All posts by Mike Blumenthal

Google Review Snippets – More Impactful by Half

With the rollout of review sentiment snippets to the Knowledge Panel in Local search, Google has again elevated reviews another notch in their visibility and impact. These “review synopses” are not just more visible but in being just one sentence and clearly highlighted they are more capable of having greater affect on the reader.

nightmares

In the previous incarnation of sentiment snippets (still extant on the about page) Google amassed a jumble of words that really had little affect and was easily ignored. The graph is clear but the sentiments provide little of value and no context :

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 8.27.40 AM

The new review synopsis on the other hand stands out and guarantees, by both the brevity and boldness, a higher likelihood of being read and a higher likelihood of impacting the searcher attitude:

Continue reading

Good News, Bad News in the Apple Mapping & Business Listing World

A client, having re-located to a new sub division, contracted with me early last spring to get their new street “on the map” and to clean their NAP. Google, with the help of Dan Austin (a partner on the project) picked up the new streets in about 2 weeks and went live to Maps immediately after. The change of address was equally speedy. OpenStreetMap was about the same.

TeleAtlas, which Apple uses, and Navteq-Here both took almost 6 months to give acknowledgement of the fact that the street reality had changed, another 3 months to get their base maps updated and then with each of their down stream users it was a crap shoot. MapQuest picked up the new streets in January, 2014. Yahoo Maps in February and Apple finally picked up the change this past week. We are talking over a year and nearly a year for Yahoo and Mapquest. Bing, well… we are still waiting for Bing Maps. That’s the Apple (and industry) bad news. Bad but not as bad as Bing and about the same as everyone else. And solely due to their partner TeleAtlas.  Although it does not appear that Nav-Teq-Here is any better.

But here is the Apple good news. Once the base street map was correct, we reported the changed address and had a response and a fix in two days. And not just a response but a direct feedback sent to my iPhone. Nice. It actually felt like the Apple service to which we have grown accustomed and that would distinguish them in the market (Google are you listening?). This is not the first report of Apple upping their listing game.

Now if they can get TeleAtlas to fix stuff as quickly we would be going someplace. Or rather we could get there using Apple Maps.

image

Using Google Reviews On Your Website

The question often comes up whether a business can and should use their Google & Yelp reviews on their website. Leaving aside the value to the user experience for a minute, I was curious about the legal issues involved.

A small business would be foolish to use those reviews if the costs of litigation, however remote, would be onerous. So I set out to answer the question by asking on G+. It lead to a lively discussion (be sure to read the comments) and a clarification/confirmation from Google themselves.

Here is what Google says about the use of the reviews:

“Google reviews content is authored by our users. We would suggest that business owners ask for permission from the author of the content before re-using the review on a business’s website or elsewhere. Usage of the Google brand itself is covered by these permissions: http://www.google.com/permissions/.”

Bottom line, you can use the reviews legally with user permission but might get in trouble using Google trademarks without explicit permission. Although a takedown order seems more likely than litigation. On the permissions page they note:

“All of our brand features are protected by applicable trademark, copyright and other intellectual property laws. If you would like to use any of our brand features on your website…you may need to receive permission from Google first”.

I am still exploring Yelp’s formal policy but given their litigious nature I would be hesitant to use Yelp reviews until this is clarified.

Are Younger Consumers More Tolerant of Bad Reviews? Or Do They Just Understand Them Better?

How Many Stars to Consider a Business

If your business has an aggregate star rating of 3 or less, you need to be concerned that shoppers might reject you out of hand. If, on the other hand you have a star rating greater than 4 most shoppers will accept you on face value. However we are seeing dramatically different standards within different age groups.

Several days ago I published surveys that clearly indicated that consumers perceive that a negative review corpus hurts a business more than positive reviews help them.
large__3358094867

I asked the following questions:

If you found a [business] online with negative reviews from customers, how likely would you be to choose it?

If you found a [business] online with positive reviews from customers, how likely would you be to choose it?

The surveys, in asking the questions in a broad way, left the question of what negative and positive reviews meant to the survey taker.

To answer the question of exactly where a searcher drew the lines I asked these two follow up questions:

When searching online for a local business, at what point on a 5 star review scale would you decide to NOT consider the business?

When searching online for a local business, how many review stars on a 5 star scale do you need to consider the business?

Here are the overal results to the first question (sample size 2500 American internet adults ages 18 and up):

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.08.42 AM

And the results to the second (sample size 2500 American internet adults ages 18 and up):

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.08.59 AM

It’s a little easier to parse this data by consolidating some of the results.  Essentially if a business is showing 3 stars or less, 82.8% would not do business with that business.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.12.57 AM

Like wise, about the same percentage, ~84.5% would need to see something greater than 4 stars before considering any given business.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.10.13 AM

And ~50% would need to see something greater than 3.5 stars to make the positive decision.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.12.50 AM

The obvious conclusion from this, in a general sense,  is that if a business has a star rating greater than 3 than they will not be rejected out of hand and if they have star rating greater than 4 then most folks would consider that business favorably.

