Google Local Updates – Review Stars in Adwords & Amenities for Hotels

stars
Photo Courtesy of Graham Johnson of PcRepair Croydon

Joy Hawkins reports that Adword customers that are using Location extension that are synced with GMB are now showing their review stars in the Ads. Previously this feature was only available via Adwords Express and to get the stars you needed to work with a 3rd party review site like TrustPilot.

I first saw these show up last week but couldn’t find any documentation about the feature. Still can’t. It is not clear how many reviews a business needs to have, what star rating they need to be or any other requirements.

Annie from Acorn pointed out something that I had noticed out of the corrner of my eye that Google was now displaying additional details about hotels and B & B in the Local Stack (Snack Pack) and Knowledge Panel.

snack-pack2

It is not at all clear what source Google is using for this data although early money is on Booking.com that seems to have embedded themselves into the booking tool. Several other oddities are that Google seems to have the data in the expanded Knowledge Pack but doesn’t always display it as in the Hyatt above. Note too that if the third listing displays the amenities they seem to get cut off in the main search result display.

The amenities also show up in Maps when you roll over the pin:

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 3.12.47 PM

Update: Google has published a Help Page on Amenities and notes that there is no way to directly impact the content of the display and if it is wrong to contact support.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Local Updates - Review Stars in Adwords & Amenities for Hotels by

27 thoughts on “Google Local Updates – Review Stars in Adwords & Amenities for Hotels”

  1. Mike,

    Good news and about time. It never seemed right that you had to be subject to Adwords Express to take advantage of review stars. After putting in work to accumulate reviews the right way, and spending $$ in Adwords over many years, I look forward to this feature.

    So, I wonder how long until G takes it back off the table…

  2. I am thinking this is still rolling out or in a testing mode, as seeing the amenities icons is dependent upon location. I’ve had brief flashes of the icons here in Colorado, but they are holding steady in New Orleans and Asheville. I have some pretty concerned customers wondering why they don’t show the icons and the competition does.

    1. @Annie I would give it a day or two to see if it settles in. I have asked Google for I goon where the info is coming from but if anyone has tested or has some thoughts I am all ears.

  3. Hi folks,

    I am new to the blog and could n ot find where to ask this question.
    I just set up a branding google my business page and do not see where or how I enter “categories”, keywords, labels, etc.

    I did it before on pages that were not branding pages. If it is not possible on a branding page for a small business that sells credit card services, should I have set it up NOT as a branding page?

    Very sorry if this is the wrong place to ask.
    thx
    Austin

    1. @austin if you are eligible for a G+ Local page that is usually more powerful and visible than a G+ Brand page. The former shows in local search as well as in G+ and G Maps.

  4. I’ve been seeing this too.

    Any particular reason why you think the amenities are coming from Booking.com over the existing feed provided by NorthStar? I’ve noticed a lot of inconsistencies in amenities displayed on Google Search/Maps/Hotel Finder results and when speaking to Google the issues seemed to stem from NorthStar.

  5. Mike: Some interesting and potentially meaning related events for businesses that sit in the aforementioned pack. You described it as either the Stack Pack or the Snack Pack.

    I believe it is better described as the Crap Pack. (alternatively the No Info Pack). No phone number, no link to the business site, NO ADDRESS, no map (on a pc)

    I don’t know where the places are located, I don’t know their addresses, I can’t link to the site to find out where they are located, I can’t call them.

    If I don’t have that vital info do I really care about some snippet, possibly taken by algo from some unknown source.

    These packs suck.

    When I read pieces of this ilk that ignore that vital information I feel like I’m in reality version of the Hans Christian Anderson childrens’ story: The Emporer Wears No Clothes. Some of this was discussed in a recent Moz blog piece.

    But enough of that. The shot that reviews, star ratings etc can show in ads is very significant for smb’s, and probably Most Astoundingly Powerful for some smb’s in the Crap pack….restaurants. More to discuss a little bit later.

    The example shown above PC repairs Croydon is very interesting and speaks to the opportunity for restaurants in the Crap Pack.

    The smb is in Croyden in the area of London in the UK. I searched on it from the states and searched again after switching to Google.co.uk and set up a location in London and Croydon.

    Interesting. The particular business dominates in Google.
    It runs an ad. It doesn’t appear any competitors are running ads. (I can’t be sure)
    Its tops in the Pack, position 1. It has positive reviews and stars and a lot of reviews.
    Other smb’s in that pack have reviews but this business has more than the others in the Pack and the rating is great.

    It will grab visitors.

    Assuming there are no other advertisers the smb can buy adwords VERY CHEAP. No competitor bidders….no competition. Its amazing how inexpensive that “can” be.

    But the smb might want to be careful. The ad at the top of the page WITH REVIEWS, STARS, and A GREAT RATING…will pull visitors who would have visited for free. they would have clicked on the Top Pack listing; possibly they would have clicked on the top organic listing under the Pack.

