Category Archives: Google+ Local

Google Updates Maps for iPhone and Adds Watch Compatibility – How Well Does it Work?

Many (myself included) who use both Apple Maps and Google Maps contend that Apple Maps has gotten good enough that it is simply a matter of preference not functionality as to which one to use.

The one area though where Apple had a distinct advantage was in the Watch integration of Apple Maps. It is a brilliant implementation and takes navigation to another level. Its almost like wearing the internet. So when I saw that the new Google Maps upgrade included Apple Watch integration I wanted to test it to see if it had measured up to Apple’s implementation. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

The new Google Maps for iPhone has some well thought out additions like the ability to compare the times for transportation methods and better integration of Streetview.

The image lower left takes you directly to StreetView. Very fast and easy

The well designed to and from fields are followed by the time to destination of various travel modes

But I was really curious about the Watch integration. While it mostly worked there were enough design and implementation issues in this first revision that most Watch users will find it crude.

Can’t Get Enough of that Personal Info

When you first launch the Watch app, in classic Google style, it works very hard to give you no option but to add additional information to Google.

Only two choices are presented for the user when first opening the app.

Google, insistent on extracting more personal information, then forces the Watch user back to the IPhone App,

Still in Beta?

Google, insistent on extracting more personal information, then forces the Watch user back to the IPhone App. There you are immediately presented with this idiotic warning that the product is in Beta. Given that the product has existed in one form or another since 2011 on the iPhone and longer than that on Android and the desktop, one has to wonder, just when will it be fit for service? Saying the Google Maps App is still in Beta is like saying I am still in Beta but that I will grow up someday. Hah! In your dreams.

Yikes! Still in Beta after 4 years? Hello?

Just can’t get enough can they?

Cluttered Watch View

A Watch has very limited real estate and when you are driving that limited real estate can become a liability if you try to jam too much information in to. Google does just that. Apple presents one simplified high level view in a large bold presentation.

Apple’s Watch display offers only high level, critical info in a very large type

Google presents too much information on the small screen to quickly absorb at driving speeds.

Non Persistent Display

On the Apple Watch, a raise of the wrist to the steering wheel both turns on the watch face and by default, presents the next navigation instruction. One of the more annoying attributes of the Google Maps for Watch is the fact that the Maps driving direction panel is not persistent and disappears from the screen afer the watch goes to sleep. A wrist raise to activate the watch display brings up the clock and the user is required to double click the crown to get back to the Map direction. This could be some limitation of the Apple API, I have no idea but it makes the product almost useless in a real world setting.

No Haptic Feedback

When wearing the Apple Watch and approaching an upcoming turn, it gently taps you on the wrist 200′ away from an upcoming turn. It’s like the hand of God the Internet reaching out and touching you. It is a very personal and very useful implementation of haptic feedback. I have been told that the feedback varies slightly for left and right hand turns, although you can’t prove that by me. Its a great feature and makes driving in a strange town much less stressful. Google, to its loss, has not implemented that feature yet.

Bottom Line

The Google Maps Watch implementation needs improvement before it would incentivize anyone to switch. And in its current form, makes navigation less safe rather than more safe.

Google Rolling Out New Upgraded GMB – GMBL Interface

brand page
All brand pages are now consolidated under their own tab and can be viewed in either card or list view

As we speak Google is in the process of rolling out Google My Business (GMB) & the Google My Bussiness Listing (GMBL bulk) interface updates with a logical integrated hierarchy that is consistent across both products. The upgrade provides improved navigation within any section of the product via improved menus (top and left) and breadcrumbs. It is currently visible to some users and will be visible to all over the coming week.

As of today I do not yet have direct access to the new interface and the help files have not yet been posted.

The interface adds modern navigational elements that create a consistency between the two dashboards and increases access to the many features regardless of the number of listings. It is arguable that these basic interface conventions should have been added quite a while ago, here’s hoping that ease of use is a prelude to additional marketing functionality.

Some highlights of the interface upgrade:

  • Improved menu along left allows for ease in contacting support and adding a manager
  • List view is available to both basic GMB and GMBL whitelisted bulk users for faster navigation
  • Better distinction in the menus between Location and Brand Pages
  • Quicker access to deeper review & insight information

Here is additional coverage:

Joy Hawkins – Imprezzio Marketing
Linda Buquet – Local Search Forum

Are you seeing the new interface? If so what country are you in?

Here are some screen shots of the new interface.

Left side menu gives quick access to every feature including adding page managers and contacting support.
GMB TC Update - Navigation
Note the top level tabs and the card view



GMB TC Update - list view
The list view


Phone Numbers Back in the Pack – Google’s Goofing on Us

Robert Ramirez
, SEO Manager at Bruce Clay,  points out that phone number are back in the 3-Pack once again as of the evening.

