Category Archives: Google+ Local

Google Dramatically Increases International Categories


Google’s categories for many international dashboards have been woefully inadequate. Fortunately Google has just announced a major increase in the number of categories available internationally.

Based on merchant feedback, we’ve been working to improve business categories. One of the key areas we thought we could quickly improve is expanding the breadth of available categories globally.

So you might be wondering: why hadn’t we already done that? Well, international business categorization is quite tricky. Imagine you’re planning a trip to Greece. When you search from the US, you’ll probably be using English, and you’ll see the categories of Greek businesses in English. However, those businesses in Greece were probably set in Greek using Places for Business in Greek. This means the Places for Business team has to translate and associate categories in many languages. As you can imagine, this can become very complicated very quickly.

Today, we are taking a first step of many to improve categories that merchants can use to represent their businesses. Specifically, we’re adding over 1,000 new categories in the new Places dashboard. These categories are available globally and translated to every language Google supports.

Last but not least, thanks to our Top Contributors and all the merchants who gave us great feedback. We’re indeed listening!

-Jade, Google Business Community Manager

(Note: posted from my iPhone while exercising. Please excuse any errors. )

The Future of POS is the Future of Local Marketing


Integrated POS marketing machine

Amazon to Offer Kindle Checkout System to Physical Retailers was the headline in an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.  I have long thought that POS and other similar integrated services delivered via a combination of hardware, software and web was the key to cracking the holy grail of SMB marketing services.

In The Future of SMB POS Defined by GoPago’s Free POS System from October, 2012 I wrote:

Sometimes the lights go on and the realization strikes that a new metaphor has taken hold and will change the market going forward. That realization struck when I recently read about GoPago’s Free POS system for SMBs…..

The early creator of metaphor changing products sometimes reaps the benefits and other times the benefits go to better capitalized late comers. Certainly GoPago has no lock on this market. Square, Paypal, Bing and Google could all step in and have both distribution efficiencies and marketing clout that could give them an advantage in this space. Imagine Google offering up a free Moto/Android based POS system that also guides SMBs through a business center experience as the SMB gains familiarity with the many marketing options that Google offers. If I were Bing,in an effort to kick start their Local Business Portal, I would walk over to GoPago and hand them a check even if it meant the POS had to continue to use an Android based product.

I still believe that. More so now than ever. The market in the 15 months since I have written this has not stood still. Apple, Intuit, Square and Paypal have all made moves in this direction. Each with their own spin.

It is interesting that Amazon might be the first of the big players to offer up such an integrated solution. And of all the players they will have the hardest time overcoming the extreme distrust that the bricks and mortar world has of them. And that alone may prevent them from moving quickly enough to consolidate their position in this market.

But SMBs are a prickly and unpredictable lot (I know I was one for 20 years in a family business… and if you think I am prickly you should have met my father). But if the value is compelling enough, if the cost of the credit transactions is low enough and if the support is high enough it could happen.

Clearly POS is but one of the entrees into the world of captive solutions… But it is a very compelling metaphor for the integrated SMB solutions that are rapidly moving into the marketplace. Scheduling, billing and other services via PC are equally compelling in the service arena and in a broad sense can be viewed the same way.

Regardless whoever gets their first at scale will have a huge advantage in the future of retail and local search marketing. And payments, loyalty and and and…..

Local Answer Box: A Work in Progress or TMI?


It’s always fun when Google releases new “answers” like the local Answer Box to see them going wrong. It shows the limits of the current technology and gives some idea how it works.

Leave it to Phil Rozek to find an unusual example of it not working quite right and have it give an answer to questions we never had.  What a guy won’t do for a link. You’d think he had studied at the feet of Andrew Shotland.

anderson-sc

 

Sebastien Socha also found this interesting example of a location answer where Google is showing the local carousel rather than the pack on a request for Momofuku locations (location set to New York, NY) when there are multiples.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 7.00.10 AM

 

Whoah.. and this answer box on the search gallery furniture owner (location set to Houston, Tx) while not strictly a local address answer box demonstrates the exactly how far Google will go on this answering thing. Can we ask for just a little privacy please?

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 7.13.57 AM


Google Adds Dates to Hotel Local Carousel


Barry Schwartz reported  on SEL this am that Google was now allowing dates of stay to be set directly on the carousel. When updated, Google updates the results for their hotel finder immediately below the ads.

I know that I have covered this topic before but it is striking even on my fairly large display that Google 1) makes only one general search result visible in this display and 2)virtually every link goes back to Google.

Click to view at full size

Click to view at full size

 

Google Testing Location Answer Box


Pete Meyers of Moz just pointed out an unusual new feature that Google is testing: Location Answer Box. Darren Shaw noted that it was visible via Firefox.

