Category Archives: Google Adwords Express (Tags, Boost)

Google Places – Will Customer Service Decline Further?

As part of Google’s rebranding of the Local Business Center to Google Places, they have created a new help area and a totally new forum area for uses of the Google Places center.

The forum move is particularly dramatic and likely to be very disruptive.   Google has archived the very active threads relating to LBC issues and replaced them with a single thread.

Here are the threads in the new forum:

Discuss how to optimize your Place page

Discuss adding new features to your Place page listing

Discuss Google Places issues with other users

These threads replaced:

Archived: Local Listing Issues

Archived: Verification Issues

On the one hand, breaking out the recreational and business users of Maps makes sense. The removal of categories dealing with the many problems that users confront in the Google Places center rather than fixing the issues or answering them seems very counterproductive. The verbiage of the the last new forum group is particularly illustrative: Discuss Google Places issues with other users. It seems to make perfectly clear, that despite the many problems and issues with flaggings & the verification process that only Google can solve, a user will not be able to expect help from Google.

The changed name and the fact that no link exists to the forum from within the Google Places work area means, that at least for a while, the volume of requests for help will be quite a bit lower. It will also make the job for those contributing their time in the forums more difficult. The old forums, although archived are still accepting posts and do not yet redirect to the new areas.

Given that more businesses will be participating in paid aspects of the business listing process, it would seem that their expectation of service will only increase.

Google’s quest for a scalable support solution seems to have a taken a step backwards. If the new Google Places offers significantly better advice when problem with the ever mysterious flagging occur, fewer issues with verification then perhaps or significantly few bugs, Google could get by with a lower level of customer support. It is not at all clear to me that this has happened. New features yes, bug fixes? Probably not.

Until such time as the process of entering a business in the Google Places process is much smoother, Google will only further anger the many participants of the product that run into roadblocks. I used to think that Google “just doesn’t get customer support”. My new thinking is that they get it just fine, they just are not interested in providing any.

Google Map Enhanced Listing Billing Tab Visible in ALL LBCs?

Becky of OnlineTrafficDivas.com has pointed out what appears to be a mistake but could be inidicitive of a wider rollout of the Enhanced Listing test. The billing tab for the Enhanced Listing test is visible in every Local Business Center account.

Go to your list of coupons and select the “link” link:

Select the billing tab:

You will be presented with this billing page:

 

Becky has put together this “>screen shot video to demonstrate the step that she used to find the billing tab.

More on Google’s Paid “Enhanced Listing” for Local

Yesterday, Greg Sterling reported on a Google test to allow for a new paid listing type, the “enhanced listings” for showing on Maps. According to Google, the “enhancement” will show wherever your listing is currently showing but will not affect rank or where the listing is shown. This test is distinct from the test for the Local Listing Ads that was run late last year.

Brett Burlson of Burlson Law Office in San Jose sent along the following screen shots, visible on the search san jose wrongful death attorney, from his participation in the program:

 

As Greg noted, the program charges a flat $25/mo. fee and allows the merchant to highlight type of enhancement they would like to show with their business listing, including any of the following:

Website for your business.
Photos of your business.
Videos of your business.
Coupons for your listing.
Menu for your restaurant.
Reservations page for your business.
Driving directions to your business.

In the case above, the link goes to a new video page attached to the Places Page for the business:

 

This test also provides additional enhanced listing activity in the Dashboard:

Clearly, the local market is ripe for a paid product from Google. The reach of the 7-pack is broad and being able to highlight or display in the area will be embraced by SMBs. Google will not leave this significant income source untapped for long and either one or both of the local listing ad or this enhanced listing is likely to find its way onto the 7-pack this year sooner rather than later.

New Google UI wiht Local Listing Ads Heatmap

Last week I created a heatmap of the main Google search results with the Local Listing Ads in place. I wanted to compare the results to a heatmap of the new UI with the Local Listing ads. Once again I used AttentionWizard which claims a 75% correlation to human interaction:

New Google UI with Local Listing Ads (Click to view larger):

HeatMap-NewUI-LLA-1080

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For easy comparison here is the heatmap with the current UI and the Local Listing ads:

Local Listing Ad HeatMap - Click to View Larger

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Things certainly move in different directions and changing what gets looked at initially and subsequently with the local listings and the first ads seeming to be the most affected.

Google New UI + Local Listing Ads – What Does It Mean for Local?

Since the third week of November, Google has been testing a new streamlined interface for its main search page that offers a 3 pane view and a more guided experience. As Malcolm Coles pointed out over the weekend, this new view comes with a significant adjustment in the display of the Local Universal results, downshifting once again and now only showing 5 results instead of the Lucky 7- Pack.

