June 10, 2010
Google has just announced at the LatLong Blog, the beginning of a nationwide rollout of Tags, their paid, local listing enhancement. The feature, first tested in early February and rolled out to 11 cities last month, will first be available in the states where they have already had Tags (California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Washington, and Colorado). Google will update this page as additional states go live.
Tags will now also appear on mobile searches and a new Tag type, called Posts, will be available. A Post allows a business owner to create a custom message that can be changed as often as owner would like. This new feature could be used to highlight special discounts or a limited-time offer and seems likely to be popular. It would be more useful if it were allowed to also link back to a web page but maybe now coupons will finally get the exposure they deserve.
At a flat rate of $25/mo per business, Google Maps will have a simple to use paid product in place. Google has noted that 2 million businesses have claimed their listings. If there is even only a 10% adoption rate, it will mean income of $60 million/year for Google. I would guess that the uptake will be higher than that and once one 7-Pack entrant adds a Tag, there will be a certain pressure, logic not withstanding, for others in the 7-pack to do so as well.
November 23, 2009
Coupons in Google Maps have long been the forgotten step-child with little promotion on the part of Google and even less visibility in Maps and in the main search results. The result has been that they have been of little real value to anyone. Is that about to change?
The Google LatLong just announced that Google has added a new option for Local Business Center users in the US to display their coupons on mobile devices. Additionally, they’ve the display of coupons on your desktop. From the post:
“If you add a new coupon to your business listing in Local Business Center, by default it will now be available on mobile devices. To make your existing coupons available on mobile, edit them and check the box for Mobile Distribution, as shown here”:
On a mobile device users looking at local business listing will see a section that lists the available coupons which if clicked will present specially-formated page which shows all the coupon details.
While a mobile presentation of the coupon might someday offer a useful and popular coupon redemption means, it appears to me that the Google Maps Coupon will remain hidden from potential users for a while. The coupons also do not show in Google Maps on the iPhone which seems like a 10 foot high barrier to adoption in the mobile world. On the desktop due to Google having buried them deep within the interface and on mobile due to lack of penetration and searcher knowledge.
That being said, if you have a coupon in the LBC it is worth going in and upgrading it to present in the Mobile environment. As part of the upgrade and when you modify the coupon, you will be required to add an end date to the coupon if one was not previously added.
August 15, 2009
Despite a deep recession where coupon use is on the rise and an opportunity to make on-line coupons work for a large audience, Google’s Coupon feature has long been the forgotten feature of the Local Business Center.
LBC coupons have been buggy, less than predictable and well, so very hidden from searchers to be of little use to the small business owner and other LBC users. As a result I don’t keep an eye on them much so this new feature allowing coupon creators to more easily link to and promote coupons may have been there for a while.
The effort to upgrade the visibility of coupons is of interest to me on several fronts. It seems to indicate that coupons will stay in the LBC mix and that they might just, someday, receive more attention from Google.
However, rather than just providing a link to the coupon, a coupon widget which actually displays the coupon on the originator website would be more valuable option to website owners. That and giving them higher visibility in searches might move coupons from the dark reaches of the Local Business Center out into the real world of local marketing.
On a related note, today is the 2nd anniversary of the introduction of Google Coupons.
January 30, 2009
Each morning when I rise, I check the RSS feed from the Google Maps Support Forums. I try to answer a few questions from wayward business folks that have no place else to turn. I often feel that in doing so, I am removing from Google the very real burden of providing actual support.
Here is this morning’s helpful response that I gave to a naive business person thinking the Google Coupons might someday be used by a potential customer:
I added a coupon for our various locations yesterday. The admin center says the coupon is active, but I don’t see the coupon anywhere online? Where do customers see the coupon?
Coupon location is one of the best kept secrets of Google Maps. Even Maps Guide Jen has been known to have trouble locating them. The only entity totally capable of finding them after they have been posted is the GoogleBot. Occassionally they are spotted by humans but only after you have drilled into Maps quite deeply.
-In “Text View” there is a link under the business and there is a tab in the stack detailed view
-In “Map View” select “more info” and then it will show in a tab.
-Links or any other indication of their existence are not visible from the main Google search results page.
My presumption is that Google is attempting to leave a historical record of life on the planet for distant future archeologists to ponder but that they did not intend for Google Coupons to be used in any manner to which you as a business person or consumer are traditionally accustomed.
January 20, 2009
There is the old marketing rule of thumb (written of course by marketers) that the time to grab market share is in a down market. The other marketing rule of the thumb is that coupon use goes up in down markets. According to a recent NY Times article In Lean Times, Online Coupons Are Catching On.
Neither adage could be proven by Google Coupon’s lack luster performance compared to last year. Compared to last March, Google Coupons use is down by 31%. Given that the ValPak numbers are roughly the same , one can surmise that self provisioning of coupons by SMB’s in the Local Business Center is the reason for the decline. Given Coupons low visibility and lack of value this is a rational response. Google Coupons is the greatest Google Local idea that has never received the exposure or positioning that they so desperately need.
|Total Coupons for search “City”
|Total for “City
+ Valpak” Nov. ’07
|Total Coupons for search “City”
|Total for “City
+ Valpak” Mar. ’08
|Total Coupons for search “City”
|Total for “City
+ Valpak” Jan. ’09
|New York City
On a related and somewhat ironic note Greg Sterling at Local Mobile noted that Top Google Android Engineer Goes to Coupons Inc., where Coupons.com is hiring 40 new employees before the end of February.