I see it regardless of whether location is set or whether I am logged in, if the query is specific enough to generate a single answer.

IE Dress Barn Locations Amherst gives me the Local Address Answer Box

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.17.49 PM
If however the query returns multiple answers it still delivers a Pack Result:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.37.55 PM

 

I was able to see results for brands other than Dress Barn if (again) there is only one in the market:

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 12.21.48 PM

Google Local Carousel Now Visible in Japan


The (not very well liked) Local Carousel is now visible in Japan on Google.com although not yet on Google.co.jp/. Kenichi Suzuki, a popular Japanese blogger interested in local search, reports that while he is not sure when it started showing, it is now showing.

Since being rolled out last June they have only been visible in the US. While US based searchers can see the carousel on searches for local information abroad, those searching from outside the US have not seen them until now.

And despite my unique experience last week of not seeing the Local Caroisel for a short while, that has remained the case. The fact that they are rolling out to another country would imply that they are not going away any time soon. But who knows…

I asked Kenichi why it was not visible on .co.jp and noted: But it’s not rare we see certain features available only in .com, sometimes for a while. Say, Authorship program in co.jp was behind a several month later than .com.?

_Google_Search

Reviews, SMBs & Google – Still Not Clear on the Concept


the_texas_chainsaw_massacre_imageThis story is so rich in the evolving complexity of reviews; the absurdly angry SMB, the frustrated poster and so rich a tale of service gone awry. A story of how decent service can become indecent service by the sort of reflexive behavior that is so common in the service industry. To say nothing of Google still not getting their review algo right and how that impacts their image in the market place.

This comment was just posted on an old post about Google removing reviews and I wanted to highlight it. I have not verified the story but it rang true.

I’ve noticed my review was removed, and I’d really like to know why.
Continue reading

Local U & Friends Invite You to the New Local U Forums


Last week was a busy and exciting week for Local U. It has been our long term dream to provide high quality local marketing training and advise on-line. On Thursday we rolled out the Local University Forums.

The Forums will be place where marketers, digital agencies and businesses large and small can get expert answers, detailed local data not available any where else and an opportunity to collaborate with some incredible folks.

Not just the regular speakers at Local U like David Mihm, Mike Ramsey, Aaron Weiche, Mary Bowling and Ed Reese but also folks like Phil Rozek, Nyagoslav Zhekov, Darren Shaw, Andrew Shotland, Carrie Hill, Dan Austin and lots lots more. For me it is exciting because not only will I be able to help others but I stand to learn there every day.

The forums are intended to be a low noise high information environment where questions about site design, local mobile issues, algo changes and local and international local seo can be asked and answered.

At the introductory price of $99/month for the first 50 members, now is the time to join and take advantage of everything the forums have to offer at the lowest possible rate. After the first few days we are well on our way to that goal. The first month is only $49 so you can try it.

For more details you read our announcement here and sign up here.

What’s Old is New Again – Spam in the Google Local Results


Yesterday I reported on hijackings in local.  Since August there have been significant quality issues. But the spam… its like 2008 all over again for Google local.

I hate looking at spam. It makes me feel dirty. But since Hummingbird that seems to be all that I see these days in local.

Lots and lots of those ugly spammy one boxes are obviously prevalent but things seem to not have stopped there.

The other day I was exploring the legal vertical in Los Angeles and fully 70% of the listing either had spammy business names or were at virtual offices. WTF?

But this search result from Dave Minchala took the cake:

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Google Bulk Upload: Verified Listings Or Just Another Data Feed?


Does a Google Bulk upload create a verified listing or is it in reality just another data feed? Unfortunately it is the latter.

Danny Sullivan and Greg Sterling have been covering the recent multi listing hijacking of hotel pages at Google. The hijackers essentially were able to take control of numerous hotel listings and insert an affiliate booking site URL.

Here was part of my comment to Greg about how this might have occurred:

My working theory is that these listings were either unclaimed or possibly claimed via the bulk upload. Bulk upload is viewed by Google as more of a data feed than a listing verification method and it does not lock out [additional] local claimants. Thus the listings were “eligible” to be double claimed. And claimed into the new G+ Local environment. In theory that requires verification either by post or a call and  exactly how this many listings were in fact verified with the new domain is unclear.

In the old Places Dashboard and the previous/current Bulk upload any data that Google received was just that. The data might have given it some preference if it was current but it received very little special treatment over any other data that Google had. If they trusted other data more than they yours that is what would show. Or rather if the algo trusted other data more than yours that was what would show.

Also “claiming” into either environment conferred no special rights to editing that data. Continue reading