Category Archives: Google+ Local

Local Heat Maps – Lots of Attention, Not So Much Clicking

Mediative has published results of their recent eye-tracking and click through research performed last spring that included local pack and carousel results:  The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effects on User Behaviour”. They discuss the local implications in a blog post today.

While the study has some methodological issues the results are interesting and worth exploring.

Local Listing Below the Pack:

Google-SERP-local-listings-below-organic

 

  • 13% of time spent on the pages was looking inside the Local Listings box.
  • 38% of participants look at the Local Listing box.
  • 6% of page clicks were to the local listings.
  • The top organic listing garnered 41% of page clicks
  • The top two organic listings garnered 53% of page clicks.

Listings Above the Pack:

Google-SERP-local-listings-top-pack

  • 18.5% of time spent on the pages was looking inside the Local Listings box.
  • 76% of participants look at the Local Listing box.
  • 11.5% of page clicks were to the local listings.
  • The top organic listing (below the local listings) garnered 30.5% of page clicks.
  • The top two organic listings garnered 45% of page clicks.

Power of Organic: While most users clicked on the organic results, it is not clear whether that was the brand affect of having major brands there or the placement. Most likely both. In previous limited research that I have done people often scan the page and frequently will stop on a well known site that they know does a good job curating, like Yelp or Tripadvisor.  Regardless, if you are blocked out of the pack due to Pigeon, there are still clearly organic opportunities.

Visual Distractors: Even though Google has removed many visual distractors from the results those that remain are highly attractive to users. Thus rich snippet reviews for example, even if lower on the page, can attract views.

Chunking. One of the things that Ian Everdell of Mediative pointed out was the existence of visual chunking. People look at the top results in any subset of results. They effectively create visual groupings of results of which they do a quick scan and look for relevancy in the given sub group. In any of these groupings (ie Local or organic or ads), the top two results get the most attention. Thus being 1or 2 in the Pack is significantly more valuable than lower.

Limits of the research. While the eye-tracking sample size is more than adequate to give an idea of where searchers were looking that is not the case with the click through study. On many of these results the click through study was based on a sample size of between 50 and 150 clicks. In addition the cohort was not randomized in any way. All were from the Toronto area with no knowledge of income or other behaviors.

The study, in an effort to provide a consistent result to users, was forced to present searchers with a static image and to focus solely on clicks. Thus there is no data on whether or how frequently users cursored over local results to explore the Knowledge Panel.  Nor whether users would have stopped and called some of the local results.

Here are some additional heat and click maps from Mediative: Continue reading

Facebook Reviews Should Be a Part of Every SMB Review Plan

If you had any doubts as to whether Facebook has a place in your review strategy, news this past week from Bill Bean that Facebook reviews were now showing in the Google “Reviews from Around the Web” should put them to rest.

I was curious how widespread this was and whether it was just a one off or if Google had started including links to Facebook reviews on a widespread basis. A number of folks noted to me that they had seen Facebook.com links on their reviews from around the web .
ReviewUsonFacebook
This search at Google (site:plus.google.com “verified local business” AND “facebook.com” AND “Reviews From Around the Web”) indicates that Google has indexed a large number of Facebook review pages and is including them on the business’ G+ Page for Local.

Facebook has snuck up on us in the local review space over the past 12 months to become a significant player. Facebook rolled out reviews across all of their business pages last November but earlier this year limited reviews to just pages that were for local businesses.

My research clearly indicates that Facebook has become a strong contender as a favorite amongst users as a place to leave local reviews.Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 8.37.24 AM Continue reading

Last Week in Google Local

Several interesting and developments last week from Google in the Local space.

Google declares the end of Panoramio and the rise of Google Views: With the release of Google Views, the new Map integrated photo application, Google has declared that they will wind down Panoramio as they wind up Views.

panoramio1Of course there is an uproar in the Panoramio community and the founders have created a petition to stop the closing. Not only will the many comments from Panoramio be lost but the strong community there will be as well. Google has never been very good at keeping these niche communities alive when they integrate the functionality directly into their mainstream products. I wish the founders the best of luck in their petition drive but if history tells us anything its that the axe is a common tool in Google’s tool box. They have nothing on the Game of Thrones.

Google Tests Call Reporting in Local: A feature that has long been requested and one for which Google has long had the data, it was noted last week by Owen Kane that Google was showing Call data in the Google My Business dashboard last week.

