Category Archives: Google+ Local

Is Google My Business Cutting Back on Live Support?

Two weeks ago I saw that Google had eliminated a public Help file URL from which a user could contact Google My Business support.

This evening I saw this Tweet from Miriam Ellis:

And this afternoon in the forum I saw this post: No More Contact Us? where the user noted:

Ive just logged into my account to see that there is no longer a contact us under the support tab. It just states “Need More Help?” and that does not let me fill out a form to contact and a “Send Feedback”. Have they cut off phone support for us who need it?

Well all support is not lost but it sure has been buried very deeply within the bowels of the Google My Business Center and signs seem to be pointing towards a desire to cut down on support phone calls.

Even after the public form was removed two weeks ago you could still go into the GMB, select support from the drop down and fairly quickly both find the correct button to get a call back.

Google now seems to hasve buried it at least two levels deeper and offered fewer support choices.

Here is the new instructions I wrote to now find it:

To get in touch with Google My Business Support ou need to:
1- log into your Google my business dashboard http://www.google.com/mybusiness
2- select support from upper left hamburger menu
3- a help screen will appear to the right
4- It used to be just a scroll down to contact us
5- But now you have to dig into the specific problem
6- Click though to the appropriate help page
7- Read the help page and then
8- Scroll to the bottom of the page and choose most appropriate contact method for you (some are not always available)

At the end of that path, once you dig deep enough, you MIGHT see something like a contact request at the bottom of the help page. I did see one screen that offered a call back but after hitting it once, it disappeared on me. So while I think they may still offer limited call backs, the availability seems to have been dramatically decreased.

Could this be a bug in their support or a fluke in the phone system? Sure. I am waiting to hear whether these are mistakes or intentional actions to reduce call volume. I fear the latter.

Local U Deep Dive: Bricks & Mortar Key Performance Indicators Case Study

This week’s Deep Dive at LocalU, with Mary Bowling and myself, looks at the data behind a discussion between by myself and David Mihm for StreetFight magazine about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and local.

We dig into the details of a case study for a single location and ask the questions:

  • What are the critical KPI’s for a location-based business?
  • How can you measure conversion?
  • Where do new customers come from?

Join us at LocalU for the video and a complete transcript!

Google My Business Photos 3.0 Launches

Google has significantly upgraded the interface and functionality of the photos section within the My Business Dashboard.

The new interface replaces the arbitrary categories with tags and allows for a simpler interface for the cover photo, the profile photo and a business’s logo.  Although there is no ability to add custom tags, it is a simpler and easier interface that the previous one.

While the profile photo interface is easy to use, it is still not clear whether Google will use that photo or override it with their algo based preferences.

In addition the interface surfaces customer uploaded photos so that a business can see what user generated content exists without the trouble of going into Maps. They do not yet allow inappropriate photos to be reported or removed via the interface but one can hope.

Photos come pre-tagged in set categories. It behooves you to scan each tag result as there are the occasional errors. To edit the tag simply click into the image and select the info button upper right to change the tag. As noted there is no custom tagging at this point.

Click the info icon in the far upper right and the info panel will appear allowing for easily retagging the photo

 

Deleting a photo is equally simple. Just select the trash can. Google will then confirm the deletion.

In a recent case study, I found that 70% of web based actions leading to a sale occurred on Google, either in the Knowledge Panel, Maps or the search result. Photos seem to play a huge roll in both the first impression and the subsequent user action.  Google research (found here in pdf) has indicated significant click through improvements on listings with photos vs those without:

Having great photos is one controllable step that can facilitate that initial client interaction. With this improved interface there is no reason not to take advantage of this bump.

Update: As a note different business types and different photos generated different tags. Given that I have not seen Local Guides asked about these I assume that they are machine learning generated. And I also assume that they will be editable when Google has in place a way to prevent abuse.  Continue reading Google My Business Photos 3.0 Launches

Safari iOS Adds Click to Call to Direct Search Answer

I have no idea when this was added but when you are searching via Safari, it is now showing a direct Yelp or TripAdvisor answer with a click to call option immediately available.

It is not clear who is providing the click to call services. My money is on Yelp and TripAdvisor. Does anyone know?

