All posts by Mike Blumenthal

Google My Business Releases V2.0 of the GMB API

API-V2aToday Google is releasing of V2.0 of Google My Business API and has just updated their website with new information about the open API.

The V1 was originally released in mid October to a limited audience and with a limited feature set. V2 is being opened up to anyone and comes with a number of new features. Unfortunately access to Insights, review or verifcation are not among them.

Features included in this release are the ability to:

  • Create business locations
  • Manage special hours
  • Mark a location as permanently closed
  • Manage business photos
  • Invite & remove managers on locations and business acounts
  • Read listing state to identify listings that are Google updated, duplicates or suspended
  • Filter locations by name, category or label
  • Set the service area by specifying a point and radius

Features that are not supported by this release of the GMB API and must still be done manually with the location dashboard:

  • Insights
  • Reviews
  • Verification
  • Creating Business Accounts
  • Resolving issues with suspended or duplicate listings
  • Requesting Ownership
  • Ability to query user generated content associated with the listing

Obviously these missing features make the API less useful in any business oriented forward facing dashboard an agency might design but the API should still facilitate managing the basics of listings at scale.

There are several other limitations including the fact that accounts that have not been bulk verified can only manage 100 locations. This will force agencies that manage a lot of individual locations to have multiple accounts to do so.

By default an API account (known as a basic account) allows for 1000 edits/creates per day, and 100,000 reads per day. Apparently application can be made for a standard account that has a higher daily edit rate of 10,000 edits/creates per day.

Screenshot 2015-12-14 13.40.01An interesting feature for those managing Adwords for clients but not managing their GMB listings is the ability to use the API to create/update listings and and then link unverified locations in the GMB to their Adwords campaigns.

Google has released a new set of documentation for the GMB API that includes guides, reference materials as well as samples and client libraries downloads for Java, C# & PHP and the Google API discovery service. Google has also made available a complete list of categories by country with this release. The FAQ can be view here.

 

 

LocalU Blog: Video Deep Dive: Google Local Gets a Promotion

In this video discussion at the LocalU forum David Mihm, Mary Bowling and I look at how the role of Google Local at Google and where does it fit vis a vis Plus and search.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 16.45.34

In thinking about the role of Local at Google, going forward we look at a number of interesting recent developments as well as the forced separation from Google Plus and consider the implications of these moves. Has the importance of local decreased or increased at Google?

LocalU Video Deep Dive: Local Search is Haaaaard

In this video discussion at LocalU , Mary Bowling and I look at how the Google Local Algorithm has changed and how that changes what a Local SEO needs to do to succeed. As a starting point we use an article that Casey Meraz wrote at Moz, called Stop Local SEO Tunnel Vision – Think Beyond the Basics.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 12.57.18

Three Tools to Retrieve Location Based Searches at Google

With Google having removed the location setting option in search a number of tools and tactics have hit the market to allow searchers to continue to retrieve location based search for areas other than the one in which Google thinks they are located.

Here are three that all seem to do the job one way or the other.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 11.37.341- Chris Desrochers’ Search by Location Applet – It requires that the searcher drag the applet to their favorites bar (the bad news) but once they do it presents a dead on simple in browser solution via a pop up box to using the &near modifier in an actual Google search.

2- I Search Form uses the Google Adwords tool to allow a user to input location information and retrieve a Google search. It requires you to visit the website and, unfortunately, doesn’t search on every small town in the US and is a simulation not the actual search but does a good job. Screenshot 2015-12-08 11.40.06

3- A more complex but perhaps more accurate way to accomplish the job is written up by Go Fish Digital is to configure the Chrome browser to emulate a browser that is geo located differently. Its very accurate but somewhat complicated and a few steps to change the settings for each different geography.

Screenshot 2015-12-08 11.44.55

Google Local Spam – An A for Effort, a Z for a Zillion & an F for Google

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.11.09 AM
a sampling from MapMaker

Update: As of 12/13 Google has removed ~40 of these listings but somewhere on the order of 20 still remain.

I have been in the local space, in one form or another, for almost 15 years. Ten of those focused on Google Local. It is rare that I am shocked by my discoveries much these days but the spam reported in this forum post  really caught my eye.

This dermatologist’s “entrepreneurial” efforts created a true sense  of awe with somewhere on the order of 60 spammy local listings and 60 or 70 spammy websites all at one location. And every last one was verified.

This speaks to Google’s failures in this arena as much or more as to his amateurish”marketing” efforts. While  his chutzpah is impressive, it’s truly  incredible to me that with all of Google’s spam fighting resources, their public  bluster, all of the rules and all of the people and all of computer horsepower, this took a report in the forum to uncover.

