Join Mary Bowling and myself at Local U for our weekly Deep Dive as we look at some of the issues around spamming Google Maps from the agency and business point view.
Last week when I was discussing the new Google approach to immersive mobile search I noted that if Google didn’t get you on the click they got you on the clock. This definitely falls under “the click” category.
Google, in what is clearly a test*, is offering movie purchases up with a bold, call to action for each movie time available that takes you directly to Fandango. This screen was visible for several hours this afternoon.
Google has long had a transactional relationship with Fandango, what is different in this test is the presence on the front page of big, fat buy buttons.
This test shows the lengths that Google is contemplating in order to gain transactional “traction” in local.
*Test or not? This new layout has been coming and going for the past 24 hours. It’s now visible again. So perhaps it is rolling out. Perhaps not. Are you seeing it in Europe? On Android? On iphone? Please let me know.
Google My Business updated their help file page: “Improve your local ranking on Google” Page. And surprisingly, after a slow start, actually added some real ranking information (this does not appear to be a April 1 Joke):
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking.
Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
I am archiving the page as a PDF for future reference.
On mobile, Google has been slowly moving towards “immersive search” as the local search experience. Google’s goal is to allow the user to get all of the information that they need via Google, never having to leave for another site. We saw this very dramatically last week with the introduction of Google Destinations. We see another example of this immersion in the current Local results on mobile.
To do this Google is providing their own and other’s content (but hosted on Google for speed of course), multiple paths and numerous related carousels so that once a searcher has moved down the proverbial rabbit hole by entering the Local Finder, every piece of information about the local search is immediately available to the user until such time as they have made a choice and either executed a transaction, called or visited the website of one of the search results.
The logic appears to be that if they can’t monetize via adwords on the first screen in the mobile search results, they will keep the user engaged ever deeper and longer in the local results and thus gather viewer and conversion data. If they can’t get you on the click they will get you on the clock.
Watch this video to see how a user, once they select entrée to the Local Finder on mobile is first presented with an infinite scroll, and then as they dig into the results numerous alternative paths to explore including the new expanded “People also search for” functionality as well as StreetView, interior Streetview Trusted, reviews, leave a review etc.
In the restaurant industry there are assorted calls to action for transaction completion available to the user as well including booking a table and ordering food to go. Most significantly note how Google has totally sucked up Menu content and is now presenting that content completely within the context of the local Knowledge Panel not on a 3rd party site and the content is hosted on Google.
While not as “immersive” even standard local searches offer much of the same experience although with obviously less detail. I recorded this video as I was looking to see where Independent Motors, a car repair facility in Boulder, showed in the search results on behalf of another client.
Several weeks ago Mary and I had a discussion at the Deep Dive at Local U about whether Google was using review sentiment in ranking. While I noted that the new patents for entity rank seemed to indicate that professional reviews might influence rank, that I had not seen any indication that sentiment as expressed within a review influenced ranking or that ranking for a good review corpus comparatively had a strong influence.
That all being said within Google restaurant search, Google is now autofiltering results based on phrases like good, best, cheapest etc. (As a note, while I just started noticing this recently it may have been present for quite some time).
The searches for things like “Best Restaurant NYC” works on both the desktop and mobile but the results are more obviously labeled in the mobile result. “Best” as a modifier returns only 4 star listings or better and “cheap” returns one $ sign listings. You can combine these modifier words and see results for Best Cheap Restaurant NYC:
I have been enjoying my work at GetFiveStars. What is most enjoyable is the constant effort to upgrade our feedback and review platform to better serve businesses.
The most recent effort on that front has been our new integration with QuickBooks Online via Zapier. Imagine all of the power of GetFiveStars happening automagically from within QuickBooks.
The connection of GetFiveStars with Quickbooks Online allows for your customers to be sent feedback requests automatically by our platform when a certain trigger is completed in Quickbooks. Best of all, you get to choose what that trigger is. It can be when you add a new customer into Quickbooks Online, when you invoice them or when they pay an invoice.
This integration is currently in BETA. We need QB Online users to be part of the BETA test, so please contact us and we’ll get you set-up.
Last week I noted that Google updated its mobile branded search results with the addition of the “People Also Search For” option showing in the search results as opposed to being buried in a Knowledge Panel. It appears that the update has also expanded the concept by adding additional nuance and detail to those suggested alternative results.
Now, on a local brand search, if a given listing is strong in multiple search categories and if there is adequate listing inventory for these categories, Google is expanding beyond the “People also Search For” with multiple local carousels.
In this mobile result example we see that Google provides 3 carousels instead of “People also search for” by showing results for additional Plastic surgeons (the original search) as well as Medical spas and similar Nearby places.
Google Home Services Ads were first tested in July, 2015. In August of that year they went public as part and parcel of Google Adwords Express. We have also seen it tested both without and with the 3 pack. And as of yesterday we saw that Google was promoting the product’s use strictly by phone.
When Google Home Services was first introduced it was only available in very few verticals; plumbers and locksmiths and shortly after house cleaners and handymen.
While we have seen slow and steady testing in different verticals we have seen no real significant expansion of the area where the ad is available. It was and is currently only available in the San Francisco Bay area and south to Los Gatos. Here is a map I created showing the cities currently accepting ads for the programs (list of cities was provided to me by AdWords support):
Given the very slow rollout, limited geography and Google’s many cancelled attempts at lead gen products like insurance quotes and car leads one has to wonder why this has not rolled out any faster. Is the product going to roll out and they are just working through the details? Or is it like the two mentioned above, just another test that will be axed sooner rather than later?
So questions for you all:
What do you think? Are Home Services Ads a keeper for Google?
Are you seeing verticals for Home Services ads besides the ones mentioned?
Are you seeing them outside of the cities that the Adwords support rep sent me?
Here are a list of the cities where it is currently available. Continue reading Google Home Services Ads – Whats the Hold Up?
I have written about a number of test products by Google recently. Their chance of success is unpredictable. Certainly Google wants to to be in lead gen… and be able to take credit for that last click before the sale. But if you want to look at the future of Google “search” square in the eye then learn about and understand their newly announced Google Destinations.
It is what Google calls an immersive experience. It integrates Knowledge Graph entities with related data and has the goal of starting you at Google, keeping you at Google and through various calls to action, being sure that you complete the transaction at Google.
It is very much a rabbit hole experience that starts at the top of the funnel with awareness (where do I want to go ie France), to interest (let’s look at Paris), down the funnel to consideration (what itineraries, which sights, whats the cost & best time of the year, can I afford it), to conversion (book the hotel & airfare).
While Destinations is one future of search it is clear that Google will attempt to create different specific interactions for specific markets. The Local Finder is an example where they start you on a local result and then take you into their more complete local search experience. While monetization is certainly one of their goals, they still want to keep you at Google to see more ads.
In some markets they will monetize the last click either via AdWords or for lead gen with Home Service Ads. And if they can’t monetize the last transaction for example, they will track it and take credit for it regardless ala places actions.
Google will try many things and throw many away (like insurance quotes and car leads). Not all of these efforts will look the same. But some of these many developments will stick and all will be pointing towards increased engagement, increased immersion and increased monetization, all at Google as Google attempts to own the top of the funnel. For them it is an existential battle.
In the end most small businesses won’t complain if their web visits go down but their conversions go up…. unless the cost for that conversion continues to increase as Google squeezes more and more out of search.