Google Testing New Local Knowledge Panel Call to Action

Thibault Adda, the Internet Marketing Coordinator at Roar! Internet Marketing in Altamont Springs, FL, shared an interesting search result with me.

Google is apparently testing a new, direct to the Knowledge Panel call to action from local business owners. It is similar to, but different than the Google Posts (aka Podium, aka the product that shall not be named) that allows businesses to post directly to their branded search results. This KP Posting product posts directly the Knowledge Panel directly above Reviews from the web.

The test is currently visible on this search for Theme Park Connection in Orlando.

The current iteration seems only half baked as a click on the call to action to learn more takes the user to driving directions. Unlike Google Posts, this product seems to be more commercial in nature and includes discounts, pricing and a call to action. Those behaviors were explicitly prohibited in the Google Posts tests.

Update: I did confirm from Google that this is a follow test for the Google Posts platform with different positioning and a more liberal approach to commercial messaging.

Click to view in the context of the branded search results

It is not clear how wide spread the test is, whether its available beyond local businesses or within other types of Knowledge Panels. It is also not clear whether it is intended to be free and an ad unit.

If you have seen others of these let me know.

Your thoughts?

Developing a Near Me Strategy for Local; Not?

Yesterday, David Mihm highlighted an article in his Tidings Newsletter about a dentist that had legally changed his last name from Draper to Better so that he could change his practice name to Better Dental and rank better. Matt Marko pointed out the “shortsightedness in his leaving the obvious opening for Dr. Best”.

That elicited a tweet from Matt Lacuesta (H/T to Tony Gricar) highlighting a signage company located in Denver that had changed its name AND its signage to Custom Signs Near Me:

I guess that this customer sign shop has read about the ever increasing number of near me searches and why developing a ‘Near Me’ strategy has become critical. Strategy, smategy. Why think when you can act?

Next up: Starbucks will justifiably rename: Coffee Shop Near Me.

Apple Gets Into Position for the Voice Search Revolution

Both David Mihm and I think that voice search will play a large role in Local Search and a component of that will be home based assistant searches.

With Google’s release of Home and Amazon’s early success with Alexa, there is little talk of the role that Apple will play in the home search arena.

David and I discuss Apple’s slow and seemingly inexorable push into this new market at StreetFigh Mag:

Apple Gets Into Position for the Voice Search Revolution

 

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

Developing Knowledge about Local Search