And of course with many of these keyword laden business names/domains he’s getting a fair bit of 3 pack exposure.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.03.00 AM
His websites are truly “works of art”
Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.02.49 AM
….truly “works of art”
Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.02.32 AM
…truly “works of art”
....truly "works of art"
….truly “works of art”
Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 11.05.30 AM
a sampling from Maps
Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 4.14.25 PM
A sampling from search: Fraxel NYC (What is Fraxel?).
Search: Ethnic Skin Care NYC
Search: Ethnic Skin Care NYC
Search: Skin Doctor NYC (he gets 2 listings no less)
Search: Skin Doctor NYC (he gets 2 listings no less)
Search: Best Dermatologist NYC (I am sure that he is....)
Search: Best Dermatologist NYC (I am sure that he is….)
Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 9.25.21 AM
No irony here… Medical office for lease..hmm none left, our good skin doctor took them all.

An artifact of this whole process is some of the most amazing business names ever. I wonder what he says when we goes to the bank for a loan or when his mother asks how the business is doing? I have no clue what Pearly Penile Papules are but I can only imagine folks eyes bugging out if I were to hand it out on my business card.

Screenshot 2015-12-07 13.37.06
Screenshot 2015-12-07 13.32.10

Picking A Google Review URL

I have just published an article on the GetFiveStars* blog titled: Google Reviews – One URL To Rule Them All where you can read some ideas on picking a single Google URL for an SMB review program:

With the recent divorce of Google Plus and Google My Business, they have once again thrown a Google monkey wrench into the review process. If you are not using GetFivesStars (where we get to worry about these details) you need to decide which review URL to give your customers going forward.

The link you give to your customer should just work all the time and make it easy for your customers to see and leave you reviews at Google. For most small businesses doing their own review requests you ideally want a link that:

  • Gets your customer very close to the place on Google to be able to leave a review with the fewest clicks and scrolls.
  • Works in both desktop and mobile environments (as mobile usage is reaching 50% of all web viewing).
  • Works whether the user is already logged in to Google or not.
  • And finally, is a link that you never have to change.

*Note that I am a co-founder and principal in GetFiveStars.com, an agency & SMB friendly feedback and review solution.

Google Nukes the Local Pin for One Boxes?

Today, Google is not showing the local pin next to the web result for searches that return One Boxes. whether brand or key word based. The Knowledge Panel is still returned for the search.

The pins were visible yesterday in the main search results but gone today and apparently not visible across the US. I am not sure about Europe but they are apparently gone in Canada. Thus it is likely a world wide roll out.

b-oliver-search

Here is the same search from a few days ago:

barbara-search

The Pin has been removed from keyword search results as well:

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.41.06

@djpaisley speculates that the reason is that this change makes Adwords ad both more visible and more likely to convert. It is certainly consistent with Google’s many recent changes to remove distractions from the search results like the removal of author photos, carousel results and the 7-pack.

This is one of those moments when I am glad that I don’t run a search ranking tool as this is likely to totally screw up the results.

Google Testing New HSA Ad Style in San Francisco Area

Joe Goldstein, who describes himself as a full time caffeine junkie. part time SEO specialist & pretty legit, recently shared with me a new Google HSA ad layout that takes up less room and allows more of the participants to be seen.

Like the previous test, it seems to be only presenting in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area as searches as near as Oakland present a traditional 3 pack.

The ad format requests both a specific zip code and a service type before presenting a list of potential businesses to choose from.

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.09.16

The searcher can then send up to 3 requests via Google to those selected from the list:

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.09.47 Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.09.28If you select a zip in which no inventory is available you are alerted that the area is not currently served.

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.00.53

The new format appears to replace the previous HSA ad format introduced in July that showed the 3 highest ranking service providers only and required a click to see more. In September we saw HSA tests showing the ad above a 3 pack.

While it is visible at the top of the page and doesn’t seem to co-occur with the local pack, I really wonder how many users would actually use it the way Google seems to be hoping versus just selecting one of the Yelp listings with stars immediately below? It seems like it would take a huge shift in consumer behavior before it could succeed.

Screenshot 2015-12-03 15.23.53

Your thoughts?

Google Removes the Location Setting?

UpdateChris Desrochers created an elegant and simple solution via an applet using Darren’s noted parameter. It makes the doing the search relatively painless. Download here.

Off and on for the past two months, the search location setting as been disappearing for many folks only to come back again. Today Johnny Niumata noted it’s once again missing.

I checked all three browsers (Chrome, Safari and Firefox) on my Mac and it is missing for me as well. I suppose it could be just on the servers we are both using or it could be more widespread. Are you seeing it still?

I also noticed that my automatic location setting  on both my laptop and desktop both improved on Google today as well…

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 5.00.20 PM

This feature was probably only used by SEOs but if it is gone, it will be missed.

Google Hotel Knowledge Panel Now Showing TrustYou Review Summaries

The Google Hotel Knowledge Panel is now showing TrustYou review summaries (h/t TC Tim Capper of Online Ownership). I am not sure when this started appearing but the summaries show granular detail about rooms, location and facilities and replace the Google review snippets that were shown previously.

There is some irony that Google is sourcing this data from a 3rd party given that the review system implemented after the purchase of Zagat  and ended after the departure of Marissa Mayer, included much the same type of extra detail.

TrustYou, Google’s data source for this granular data, is a reputation management product that tracks review content, helps Hotels get reviews and provides what it calls Meta-Review data to sites like Kayak, Trivago and Sabre.

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