In the new UI, the map is now wider, the local listings are shown below the Map and an obvious pin to a Map centric view is visible along the left menu. In an of itself, the change means more SEO competition for fewer spots. Whether the change will drive more people into Maps is unclear as highlighted Map pin is offset by fewer links into Maps.

Along with the new UI testing, Google is also testing their new Local Listing Ads display. The Local Listing Ads have been rolling out amongst more business categories in the San Francisco and San Diego markets and it seems only a matter of time when the viewable area above the fold on the main Google results page will include both the new UI and Local Listing Ads.

I was curious to see how the combination of new UI and LLAs would be presented on various screen sizes, what would be visible and what would be pushed below the fold.

Screen size 1024 x 768 (click to view larger):

Picture 130

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Screen size 1280 x 1024 (click to view larger):
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New Local Listing Ad Layout & Whatever Happened to the 7-Pack for Web Designers?

Ross Jones, of 2 the Top Web Design, sent along a new layout for Local Listing Ads that he spotted on the search Web Design San Diego. Notice the lack of 7 Pack, Map & Pins and the display of the Local Listing Ads placed completely on the right side of the screen (click to view larger):
Picture 126

Obviously, if there is no 7 Pack, the ads need to go someplace.

The question that many designers, search firms, web hosting companies and advertising agents are asking is: What happened to the 7-Pack for all of those industries? The missing 7-packs have been reported world wide and has affected many internet and marketing related searches. There are two active threads in the Maps forums, here and here

For example none of the following show a Map or Local listing results:
-Marketing Firms Boston MA
-Local Search Marketing Portland OR
-Web Hosting Denver Co
-Web Design Los Angeles Ca
-Advertising agency NY NY

Google is apparently aware of the issue and has classified it as a bug. It appears that it was related to the previous problem of the OneBox showing too much. Here is Google’s response on 11/18:

Hi Everybody,

This looks like it’s closely related to the issue going on at the thread I’ve linked below. We realize there’s something going on here, and we initially pushed out a fix a while back. There was a little hiccup with the fix, which is probably why the results in Fresno may have gone back up and then back down as addoctane mentioned above.

The team is working on this issue. Stay tuned to the thread below where I will post an update as soon as I hear one.

Thank you all for your persistence!

BB

References:
[1]
www.google.com

So now all you web designers and search marketing firms whose heart skipped a beat when you thought that your keyword crammed title had been finally dinged, can now sleep easy and worry another day. :)

Google Local Listing Ad Heatmap

Like all in the industry, I am curious about how a user might view and respond to the new display that Google is presenting when the Local Listing Ads are included. Between the Adwords, new Local Listing Ads & the 7 Pack organic results have been pushed very far down the page and user behavior is obviously impacted.

Not having a budget for this project I used one of the new algo generated online heatmap products, AttentionWizard to see what the results looked like. According to their own description there is a 75% correlation between this type of heatmap and a real heatmap. So what you see should be viewed with a few grains of salt. That being said, it is interesting. Click the image to view it larger.

Local Listing Ad HeatMap - Click to View Larger

What do you think?

Here is a screen shot of the original search for comparison purposes:
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Google Maps Local Listing Ad Spam & Other Notes

As Google Local Listing Ads rollout it is no surprise to see spam creeping in and potential trademark questions once again coming to the fore. Pierre Kairouz has shared a screen shot with me for the search taxi San Francisco which brought up this Local Listing Ad. It is interesting in two respects, the use of PO Box for the address and the obvious business title manipulation. The domain taxicabcalifornia.com leads to a website with the business name of Yellow Cabs CA and a whois address in Mountain View. The taxi industry is not a new comer to mapspam but it will be interesting to see how Google enforces its guidelines on PO Box and business name going forward as the ads become more common.

Local Listing Ad Spam - click to view larger

The keyword crammed business titles are notable in this result as well:

Picture 120

The other interesting issue presented by business name keyword cramming and Local Listing Ads is the possibility of trademark violations. This search for computer repair San Francisco Ca brings up the following ad:

copyrightviolatons-LLA (click to view larger)

The ad, while in likely violation of Google’s listing guidelines, is not in violation of Google’s Adwords US Trademark rules as the lister is an active seller of Microsoft products. The ad which goes to the lister’s Places page, does however raise the question of appropriate trademark use in both the business title, categories and descriptions.

It also appears that the Local Listing Ads are rolling out across more and more categories in the San Francisco & San Diego markets including salons, plumbers, auto parts and even locksmiths. However it is not yet available in all categories. Cathy Hillen-Rhulloda recently noted that florists in these markets have not yet been offered the Local Listing Ad opportunity.

