Google Tags now Available in 29 States and the District of Columbia

Two weeks ago, Google announced that they would be rolling their new simple, fixed price advertising product out gradually to the whole of the U.S. Last night Google made good on the first phase of that rollout. Tags is now available in 29 states and the District of Columbia. From their Places Help Article:

Advertising options: Where are tags available?

Google Tags is currently available in the following U.S. locations:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisianna
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Washington DC
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Interestingly, none of the bigger northeast States, including NY, Ohio and Pennsylvannia, made the first cut.

Yelp Reviews Back in Google Maps as their .COM Growth Stops

Yelp’s relationship with Google Maps has been off and on again. Their reviews have disappeared and reappeared on Google Maps over the past 3 years as Google’s and Yelp’s relationship has waxed and waned. But the relationship now seems to be on once again. About 10 days ago Yelp’s reviews again started showing up on Places Pages. I would posit that this reinclusion reflects Yelp’s need to buttress and improve their traffic short haul while they implement the changes necessary to fend off the location based startups.

Yelp has been the hot local site from 2007 through last year and their Compete.com numbers reflected their meteoric growth on the desktop. But their .com growth in unique visitors and page views started to decline last August and has continued downward throughout this year. At the end of April, Compete shows their unique visitors to be in the 25 million range, down from the 30 million last August.

Some of the slowdown on the desktop has been taken up with growth in mobile and particularly the iPhone. Yelp notes that they had 1.4 million visitors over the past 30 days via their iPhone app. That amounts to ~3% of their total visitors and does not make up for the almost 20% decline in their .com usage.

(click to view larger)

The numbers and their decision to allow Google to include their reviews suggest that Yelp’s transition to a general purpose review site has not taken off as they had planned. Long haul, Yelp does need to keep their eye on the many location based competitors. That being said, it seems even more important that they keep their eye, short term, on their main competitor in the review space, Google Maps. It appears to me that their need for growth and traffic has won out over their obvious points of contention with Google.

From a practical viewpoint, it demonstrates why any SMB needs to continue to gather reviews from a wide range of sources as the vagaries of these corporate relationships change, you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire.

Google Begins Nationwide Rollout of Tags and Adds New Features

Google Tags on MobileGoogle has just announced at the LatLong Blog, the beginning of a nationwide rollout of Tags, their paid, local listing enhancement. The feature, first tested in early February and rolled out to 11 cities last month, will first be available in the states where they have already had Tags (California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Washington, and Colorado). Google will update this page as additional states go live.

Tags will now also appear on mobile searches and a new Tag type, called Posts, will be available. A Post allows a business owner to create a custom message that can be changed as often as owner would like. This new feature could be used to highlight special discounts or a limited-time offer and seems likely to be popular. It would be more useful if it were allowed to also link back to a web page but maybe now coupons will finally get the exposure they deserve.

At a flat rate of $25/mo per business, Google Maps will have a simple to use paid product in place. Google has noted that 2 million businesses have claimed their listings. If there is even only a 10% adoption rate, it will mean income of $60 million/year for Google. I would guess that the uptake will be higher than that and once one 7-Pack entrant adds a Tag, there will be a certain pressure, logic not withstanding, for others in the 7-pack to do so as well.

Comscore Mobile Market Share for April

Comscore has released their mobile market share numbers for April. Several points of interest: RIM is managing to gain market share against strong headwinds. Motorola continues to slide despite having released new Android phones during the period and Nokia continues to slide period:

Top Mobile OEMs

3 Month Avg. Ending Apr. 2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Jan. 2010

Total U.S. Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens

Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Jan-10 Apr-10 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Samsung 21.1% 22.1% 1.0
LG 21.7% 21.8% 0.1
Motorola 22.9% 21.6% -1.3
RIM 7.8% 8.4% 0.6
Nokia 9.1% 8.1% -1.0

Mobile Operator Market Share

Despite AT&T’s many critics and despite Verizon’s heavily promoted Droid introductions, AT&T made small gains against a slightly declining Verizon.

Top Mobile Operators

3 Month Avg. Ending Apr. 2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Jan. 2010

Total U.S. Age 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens

Share (%) of Mobile Subscribers
Jan-10 Apr-10 Point Change
Total Mobile Subscribers 100.0% 100.0% N/A
Verizon 31.2% 31.1% -0.1
AT&T (Cingular) 25.0% 25.2% 0.2
Sprint 12.1% 12.0% -0.1
T-Mobile 12.1% 12.0% -0.1
Tracfone 4.8% 5.1% 0.3

Google Maps: Updated Google places Management UI (LBC)

Google Maps has rolled out a revised interface (thanks to Jim Giangolio of Lunametics, a Pittsburgh SEO, for the heads up) to the multiple business view of the Google places management area.

The changes are both aesthetic and practical. New are the ability to organize the list by business name or status, an active alert of issues, and miniature displays of the listing stats:

The welcome upgrade to the interface which solves some long standing problems with managing multiple listings still has a few quirks. For example regardless of the view (business or status) chosen, it always reverts to the status view after a record change. We can also hope with this initial upgrade that Google will start including more meaningful error and penalty state messages within the new interface. Regardless, it is a welcome upgrade to anyone with more than 2 or 3 listings in an account.