    Simply the SMB needs to monitor this situation and assess how expensive it might become with the review stars in the ad attracting visitors. But it will be cheap. Its a Good Problem if the conversion rate is reasonable to high.

    So what about this reviews showing in ads and different SMB’s that show in the CRAP PACK.

    It is an opportunity for restaurants!!!!

    Across the US local restaurants stay away from advertising in Adwords. Chains advertise. Mostly local restaurants don’t.

    If you are a restaurant in a local market and there are 25 local restaurants you have a 1 in 8 chance of turning up in the top 3 of the Crap pack (better if you are really working at optimizing). Really miserable visibility odds.

    If not in the Crap Pack its more difficult to get found. Frankly there are enormous number of searches for phrases such as Restaurants/City Name and variations on that; Italian restaurants, Seafood, Mexican, etc etc. Pizza is incredibly voluminous.

    Now generally there are no restaurant ads in adwords for endless towns and cities. Virtually NONE.

    SOOOOO……if you have a restaurant in a city and you have positive good google+ reviews–> Now is your chance to get seen at the top of the page..with those reviews…and with your address…and with a link to your site…and with a phone number if you wish (a different adwords site extension).

    You can get ALL the relevant visibility that the CRAP PACK doesn’t provide. You know what it is…Its what customers want to know.

    If nearby competitive restaurants aren’t advertising….the adwords campaign will be CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP. No competition on bids.

    Heck…you can probably get a $50 google adwords comp discount. That will get you started. The discounts are all over the place.

    Adwords is NOT rocket science. Plus their support WILL Happily help you get going.

    Choose a regional campaign so the ads show around your location and not around the world or not around the US or not 200 miles away. Make it local.

    You could create a landing page with a discount for pete’s sake. Then it would be like a groupon…except you don’t have to give groupon its cut. You could have a landing page with a map…so its easy to find you or get directions.

    If restaurants do this…and they advertise where no competitors are advertising (which is likely as restaurants shy from google advertising)….then the CRAP PAC is only crappy for the competition…not for the first to advertise.

    Its an opportunity.

  6. BTW, Mike: Joy’s finding is not working for any of our smb’s yet.

    Earlier, with this very “opportunity” in the works, I cleaned up some GMB info and coordinated with adwords and the address site links. Its not showing.

    When I went through the process I spoke with an adwords advisor. He wasn’t aware of the change.

    I’ll be monitoring. Adwords and the showing of site links is “funky”. Sometimes an address site link shows, sometimes it doesn’t. If there are a lot of competitive ads….unlike what Joy’s example experiences….the ads get thinner and the site links might not show.

    We have some phrases where the competition is slim and we get a lot of sitelinks showing…including of course addresses.

    Not up yet. Everything is coordinated and working between adwords and GMB I’ll be monitoring.

    If Joy’s example is a “test” and not a change…then all that advise to restaurants above is null and void. 😉

  7. Its Saturday, June 20th. I’m seeing the review stars and rating in ads we are running for the first smb that I “fixed” yesterday.

    Very potent. A killer change in my opinion.

    I didn’t worry about changes in the GMB before but this is a HUGE traffic magnet. If an smb has a good number of reviews stars, and a positive rating this will attract visitors at a significant amt.

    Its going to move organic traffic to paid. SMB’s are going to have to work through this carefully.

    We have ads that show when the pack shows and we have ads that show for organic search terms without the pac. We have ads when we are at the top of the Pac and when we are not at the top. We run ads in some competitive markets. Its not going to be cheap and I’m going to spend a lot of time adjusting this. It will skew traffic between ads and organic/pac.

    Its very powerful.

    To go back to the restaurant perspective…..this is the industry where it will make a Huge difference. The early users of this will be the early winners.

    Frankly I think its also a potential yelp killer. Restaurants that do advertise should pull that money from yelp and start advertising in google It will probably pay off better (assuming positive g+ ratings) and be seen by more traffic.

  8. Mike: Think back to the information on the leak on the google monopoly case. They found that google had more or less “acted mafia like” toward yelp and tripadvisor.

    I bet google was being “nice to them” for the time being .

    This is indirect, but I’d say the “kids gloves” have been pulled off.

  9. Mike: My “perception” is that restaurants are not very well connected or aware of google. They are overwhelmingly aware of Yelp.

    I think it will take time to percolate through the vertical. Its an excellent opportunity for marketers to penetrate the industry, though my experience is that it won’t be a huge rush.

    I do think the first implementers of this will be “winners”. They’ll be advertising against no competition. With no competitive ads the site links will always show…and the reviews will show. The ranking and volume of reviews will have enormous visibility.

    It will be a win for the first implementers before competition rushes in.

    It will, of course, will be a win for Google.

