Category Archives: Google+ Local

6 Good Things About Negative Reviews

Did you know that the star ratings are of less importance than the content of reviews and that readers are more inclined to convert if there are some negative reviews?

Those are not the only good things about negative reviews. Read my recent post at 6 Good Things About Negative Reviews for a whole list of reasons that negative reviews should not only not be feared but should be embraced.

Thoughts About the New Local Stack Display

Note: I am heading out for a 5 day vacation. Responses might be limited. Please fill in the blanks for me and keep the conversation going. Dave would get lonely otherwise.

Google seems to have completed the roll out the new local search result with reports of its visibility from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, UK, Australia, South Africa and even Canada (which is usually last in these sorts of things).

I would suggest for the sake of clarity and expediency that we name the new display the Local Stack to distinguish it from the Snak Pak that is used in the hospitality searches. Regardless Dave Oremland has special dispensation and can call it the Crap Pack.

Some thoughts:

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 8.13.56 AMThe simultaneous world wide release is different than many previous local display rollouts. I am wondering if that is due to the fact that the European anti trust issue around local has dissipated or if it was viewed as important to put the final nail in the coffin of G+ Local with one fell swoop.

The new display certainly provides an increased opportunity for organic results. I am not sure what will happen on clicks for Adwords but those businesses that were lower in the old display may feel compelled to double down on their Adwords activity.

The display aligns neatly with the new Home Service Ad booking tests and could easily be replaced in those market segments that rely on bookings. Obviously complaints about Google not showing answers and being evil will be heard. Google, being driven by the capital markets, has one overriding interest that supersedes all others regardless of their happy talk and that is profits.

This reduces opportunity in the pure local display on the front  page but the total local opportunity may not be less as ALL links that previously went in disparate directions now head off to the new Local Finder (operative word is may) . That includes links that went to G+ but Maps as well.

The roll over that used to produce the Knowledge Graph now goes to the Local Finder. In that display there are 20 opportunities for visibility.

The lack of phone numbers will necessitate additional click throughs to the Local Finder. So much for Google surfacing answers on the first query but at least it increases local opportunities.

I am not convinced that exposure will come close to what has been possible in the 7-Pack but here’s hoping that the dashboard analytics (unreliable in the best of times) have been upgraded to handle the new display and can provide meaningful comparisons.

Clearly every link to G+ has been removed. This has been a long time in coming as has been in play for quite a while. Concurrently Google will also be removing “shell” pages, those auto created pages for non verified listings, from G+. Google+ is becoming Streams and as of now, its value as a local social platform is minimal.

Reviews, long disassociated from Plus are not really affected as they continue to display in the shadow box wherever they are selected from search, Maps or the new Local Finder. They continue as an element of the local Plus page but I doubt those ever got many views and will get fewer now. And seeing reviews is now a two click process into the Local Finder and then another click on the reviews. Not easy and not friendly.

A single location branded search still brings up the Knowledge Graph with phone number BUT a search for a brand that has multiple locations shows this new pack with NO phone number and requires what should have been a quick recovery search into a two click two step. Very bad form on that one.

There are some oddities in the display around service area businesses and those without websites as those two prominent icons are missing. As Phil Rozek has pointed out the current Local Finder seems to expose the exact location of those who have hidden their address. Not good for those seeking a modicum of privacy.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 8.14.48 AMI would love for folks to send me their Local Analytics a week and a month from now as well as report on their traffic.


7 Pack Becoming 3 Pack with Mobile Like Snak Pack Rollout?

I woke this morning to reports of the new mobile styled Snak Pak being seen via Safari in the Netherlands and to it now being seen nationwide in my Firefox browser.

Given its increasing visibility across the US and internationally, I would suggest that this is likely a rollout not a test. I have asked Google for a comment.

I would also note that on the many searches where I am seeing it in Firefox, many previous 7-Packs are now showing as the 3 listing Snak Pak. I was unable to elicit a 7 Pack regardless of geography or search phrase.

Obviously with the reduction of the 7-pack to only showing 3 listings, organic and adwords both will take on increasing importance.

Tip: If you want to see the Local Finder for any given local search that is not yet returning the new Snak Pak add the operator “&tbm=lcl” to the end of the search.