Twitter Contest to Win a free pass to LocalU

One of the nicest parts of working on Local University has been the opportunity to meet with great local search practitioners that have helped us put on the sessions in each market. In Spokane, it was Ed Reese of Sixth Man Marketing & in Minneapolis, it was Aaron Weiche of Five Technology. The two of them jumped in with both feet to help make Local University a success. It has been a pleasure seeing and learning from the tactics and techniques that they have put together, on the ground, to make it work.

In Cleveland, we have teamed up (among many others) with the Karcher Group’s Collyn Floyd to help with logistics and marketing. For the past few months when she is not “scouring town/thrifting for the ultimate fashion bargain” she has been helping organize and plan the next Local University on June 30th.

Today, she put together a plan for Twitter contest to give away one free pass for the event. The plan was a joy to read and will be a pleasure to implement. It is simple but spells out the necessary steps to engage in the contest. It provides enough detail in clear language that will make it easy for the local, non-Twitter savvy Chamber partners as well as more sophisticated sponsors to execute. Here is a short excerpt of the guidleines for the event and they are dead on easy to follow:

The event sponsors will post numerous tweets regarding the contest asking those who want to win a free pass to retweet the message with the hashtag #localu. The hashtag will help us track who is interested in winning.

The contest will end on June 15 and a random Tweeter will be awarded a free pass to the June 30 conference at the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County.

Collyn included not only specific instructions for the contest but sample tweets as well:

Join @Google @Bing for Local Search Workshop in NE Ohio http://getlisted.org/neo RT w/the hashtag #localu 2B entered to win.

Help promote http://getlisted.org/neo Local Search Conf. RT w/the hashtag #localu & be entered to win a free pass

Spend a day at http://GetListed.org/neo‘s conference on 6/30. RT w/the hashtag #localu & you could win a free pass.

Join Anita Campbell of @smallbiztrends 4 http://GetListed.org/neo conf. RT w/ hashtag #localu & u could win a free pass

Join Local SEO experts @davidmihm @mblumenthal in CLE on 6/30. RT w/ hashtag #localu & u could go 4 free. http://getlisted.org/neo

Join @clevelanddotcom & others at http://GetListed.org/neo conference on 6/30. RT w/the hashtag #localu & u could go 4 free

Hear SEO tips along w/@NEOSA_nellis at http://GetListed.org/neo’s conf. RT w/ hashtag #localu & be entered 2 win a free pass

Here is a copy of both her planning document and the sample tweets that she put together that will make participation so easy for all. The documents can serve as model documents for Twitter contests that you might run in your local markets:

GetListed.org Twitter Contest Guidelines & Instructions

Sample Tweets for getlisted

I am not being totally altruistic in sharing these two documents. Besides providing you with a great document that you might be able to use for your own event, I am hoping that you will Tweet away the opportunity for folks to win a free pass to Local University Cleveland on June 30th!

TomTom – When is a Lifetime not a Lifetime? When it refers to TeleAtlas?

Its tough being TomTom. They are in an industry that is being cannibalized on the hardware side by low end devices and their very expensive purchase of TeleAtlas is being quickly deprecated on the software and underlying data side. That being said does that give them permission to be low-lifes in promoting their geo products? They have done so before but still I think not. I received the following ad from them yesterday:

The word Lifetime was used 11 times in the ad and it caught my eye. Just like it was supposed to do. Lifetime means just that: a lifetime…lifetime of what though? My lifetime? No that is too expansive. Lifetime of the equipment purchased? Now that makes sense but no…

If you follow the * to the fine print (and the fine print of the fine print – could they go one more layer deep?) you will discover which lifetime they are referring to (bolds are mine):

*You receive non-transferable traffic data and up to four non-transferable map data updates per year until the product’s useful life expires or TomTom no longer receives map or traffic updates from its suppliers, whichever is shorter. Details and terms at www.tomtom.com/legal.

It would seem that a product’s useful life could mean many things but it certainly doesn’t mean the lifetime of the product other than by their definition. But the limit, imposed by TomTom, of no longer receiving updates from its suppliers seemed particularly suspect…they own the supplier, no? Perhaps it was an unintended irony that comes out of legal but then again maybe TomTom knows something about its “suppliers” (ie TeleAtlas) that it is not telling us?

Does the Separation of Google Maps and Google Local Portend a Divorce from infoUSA?

Ancient History
In 2004 Google Local was released as an independent entity on Google.com. In April of 2006, when Google merged Local into Maps, the competitive scene was much different than today. Google’s main competitors on the mapping and directions side were Mapquest and Yahoo and on the IYP side Superpages, Yellowpages and Yahoo.

Google Maps leveraged their local audience to augment their direction customers and vice versa on their way to develop a very high rate of consolidated growth in both arenas that buried all comers. This compares to Yahoo’s strategy of keeping the local, yp and mapping mostly separate. If nothing else the combination gave Google monthly bragging rights in the many public comparisons made by Hitwise & Compete.

Google effectively outmanuevered Yahoo, the IYPs, Citysearch & Mapquest in local and mapping and by combining Local and Maps into a single product (and adding ongoing innovation), was able effectively compete and ultimately surpass them all.  It is obvious where that has led. By February of 2009 they had gained a dominant and virtually unassailable market share in both arenas for general local search.

Recent History

It appears though that the marriage of Local and Maps is now entering a new era where Local will once again be split from Maps and take on more of a life of its own in the pantheon of Google products. Here are my reasons:

Continue reading Does the Separation of Google Maps and Google Local Portend a Divorce from infoUSA?

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