That make all kinds of sense but the research really turned up some interesting results when you started looking at the data by age group.   Continue reading

Google Now Displaying Full Review Snippets in the Knowledge Panel

Off and on for the past few months Google has been showing reviews in the Knowledge panel for local searches. James Gibbons pointed out today that he was now seeing them more regularly. I would have to agree. This may be a more extensive test or it may be the new normal but many (not all) local listings with reviews are showing the snippets.

Interestingly while the specific review snippet comes from a single review, there are bolded/highlighted elements of the snippet that come from several reviews and the number is noted to the right. These highlighted snippets may or may not match the review summary snippets that are shown at the top of the about page.

They are, though, based on a principal word that repeats throughout the reviews. These bolded snippets are much more impactful when presented in the context of a full sentence. If the reviewer has a profile photo that will show as well. These photos add to a compelling presentation.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 5.07.52 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 5.19.17 PM

It is not exactly clear why some listings show the reviews and others do not. (Note:These do not seem to showing on any searches in Europe, Canada or Australia yet.) For example both of these restaurants have 9 reviews. And both have 4 or 5 reviews done by users with G+ profiles. Yet one shows and one doesn’t. For reviews to show they need to have been created in G+ but that isn’t the only factor. It might be how current the reviews are as Tasta Pizza has had a review within the last month while the most recent for Angee’s is 8 months ago. Also note that in the example below, Google is only showing two review snippets not three as is typical. Another question to be answered.  If you have a theory why let me know.

Continue reading

Do Positive Reviews Motivate Consumers?

It seems intuitive that a negative review corpus would severely limit a business’s online opportunities. And likewise that a positive review  corpus would expand them. But these recent surveys indicate that a negative collection of reviews is much more likely to harm a business than positive reviews are going to help them.

In an effort to assist a client in quantifying the value of reviews and to help them better understand exactly what it would mean to a local business if they had negative or positive reviews, we conducted several large scale consumer surveys of 2500 US adult internet users 25 and older asking them whether they would be likely to choose or not choose a business with negative or positive review corpus.

As would be expected with a negative review corpus, ~85% of consumers indicated that they would be “not likely” or “somewhat unlikely” to choose a business with negative reviews. This response seemed independent of industry. It was heavily skewed toward the “not likely” with over 62% of all respondents indicating they would not be likely to frequent a business with negative reviews.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 1.38.48 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 1.41.28 PM

However when asked the same question about positive reviews, consumers were nowhere near as likely to look upon positive reviews as reason to choose a business. Between 44% and 53% indicated that they were somewhat or very likely to chose a business with positive reviews. But the vast majority of those were “somewhat likely” rather than “very likely” indicating a degree of caution even among those that were predisposed to favor the business based on positive reviews.

47% and 56% of respondents indicated that would remain somewhat unlikely or not likely to choose a business based on positive reviews. That is a large degree of skepticism.  Continue reading

Can Facebook Crack the SMB Nut? Can Google?

Greg did an interesting article on Facebook’s move into the SMB market. Whether their decision to forgo resellers is the correct one, time will tell. But has Greg points out, the real question is whether they can deliver compelling value to SMBs, in an easy to use package that drives widespread adoption.

Many have dreamed of this as the holy grail, few have succeeded. Google has been at it longer than anyone and still have not yet put the all of the pieces in place. Facebook has much less SMB baggage than Google but Google has a great deal more experience.

Rather than reproduce some of my thoughts from G+ I am embedding them here.

The Annual Print Yellow Page Page Count And Other Dead Horses

It’s time for the annual print Yellow Page count. And I promised last year to stop beating that dead horse… so this year I will beat several. IMG_2214 Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Page counts in my local print version have declined once again by over 10%. The good news for the Superpage print directory? The rate of decline seems to have slowed. Untitled1 The other good news is that their niche has become clear. They are still doing reasonably well and are still used (believe it or not) in rural areas, the mid-west and by older shoppers (ok very old shoppers). In my research they appear to have a mindshare that exceeds Yelp country wide.

The other good news? Well this isn’t really good news just news that means that the Yellow pages are not alone in the boat. Every other local advertising medium has seen similar declines and similar demographic shifts.

Continue reading

Google Pre-Announces Plus Features for Bulk

Alert reader Nico has  pointed out that Google has publicly committed to the rollout of Plus features for bulk upload users on their Help Pages.

We’ve listened carefully to your feedback. In the future, you’ll be able to:

  • Make updates and posts to your customers using the Google+ page for your location
  • See Insights to help you track your business’s performance on Google
  • Filter to view relevant subsets of locations within your account

Google almost never publicly talks about futures which implies that this feature might be closer than we had thought. It certainly is a last, remaining brick for the foundation of Google Local being built on top of Plus. It is critical to have parity across all local pages and this would offer that missing feature to bulk users.

In other news, Google confirmed that with the most recent upgrade to the Bulk accounts, listings will be locked from being dual claimed. This means that 1)listings will be more secure and 2)bulk users will not be able to selectively upgrade specific bulk uploaded listings to Plus (which many have been doing) UNTIL the above feature is released.