Category Archives: What’s New & Important

Google Showing Sitelinks to Nearest Locations on Brand Searches

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Last week Bill Slawski wrote about Google’s categorization of web pages for use in local search. The patent he writes about is one in a long line of related works that discuss this sort of web page categorization. That or something very similar to it appears to be occurring that allows Google to include multiple locations per brand search in these locallly generated site link results.

Danielle Owens of Powerchordsystem.com sent along these screen shots that clearly show that Google thinks these pages that include local information for nearby locations to be important.
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I don’t look for these sorts of results that frequently so these may have been appearing this way for while. But if the message has not gotten through to brands both large and small with multiple locations this sort of display should make it clear: you need a stand alone local landing page for every location.

Google has never clearly indicated which pages they will include in their sitelinks display or why they will include them but here are some ideas that might help make these pages show for  brand searches.

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1- Have a local landing page for each location that is clearly Title tagged and optimized around location
2- Be sure that all locations are properly claimed and located in Google Places for Business and that it references the local landing page
3- Use that local URL in all directories and upstream providers
4- The location page includes complete address information that is marked up using Rich Snippets formatting
5- Reference each of these local landing pages in the sitemap and the KML file for the site
6- Make sure that the location pages are easily crawlable by Google and are not hidden by some search routine
7- The site architecture should relatively “flat” and the local landing pages are not too distant from the home page

Authorship Brownouts Due to “FaceRank”?

Screen Shot 2013-04-12 at 9.02.15 AMSeveral months ago my author photo stopped showing on my articles in the Google search results. I double checked all of my settings several times and they appeared correct.  I didn’t really have time to fool with it until the end of last month when I reached out to Matt McGee, AJ Kohn and Aaron Weiche for guidance. The bottom line? Google Authorship apparently has some sort of face recognition filter (or as Aaron Weiche called it: FaceRank) that pulls down images it doesn’t like.

Who would have guessed? Here is the email thread between us:

March 29

Me
1)My author photo used to show on my article like this one: web equity
2)It no longer does
3)It tests properly on the rich snippet tool
4)Do I need to implement publisher as well? something else?

AJ Kohn
You’re probably not doing anything wrong. I’ve had a number of folks getting Authorship brownouts lately. I’m trying to follow-up with the team to see if there’s a bug in the presentation layer (which has happened repeatedly).

It could be the face recognition if you’re not getting Authorship on any of your posts. In all, the mark-up is very brittle right now as Google tries to find more and more ways to extend Authorship (aka – indirect Authorship) while preserving accuracy.

Matt McGee
Two possibilities:

1) Google doesn’t like your profile photo anymore.
2) Google is just being its normal wishy-washy self about authorship.

Go in to Google+ and change your profile photo to something that shows you facing forward (like a mugshot) and maybe even in color. If it likes your new image better, you should see it start to show in search results again almost immediately, but not as comprehensively as before (at first).

I lost authorship a couple months ago when Google suddenly decided it didn’t like my half-face avatar in its search results. Ergo I know have the boring full-face on Google+.

If changing your photo doesn’t work, this is just Google being wishy-washy. It’s pretty common for authorship to come and go in my experience,

Aaron Wieche
Seriously? We now have to think about “Face Rank”!!!??!

March 31

Me
I switched to a color full frontal image. Maybe just act of switching toggles their collective conscious. Will let you know.

AJ Kohn
Agreed. Poking the bear to make it stir and reevaluate is always a good idea in these instances.

April 2

Me
The change from my beloved B & W photo to a color one has made the difference. Matt (as usual) seems to have identified what the issue was… a photo that the software didn’t like

April 12

Me
OK. McGee nailed it. I changed out my photo several times over the past week with frontal color photos & all was good for a number of days. Changed it yesterday afternoon (4/11) to my b & w, slightly side view photo and poof its gone as of this morning.

Update April 12 10:00 pm

I replaced the B&W photo at about 9:00 am this morning with my color profile photo and it is now showing 12 hours later.

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So the question remains. Why is one photo NOT acceptable to Google and other photos are?two-author-images

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Google was kind enough to notify me that I had qualified with my B & W photo last fall. But they did not have the courtesy of doing so when they suddenly stopped showing my photo. What SMB has time for these sort of horse crap er, outcomes? In fact what normal webmaster does?

New Google For Business Dashboard Now Available For All New Users Nationwide

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.04.50 PMGoogle has just notified me that the new Google For Business Dashboard is now available to ALL NEW dashboard users in the United States. Although I am not yet seeing it on the accounts that I manage. I missed the new dashboard users part and mistakenly thought it was all users. Mia Culpa… its late here. Sorry.

Last week when the product was rolled out Google announced that it would be phased rollout and said “Please know that the update will be gradually rolling out to existing Google Places for Business users like you in the coming weeks”.

Along with the new Dashboard, Google is changing their marketing message as well. In doing so they are making a clear distinction between free and paid premium services.

Given how fast this has moved, I would assume that the rest of the world is not far behind. I would also assume that there are more features coming sooner rather than later. It can’t come soon enough for me.

