November 28, 2007
This recently came in from an Anaheim Ca Florist that follows Google Maps closely in her industry:
I can’t speak for a system-wide change, but there have been LOTS of changes when it comes to searching for florists on Google. An update seemed to start on Wednesday of last week and finish on Sunday night.
-Many local florists have had their reviews from CitySearch stripped from their review summaries. Ours have completely disappeared and so have most of the top florists in major cities. I still see a few here and there, but overall – they’ve been greatly reduced. Not sure if it was a fall-out between G and CS or a review quality filter – but the deletions are noticeable.
- The threshold to have review stars displayed in the One Box and Google Local summaries appears to have increase from 3 to at least 5 reviews. Up until last week, it only took 3 reviews to get the stars to show. Most of the One Boxes for major city queries used to displayed stars and now very few do.
The review stars and ratings had a HUGE positive impact on click-throughs and purchases. ….Traffic from the OneBox is down since the change.
- Google also seems to be filtering out reviews left by users. We had a total of 12, lost 3 from City Search, and all but one left directly by folks with Google logins. Our OneBox appearances only show 4 but clicking on the link brings up 5 (4 from InsiderPages.com and only 1 of the 5 written directly there. The other 4 have vanished, too.)
- Remember when Google has displaying only ‘Local’ target Adwords ads in local if there were ‘local advertisers’? That policy appears to have changed, too. Our local ad got dinged for a quality score but I *think* it had more to do with low bid amounts. The ‘national’ affiliate marketer advertisers (FTD, 1800flowers, etc) look to be paying upwards of $3/click and locals could get good placement in Local for about a buck. No more.
We florists are on the forefront of ‘Local’ and we have to succeeding there to be around in the future. Otherwise, we’ll have FTD, 1800Flowers, Teleflora and all the other affiliate marketers taking 30-40%+ cuts of each order we deliver. It’s a matter of survival that we get our arms around ‘local’ search.
This communication brings up several interesting points;
â€¢Clearly, in certain categories Google’s inclusion of local on the main search page is leading to significant online and off-line traffic.
â€¢Small changes in their presentation can have a huge effect in the real world. The impact of the removal of the stars deserves attention.
â€¢Why would Google remove recent reviews that came from Google itself?
â€¢The information about CitySearch might indicate that Google has changed or even dropped their “trusted” source relationship with CitySearch. It was but a year ago that much was made of the CitySearch-Google partnership. I looked at an account/phrase that I track regularly (Restaurants Bradford Pa) and also found that reviews from CitySearch that I had fought with Google very hard to have included are now gone.
Could it be related to this post this afternoon by Greg Sterling: Citysearch and MerchantCircle in Repicrocal Deal?
Have you seen similar changes over the past few weeks?
Update: Cathy points out in her comments that this is a Google generated review and Google allows this on any of their reviews.
It is not clear if this is an experiment or a very limited move towards user managed content, but Google is now offering an option to flag some reviews as inappropriate. Of the 21 reviews that this restaurant was showing, only the last one offered an option of flagging. It could be that Google was offering this option because the review was from a less trusted source or offered a star rating significantly less than the average.
Yahoo: Mobile web to overtake PCs in next decade (Gary Price at ResourceShelf.com)
Local Search Guide – IYP & Search Engine Who’s Who
The Yellow Pages Association, along with sponsors eStara and Superpages.com and supporting partners comScore, SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization) and The Kelsey Group, offers the Local Search Guide, which profiles IYPs, Search Engines, Search Tools, Mobile Tools and selected Vertical Directories.
Google Maps now supports collaborative map-making (Google Lat Long Blog)
Google Introduces New “My Location” Feature for Mobile Devices (Greg Sterling – SearchEngineLand.com)
November 27, 2007
This posting appeared today in the Google Maps for Business Owners Group
TOPIC: Address incorrect on listing. Changes requested months ago…
== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Mon, Nov 26 2007 8:13 am
If you search for “Salvador Dali Museum” it provides the incorrect address. And has for a very long time. I have sent more than a year trying to correct this, and even have so called “Active” listings in my business center account, however Google still provides the wrong info to our customers.
What is needed to fix this?