Eduard de Boer, long time local specialist now with Whitespark noted their appearance in the Netherlands on a range of searches:


As a note, this test/rollout would complete the total removal of Plus from local as not only do non verified pages not link the G+ page but verified listings with active pages show no link.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 8.10.43 AM

Note the TOTAL ABSENCE of any links to the Google Plus page!
More screen shots from around the country in varying categories showing the new Snak Pak: Continue reading 7 Pack Becoming 3 Pack with Mobile Like Snak Pack Rollout?

Google Testing Different Pack Layouts with the New Local Finder

Barry Schwartz noted (via Ryan Schilling at a Google 3 Pack experiment that removed the Google Plus links.

For that same search I am seeing a different, new mobile 3 pack like display test (using Firefox) on the desktop. Interestingly the mobile like three pack comes  with links to the new Local Finder that rolled out with the Snak Pak update in the third week of July. This new display is consistent with Google’s Material Design standards.

As Google + continues down the debranding path, I assume that we will see the complete disassociation of local results from it and the integration of the Local Finder instead.

The Local Finder essentially replaces the old Map list view with a light weight business listing focused display that works much better than Google Maps for discovery type browsing. It makes sense to me that it would become integrate with all local results and not just the snak pak.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 9.21.32 AM
Physical Therapy San Antonio (Firefox)
Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 9.23.01 AM
The “More Physical Therapy” links to the new Local Finder display

Screenshot captured by Ryan Schilling:

What I see when searching on Safari or Chrome:
Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 9.35.16 AM

Yahoo & Reviews & Support, Oh My!

Jeff Overmyer of MerchantCentric, who noticed the missing Yelp reviews at Yahoo, dug deeper and (gasp) actually got a response from Yahoo on Reddit:

“Thanks for pointing this out! I work for Yahoo, and I’ve reported this to our Yahoo Local team*. They’ll be taking a look at this for sure. Yahoo Local doesn’t use the Yelp API, rather we have a data feed from them that we merge into this feed. They’ll be examining this to see if and what the problem may be. Thanks again for pointing this out to us!

If you have any further examples of this problem (or any other Yahoo problem), please feel free to send me a PM, tweet us @YahooCare[1] , or ask us on Tumblr[2] !”

As Andrew Shotland suspected the missing reviews appear to be just a Yahoo Local brain fart (aka a YLBF). We shall see if that is true but what is amazing is that Jeff was actually able to get some measure of support at all. Even more amazing was the promise from pkonink on reddit of future support. Does he know where of he speaks?

I would love to hear if any of these routes actually result in an answer (and ideally a solution) from Yahoo Local.

* Team in this context I take to mean team as in tennis doubles team… i.e. 2 people.

Yahoo Splitting Off Yahoo Small Business – Promises Equally Sharp Focus?

Just received this late Friday night email. Must be they are trying to avoid the news cycle.

One has to wonder who writes this s%^t?

Even brighter future? Sharp focus?

Yes, right after minimum wage goes to $25/hr, all wars end and nuclear arms are mothballed.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 11.15.45 AM
Dear Yahoo Small Business Customer,Two very exciting, very important things to know

  1. Yahoo Small Business is becoming Luminate, from Aabaco Small Business. Same sharp focus on small business success. Different name. Learn more.
  2. We’ve updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. In a nutshell, we’ve simplified everything, made it 100% focused on small business services, and replaced old names with new. You should review them, because they will go into effect at the time of the spin-off.

Here’s to an even brighter future,


The Yahoo Small Business team

Important Resources:

Account LoginContact Us

I’d be happy if I could get 5 year old business listings out of their index.

Are you an SMB in the Bay Area?

Google announced in the forums that they are looking for small businesses to give them feedback. This is your chance for a free lunch and the opportunity to influence product direction, Here is the  invite:

Are you a small or medium business (SMB) owner based in the Bay area? If so, would you be interested in sharing your experiences with promoting your business on Google Maps through Google My Business? We want to hear from you!

Apply now to participate in a Google panel discussion on Tuesday, August 25th, from 11:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View. During the panel discussion, we’ll ask you questions about your experience with Google My Business, its benefit to your overall business strategy, and how you find help when you experience issues. Afterwards, we’ll provide lunch and a tour of the Googleplex, and introduce you to the key Google My Business teams.

