Will Google Maps Coupons Rise From the Dead with the New Mobile Option?

Coupons in Google Maps have long been the forgotten step-child with little promotion on the part of Google and even less visibility in Maps and in the main search results. The result has been that they have been of little real value to anyone. Is that about to change?

The Google LatLong just announced that Google has added a new option for Local Business Center users in the US to display their coupons on mobile devices. Additionally, they’ve the display of coupons on your desktop. From the post:

coupons1
“If you add a new coupon to your business listing in Local Business Center, by default it will now be available on mobile devices. To make your existing coupons available on mobile, edit them and check the box for Mobile Distribution, as shown here”:

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On a mobile device users looking at local business listing will see a section that lists the available coupons which if clicked will present specially-formated page which shows all the coupon details.

While a mobile presentation of the coupon might someday offer a useful and popular coupon redemption means, it appears to me that the Google Maps Coupon will remain hidden from potential users for a while. The coupons also do not show in Google Maps on the iPhone which seems like a 10 foot high barrier to adoption in the mobile world. On the desktop due to Google having buried them deep within the interface and on mobile due to lack of penetration and searcher knowledge.

That being said, if you have a coupon in the LBC it is worth going in and upgrading it to present in the Mobile environment. As part of the upgrade and when you modify the coupon, you will be required to add an end date to the coupon if one was not previously added.

Looking for a Legend In All the Wrong Places

Zebedi recently posted this comment on my Get a Virtual Office With a Keyword Stuffed Maps Listing article. I thought it worth highlighting and responding:

As a small business person, I cannot find an SEO that can tell me how to genuinely appear in search results in the areas we genuinely service. Why is it called SPAM if it is genuine?

People like us go to clients, rather than them coming to our workshop. (antique and furniture restoration and custom furniture etc. etc. in case you are curious). We are talking about relatively rare service skills and a large client catchment district to gain the higher class of items which are our niche. This is the way it always has been, since 1983, and the way it always will be. We are in a metropolitan region but not in the major city. Nor are we in the two sister cities that we service. We are in an in-between city area. Our workshop is in between the main city and one of the sister cities, and because of highways, about 1-1.25 hours from the other sister city.

We are not alone in this issue. Lots of service providers are in this situation, particularly if they target the top end of their skill/ items, and even more so if the equipment or the skill is rare. Also, it is not unusual for people like us to have workshops or acreage to handle the noise and the land required for specialist vehicles and equipment and often, economically, we choose in between sites for our business for land price benefits – yet still good access to client catchment areas. Have a look where most industrial estates are. It is no point of chance that it happens to be between cities rather than in them.

SO if you want to catch some work – solve the problem.

Looking for a legendary SEO ….

Here is my response to Zebedi. What would you add?
Continue reading Looking for a Legend In All the Wrong Places

Google Local Listing Ad Heatmap

Like all in the industry, I am curious about how a user might view and respond to the new display that Google is presenting when the Local Listing Ads are included. Between the Adwords, new Local Listing Ads & the 7 Pack organic results have been pushed very far down the page and user behavior is obviously impacted.

Not having a budget for this project I used one of the new algo generated online heatmap products, AttentionWizard to see what the results looked like. According to their own description there is a 75% correlation between this type of heatmap and a real heatmap. So what you see should be viewed with a few grains of salt. That being said, it is interesting. Click the image to view it larger.

Local Listing Ad HeatMap - Click to View Larger

What do you think?

Here is a screen shot of the original search for comparison purposes:
Continue reading Google Local Listing Ad Heatmap

Is Google AdWords Testing a New Local Adwords Display Type?

In July, Google upgraded AdWords to allow advertisers to add the full address to their search ads through location extensions. It appears that they are now testing a new ad layout similar to the one developed for Local Listing Ads.

Tim Coleman of A Second Opinion, sent along this screen shot from last week of a search for “garage door repair denver” that displays a new local AdWords ad type. (Click the image to view larger)

denver-local-adwords

Has anyone else seen this type of Ad?

Google Maps Local Listing Ad Spam & Other Notes

As Google Local Listing Ads rollout it is no surprise to see spam creeping in and potential trademark questions once again coming to the fore. Pierre Kairouz has shared a screen shot with me for the search taxi San Francisco which brought up this Local Listing Ad. It is interesting in two respects, the use of PO Box for the address and the obvious business title manipulation. The domain taxicabcalifornia.com leads to a website with the business name of Yellow Cabs CA and a whois address in Mountain View. The taxi industry is not a new comer to mapspam but it will be interesting to see how Google enforces its guidelines on PO Box and business name going forward as the ads become more common.

Local Listing Ad Spam - click to view larger

The keyword crammed business titles are notable in this result as well:

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The other interesting issue presented by business name keyword cramming and Local Listing Ads is the possibility of trademark violations. This search for computer repair San Francisco Ca brings up the following ad:

copyrightviolatons-LLA (click to view larger)

The ad, while in likely violation of Google’s listing guidelines, is not in violation of Google’s Adwords US Trademark rules as the lister is an active seller of Microsoft products. The ad which goes to the lister’s Places page, does however raise the question of appropriate trademark use in both the business title, categories and descriptions.

