Google Category Tool Updated

We have updated the Google Places Category Tool with a “dump” of current categories and synonyms.

From the last time we updated the data a year ago, Google deleted 170 categories and 1922 synonyms, leaving exactly 1900 primary categories in the list. Most of the deleted categories were plural duplicates of existing categories. I.E. “Surgeons” was deleted as a stand alone category and added as a synonym to the category “Surgeon”. For the compulsive amongst you here is the list of deleted categories and synonyms.

In that timeframe Google has also added only three new categories; Airport , Car Sharing Location and Electric Vehicle Charging Station. They also added 11 new synonyms; airport, international airport, international, flights, arrivals, intl, int, aeropuerto, air port, flughafen.

To search the current Google categories go to our Google Places Category Tool. To see all categories as an HTML page go here. For those of you outside of the U.S. we hope to have the other language categories added shortly.

TripAdvisor Reviews Now Showing in Places Again

Do you remember the old SNL skit “Point/Counterpoint” (named after the 60 Minutes Segment) which featured Dan Akroyd making scurrilous attacks on Jane Curtain?  Not sure who is whom in this current remake starring Google and Tripadvisor but it sure is taking on the same tenor. 🙂

The recent “its a technical issue, no its intentional” discussion between TripAdvisor and Google has taken one more turn with TripAdvisor reviews once again showing up in Google Places. Many of the businesses that initially reported disappearing TripAdvisor reviews (herehere ) are now showing those reviews again.

Su at the Inn at Tanglewood Hall in York Harbor, ME. sent me an email today that hers and other TA reviews in Kennebunkport had returned. And upon checking, those reported missing in the forums had also returned.

Now if I could just get Google to find the 25 or so missing from my Places account, the heavens would be in alignment.

Guest post: Top 10 local UK business directories compared & rated

This is a guest post by Myles Anderson of Brightlocal.com. Brighlocal is a London-based local SEO company that is building local SEO tools for marketers, web-designers and local businesses. He has also written an excellent companion piece:  Top UK online business directories – comparison of audience figures 2009/2010. In November, I wrote up Brightlocal’s Review facilitation tool, ReviewBiz.

Last year, David Mihm did an excellent piece on UK directories, The Guide to UK Citations for Local Search. He offered up a comprehensive list of citation sources from the professional SEO point of view. I thought that this was a good companion piece to David’s in that it approached the issue from the SMB’s point of view and offered some good, actionable advice as to prioritization of efforts.

Top 10 local UK business directories compared & rated

Online business directories are an important & powerful marketing tool for local businesses. Whether you’re a builder, a hairdresser, a dentist or a driving instructor you can attract new customers and grow your business using an online business directory.

More and more people are turning to the internet to find best local businesses. Online business directories provide a quick & easy route to identify the best businesses.

Recent research shows that people use online directories when they have an immediate need for a local service but they don’t know which business to call. Theyíre ready to buy your services but they’re looking for guidance on which business to select. Over 50% of directory searches result in either a call or visit to a local business. You need to make sure that local business is your business!

Many online business directories offer a free listing and it’s important to get listed in as many directories as possible.

Paid-for listings will often appear at the top of the directory results but there are other ways to get your business to the top of a directory without paying for it (see our article on ‘Perfecting you online business directory listing’)

Top 10 UK online business directories

Continue reading Guest post: Top 10 local UK business directories compared & rated

What is The Real Reason that TripAdvisor Is Limiting Review Content To Places?

It appears that TripAdvisor is in fact currently limiting what and how Google can display TA’s review content on Google Places pages.

Yesterday, a statement from them appeared at TNooz.com, a travel industry news blog, that indicated that was the case. I wanted to confirm this with TripAdvisor.  I asked their PR department the following via email:  “I am attempting to get clarification of comments made on the information in the following article: TripAdvisor Blocking Google From Reviews?. Are you currently syndicating reviews to Google? Will you continue? Is/Was it just a technical glitch as Google has noted?”

Their reply:

Hello Mike,

Google frequently makes changes to Google Places, and while we’re continuing to evaluate it, we don’t think it benefits users at this time with the experience of selecting the right hotel.  As a result, we have currently limited the TripAdvisor content available on those pages.

Best,

Amelie

I asked for additional clarification but was told that the above was the extent of their statement. Given TripAdvisors unwillingness to add any real information to the story, I can give you my speculation as to what I think their reasoning is. (Isn’t that the best thing about blogging? In the absence of facts I can speculate.)

If you recall on November 15th, Google added booking links directly to every hotel Places page, interjecting themselves directly into the hotel booking process. My presumption is that the statement from TripAdvisor that “we don’t think it benefits users at this time with the experience of selecting the right hotel” refers specifically to this new process.

Google Places Booking Capability

I assume, but do not know, that Google’s move could be perceived as a direct threat to a TripAdvisor affiliate income stream. Google is sending users to some of  the same booking sites from their new tool as TripAdvisor.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that is the reason that the two are “fueding”?

TripAdvisor Blocking Google From Reviews?

The plot thickens in regard to the missing TripAdvisor reviews. TNooz.com, reports that:

Google is no longer able to stream in reviews from TripAdvisor to Places pages after the user review giant blocked it.

