Google Alerts: an indispensible tool for Local Search

When I was in college, I had a job clipping articles from newspapers for a professor who was planning a book. It was back in the days when the Federal Government actually provided support for higher education and it afforded me the privelege of reading newspapers and being paid for it.

These days the job of clipping service flunky has been obsoleted and replaced with Google Alerts. It has been one of the indispensible tools in writing this blog. I receive a number of alerts each day with both broad and narrow search terms to keep abreast of writings far and wide in the field of Local Search.

Today I recieved this alert:

More Local Women Hitting Woods In Search Of Deer
WPXI.com – Pittsburgh,PA,USA

PITTSBURGH — While there are fewer hunters nationwide, one group of hunters is growing: women.

I took up golf this summer as my 12 year son wanted to learn the game and needed the ocassional partner. My woods game was nowhere near this accurate.

Salvdore Dali Museum notes surreal nature of Google Maps

This posting appeared today in the Google Maps for Business Owners Group

TOPIC: Address incorrect on listing. Changes requested months ago…

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== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Mon, Nov 26 2007 8:13 am
From: “ecrispen@salvadordalimuseum.org”

If you search for “Salvador Dali Museum” it provides the incorrect address. And has for a very long time. I have sent more than a year trying to correct this, and even have so called “Active” listings in my business center account, however Google still provides the wrong info to our customers.

What is needed to fix this?

Eric Crispen – IT Director
Salvador Dali Museum

Google Definitions of surreal:
• phantasmagoric: characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions; “a great concourse of phantasmagoric shadows”–J.C.Powys;
• dreamlike: resembling a dream; “night invested the lake with a dreamlike quality”; “as irrational and surreal as a dream”

Add Google Coupons to your main search results via Google Co-op

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Google Coupons now offers the ability to return Coupons in your main search results via the Google Co-op. When you select the above button from Google Coupon search you will be asked to log in and taken to this page at Google Co-op beta for a subscription confirmation:

You can add information created by Coupons to your Google search results pages by subscribing to their Subscribed Links.

Whenever you search on Google in an area of their expertise, the first result you see will be relevant content they provide.

To subscribe to Coupons, select the Subscribe button below. To learn more about Coupons, you can visit their Google Co-op profile page and then subscribe from there.

On the profile page are presented with additional information about the Coupon Subscription from the Co-op (note that currently 57 others have subscribed):

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You are then shown what your subscribed link will look like on the main results page:

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Local Links of Interest: Local Search News goes mainstream

It is fascinating to me to see the emergence of local search & local mobile to be appearing so prominently in the mainstream press. In today’s online edition of the NY Times, the following three headlines from the technology section were featured on the front page:

A Web Tour Will Show Stores From the Inside Out
The Web site EveryScape.com lets a viewer take a realistic tour like the one of Cambridge, Mass., above. Soon, it will go inside to show store interiors, like the Harvard Coop, below.

A new three-dimensional promotional tool will allow Web surfers to venture down streets and inside some local businesses.
Prototype

Mobile Web: So Close Yet So Far

The wireless communications business smacks of a soap opera, with disaster lurking like your next dropped call.

Web Drives More Real-World Purchases

E-commerce purchases are expected to grow a healthy but unspectacular 17 to 20 percent this holiday season over last year’s. But the Web’s influence over what people buy could be growing even faster.

Local Links of Interest

• Jaiku, Android and Google’s Mobile Ads

• What Google has planned for Jaiku?

Because his mobile phone is able to broadcast the location automatically (even if it’s not very precise), the user posts more than a message. The text can be connected to his location and create a list of preferences for each place you frequently visit.

“Google + Jaiku is not a million miles away from being able to push appropriate advertising to individuals based on their profile, their location and their availability. Imagine walking down the high street and having your mobile phone pop up with a Google notification telling you that Heroes DVD box sets were 20% off at HMV today, or that a new Indian restaurant had just opened in that part of town. (…) It seems obvious that Jaiku is destined to become an integral part of the Android platform over the next year,” thinks Jonathan Mulholland.

• Move the Map Marker on Google Maps: A Screenshot Tour (Tamar Weinberg at SeoRountable.com)

Google now promoting Google Coupons with AdWords

pizzacoupon1.jpgGoogle has started to advertise their Coupon search capability with Google Adwords (thanks to FathomSeo for great screen shots of this and the heads up).

When searching on “pizza coupons”, the Pizza Coupons adword results take you to your local ads apparently based on your user profile and/or location. I for example, was shown coupons for Allegany NY when I clicked through the ad on the right (see image below).

When searching on just “coupons”, the ad takes a viewer to the Local Business Center to add a coupon to their business record.

Given Google’s recent addition of coupon oriented domains and their new searchable coupon interface, this new forward facing promotion was to be expected.

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Google Map’s Coupons: My Coupon is bigger than Your Coupon

Today Google has confirmed that ValPak has certain coupon size and layout benefits that are not available to all businesses when they upload their coupons to the Local Business Center.

There are currently three levels of coupons creation that we know about:

1-Local Business Center where a business can create coupons one at a time. This is offers the fewest graphic and content options.

2-The Coupon Feed which allows for more graphics and content.

3-The ValPak Feed which allows for bigger & more graphics and multiple coupons.

When I inquired about the differences Map Guides Jen responded:

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Nov 20 2007 9:19 am
From: “Maps Guide Jen”

Hello,

Sure, here’s what insight I can provide. If you upload coupons using a feed (see this page ), you can include enhanced content like images, barcodes, and logos. As you can see, the appearance of Valpak-provided coupons is slightly unique. This helps Valpak merchants recognize their coupons.

Thanks,
Jen

In August of 2006, when Google announced their Coupon feature in Maps they also announced their relationship with ValPak. Obviously, Google benefits from ValPak by being able to quickly populate their coupon inventory. In some markets, ValPak provides as many as 75% of all coupons.(see my previous article on Coupon penetration)

The differences are more than a slightly unique:

• The coupon provider logo should be 100 x21 pixels, Valpak’s logo is 120 pixels by 34
• The image filed is indicated may be up to 120 pixels high and 120 pixels wide and there is no provision for business logo. The Valpak coupons provide a business logo that is 155 x 103
• There appears to no allowance in the upload feed for multiple coupons like ValPak is able to do
• There appears to be no provision for the inclusion of your business logo in list view
As long as coupons have played such a minor role in the real world of Google search, this type of difference in allowing more technical clients (read larger & with more money) access to additional features and allowing one client (ValPak) the most features is a non-issue. However, as soon as Google moves coupons to the surface of the main results page, this discrepancy will become problematic.

Local Links of Interest

Google may be a distance second in mapping to Mapquest, be struggling to gain a solid number one position in Local search, have but one cell tower and 0% market share of the cellphone OS system market but you wouldn’t know it from their coverage in the search and mainstream press. They seem to be getting 90% of the market share of news on their efforts in local and local mobile of late:

• google has even bigger plans for mobile phones (WSJ)

•Google Maps Goes Wikimapia, Lets The People Move The Map Points (Greg Sterling – SearchEngineLand)

•Google: ‘Seven Figures’ Have Used the LBC (Greg Sterling – Screenwerk)

• Monetizing Google Platforms? (Bill Slawski – SeoBytheSea.com)

Here a few interesting forum discussions about Google Maps and its effects on local websites (thanks to Dave):

•How To Get My Business To Show Up As A Map In Google SERPs (WebmasterWorld)

•Is Google Maps important for your Web site? Better Get into the top 3!!! (SEORefugee)

Developing Knowledge about Local Search