesting …
    Even more ways people can advertise in Google ;). But also these ads could be usefull. I just wonder how many people are using Google maps and see these ads.

  16. Mike, I’ve been using the tag since it’s inception in one of the test markets. When I began the only option gives for that type of business was to highlight the website. Google Analytics showed that the site did not benefit from additional traffic from Maps because of it.

    Now, however, you are given more options and I think we can use them better for marketing purposes. For example, you can now choose to highlight a coupon and the headline you have given the coupon appears in a yellow highlight under your listing in the SERPs. This allows for a marketing message and some differentiation from the other tagged listing. We’ll see how well that works out…

    I do agree with the prevailing sentiment that once everyone in the 7 pack has a tag, they might lose any value they may have. Perhaps, at that point, the listing without “sponsored” next to it will be the one that stands out to searchers.

    As always, thanks for keeping on top of this stuff!
    Mary

  17. @Mary

    Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience. I agree with your thinking on this. I would love to know if the coupon tag works.

    As I noted above, Google may have finally found a way to make coupons more visible and make them pay off finally.

    Unfortunately they are not yet available in NY

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