Google Maps LBC Local Listing Ads: Additional Details & Interface Review

The Help Pages for the Local Listing Ads have been “beefed up” and now total 32 pages of instruction with ad policy details, and payment timing and much, much more. Several of the help pages did answer previous questions and provide some nuggets of interest :

Will my monthly fee change?
Your flat monthly fee is unlikely to change. In the event that we need to change it, you’ll be given 30 days notice of this change both via email, and on the homepage of your Local Business Center account

What is call tracking? Is it optional
In order to drive calls to your store and help you keep track of them, Google Local Listing Ads offers free call tracking to all Local Listing Ads advertisers. We will offer each ad listing a unique call tracking number that will forward calls to your listed business phone.

The number of calls you receive is listed in your online report. Additionally, each time a customer calls, you’ll hear a voice announcement – ‘this caller brought to you by Google’- before the call connects. That way, you get a better sense of what kind of customers are being driven to your business by your ad. This can help you make more informed decision about your advertising spend. For now, this call tracking feature is an integral part of Local Listing Ads. We’ll be listening to your feedback on how useful this feature is, and whether or not we should make it optional.

Will my ads show less often as more advertisers join?

Yes. This reflects the fact that as more advertisers sign up for the same business type in your location, on average each advertiser will get less user attention. That said, our team is working on ways to make sure the spread of user attention stays within reasonable range, we’ll update this topic to reflect these.

Brett Burlison, a San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney, agreed to share some screen shots of his Local Listing Ad interface.

In the main list view a third tab has been added that provides access to the Local Listing Ad details. (Click any of the images below to see them larger.) The interface is clean and very easy to use.

google-local-dashboard1

One you have chosen the tab you are brought to a summary page of the ad where you can see the ad statistics and have links to edit the ad or to view the billing history.

Note the low click thru rates…
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Google Local Listing Ads; Report from Users

It has been a while since Google introduced Local Listing Ads and offered a limited test in the San Francisco and San Diego markets. I recently received this note from Tom O’Leary, who specializes in attorney marketing, with some observations about the program. He also put me in touch with two clients currently participating in the program; Brett Burlison, a personal injury attorney in San Francisco & Gali Gordon, a San Francisco immigration attorney.

Hi Mike. Tom here – Enjoy your blog. I wanted to send you a quick note about what I am seeing with the new Google Ads program.

I have two clients (law firms) in San Francisco that are participating in the new Google Local Ads program.

They are getting calls, but sometimes the calls are from potential clients looking for legal services that they do not provide.

For example, my two clients are set up for the following terms – Personal Injury Attorney and Immigration Attorney.

If you search for san francisco personal injury attorney, the result is spot on. I’ve seen no issues at all.

But if you search for san francisco immigration attorney, it appears Google is having some minor growing pains – although the issue has almost disappeared.

Over the past two weeks (for the immigration search term), I’ve seen not only one, two or three immigration attorneys, but occasionally a bankruptcy attorney that is participating in the program will show as well. I’ve also seen my injury client show up as well. But again, the result for the immigration search term is providing the correct result almost every time now.

Here is where the problem really is – doing a search for san francisco injury attorney (deleting the word personal) will usually show no injury attorneys. The only results I’ve seen are employment, bankruptcy, and immigration attorneys.

Here’s another – do a search for san francisco attorney. Again, it’s a mixed bag of law firms.

What do you think? No law firm has requested that search term so Google drops other law firm participants in the program in that spot?

Tom
www.the-attorneys-atm.com

Here are the additional questions that I put to Brett Burlison and Gali Gordon as conveyed and answered by Tom:

Me: Can you share any info about the pricing?
The Personal Injury Category is $70 a month with the first month free.
The Immigration Category is $50 a month and also had the first month free.

Can you have multiple Ads?
Only one Ad per Google Local Business Listing. One of the attorneys does have another Local Business Listing for another URL. He attempted to set up another Google Ad using that URL, but his application was rejected. Although he has multiple physical addresses, he used the same address for the already approved Ad. It took two days from the date of application to be rejected on the second Ad.

Were the ads placed in the narrower category for personal injury attorney or a broader category?
An extensive list of options are shown – but only one category was able to be chosen.

Can you create a custom category?
No “create your own” options were presented.

In the contract, did Google indicate how frequently they could raise the “fixed” price?
None were noticed – although we did not review the agreement in its entirety. We did not make a copy of the agreement.

Any idea if the GoogleVoice call tracking is optional?
It was not optional – An introduction from Google is made once the call is answered – then the caller is connected.

I also wonder if the call announce is optional: “this is a call from Google”
You are not given an option.

What questions would you ask of participants in the program? Do you have personal experience with the program that you could share?