Note: The application process is time-sensitive, and will close on Monday, August 3rd.

Thank you,

The Google My Business Team

Google’s Home Service Ads – Questions and Observations

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.08.10 AMGoogle’s test of the their new Home Service Ads generated a fair bit of conversation yesterday on Twitter. The ads started appearing more widely throughout the day allowing folks to dig in and get a better look.

Documents worth reading:
HSA Additional Terms for Providers 
Home service ads Policies

Locksmith & Licensing – The test is focusing on plumbers and locksmiths. Locksmiths are an interesting choice. The locksmith industry has long been a hotbed of spam and deceit. With the ascendancy of Google local search most of that deceit moved online to Google in the form of local and adwords. Google did little to really stop it and imposed barriers that made it hard for legit locksmiths but didn’t seem to slow down the bad guys. And Google was profiting from this deceit via Adwords.

The solution for this new home service product is that Google is requiring licensing AND background checks and not just for the business but “you and each of your Team must comply with the “Minimum Provider Requirements,” as described in the HSA Platform Policies at”.

That certainly seems preferable to the mosh pit that has been locksmiths at Google. Certainly begs the question: why hasn’t that been done before?

Third Party Verification– Google is using a third party to make sure that participants are compliant with the requirements. “Determination of compliance with Minimum Provider Requirements is made solely by third parties, and not by Google, and any issues you may have with third-party adjudication of Minimum Provider Requirements must be directed to the relevant third-party adjudicator. You must provide honest, complete, and accurate information in connection with the HSA platform, including to third parties. All third-party verification processes are conducted solely to confirm compliance with the Minimum Provider Requirements, and are not used for any other purpose.”.

This will impose a fair bit of additional burden on small businesses. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

Customer Satisfaction– Amazon has a long history of understanding and dealing with customer issues. They do so directly and quickly removing a huge pain point in any transaction done via Amazon. Google on the other hand seems to want to push that issue off on the business and rely on crowd sourcing quality information and reviews to keep things on an even keel.

“A customer’s satisfaction with your Services is solely your responsibility. Google may provide assistance to customers who are dissatisfied with their experience on the HSA platform, however ultimately it is up to you to resolve any disputes between you and your customers. You agree that you, and not Google, are responsible for all claims made by a customer or other person or entity against you or your Team in connection with your use of the HSA platform and your provision of Services.”

Google has never been good at high touch interactions. This seems to be no exception. It seems a competitive disadvantage vis a vis Amazon.

Reviews and Quality Control– The review system is independent of their local review system and seems to only be available to users who have actually used the services. Google will obviously be tracking tons of other metrics that they will be making available to consumers: “for example, how often and how soon you respond to customer messages, the number of repeat customers you have, the average duration of your Service, number of Services performed, and feedback ratings and reviews (both positive and negative) on your performance). This information may also be made available on third-party websites”.

This is a big change on the review front…verified reviews. And might portend the future of reviews…

Pricing of the Ad– Obviously the success of this “ad format” is the ROI. It isn’t at all clear to me whether its a fixed rate, a % of the job, lead based or some other pricing model. Google says: “You may be charged a fee to Use the HSA platform.” Are they paying during the trial?

Google is giving up 3 of the highest paying ad spaces for the product. This product might only work in fields where the average job is high enough to warrant a bid rate equal to or greater than those 3 ads.

Payments– It isn’t clear exactly how payments are going to work but it appears that the whole transaction might run through Google. “Google may make available to you various payment processing methods to facilitate the collection of fees for Services provided via the HSA platform.”

Google has long dominated local search but it isn’t clear exactly how profitable that has been given the high costs associated with Mapping and local listing management (probably on the order of several billions of dollars a year). For the first time in years there are at least the glimmers of existential threats to Google in the local space. Apple has carved away some not insignificant number of maps and search users and Amazon seems intent on going after the home services space.

Google is obviously answering Amazon very directly. The details are not totally clear but it appears that Google is not going to let Amazon have the space to themselves.

From the small business perspective, these moves foreshadow a near future where you are no longer a truly independent business. That you have effectively become partners with some very large players whether you want to or not.

Some additional screen shots: Continue reading Google’s Home Service Ads – Questions and Observations