    And by the way: I still haven’t seen official notice of this as you noted at the top.

  10. Mike, all of the inns I work with regardless of region are now showing the amenities info, the two that are not at all are ones that are not listed on any OTAs at all.

    I wish I knew specifically which one(s) it’s pulling info from besides Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotels.com. There is another OTA that its pulling in from that its not showing. Tripadvisor maybe?? The inns that are showing the amenities but not showing an OTA list are on the paid version of TA but not on any of the other OTAs. So maybe?

  11. I had looked in their index and I think it does pull some of the amenities info in but there are more on the Google listings than what listed on their directory. One inn has 2 amenities listed but on their Google listing there are 4 as an example.

  12. An update to the missing amenities icons issue. An email to Google via the form got us a canned response, with no useful instruction other than to claim the listing, which was already claimed. I answered the email, including screenshots and a complete description of the issue, and got this back:

    “Thank you for contacting Google My Business Support.
    I wold request you to report a problem to get the amenities icons. Here is an article that would provide you further clarity on how to report a problem or fix the map.

    Quite a few concerns our users face are common in nature and for the benefit of everyone we have tried to bring them on the same platform where they could discover and discuss the frequently occurring issues. Here is a link forGoogle Forum, where you can get in touch with other business owners with similar concerns. (https://support.google.com/maps/answer/3094088?rd=1)

    I would also suggest you read through our GMB Help Center for the most frequented questions and to follow us on our Official Blog for regular updates. I am sure you would find the information there quite enriching and useful.

    If you have further questions, I am just an email away and would be glad to walk you through them. As soon as we receive a response, we would get back to you on priority.
    We wish you the best for your business initiative!”

    So, basically, no help there. There’s no way to report missing amenities on the Maps link as indicated in the help article, no articles about this on the blog, and so now I am headed off to the forums, which is probably the best place to go!

  13. Mike: (and pardon me, Annie).

    Back to the stars in reviews issues, and relative to restaurants:

    One other factor to consider, at least in urban markets, those with significant OpenTable (OT) enrollment.

    OT is simply a terrific and very highly used “search source” for restaurants that take reservations. Dramatically so.

    I haven’t found data on OT traffic. What I saw was aggregate data from OT’s financials as to how many reservations they’ve made in a year: a large number. Still who knows the volume of OT traffic vs google search traffic vs restaurants vs Yelp traffic for restaurants, vs other sources for restaurants.

    OT traffic is segmented to a small subset of restaurants that take reservations; they probably also skew to pricier restaurants. OT has a monopoly type share of the restaurants that take reservations, at least in major urban markets.

    One other interesting note about OT, which is a partial indication of their traffic: OT has HUGE volumes of reviews: Where I’ve checked (anecdotally) its greater than Yelp, Hugely greater than G+.

    The key point though is that for a certain population OT is a GREAT, problem solving, fast solution to search. Its very functional.

    You make reservations. If you and a spouse, significant other, and others, family and friends want to dine out on a particular day and time…OT does that for you. No other search vehicle does it for you similarly as well. Add to that frequent OT users LOVE IT. Just LOVE IT. Make a reservation and you get OT “dollars” or points that add up ultimately to OT dollars. You can use them in a subsequent OT reservation.

    I find a lot of them floating around. OT has made itself VERY consumer friendly. Not restaurant friendly, because it is notoriously expensive, but Hugely Consumer Friendly.

    In any case, it could be that search for restaurants is somewhat fractured. There are a plethora of sites with reviews, traveler sites with reviews, local reviews, local media source critic, and review sites. Of course there is SEARCH, dominated by Google. Yelp is of course “the” review” site, with clearly a lot of restaurant traffic. Then consider something like OT which is extremely user friendly for one segment of the industry.

    In any case, this is all conjecture to the above. But hypothetically, if search for restaurants is somewhat fractured via many sources…….

    It might mitigate the “yelp killer impact” that you and I suspect could be the effect of showing google + reviews in Google ads.

    I really don’t know. Its all speculation. At this time, though there are very very very few local restaurant ads in G….and hence those G+ reviews are rarely seen.

    Its clearly worth experimenting……….especially if there are no other local restaurants advertising…..and to start if you pick up a G adwords discount for $50. 😉

  14. I vaguely remember reading some where that Google was moving away from third party rating agencies to judge a hotel. I believe they are evolving their own mechanisms and processes.

  15. Hi there,

    Good article and quite informative comments. I am sorry for my ignorance, what is NorthStar? Is a GPS system?? No luck to find a straight answer on Internet.

    I would highly appreciate an answer. I do have a serviced apartments company in Bucharest(Romania) and I can’t find a way to “suggest through a third-party”/add the amenities in the Local Pack.
    As well, our site has micro data/structured data. I could add maybe the amenities via micro data?

    Thank you!

    Simona

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