It also isn’t clear why or when this result is shown rather than an Apple Maps result which are still frequently seen on similar searches.

Talk about disintermediating a Google search. Here are some screenshots:

A Yelp result. Click to view larger
A TripAdvisor result with click to call. Click to view larger

 

Google Local Shopping Ads Showing in Pack Style Layout

This morning I spotted a new Google Local Shopping ad that places local inventory in a pack like display with a Map. This new ad unit is obviously a display test of their shopping campaing local inventory ad unit as it is not visible by many. For the history see Jennifer Slegg’s write up here.

It is not particularly well marked as an ad and it fills the whole screen above the fold on my iphone.

It is immediately followed up by another ad with site links which takes up a fair bit of space and then finally, the 3 pack. By this time, the user is 2400 pixels down the screen.  Oh yes and  local organic results below that.

Lots of scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and did I mention scrolling? The page is ugly to boot. I have added a pixel ruler to give you a sense of the height of the ads before any local or organic content is seen.

Andrew Shotland pointed out an equally cluttered search result on Twitter the other day with a butt ugly screen shot of a search result showing an HSA verified pack plus local pack. Here’s the search result screen shot from Andrew: Continue reading Google Local Shopping Ads Showing in Pack Style Layout

Google & Confederate Memorial Day Hours

Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated as a public holiday in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas. Although in Texas it seems to be referred to as Confederate Heroes Day and is celebrated on January 19th. Apparently there though it is considered an optional state holiday  “meaning some state employees will come to work while others do not”.

Obviously it is a day with deep and to many, abhorrent symbols of our history. And many would contend unnecessary and hurtful as we  already have a Memorial Day to remember all fallen soldiers.

And Google seems to be in the middle of it. Read this post in their forum:

Hi, it seems that every business in Texas, including ours, has a “Confederate Memorial Day” holiday within their hours listed on Google. Our business absolutely does not want to be associated with this “holiday.” Can Google please address this?

 

As reader Tom Waddington points out below, in those states that have a state holiday for Robert E Lee’s Birthday, that state event trumps the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Day.

Although it appears that bulk uploads from national accounts have some control over the labeling of the holiday.

And this example being discussed in the Google Search Community (h/t to Thomas P below):

Your thoughts?

Update Monday 4:30 CST: In states like Alambana that celebrate Robert E Lee Day, Google has apparently updated the display to jointly note both days.

They have not updated Texas’s Thursday holiday: Confederates Hero’s Day. They retain the mislabeling indicating that it is called Confederate Memorial Day. Google knows the actual name as indicated in this answer box:

And clearly even agencies are open that day so it is not clear why there is any notation needed at all. 

Last year the Dallas News ran an editorial: Confederate Heroes Day has no place on the state’s official calendar where they noted: I’m sure some members of the Confederate army behaved heroically in defense of their fellow fighters and their ideals. That should not make them heroes in the eyes of any government entity.

Google GMB Website Builder Beta First Look

Village Dental Care, a general, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontic dentist in Bowral,Australia, had access to the beta trial of Google new SMB website builder pop up in their Google My Business Dashboard and their dental marketing company, Smile Marketing1 kindly shared access to the account for me to take a look at the product.

It is essentially a super simple single page website builder with very little opportunity for customization or change. Upon access to the Website tab in the GMB, it comes up with a default category specific background image and theme image:

Creation – Default View

Added Photos and Content

Photos and info are added via the standard GMB interface. There appears to be a bug where the background image, once selected does not allow replacement. If you don’t upload enough images they will replicated one of the images for display.

Theme Options

I didn’t explore these options so I can’t really speak to the specifics.

Edit Options

There are only four, very limited content areas of the page to which you can add text; Headline, Description, Summary Header & Summary body. There is no opportunity to affect title tags or meta descriptions. I did not test any limits that might be imposed on the various fields but upon re-edit there was a bug in the summary body field that doesn’t show all of the content added to the field. You can see only the first line. No ability to add links and the opportunity for spammy content is limited.

Publish

The one button publish process first asks if you want to use this as your new site at your existing URL or as a secondary site. The URL of the live site is http://business.google.com/website/village-dental-care/.