And, once again they are showing in Safari, Chrome and Firefox in the US and on the foreign IPs that I checked. So when you wake up tomorrow morning in Europe and the East Coast let me know. Are you too seeing them?

If you are seeing them to what do think Google is thinking? Or are they just goofing on us?

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.54.30 PM

LocalU Video: Deep Dive into the Local Search Ranking Factors with David Mihm

David Mihm is back from England and joined Mary Bowling and myself to talk about the previous week in local. This week’s Local U deep dive video takes a look at David Mihm’s recently released Local Search Ranking Factors. This is the sixth installment of our Deep Dive Into Local series, for the week ending 9/25/15. The complete video is posted in the Local U forums (paywall).

Watch: Video: Deep Dive into the Local Search Ranking Factors with David Mihm

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 2.17.46 PM

Google Local Search Phone Hack

Tim Colling and Helmut Schmidt (Google Local TC Extraordinaire) both pointed out to me that if you add the word ‘phone’ to your keyword local search, Google DOES in fact surface the phone number.

Thus while a search like emergency services buffalo or emergency plumber buffalo would not return a phone number (even though they should…Google what are you thinking???), a searcher can surface it with the search emergency services buffalo phone

I have not found a way to surface street address in the Local Pack but maybe there is one?

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 3.13.04 PM

Maybe this will make our good friend, Dave happy… hmm probably not. :)

OMG- Say it ain’t so Joe! Phone Numbers Once Again Gone from the 3 Pack?

Chris Alphen of EarlyOftenNow just noted in a comment on my post about the reappearance of phone numbers in the 3 Pack, their disappearance!

Shoeless Joe Jackson[5]A quick check across browsers that were showing phone numbers, confirm that they are once again not showing. For those of you that are not following the drama, to the dismay of many, phone numbers were first removed from the pack on August 7th. Several users reported their periodic reappearance in tests. On Thursday AM (Pacific time), Jennifer Slegg reported their widespread appearance in an article titled: Google Returns Phone Numbers & Addresses to Local 3-Pack noting the general sigh of relief at their return. By Thursday evening they had started appearing worldwide and despite my initial caution I noted that they had in fact rolled out. Now, Saturday morning Eastern time they are once again MIA. Go figure.

As I said on Thursday and revised for today: However given the spread and frequency of visibility my current money is on a rollout not a test. Rollout in the sense of testing for the next 3 months days or so as opposed to testing this week.

Here is a Safari, Mac screen shot. I checked in Chrome and Firefox and via an overseas proxy and all show the numbers as missing.

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 9.03.50 AM

Test? Rollout? Brainfart? Your call I am done calling it.

Update: I have heard from UK and Japan and both have lost the number in the pack.

And for Dave Oremland, who feels he has some sort of right to be able to see the phone number in case he needs emergency services while serving up students at his bartending school, I offer up these: Continue reading OMG- Say it ain’t so Joe! Phone Numbers Once Again Gone from the 3 Pack?

Woman Who Wrote a Scorching Yelp Review is Fined $1000 by Court – Technovate LLC v Fanelli

Frank Kockritz of Ascend Local pointed out this recent Fox News Clip from earlier in the week announcing a $1000 penalty against a Staten Island women for writing a scathing Yelp review of a flooring company, Mr. Sandless OF Staten Island.

According to the court documents:

On March 4, 2015 identified as “Emily” she posted the following “review” on silive (presented below as it appeared on the website):

this matt the owner is a scam

do not use mr sand less of staten island matt is the name he will destroy you floor he is a liar and con artist beware

On March 4, 2015 a similar review by “Emily F.” was posted on Yelp (presented below as it appeared on the website).

this guy mat the owner is a scam do not use him you will regret doing business with this company I’m going to court he is a scam customers please beware he will destroy your floors he is nothing by a liar he robs customers and promises you everything if you want shit then go with him if you like nice work find another he is A SCAM LIAR BULLSHITTER

On March 20, 2015, “Emily F.” posted an “updated review” on Yelp (presented below as it appeared on the website).