Eric Crispen – IT Director
Salvador Dali Museum
Google Definitions of surreal:
â€¢ phantasmagoric: characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions; “a great concourse of phantasmagoric shadows”–J.C.Powys;
â€¢ dreamlike: resembling a dream; “night invested the lake with a dreamlike quality”; “as irrational and surreal as a dream”
November 26, 2007
Google Coupons now offers the ability to return Coupons in your main search results via the Google Co-op. When you select the above button from Google Coupon search you will be asked to log in and taken to this page at Google Co-op beta for a subscription confirmation:
You can add information created by Coupons to your Google search results pages by subscribing to their Subscribed Links.
Whenever you search on Google in an area of their expertise, the first result you see will be relevant content they provide.
To subscribe to Coupons, select the Subscribe button below. To learn more about Coupons, you can visit their Google Co-op profile page and then subscribe from there.
On the profile page are presented with additional information about the Coupon Subscription from the Co-op (note that currently 57 others have subscribed):
You are then shown what your subscribed link will look like on the main results page:
November 23, 2007
Reader, Bob Brenly, has pointed out that Goog-411 calls are now completed by bandwidth.com in both the US and Canada as announced on any Goog-411 call.
I am curious about this change. Have they switched call completion providers? Why is it necessary to declare the provider at all?
November 22, 2007
â€¢ Jaiku, Android and Google’s Mobile Ads
â€¢ What Google has planned for Jaiku?
Because his mobile phone is able to broadcast the location automatically (even if it’s not very precise), the user posts more than a message. The text can be connected to his location and create a list of preferences for each place you frequently visit.
“Google + Jaiku is not a million miles away from being able to push appropriate advertising to individuals based on their profile, their location and their availability. Imagine walking down the high street and having your mobile phone pop up with a Google notification telling you that Heroes DVD box sets were 20% off at HMV today, or that a new Indian restaurant had just opened in that part of town. (…) It seems obvious that Jaiku is destined to become an integral part of the Android platform over the next year,” thinks Jonathan Mulholland.
â€¢ Move the Map Marker on Google Maps: A Screenshot Tour (Tamar Weinberg at SeoRountable.com)
November 21, 2007
Google has started to advertise their Coupon search capability with Google Adwords (thanks to FathomSeo for great screen shots of this and the heads up).
When searching on “pizza coupons”, the Pizza Coupons adword results take you to your local ads apparently based on your user profile and/or location. I for example, was shown coupons for Allegany NY when I clicked through the ad on the right (see image below).
When searching on just “coupons”, the ad takes a viewer to the Local Business Center to add a coupon to their business record.
Given Google’s recent addition of coupon oriented domains and their new searchable coupon interface, this new forward facing promotion was to be expected.
Today Google has confirmed that ValPak has certain coupon size and layout benefits that are not available to all businesses when they upload their coupons to the Local Business Center.
There are currently three levels of coupons creation that we know about:
1-Local Business Center where a business can create coupons one at a time. This is offers the fewest graphic and content options.
2-The Coupon Feed which allows for more graphics and content.
3-The ValPak Feed which allows for bigger & more graphics and multiple coupons.
When I inquired about the differences Map Guides Jen responded:
== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Nov 20 2007 9:19 am
From: “Maps Guide Jen”
Sure, here’s what insight I can provide. If you upload coupons using a feed (see this page ), you can include enhanced content like images, barcodes, and logos. As you can see, the appearance of Valpak-provided coupons is slightly unique. This helps Valpak merchants recognize their coupons.
In August of 2006, when Google announced their Coupon feature in Maps they also announced their relationship with ValPak. Obviously, Google benefits from ValPak by being able to quickly populate their coupon inventory. In some markets, ValPak provides as many as 75% of all coupons.(see my previous article on Coupon penetration)
The differences are more than a slightly unique:
â€¢ The coupon provider logo should be 100 x21 pixels, Valpak’s logo is 120 pixels by 34
â€¢ The image filed is indicated may be up to 120 pixels high and 120 pixels wide and there is no provision for business logo. The Valpak coupons provide a business logo that is 155 x 103
â€¢ There appears to no allowance in the upload feed for multiple coupons like ValPak is able to do
â€¢ There appears to be no provision for the inclusion of your business logo in list view
As long as coupons have played such a minor role in the real world of Google search, this type of difference in allowing more technical clients (read larger & with more money) access to additional features and allowing one client (ValPak) the most features is a non-issue. However, as soon as Google moves coupons to the surface of the main results page, this discrepancy will become problematic.