Coming Soon: Click-to-Call in Ads on Mobile Devices with Google AdWords

I just received this email from Google:

Coming Soon: Click-to-Call in Ads on Mobile Devices with Google AdWords

Dear AdWords Advertiser,

We’re pleased to announce that beginning in January, your location-specific business phone number will display alongside your destination url in ads that appear on high-end mobile devices. Users will be able to click-to-call your business just as easily as they click to visit your website.

How will phone numbers appear in my ads?

Based on the customer’s geographic location, the phone number and closest business address will appear as a fifth line of ad text when the ad appears on mobile devices with full HTML browsers (e.g. iPhone, Android, Palm WebOS).

Where will I be able to see the results?

At launch, you’ll be able to view calls from your ads on your Campaign Summary page within AdWords from the “click type” segment option under the “Filter and Views” drop down.

How will I be charged for phone calls I get from my ad?

The cost of a click to call your business will be the same as the cost of a click to visit your website.

What actions should I take?

If you’d like your ads to show location-specific phone numbers when displayed on mobile devices, make sure that your campaign is targeting iPhones and other mobile devices with full HTML browsers, and that you have included phone numbers with your business addresses in the locations under your Campaign settings.
If you would prefer your ads not show phone numbers, simply remove the location extensions from your ad campaigns or un-check mobile devices under the Campaign Settings tab.

We hope this new feature enables you to connect more easily with your potential customers. If you have any questions or feedback, please email us at ctc-feedback@google.com.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

Loci 2009 – Important Articles in Local Search

loci with pronunciations

1. Particular postions, points or places
2. Centers of activity, attention, or concentration

Each year, I invite folks whose opinion I respect to provide the readers of this blog with lists of the articles from 2009 that seemed most important to them. The people contributing come from a range of positions and job descriptions, some will be familiar to you and others not. All have one thing in common; they have something to say about local that is worth listening to.

Here is the charge that I gave them: Would you be willing to share the 3,5 or 10 articles/ideas/links that influenced your thinking or actions the most over the past year? The articles could be yours, or from others and could cover any topic that you think relates to Local ie local mobile, phones, mapping, Local VC, Local companies, Google, trends, marketing, best practices etc….but articles that you found of importance in one way or another throughout the year.

I will be running lists from Bill Slawski, David Mihm, Seb Provencher, Matt McGee, Martijn Beijk, Daniel Tunkelang, Mike Dobson, Gib Olander, Lisa Barone and more.

Stop back over the next 10 days to welcome their many voices.

Google Maps & Web Designers: Salt in the Wounds

With the recent brouhaha over the missing 7 packs for SEO and Web Designers due to “lack of local intent” on the part of searchers, you would think that Google would have the common sense not to rub salt in the wounds. Well, you would have thought wrong.

Whether by intent or accident, Google is still showing an Adwords campaign when a user searches on the phrase “web design + city” that offers up (of all things) a free Places page as a solution to the query:

I am no Adwords expert, nor do I know the rules by which Google decides to run their own ads vs. those of paying customers. However in this particular campaign, ads always appear as the first ad in the upper right corner of the main search results page, big city or small, US or Canada. It is hard for me to imagine how an ad for a Places page would have a very high quality score on this particular search.

To say the least, I have always thought that Google lacked a certain finesse in their PR moves in Maps. They seem to possess a veritable tin ear when it comes to interacting with the local web design and search industries that serve SMBs and as Miriam so eloquently points out, it must be baffling for any SMB attempting to interact with them.

Regardless of the reasons that Google pulled the 7-pack for those in web design and marketing, this ad ends up looking like Google is the beach bully attempting to kick sand in everyone else’s face. There has to be a better way to market the Local Business Center.

Google to SEO’s, Designers & Advertising Agents: You are Off the Map!

Yesterday, Google’s Joel H has definitively confirmed that, at least in the whole of the US, Canada & the UK, they are no longer showing the 7 Pack on queries for Web Designers, Graphic Design, SEOs or Advertising Agents when paired with the City & ST.