Apparently the feature is not yet finalized as Google noted: Nice catch! We’re constantly testing out new features for Google My Business. This one hasn’t officially launched yet, but we’ll share new feature updates when they become more permanently available in the dashboard. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 9.59.04 AMThis is a feature that was longed for as far back as 2007 and one that Google even tested in the 2009 timeframe. I suppose better late than never.

“Edit Details” Feature Gone? No More Mini-MapMaker?: Colan Nielson of Imprezzion Marketing has noted on Linda’s forum that the “Edit Details” link now directs users over to the much more limited Google Maps report a problem feature rather than to the MapMaker interface that has been in use since February, 2013.

The change means that the edits are going directly to Google for editing and are no longer going to be handled within the MapMaker community. This is one in a long line of  recent “demotions” to the volunteer editors at MapMaker. And a return of the the black hole where there is no public accountability of the edits. Can Google really respond to each report? Seems unlikely.  “Pissing in the ocean” is the  maxim that comes to mind.

Facebook now showing in the Google “Reviews From Around the Web”: Google is obviously scraping and now showing on the G+Page and the Knowledge Panel, links to reviews from Facebook Local Pages. If you had any doubt about whether you should use Facebook in your review strategy, you should doubt no longer. More tomorrow. Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 8.37.24 AM

 

Google Answer Box: Call 650-253-0000 For Support

When Dan Leibson showed me this Google Answer Box I thought either that the Google Answer Box had a wicked sense of humor or maybe, just maybe, it knew something that I didn’t.

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 7.51.26 AM

Given the recent court decision in Germany ordering Google to “stop ignoring customer emails and start offering a way to communicate with the company” I thought that perhaps they had implemented some form of systematic phone support. Given that Google had in fact implemented real support in Local was just possible across all of their product lines? Hope springs eternal when you are an optimist.

I decided I had better call and see. And after having to listen to the number for Adwords 3 times and getting to the end of the menu I thought- dam they did just say press 5 for support? So I did.

Spoiler: it was, for the most part,  a bait and switch.

As you can guess the Answer Box “don’t know nuttin”.

PS Whatever you do, DON’T dial zero thinking that you will get a human. The phone system has an even more wicked sense of humor than the search results.

Hyperlapse – A New Tool in Your Local Content Toolbox

We live in amazing times. And there is nothing more amazing to me than a technical breakthrough like Hyperlapse, the time lapse iPhone app from the Instagram folks. The app does two things – it provides sophisticated image stabilization even when hand held and it allows you to choose the speed to the time lapse – and it does them incredibly well.

I saw this article  8 Do’s and Don’ts for Brands Exploring Instagram’s Hyperlapse (h/t to @Simpartners) and I wondered exactly how hard it would be create some local content using the app and iMovie.

The answer? Not hard. I am blessed by living in beautiful country and today was more beautiful than most. I decided to hyperlapse the bike ride that I take to work ever day.

This 3 minute video took about 20 minutes to film and another 20 to assemble into a final product. I hand held it while riding my bike (and I am sure that Matt McGee will chastise me for that).

My conclusion? Hyperlapse, when combined with some music and iMovie, is a great way to create some very sharable local content.

The end of the local marathon, the local fair, perhaps a day at the car races or the highlights of the highschool game. There are a lot of local topics that would lend themselves to this treatment. If you use it for that, please let me know.

Some production suggestions:

1-The app does a great job of auto exposure in both low and highlight situations but it doesn’t auto adjust if you change lighting. So either keep your lighting consistent or remember to touch the area of the screen that you want properly exposed. Obviously while riding a bike I was unable to do that.

2-Since you are speeding things up, you need to hold scene endings and transition shots longer than you normally would.

3-The app doesn’t do audio so you need  plan to create something interesting to go along with

PS the soundtrack is by Enchanted Mountain Green, a blue grass band that my brother played in in the 70’s and 80s.

 

LocalU Bootcamp at SMX – Sept 29th in New York

On September 29th, we’re rolling out a new classroom-style training event in conjunction with SMX East – Local U Boot Camp in New York City.

REGISTER WITH CODE WS-LUA10 FOR A 10% DISCOUNT

LocalU Bootcamp is the only workshop of its kind and provides the knowledge, processes and tools needed to help your business and the businesses of your clients prosper in Local Search. If you’re looking to develop a career in Local SEO or want to refine your current processes, this is the workshop for you. It’s also a great way to train new staff or cross-train existing staff in local search in one day. 

