Google Rolls Out Local Carousel Display in US for Dining, Nightlife, Hotels, and Other Attractions

As suspected Google has announced the roll out the Carousel Display for local results “for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop”. Here is Jade’s post in the Forums:

Today, we’re announcing an interactive “carousel” of results on Google search for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop. This launch is English and US-only for now. The carousel has appeared since December in tablet searches in the US, and the desktop local search experience is now consistent.

To give it a try,  search for something like “mexican restaurant.” Users can click on a specific place to view more details and scroll through more results by clicking on the arrows on the side.

How can I get my business to show up in the carousel?

While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.

Why is this feature only available for some business verticals?

We’re committed to providing users a high quality search experience for every query. The carousel filtering experience is a good fit for some categories of local businesses. We will continue to experiment with different designs and interfaces to make sure that users get the information they’re looking for, fast.

I’d like to see this feature in more languages and countries, please!

We’ll work as fast as we can to roll out new features in as many places as possible, but have nothing to announce at this time.

My business is on the carousel, but I’d like to change the photo. How can I do that?

The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.

Some notes:

1- The carousel will display as many restaurants as there is room on your display. On my iMac with a 1920 x 1200 displays 15 listings left to right. On my 1280 x 960 display it shows 9.5 listings.
2-It still retains the Zagat rating number
3-None of the displayed results from the carousel have an organic listing until the image is clicked
4-When you cursor over the image a pin is raised on the map
5-When you click on any given image you remain on the main search page for a branded search for that listing and the number 1 listing switches to the brand’s web and a knowledge panel is displayed to the right
6-Given the ease at which a branded search is executed (by a click), even though the company web site shows first, this will be a huge win for Yelp and others doing good seo in the entertainment and restaurant industries
7- In the hotel searches only advertisers and Google’s hotel finder are visible above the fold even on larger displays.
8-The displayed listing is a blended listing and shows site links and title tags when available.
9- I can currently see the display in Firefox but NOT Chrome (how weird is that)

How Good is Google Places for Business Phone Support? Very Good

Google first rolled out phone support for businesses using the Places Dashboard in early January of this year to deal with verification issues and subsequently announced additional phone support for data quality issues in late January for all English speaking users.

They had introduced email support in the US in Oct 2011 and rolled out email support worldwide in May of this year when they closed the European forums. One assumes with somewhere on the order of 100 million businesses world wide, somewhere north of 8 million claimed and their highlighting of the call in system in the help files the loads on their support system must be significant.

 

contact-us

(First help screen seen when you click on the help link in the dashboard)

call-us

 (Screen seen when you click on “Contact Us”)

Yet their support fulfillment seems to be consistently very, very good.

I had a data quality issue with a secondary phone number showing up for a listing and it seemed that nothing I did over the past 13 days could disuade the Google algo from showing the incorrect number. I called support yesterday and here is the time log of the events:

10:28 Initiated call back support call

10:29 Received call back and placed on hold

10:32 Customer rep picked up the phone

10:32-34 Discussed issue with rep

10:34-36 Rep goes off to interact with tools to fix issue

10:36-37 Rep reports that issue should be resolved within several hours to a day

10:37-39 Rep chit chat.

4:00 When I bother to look the problem is fixed on the main search result page Knowledge panel for the location.

This day has been a long time coming.

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New Google Places for Business Dashboard Upgraded to Handle 100 Entries

Now-supports-100Last Thursday at the Advanced Local U, Dan Pritchett, the engineer heading up the Places for Business Dashboard effort and Joel Headley, joined us for the day long discussions.

During the day, the arbitrary limits to the maximum number of listings (25) in the dashboard were discussed and bemoaned by the folks at the seminar. For service area businesses with more than 25 locations, it meant there would thus be a need for multiple dashboards. Not a great solution. Dan heard and he acted.

I have just been informed that based on the feedback received Dan lifted the 25 listing limit to 100 in the new Places interface. Kudos to Google for listening and responding!

Is Google Debranding Local?

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 10.26.40 AMLocal, like many developments at Google, has always been many things; a brand (G+Local, Places), a product (Places Search, the +Local App) and an internal & external API service (local data in Now, Earth or 3rd party products).

And as David Mihm has pointed out, Google’s branding of local has always been muddled and caused confusion in the market place. But now it would appear that the confusion will someday end and that both the local brand and the forward facing search product (Places Search) are falling by the wayside.

Local will persist as a service feeding critical contextually relevant data to the many current Google products that use local data and the many that are likely to be coming rapidly down the pipeline.

Local as brand & product – a History

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Google Local Carousel Display Showing More Frequently, In More Categories

google local corusel display

Image courtesy of Greg Gifford.