December 26, 2008
Most Read New Articles in 2008
Here are the 10 articles (who picked 10 as the appropriate number, anyways?) written in 2008 that received the most readership during the past year. Readership and traffic have moved up significantly compared to last year, growing along with the broader interest in Local. My Top 10 most read stories of 2008 were viewed a total of 19206 times compared to 11337 Top 10 viewings in the 2007. Pageviews and visits increased ~107% year over year. As you can see from the numbers on these, the most popular articles, my readership is still a niche.
But Local is a a growing & exciting niche and one where much of the future of the internet lays. On this blog I write to the professionals and aficionados within that niche. That allows me to interact with the many people in the Local space that are forging much of what Local will be. It has been an incredibly fun year meeting and engaging those Localites in person, on the phone and on my blog. To these many folks that have shared their ideas with me and the readers of this blog, sent me visitors and contributed to the local space I say: Thanks for a great year & thanks for helping me understand and learn as much as I have!
Most Read New Articles in 2008 from Previous Years
Articles in the blogosphere often have a very short shelf life. Sometimes, you spend countless hours in research and writing an article and it seems to barely cause a blip in the scheme of things at the time it is published. The 10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm was one such article. But it manages to find readers 18 months after it was written and it still has relevance. Here are the 5 stories from a time long, long ago that were the most read this year
December 16, 2008
The Local Search Marketing industry is in its infancy. The following interview covers the good, the bad and the reality of SMB Marketing and how far there is still yet to go for SMB’s to take advantage of its power.
Chuck Bruce of Bruce’s Sew Handy, caught my attention when he gave a testimonial for Merchant Circle in the November email newsletter that MC sent out. I was curious if he was for real or just another Merchant Circle marketing fabrication so I gave him a call. In the third week of November, we had an extensive conversation about his market, marketing strategies, his relationship with online local listing services and the tough economic times that he is suddenly confronting. To use one of Chuck’s phrases, he is a stand up guy.
November 14, 2008
Martijn Beijk has spotted Google Maps embedded in an ATM kiosk in Barcelona, Spain.
These Google Maps kiosks were widely reported on last fall when gasoline pump maker Gilbarco Veeder-Root announced that they would be included in a new generation of gas pump.
At the time, there was a coupon feature included that was supposed to feature local merchants. These coupons were positioned as a potential revenue generator for the local gas station. To my knowledge, these have not been spotted in the wild. This kiosk is using the API and only showing their other locations.
Has anyone spotted other Google Maps Kiosks?
June 21, 2008
At the end of last week, after the upgrade and bug fixes to the LBC were mostly finished, Carter Maslan, Product Manager for Google Maps, took time to speak with me about the upgrade. You may read the full interview at SearchEngineland.
His main points:
â€¢ The upgrade was intended to improve the UI to faciliate flow through the data entry process
â€¢ They do read the Groups messages and the Local Blogs but did not have time to respond the many reports as they were trying to get the upgrade out the door and finished
â€¢ There will be a European version once the kinks are worked out of the US/Canada/Australian version and localization is finished
â€¢ There will be some sort of trusted status going forward for higher volume, trusted LBC users.
â€¢ Coupons will continue to languish
Read the whole interview here: Carter Maslan On Google’s Local Business Center Upgrade
May 8, 2008
Earl the Pearl, in bringing up a new site and comparing to an older one, has done a great summary and analysis at SeoREfugee of where local traffic is coming from:
Over the past 10 months, the largest single traffic generator search phrase has been the industry generic term. In google it has generated about 2100 visits and Yahoo about 2600 visits. About 90% of the traffic from google is ppc oriented whereas in Yahoo its all organic search.
Of visits to the site that have the same or virtually analogous business terms with a geo modifier, the clear traffic visit leader with the most traffic has been the business term with the city name, versus the business term with state names. Traffic for the most popular business term with the city (washington dc) has generated over 300 visits in this time period. Meanwhile the next most popular phrases with geo modifiers have been for the 2 states.
Of significance, prior to the insertion of google maps into organic searches, their was no noticable difference between industry terms for the generic business terms and any of 3 different most prevalent geo modifiers (2 states, Maryland, and Virginia, and one city- DC.).
It appears that the insertion of a map which has always featured this business at the top of the search page, has increased visits to the site by about 30-50% over searches without a map.
In other words, there is a significant increase in traffic to the site wherein there is a #1 organic ranking, and a map, and a ppc ad over sites with a #1 organic ranking, a ppc ad and no map.(my bold)
To date it appears that high generic rankings or high ranked ppc with geo terms in the title for generic industry terms are critical; high ranked terms for geo-modified business terms are critical, and the appearance of a business in maps within a 3 pack/10pack/authoritative map are of big help…but don’t have the impact of either high organic rankings or highly ranked ppc.
His assessment of coupons? No customer responses as they are buried too deeply within Maps to be found.