All posts by Mike Blumenthal

Google Testing Verification Whitelisting via API with Large Resellers & IYPs

Long asked for but not yet made public, a number of large Adwords resellers and IYPS seemingly now have the ability to auto-verify local listings via an API.

I have spoken with a number of European and North American resellers that claim to have the functionality.  Although I have not yet seen it, its existence has been confirmed from multiple sources.

I do not know the processes involved, how Google vets the quality of the listings or if there are additional steps but the flow sounds expedited.

Obviously for anyone doing any amount of verification work, this would be a huge time saver.

And for spammers it could be a new vector. If you have details about how the product works, I would love to hear. Email me mike@blumenthals.com.

And apparently when I was not looking (traveling and speaking in Spain and California) Google has started offering up additional SMB verification options and an easier sign up flow.

 

 

Google Alerting Business Owners to Recent Questions in the New Search Dashboard on Mobile

Google Q & A has been one of the most problematic recent introductions because the questions can so readily impact the reputation of a business.

And even more problematic because there is not active notification of the business owner that a new question or answer exists and these questions are not yet visible on the desktop although there have been lots of sightings of them on the desktop in the wilds. (To view these on the desktop read this article: Hack: Seeing Google Questions & Answers on the Desktop).

While it is possible to get in front of the Questions with a good plan, a partial solution seems to be at hand with the new Google Dashboard in Search on mobile where there is a very clear indication of the existence of a new question:

When the business owner clicks on “Respond” they are taken to this screen and offered the opportunity to provide and answer. Perfect? By no means but a small step for the SMB for sure.

Google “Hustling” the Business Dashboard in Search

In one of a long line of recent (and approaching spammy) GMB related emails, Google has started sending out emails educating owners of verified businesses that they can now “Meet your new dashboard on Google Search”

When clicking the email call to action it takes the user to interact with the new(ish) mini dashboard visible on a brand search when they are logged in.

When the user clicks on the “see my new dashboard” they  presented with links to go into the Google My Business dashboard or given specific tasks that need to be done.

Between the many new, free features over the last 6 months (Posts, Websites, Chat, Q&A, API 4.0, Appointments…) and the incredible barrage of emails from the GMB, there seems to be an all out effort to attract businesses into the dashboard. The features rolled out seem to each appeal to a different subset of users from bricks and mortars to agencies all with the same focus of getting the SMB back into the dashboard to keep their data up to and (one presumes) buy some AdWords Express or HSA ads.

And it seems to be working. In the recent earning call “Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told analysts that efforts to attract “both large and small advertisers” around the world were paying off, especially in Asia, where sales rose 29 percent to $4.2 billion”.

LocalU Advanced Santa Monica Advance Pricing Ends Soon

LocalU Advanced is rapidly approaching. Its only a few weeks away and the seats are filling.

It should be a great event with incredible speakers and sponsors. Speakers include Joy Hawkins, Darren Shaw, Joel Headley (ex Googler), Marissa Nordahl (Google) and myself amongst many others. We have 14 speakers overall.

Sponsors include ZipSprout, Moz Local, GetFiveStars and WhiteSpark… regardless the price increases on November 10th and you can save $200 on your ticket if you buy now. If you use the code “blume” you can save an additional $50.. You won’t find a better local conference. At any price.

Order Tickets

Limited Capacity. Register Today!

Google Spam Hall of Shame

It’s beem a while since I have posted to the Google Spam Hall of Shame. It’s not that there is any less of it or that it is less obvious, its just that I have been busy on other projects.

But I couldn’t resist this example of systemic name abuse occurring in the jewelry business in Toronto. As well as every other vertical and in every other market. This example shows the degree of degradation that occurs in some search results:

Google Releases My Business API V 4.0 With Ability to Add Posts

Google has announced the release of V 4.0 of the Google My Business API. While there are a number of new  features, the most notable is the ability for 3rd Party platforms to now post Google Posts on for the businesses using the platform.

The API currently supports posting for any business with fewer than 10 locations. Large chains are not yet able to use the API for their postings. When larger chains might be able to post is unclear although Google seems to have been testing this feature.