It also appears that the Local Listing Ads are rolling out across more and more categories in the San Francisco & San Diego markets including salons, plumbers, auto parts and even locksmiths. However it is not yet available in all categories. Cathy Hillen-Rhulloda recently noted that florists in these markets have not yet been offered the Local Listing Ad opportunity.

Get a keyword stuffed Google Map listing with a virtual office thrown in for free!

Creative abuses of Google Maps for profit always intrigue me and this “ad” is one that certainly wins an award for chutzpah. PanzerMike, never one to let a potential spamming competitor sneak through & frustrated by Google’s spam fighting efforts, sent me this example.
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Apparently with the real estate business in a downturn, an enterprising real estate company needs to turn somewhere for new leads.
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With a little searching, you can find this Map listing in every major market, each located in a building offering virtual office space. One even offered the space up free for 90 days to the recently unemployed.

The phone numbers listed in the Map’s listings, ring into Anthony & Co. who according to their website are “one of the largest, oldest and most experienced commercial real estate service companies in North Carolina”.

I found these paragraphs from their About Us page rich in irony:

ANTHONY & Co. is recognized by corporate, institutional and individual clients as the “consummate insider,” and now with four locations, ANTHONY & Co. has greater reach to serve you in more local markets.

With timeless values and expert professionalism, we build Real Value and Real Community for local investors and companies. We are pioneers in consulting, development, transaction and management services, applying our knowledge with wisdom to achieve Real Results for our clients.

It seems that in this case, you get a virtual office with a keyword stuffed Google Map listing thrown in for free. Or is it a keyword stuffed Map listing with a virtual office thrown in for free? Leave it to the real estate business to redefine timeless values, expert professionalism and wisdom.

Google Maps LBC Local Listing Ads: Additional Details & Interface Review

The Help Pages for the Local Listing Ads have been “beefed up” and now total 32 pages of instruction with ad policy details, and payment timing and much, much more. Several of the help pages did answer previous questions and provide some nuggets of interest :

Will my monthly fee change?
Your flat monthly fee is unlikely to change. In the event that we need to change it, you’ll be given 30 days notice of this change both via email, and on the homepage of your Local Business Center account

What is call tracking? Is it optional
In order to drive calls to your store and help you keep track of them, Google Local Listing Ads offers free call tracking to all Local Listing Ads advertisers. We will offer each ad listing a unique call tracking number that will forward calls to your listed business phone.

The number of calls you receive is listed in your online report. Additionally, each time a customer calls, you’ll hear a voice announcement – ‘this caller brought to you by Google’- before the call connects. That way, you get a better sense of what kind of customers are being driven to your business by your ad. This can help you make more informed decision about your advertising spend. For now, this call tracking feature is an integral part of Local Listing Ads. We’ll be listening to your feedback on how useful this feature is, and whether or not we should make it optional.

Will my ads show less often as more advertisers join?

Yes. This reflects the fact that as more advertisers sign up for the same business type in your location, on average each advertiser will get less user attention. That said, our team is working on ways to make sure the spread of user attention stays within reasonable range, we’ll update this topic to reflect these.

Brett Burlison, a San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney, agreed to share some screen shots of his Local Listing Ad interface.

In the main list view a third tab has been added that provides access to the Local Listing Ad details. (Click any of the images below to see them larger.) The interface is clean and very easy to use.

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One you have chosen the tab you are brought to a summary page of the ad where you can see the ad statistics and have links to edit the ad or to view the billing history.

Note the low click thru rates…
Continue reading Google Maps LBC Local Listing Ads: Additional Details & Interface Review

Photo Experiment with the iPhone – the path to widespread mobile local adotion

Page Road Early November Snow Fall It snowed again the other day, at the higher elevations that I travel to work. As the sun was rising over the hilltop, the contrasts, lighting and colors were striking and I embarked on an iPhone photo experiment to see how well I could capture the scenes with the low end camera in the phone.

The iPhone 3gs offers some exposure and focus control but a fixed focal length, very wide angle lens. If you want to zoom, in on something, it is a sneaker-zoom option only. The lighting was difficult and varied. That all being said, it can take a pretty good photo.

As mobile computing devices like the iPhone integrate increased functionality and capability, it is not just the laptop, gaming device or the music player that will be replaced. In these photos, I think you can see that it won’t be long before devices like the iPhone seriously impact the low end of the point and shoot photography world. Why carry two, three or four devices when one does good enough on most tasks.

This multifunction ability will allow more folks to experience the local/mobile ecosystem as they consolidate devices and explore the many other capabilities of the devices (and you thought I couldn’t relate this to local. 🙂 )

View the slide show.

What do you think?

Google Changes Guidelines AGAIN!

Stefano Gorgoni has pointed out that Google has once again changed the Business Listing Guidelines as regards to legal business name, switching back to the standard that was in use previously:

Previous Guideline New Guideline
The business name on Google Maps must be your full legal business name. Represent your business exactly as it appears in the offline world. The name on Google Maps should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.
Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name. Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business into the business name.
Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name. Do not include phone numbers or URLs in the business name.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search