TripAdvisor confirmed the move today in an email, stating that while it continues to evaluate recent changes to Google Places it believes the user does not benefit with the “experience of selecting the right hotel”.

“As a result, we have currently limited TripAdvisor content available on those pages,” an official says.

As an official states today, TripAdvisor has decided to restrict its reviews from appearing in Google Places (the company also confirmed the earlier technical problem running, purely coincidentally, as the same time as its limitation exercise).

I do not have confirmation of the TripAdvisor comments (I have a call into them) and they stand in stark contrast to a comment that a Google spokesperson made yesterday about the missing reviews that “We’re aware of a technical issue in which TripAdvisor reviews are sometimes not appearing in results for Google Places, and our team is working to resolve the matter.”

This while searches today are in fact showing TripAdvisor reviews in Places Search results:

Google on Missing TripAdvisor Reviews: “Our team is working to resolve the matter”

On December 4th, TripAdvisor reviews disappeared from Google Places. They are still missing in action but a Google spokesperson has noted the following in relation to the lost reviews:

We’re aware of a technical issue in which TripAdvisor reviews are sometimes not appearing in results for Google Places, and our team is working to resolve the matter.

Illusory Laptop Repair – A Most Elegant Google Places Hack

This story of intrigue comes to you via a discovery of Eric Petreska, the quite brilliant head of of Maximum Results Marketing, a local search marketing firm in Spring Hill Fl.


When you search for virus removal Olean NY you see an interesting result.

Not our listing for a service my brother provides…. no, the other one…for Illusory Laptop Repair. A quick drive by or Streetview look-see would soon convince you that 154 Main St, Bradford, is anything but a vibrant downtown location. It is however, smack dab at the centroid of the Bradford.

What is this? MapSpam creeping into the hinterlands? Not to worry, I am on it…

Well rather I am it. OK I admit it, I created it. I couldn’t resist. You know scientific protocol testing, that sort of thing… all for the good of humanity. I couldn’t very well report on it, if I hadn’t tested it.

The truth? It is such an elegant hack, so simple yet so powerful, I really wanted to prove to myself that this one was in fact real.  The local area code phone # rings into my office via Google voice, the record was secured via a PO Box that I have access to in Bradford PA. Sometimes the most powerful hacks are really not hacks at all, just a simple creative use of an existing feature .

Here is Eric’s description of how it works in his own words (bold mine): Continue reading Illusory Laptop Repair – A Most Elegant Google Places Hack

TripAdvisor Reviews Missing from Google Places – Bug or Kerfuffle?

Noun:  A social imbroglio or brouhaha. An organizational misunderstanding leading to accusations and defensiveness.

Since December 4th, there have been a number of reports (here, here and via email) that TripAdvisor reviews are not showing in Google Places. A quick search of the Maps index shows this in fact to be the case with TripAdvisor reviews not showing on the Places page for any hotel or B&B searched.

Obviously TripAdvisor plays a huge role in the hospitality industry and the syndication of their reviews to Google has a big impact there as well. I received this email from Su at the Inn at Tanglewood Hall in York Harbor, ME.

Any more word on this?  The missing TA reviews are HUGE for the lodging industry.  Trip Advisor makes up almost 75% of our reviews (we personally went from 76 to 21).  Many places have gone from triple to low double digits, even single.  Example:  TA #1 ranked B&B in the entire state of Maine:  Bayberry House in Boothbay Harbor with 237 reviews, is now down to 4 on Google Places, no  longer even makes the cut when Googling Boothbay Harbor Bed and Breakfasts.  Place results have been drastically altered for all Lodging.

It is unclear whether we are seeing a bug in Places that is preventing reviews from showing up or whether TripAdvisor and Google are having a disagreement about Google’s right to show them. Both possibilities have their precedence, with 3rd prty reviews coming and going due to both bugs and battles… I have emailed both TripAdvisor and Google for clarification but as of publication had not heard back.

Google Places Search – Before and After Dashboard Analytics Comparison

specific listing changes in actions for those business showing increasesGoogle Places search was released on October 27 with a great deal of fanfare and commentary. It has been available for over a month and the Places Dashboard analytics data can now provide some insight into the impact of the new display.

I have assembled an overview of the impressions and actions based of the Dashboard analytics for 45 listings for the 4 weeks prior to the rollout and the 4 weeks after the rollout.

I recognize that these numbers are, by design, superficial and are on occasion buggy (showing fewer impressions than actions). We also don’t know if the analytics kept up with the main search results page. However in aggregate, they do provide some general insights about the switch. The business listings represent a range of industries, locales and business size so the sample should represent a reasonable cross section of reality.
Continue reading Google Places Search – Before and After Dashboard Analytics Comparison

Google Micro SERPS: Only 4 (Places) Results Showing

Rasmus Himmelstrup, of SeoAnalyst, and Sebastian Socha, of KennstDueinen.de, are both reporting from Europe a new Places Search Everything result that is showing only four search results on a page. In Sebastian’s screenshot all four of those results were blended results while in Rasmus’s 3 of the 4 were blended results

I had to look at the screen shot twice before I realized that it was NOT a cropped image:

Continue reading Google Micro SERPS: Only 4 (Places) Results Showing

Developing Knowledge about Local Search