See full LocalU Bootcamp Agenda here.

You’ll enjoy a small group setting, concise presentations, plenty of Q & A time, complete access to the presenters, topic roundtables and the opportunity to speak directly with some of Google’s local team.

Join David Mihm, Mary Bowling, Will Scott, Mike Ramsey, Joel Headley and Ben Pavious and Abhishek Poddar of Google for this full day of learning.

If you’ve attended a Local University event in the past, you already know how valuable the knowledge you gain and contacts you’ll make at an event like this can be! 

We’re capping attendance, so register soon to avoid disappointment. 

 

Google Dropping Review Shadow Box in Serp and Going Directly to Plus?

Yesterday while doing training I noticed that Google was dropping the review shadow box from the main search results and taking users directly to the business Plus page.  Today others are noticing this as well. Nicolai Helling pointed the new behavior out on G+.

As Nicolai mentioned and I agree this change “seems to be preparatory to release a new way to insert the Google+ Local results into the main Google-SERPs” that I wrote about early in the week with the total absence of review links in the new mini pack results. 

Currently the review shadow box STILL shows for brand searches on both the link under the One Pack and in the Knowledge panel.  But on Pack results users are directed to the Plus About page. On the current Carousel a click takes the searcher to a brand search.

While it is possible that the 7-pack will survive the carousel transition to newly seen Mini Pack, all of this behavior would be consistent with changing all local results to the new mini pack as well.

Brand Search still directs to the Review Shadow Box
Brand Search & resultant knowledge panel still directs to the Review Shadow Box
click to view larger
click to view larger

 

Google My Business Now Allows Deleted Plus Pages to Be Recovered

Kaleh Kohler, a top contributor in the Google And Your Business Forum and a very astute student of all things Google Plus, has pointed out a new feature of Google My Business (aka Google Pages Dashoard) that allows the user to recover (undelete) and manage pages that have been deleted.

It would appear that it only works on Pages that are deleted subsequent to the rollout of this feature and it doesn’t seem that page deleted earlier are seen (I could be wrong about this). Once a request is made to undelete a page, the page reappears in the dashboard almost immediately.

This is welcome one to anyone that has inadvertently deleted the wrong page.

Screen-Shot-2014-08-20-at-8.01

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 8.02.09 AM

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 8.03.58 AM

Google Test Search Results – 11 Ads, 1 Directory and 3 Stinkers

Google is apparently testing a mobile style 3 pack as a replacement for the carousel.

Whether a test or not, this test search result is quite amazing. I have a fairly large Thunderbolt display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. That is more vertical resolution than 66% of all computers on the market as of January, 2014 according to w3schools.com. Even so this result is quite incredible in just how absolutely awful it is.

With my browser window stretched to the full height of the display, above the fold there are 11 ads, 1 organic directory listing, a map and 3 2.5 hold your nose stinky local results. The move away from a carousel which had a certain balance to the ranking and possibly away from the 7 pack towards just 3 results is jarring enough. But the amazing preponderance of paid and the near complete absence and terrible quality of the organic and local results leaves one’s jaw on the floor.

I guess that Google has finally given up on any form of local listing or organic page relevance and has decided that relevance is a function of payment.

Click to view larger (although be sure to keep airsickness bag handu)
Click to view larger (although be sure to keep airsickness bag handu)

Google Testing Carousel Replacement

Last week, Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz, posted on Twitter that he had seen a new deskop pack result that seemed to be replacing the Carousel. He has emailed me to note that he is now seeing it on a number of broad queries “including “chicago restaurants”, “restaurant reviews”, “chinese menu”, and “vegas hotels””.

James Gibbons also reported a search result where the carousel had been replaced with a 7-pack,

restaurants

 

As Pete noted in his email most of the new results that he was seeing were in place of the carousel AND the result mirrors exactly what is currently shown in mobile.The mobile change over occurred last April.

Will Google change away from the carousel? I am not a betting man and Google does do a lot of testing but my gut says that they just might move towards this new display. They have been on a toot to “clean up” the visuals on the main search result page (fewer packs, no author photos, fewer video and review snippets) and this change fits that mold.

Have you seen this result? What browser were you using? What phrases?

Update: I am now seeing this result using Firefox on my Mac searching for “vegas hotel“:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 1.06.49 PM

 

See other searches:

Continue reading

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