this is a night mare of a company you can not imagine what my floors look like stay away from matt gardiner your floors start to crack the stuff comes off the floors are left with no shine i had beautify shine before matt came to my house believe me if you want to see matts work and you rare thinking of hiring him contact me per my email and i will gladly show his work here is my e email address it is i would show you his terrible work you would thank me please advise any now who is thinking of wiring with him stay away he is the island biggest scam person around, DO NOT HAVE YOUR FLOORS DONE WITH THIS MAN, CUSTOMERS PLEASE BE WARE OF THIS MAN MATT GARDINER HE IS A SCAM HE TAKES YOUR MONEY AND DESTROYS YOUR HOME

he des not even deserve a one star 0 stars he gets

The Staten Island Civil Court Judge Phillip Straniere said in his ruling: “Terms such as ‘scam’, ‘con artist’ and ‘robs’ imply actions approaching criminal wrongdoing rather than someone who failed to live up the terms of a contract”. For a full reading of both the background and the legal issues read Technovate LLC v Fanelli

From the NY Daily News:

Norman Siegel, a noted civil rights attorney not involved in the case, said the ruling “could chill people from expressing their negative opinions.”

“Opinions are protected speech,” Siegel said, and Fanelli’s comments — while extreme — are opinion. “Context is important,” he said. “She was just spouting off and giving her opinion about his services.”

“If she called him a convicted felon, that would be different,” he said. He encouraged Fanelli to appeal — and she said she’s planning to.

Its an interesting case and it will be interesting to see if the ruling stands as solid case law given the free speech issues. Historically reviews have been seen as a free speech arena and there was little that could legally be challenged. Yelp has consistently defended that position.

“New York also adheres to the doctrine that “a publication defamatory of a place or a product is not libel against its owner unless the owner himself is accused of disreputable conduct”

And per the ruling, the poster, Ms Fanelli,  most definitely crossed the line into defamation in New York State. The judge noted that her personal invective was “designed to impugn his integrity and business practices with the intent to damage his business reputation”.

I am hopeful that the defendant does pursue this case as it may be the first review the clearly defines the limits of where free speech ends and defamation starts. In my mind, it would provide a useful yard stick for all of the players; the reviewers, the businesses and the review platforms.


Are Phone Numbers Returning to the 3 Pack?

Jennifer Slegg of theSEMPost is reporting the return of phone numbers to the Local 3 Pack results. I am not yet seeing them on my Mac with Safari, Chrome or Firefox although some others are reporting seeing them. Update: As of about 5:00 pm eastern they were showing world wide. 

Certainly their return would prove a boon to those dependent on calls for their sustenance like emergency plumbers etc and from a user POV I welcome them. It isn’t clear to me if this is the new normal (whatever the f%&k that means) or a broad test. Are you seeing them? If so what browsers?

I only wish I were a fly on the logs of the search results so I could see and know what Google sees and knows about user behaviors.

Courtesy of theSEMPost
Update: In small surveys across Google Plus and Twitter as to whether and where 3-pack with the phone # is being seen or not:

They were seen by folks searching from/located in in Calif, NV, AZ, Japan and Austria.

They were not seen by those searching in FL, NY, Pa, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, DC area, Toronto or the UK.

The results are dependent on physical searcher location NOT the location setting in search. However given the spread and frequency of visibility my current money is on a rollout not a test. Rollout in the sense of testing for the next 3 months or so as opposed to testing this week.

Google Testing HSA display + Local 3 Pack

Service businesses have been in a tizzy of late worrying about the possible demise of the local pack and its replacement by the Home Services Ad format. This would effectively monetize all of the prime real estate in local search and interject Google into their quoting process.

Maybe this screen shot will provide a small safe harbor in an otherwise stormy Google.

David Rodecker of Local Splash just shared this screenshot for the search: Plumber Emerald Hills which includes both the home service ad pack PLUS the new Local 3 -Pack.


Clearly this layout is a test as while it is currently returning this result for the Emerald Hills plumber search, it does not return for a San Francisco plumber search. As a side note, the Home Service Ad is now showing as far south as plumber san jose (that seems to be an expansion?).

I get why service area businesses are worried but I have, after many years of dealing with Google, learned that all you can count on with them is the NOW. Google is what Google does, today (only). They test so fast, change so quickly that their rate of change is quicker than you can ever respond as a business.

Thus the only offense is a good defense. Diversify, diversify, diversify. Diversify your search strategy to go after more organic and long tail opportunities plus video and Adwords. Diversify your advertising into other avenues besides Google even if the ROI is not as high as search.

But most importantly diversity your customer relations and retention. The best customer is one you already have not one that you have to find anew.

Make sure that you are taking care of every customer in a way that makes them want to share your information with their friends. Make sure you are staying in touch and get their buy in on how they want to hear from you in the future whether that is email, text or Facebook. Figure out a way to measure their satisfaction and if it isn’t the best in the market figure out how to change your approach so that it is.

Only then will you have some immunity from the vagaries of Google local search.

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