Live Site

Obviously there are still some quirks. I was unable to change the background image once it was added to the profile image. It self selected a segment of the profile image and did not give me control over that. Adding photos and info (basic business details) jumps the user back to the original pages of the GMB for those inputs and it feels a touch cludgey. There is no ability to control title tags or meta description tags and no ability to link out to other properties. And if it isn’t obvious there is no way to include updated content from Posts or Plus.

What isn’t clear either is how these pages are to be integrated with Maps or the Knowledge Panel.

Looking at a site command: site:business.google.com/website/ reveals some interesting (albeit unreliable) data about the countries where the test is taking place. Obviously this at the base domain only and while the numbers that the site: command returns I think that they might be directionally correct.

  • There currently appear to be about 122,000 sites using the Google domain.
  • English language based sites are roughly 1/2 of that number.
  • And the bulk of those in English are located in India.
  • 29,000 appear to be located in Indonesia
  • Another 24,000 are in Portuguese and come from Brazil
  • Australia seems to have just a few more than 100 sites
  • Only 1300 or so are in Spanish and seem to be mostly in Mexico2

Obviously it is a large scale test clocking in north of 100k participants. And to get to that scale it must have been present for a while.

In its current form it really is more like a fully formatted profile page than a website. That being said it is significantly easier to create than a G+ page ever was and unlike G+ is fully integrated with Maps and the verification process. Although if the verification process were even simpler and didn’t require the GMB process that might be appealing and at least for this test that might be the case.2

Calling this page a website seems like a touch of overselling. But I suppose it is easier to “sell” a “free mobile website” than to sell the concept of “verify your business listing on Google”. It effectively has the same outcome for Google of allowing them to “know” the business.

But a long standing SMB issue that Google has is that there is still no compelling reason for the business to return to dashboard to engage or up-purchase an ad campaign. In that regard it would make more sense to me to integrate this and the Posts product in testing into a more compelling package. Although even that might not be enough without customers ultimately driving their engagement ala Facebook.

1 I really want to thank Village Dental Care and Smile Marketing for their assistance in this first look. I particularly want to give a hat tip to Alicia Hardy for alerting me and assisting with the details of this review.

2 This is an odd search result that I uncovered in my site: explorations. Here is the new “website” for el rincon de la hacienda in Iztapalapa, Mexico. And here is a Google brand search for that same restaurant. The local listing is not yet verified. I suppose it is conceivable that in these situations that the website creation tool exists independently of the GMB verification process?

Google Testing Website Builder Within Google My Business

Update: For a more in-depth look at the new product see: Google GMB Website Builder Beta First Look.

It seems that the day has finally come when Google is going after the many small businesses in both the developing and developed world that don’t yet have a website or at least a good mobile one. No intermidiary, no third party, this product is a a Google native web builder that looks simple and easy.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was going to be testing a moible website building product in India. It was reported to be free and targeted to the many business that are just now starting to get online.

Apparently that product is also being tested in the Australia as well. Alicia Hardy, a marketer with Vortala, sent me a screen shot via Twitter of the product from within an Australian GMB listing.

Not much is known at this point as to which countries are in the test or the capabilities of the product but I will be asking Google for more information.

Is this a back to the future moment for Google in their battle for SMB share of mind or another miss step in their battle with Facebook and Amazon? Let me know your thoughts.

Google GMB Site Creator – Click to View larger

Yelp Dramatically Improves Mobile Search Experience*

Yesterday Google announced that they were starting to finally roll out their interstitial penalty. Meant to improve mobile user experience when accessing a site the penalty targets sites that:

  • Show a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displays a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Uses a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Yelp was particularly guilty of the above the fold interstitial behaviors. In fact this is what led to my twitter tete-a-tete with Mr. Stoppleman. He suggested that I delete my account when I noted how consumer unfriendly Yelp’s attempt to drive app usage was.

Today I see that the Yelp mobile experience has dramatically improved.

* Big surprise that, despite Yelp’s complaining about the Google interstitial penalty as anti-competetive, under pressure of their own penalty, finally fixed their mobile experience. Sort of. Unfortunately while it works better from Google to the mobile web result, the Yelp Open App button always takes me to the App store rather than directly to the app.