Other posts about the new Dashboard:

Google rolling out new update to Google Places for Business – Me

Visual Guide to the new Places for Business Dashboard – Me

Categories in the new Places for Business Dashboard – Me

Analysis: Google Places for Business or G+ Pages Lite? – Me

More details about the improved look and feel of Google Places for Business - Joel Headley

BREAKING! Brand New Google Places Dashboard – All-in-one Local Listing Management – Linda Buquet, Catalyst Marketing

10 Things SEOs & SMBs Should Know About New Google Places Dashboard – SearchEngineland

Google Upgrades Its Google Places Dashboard With Google+ Local Integration - SearchEngineland

Categories in the new Places for Business Dashboard

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.04.05 PMOne of the big changes in the rollout of the new Places for Business Dashboard is a change with categories. Categories have long been a key factor in Google’s determination of relevance of a listing. Google has added some additional categories, changed how categories are handled as well how many categories a business is allowed to have.

The bad news? The big change,  predicted for some time, is the elimination of the option of custom categories. Google has moved to a fixed list of choices.

The synonym feature is also missing. Thus a user that doesn’t know exactly what they want in terms of categories will find it very hard to locate the correct categories.

The good news? Up to ten categories are allowed. Google has noted at the most recent LocalU seminar that categorical information about a business is retrieved from across the internet. Exactly what web based resources are likely to impact this are not totally clear.

The category list is a dramatic improvement over what is/was available to businesses that verified via the G+ Page local interface and the list is very similar to those categories previously available to users of the current Dashboard.

There appear to be some additional categories in the new list, particularly in the area of restaurants. Upon an initial and superficial check I could not find additional categories in other areas besides restaurants although there may be a few. In the previous category list there were 76 types of restaurants. In the new category list there are 230 restaurant types. For example Google added the following restaurant types (amongst others):

Tongue Restaurant
Uzbeki Restaurant
Southwest France Restaurant

I am curious whether a “Tongue Restaurant” is what it sounds like? Why exactly do we need the category “Southwest France Restaurant”?

The new list contains a total 2295 category choices. I am including the complete Places for Business category list (US only) here in HTML format and hope to have the list integrated with my Google Places category tool in the near future.

Related posts:

Google rolling out new update to Google Places for Business

Visual Guide to the new Places for Business Dashboard 

Analysis: Google Places for Business or G+ Pages Lite?

 

Google+ Local: Moving Locations? New Procedure

Preparing-Move-Your-BusinessThe way that Google has been encouraging SMBs to move to a new location has long been a kludge. Last night Google announced a somewhat more intuitive procedure although it still has a touch of kludge about it.

From the forum post by Jade:

Verified business owner of a page, and is your business moving locations? Here’s what you do.

Edit your address in Google Places for Business or in the Google+ page admin area, whichever you are using to manage the page. This will either make a new page or edit the address on the existing page. It may take a week or two after editing your address before you see an update. At this point, you may need to go through a verification process again. Don’t worry — this is normal.
If you see a page that’s still got the old address, click on Report a problem and mark that location as closed. Provide the link to the new address or information about the new location if possible. You can find more instructions on closing a location here: http://goo.gl/YZIjq

Previously it was necessary to create a totally new listing in the dashboard, reverify it,  remove the old listing and then using the “report a problem” feature to report it as closed. Recently Google added the ability to indicate, when reporting, the new location so that the closed listing would point to the new listing and indicate that it had relocated.

The above, if I read it correctly, means that sometimes the intuitive act of changing the address in either the  dashboard or the G+ Page for local admin area will properly update the listing and sometimes it will create a new listing that leaves the old listing open. It appears from the above that  Google may or may not require reverification as well. Regardless the process still requires that the listing owner needs to keep a watchful eye on their listing in both the dashboard and the index for three or so weeks and if there is still a listing at the old address proceed to using the report a problem.

I am sure that Google knows but this is still too complicated and unpredictable for most SMBs to get right. Its better but still not where it needs to be. It would be nice for the listing owner if 1)the procedure was consistent across all listing closing situations (or warned the business what was going to happen) 2)was able to be managed within the management dashboard alone and never required an SMB going to the report a problem area and 3) had a consistent outcome in the index.

In some ways it appears that the system mimics the practice & outcomes that have long existed in MapMaker where you could change an address as long as it was in the same city and the move was not too far.

None of this changes the fact that the business needs to not only change their information at Google but several weeks ahead of that change their information at the primary data suppliers and other claimed listings.

Let me know if you have to close a business and what actually happens to your listing.

Google Local: Rel = Publisher Or Rel=Author? You Should Do Both

There were a number of questions after I reported that a new Google+ Local claim of a business in Plus (not the Dasbboard) generated instructions to add the rel=publisher rich snippet to your website. Many asked whether rel=publisher should replace the rel=author snippet. The answer is that you should do both.

Daniel Berman explained it best in the comments:

Its not a matter of either or, its a matter of both and. You want to setup the rel=”publisher” to provide a context of identifying your business website to Google and especially giving you the chance to give them the categories that your business best fits, and then tying all of that back to your NAP information that Google has on file.

You want to setup your rel=”author” markup to recognize your contribution to the content as published by the business, but recognizing that your role as a human being is larger than just your position at that business. Maybe you also have a blog, and a hobby website. If you setup the rel=”authorship” formatting on all of those sites then your online identify or persona becomes clearer to Google as whole.

That said both are needed, just like getting a yellow page listing for your business and business cards for yourself are helpful so that people can find the business but also personally connect with you as a person.

 

Here is a good slide show by Ann Smarty detailing the differences.