In addition to the posting capabilities, the new version of the API supports

  • multiple value attributes like credit cards accepted (Amex, Discover, Visa)
  • Photos has been upgraded to Media to allow for richer media types like video in the future
  • More granular notifications as to the types of notifications they wish to receive
  • Notifications of reviews being updated
  • Posts analytics such as times a Post was viewed or the CTA was clicked

The Google My Business API was first released in October 2015 and since then has had three major updates and numerous minor ones.

The API is still missing some critical features for agencies and tool providers like the inability for large chains to post or to be able to use a 3rd party platform for verification. But the regular updates are a positive sign that Google has finally committed to local on both the level of the SMB and larger users.

Here is the link to the announcement and the API Docs changelog.

Ebook: Build a Better Business Using Customer Complaints

It’s been a blast building GetFiveStars. One of the things that I love the most is the support I get for projects like this new ebook.

As you probably know while I think its important to “optimize your review process” I think it’s even more important for you to “optimize your business”. Every process, not just lead generation, needs to be focused on the customer and needs to be well thought out. Then when you do ask for a review you will have earned it.

One area that sometimes is left to chance by local businesses is customer complaints. I am of the belief that you need to anticipate and plan for the bad experience. Thinking through how you are going to handle that complaint when it finally does come will help you keep that customer and avoid the issue from turning into a bad review. The ROI on a well thought out complaint plan is huge.

Build a Better Business Using Customer Complaints, a collaboration between myself, Aaron Weiche and Paul Chaney, is now available.

I would love your thoughts on the book, the good, the bad and the not so pretty. Let me know what you think so that we can make version 2.0 even better.

 

 

Bedlam Breaks Out in Google Q & A

Bedlam Coffee hit the news with a media frenzy over the owner ejecting Christian activists from his coffee shop. (To preview their Q & A on the desktop use this URL:  https://goo.gl/dkwi6h).

With this event we have learned three things about Google Q & A:

1- It’s a $h!tstorm when a business gets into the news

2- That ranking of the questions is strictly an upvote count

3- You better be monitoring yours

To see the Q & A on mobile use: https://goo.gl/9HULmW

(H/T to Matt Casady)

Hack: Seeing Google Questions & Answers on the Desktop

From a management point of view, one of the more annoying attributes of the new Google Questions & Answers product is that it is only live on Android via Google Maps and  in mobile browsers on iOS and Android.

There is a are several hacks to allow you to see and respond to this feature via your desktop.

You can view the Google Q&A on your desktop by spoofing the browser user agent to an appropriate mobile device. Here is extension for Chrome to do just that (h/t to Stan Kolev of Pleper for the tip).

Download the extension, set it the mobile device and voila….

You now can see and play on your desktop:


As noted by Sergey Alakov on Twitter, you can also use the Chrome developer tools. This might be an even easier tactic.

From the View Menu

  • Select More Tools > Developer Tools from Chrome’s Main Menu.
  • Right-click a page element and select Inspect.

From there you can toggle the device mode:

click to view larger

Google Local: What Happened on August 1st to Increase Views in Insights?

Earlier this week, Jack Thumser of August Ash in Bloomington, emailed me about an significant uptick in Google Maps Insight’s views in a number of his Google  local listings. Michael Wallace of TallWave noted the same issue on Twitter today.

Jack’s result were across Office furniture stores, grocery stores, a grocery delivery service and a sheet metal fabricator.

The office furniture stores and grocery stores have AdWords campaigns with location extensions, but the sheet metal fabricator does not.

Here is the pattern that Jack noted as universal across all of his listings:

Given the multiple reports, I checked a 12 listing sample to see if there a similar result. Of the twelve I looked at 6 showed similar upticks but 6 also showed nothing. At least in my examples, both search and Maps showed the significant late July/ early August uptick.

I saw the uptick in retailers and restaurants. As I noted, though, only half of the listings I looked at showed the pattern. Many, like this listing, did not. 

On Twitter, Joy Hawkins suggested that it might be due to using Location extensions but while that applies to some of the listings where I saw an uptick, by no means all.

And it isn’t universal as Jack noted but the Insights views increase appeared on a large enough sample that it seems more than coincidence. The uptick that I see is across both Maps and search.

I am curious if you saw this uptick, if so is there any pattern to the category for the businesses?

What percentage of your businesses saw the increase?

Are they located within their primary geography or outside of it (ie in the burbs)?

Some other trend that you have spotted?