According to Google, the searches lack sufficient local intent and their being missing is by design not by mistake. What strikes an odd chord for me though is that these very same queries, when paired with cities in Australia, China, Russia, Mexico and Hong Kong, do return the 7-Pack.

Today, we’re intentionally showing less local results for web design / SEO queries. For example, [web design sacramento] doesn’t display local listings today. We believe this is an accurate representation of user intent. In some cases, we do show local listings, however (as NSNA/php-er noted) [web design in bellingham]. I’m sure some of you feel we should be displaying local results for queries like [Web Design Vancouver]. I understand that concern, but based on our understanding of our users, we feel this is the right decision for now.

The issue has been in evidence since early November and had been noted in both the map and webmaster forums (here, here, here & here) as well as in a previous post on this blog.

On November 11, when Google initially responded publicly to the issue, they indicated that the missing 7 Paks was the flip side of the OneBox frequency problem that they had just fixed. Google employee Brian B posted:

This looks like it’s closely related to the issue going on at the thread I’ve linked below. We realize there’s something going on here, and we initially pushed out a fix a while back. There was a little hiccup with the fix, which is probably why the results in Fresno may have gone back up and then back down as addoctane mentioned above.

The team is working on this issue. Stay tuned to the thread below where I will post an update as soon as I hear one.

However, on 12/14 Google Employee Brian noted in a different thread than above:

That said, it looks like a lot of the recent search examples on this thread have to do with web design, SEO, and other services of that sort. It’s possible that instead of being related to the original issue, Google.com doesn’t bring up map results for these types of searches because the search term doesn’t show much local intent. In other words, there’s not enough local information in the query for Google to trigger maps results on Google.com. Searches for the same terms on maps.google.com, however, do bring up results.

The situation brings up more than one question…
Continue reading Google to SEO’s, Designers & Advertising Agents: You are Off the Map!

Google Maps Adds New “Report A Problem” Link for Business Listing Spam & Errors

Google has recently added a “Report A Problem” Link for reporting business Listing spam & errors from within Maps. The link is available via the business listing info bubble where once you select “Edit” you are presented with a “Report A Problem” link that takes you to a short form.

According to Google Guide Cecelia this “is the best way to report spam because it gives us the most information possible. Our team can see which specific listing has an issue, whereas the form only asks for a URL. Sometimes these URLs are broken or people forget to add them”.

The current mapspam reporting form is still available but apparently, over time this new feedback mechanism will replace the mapspam reporting form in an effort to bring “the report closer to the product”.

The feature is mostly available in all countries which have the community edit feature. Although not all countries so noted in the chart as having community edits have the report a problem feature. In Canada is available on main Map listing view near the bottom and is only available on those listings that have already been claimed. Additionally, in the US only, a user report can be filed against an already claimed listing.

Maps Guide Cecelia noted that the “time frame [for spam removal] most likely varies based on the number of reports we receive”. Spam removal has been a point of frustration for many SMBs as Google has been more likely to use the information for algo tweaks than to remove the offending spam. This is a practice that often leaves egregious spam in place for months on end with no indication when if ever action would be taken.

Most Read Stories of 2009

2009 has been an exciting year of growth for local and for my blog. To all of those many folks world wide that have regularly contributed to the conversation and my learning I say THANK YOU!

Here are the 10 Most Read Stories of 2009 (in order of total pageviews):

1. Google replaces TeleAtlas data in the US with Google data
2. Tracking Local Search Traffic with Analytics (Thanks to Martijn Beijk!)
3. Google Maps Proves more Locksmiths in NYC than Cabbies
4. Where are Google Places Pages going? To the Index?
5. Google Maps vs Locksmiths Spammers – Spammers winning?
6. Big boobs bounce back to Top of Google Maps
7. Google Maps now showing Local 10 pack on Broad non Geo phrase searches
8. Google Maps – How to Remove Duplicate Records in the Local Business Center
9. Google Maps – Merging Mania Due to Algo Change
10. Why the Google Local Business Center Fails

The 5 Most Read Stories from the Back Library:

1. Ranking Factors in Google Maps – Cracking the Code @ SMX Local
2. Google Maps still loading slow – try html
3. List of Google Maps Categories
4. Microsoft’s listing in Google Maps Hijacked – (Oops by Me)
5. Google Maps New Local 10 pack Now Live

Google Mapping Tool Availability Matrix

Barry Schwartz has pointed out that last week, Google Maps added a chart showing which Google Maps services were available in which country. Maps is a global product that is offered in 200 some odd countries and there are a range of features available depending on licensing and data availability. Thus the matrix is incredibly complex.

From this graphic display of the variation in tools one can infer some of the support, licensing and development difficulties in providing a mapping tool world wide. Obviously in some countries there is no digital data of the roads and no lists for the businesses. If there is, the use of the data may be constrained by licensing issues. Here is a brief summary of the features available in a range of developed and 3rd world countries:

Country

Local Business
Center

Community Edits

My Maps

Map Maker

Building Maker

Argentina

X

Edit only

X

X

Australia

X

X

X

Brazil

X


Belgium

X

X

X


Brussels

Canada

X

Add only

X

2 Cities

Denmark

X

Add only

X


Copenhagen

France

X

X

X


2 Cities

Germany

X

X

X


3 Cities

Italy

X

X


Venice

Guinea-Bissau

X

X

Kenya

X

X

X

Sao Tome and Principe

X

X

Senegal

X

X

Seychelles

X

X

Somalia

X

X

South Africa

X

Edit only

X

United Kingdom

X

Add Only

X


2 cities

United States

X

X

X


26 Cities

Who gets the Traffic in the Local Space

The year has been an interesting one. The recent conversation of a possible acquisition of Yelp by Google motivated me to create this chart comparing traffic for the larger sites in the Local arena.

The year started with Craig’s List and Mapquest holding a small lead over Google Maps. Citysearch held a solid fourth and Yelp rapidly bringing up the rear. But the rapid growth of Maps and Yelp, the steady decline of Mapquest and CitySearch has created a significant change in standings:

maps-google-com-craigslist-org_uv_1y

Picture 8

There are a million ways to look at who has done what in local and this is but one. Here is the URL for the Compete charts. Head on over and add your own favorite local site to see how it has fared and let me know.

When you look at these numbers, it makes the now off Yelp-Google combo look like a market dominating matchup.

Google Maps Sentiment Analysis; Foreign Speakers Need Not Apply?

There are faux pas and there are FAUX PAS. Google Maps by virtue of its global scope and the occasional tin ear of its algo has managed to periodically insert itself into the culture wars of 21st Century. Google Maps has been accused of Chinese bias by the Indians and Indian bias by the Chinese and of course the real battles of Jerusalem often take place in the virtual world of Maps. However, Google may be trying its luck by taking on the French in both matters of food and language.

Reader Keonda has pointed out on my post about Google Maps newly instituted sentiment analysis feature that Google is now showing the more granular review information in Europe. However, apparently it is showing up on the localized Google language sites in English.

The French take their country, language and food very seriously. By showing sentiment analysis on Google.fr of French food in English, Google may have just stepped into one very huge aggregation of merde. It would seem to me a sure fire way to anger everybody from Sarcozy to the subway conductor. And trust me, you don’t want to anger the subway conductors in France.

Note on this example search for the Lasserre Restuarant in Paris:
Picture 6

Sentiment analysis has to be a very complicated algo and it would seem to be very culturally and linguistically based. There are likely to be even regional differences in expression. For example I can’t imagine how the review for the Medical Marijuana Provider in LA would translate (Hey dude, that was some good shit!). Perhaps for now, Google has just figured it out in English.

If that is the case then perhaps it is premature to be showing it on the regional sites. Unless of course they are prepared to do battle with Le Monde and the powerful French unions.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search