Greg Giford of Autorevo and Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz are both reporting increased visibility of the Local Carousel display that highlights local businesses at the top of the SERPS in a highly photographic style rather than the embedded 7-Pack Local Universal display of a list of pins.

Interestingly, for the first time, these are showing in categories outside of just restaurants and hotels. Greg reported the carousel as showing in a range of recreational, leisure and entertainment categories like golf, bowling alleys, movie theaters, night life, ballrooms and art galleries. (For the complete list of searches that Greg saw these results be sure to read his post.) No reports yet of retail or service area business listings in this new format.

Whether these are still in test mode or actually slowly rolling out is not clear as there have been sporadic sightings elsewhere around the country. It would seem that regardless they are getting closer to being fully baked.

First spotted in the wild by Dr. Pete in early May and analyzed in depth by Lisa Kolb these carousel results along with the Maps display seem to point to a shift in the ranking metaphor that Google has so long used in the display of local results. Highly visual in design, with a bold black border accentuating the color photographs, Google is almost saying “these are the most relevant results but are of equal value for your consideration”.

Much like social annotations and the pins, it appears that these types of results will “disrupt” traditional searcher behaviors that heavily favored the first search results by spreading clicks more evenly across the page. With a horizontal display it might be equally advantageous to be 3rd as it is to be first in order.

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credit Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

New Places for Business Dashboard Has 25 Listing Limit

As the new Google Places for Business Dashboard is being adopted more widely, we are starting to gain insights into its strengths and limits. One of its great strengths (besides a much enhanced interface) is the speed at which data typically makes it to the public listing making the use of MapMaker no longer as critical in the listing management process.

Apparently though there currently is a somewhat surprising hard limit that imposes a maximum of 25 listings in the new dashboard. The Google Help documentation notes a limit of 100 but that obviously applies to the old Dashboard and not the new one.

Brian Rutledge of Get Page One, LLC received this message while managing a large SAB with a number of locations.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 4.36.27 PM

Google introduced the new Places for Business dashboard on April 2nd. Initially the product was only available to newly claimed listing. Google started the process of converting existing dashboard users to the new dashboard late last month, beggining with the simplest dashboard use cases first. Those with lots of listings, AdWords Express ads in play or listings claimed into multiple accounts have not yet started the conversion process.

This new found limit at a fairly low number effectively forces more businesses into the bulk upload process which, while a good solution for many, does not offer the speedy data updates of the dashboard, easy access to the simplified marketing products or any obvious path to a social presence.

Hopefully a more graceful integration of the two disparate products can be achieved. It would be ideal if the dashboard could handle more listings or perhaps there was a migration path from the single listing dashboard to the bulk upload process for growing businesses.

While the Dashboard has never been intended for managing a great number of business listings or as an agency level product it is unfortunate that businesses. particularly in the 25-50 location range have so few good choices currently for listing management if they want a partial social presence or limited use of Google’s marketing products. They could migrate over to the G+ management interface but that appears to me to be a much less efficient listing management environment than either the dashboard or the bulk upload.

Regardless there is nothing more frustrating than a forced do over when an agency or SMB runs up against an undocumented limit of a product and has no elegant way to make the switch.

Update: Apparently Google will NOT approve these listings under the bulk upload program and the business is forced into using multiple dashboards. Although why that is, is unclear:

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Google Adds “Are you the Business Owner?” Link to the Brand Knowledge Panel

Googler Jade W posted in the Google for Business forums that they have now added a link to the branded Knowledge panel result for local businesses that allows business owners to claim their listing directly from the main search result page. The link only shows on a direct branded search not on a category search. Here is here post:

Managing your business’s presence on Google is now easier and more accessible. Now, when you search for your business on Google, under right-hand-side panel, there’s a link that says Are you the business owner? Clicking on this will direct you to become the verified owner of this business on Google Places for Business, or to manage the page for your business if you’ve already done so.

It’s easier than ever for business owner to begin the verification process, right from searching for your business on Google.

At some level it is a very small change. It does however point out two things. 1) Google is ready to accept new listing claims into the recently updated Places for Business Dashboard and 2)that Google has the power to ramp up SMB engagement at any moment by adding a link to their home page.

Google’s home page gets significantly more traffic than Maps or Places or G+ local ever has or will. The fact that Google has added this link to the front page should send a clear signal to the market that Google can easily increase the numbers of SMBS claiming their business listing and engaging with Google’s  free and paid products. Are they finally starting to do just that?

 

fern adelstein olean ny   Google Search

Join Us June 13th in Seattle for an Advanced Local U

Join us on June 13th for Local U Advanced at SMX Advanced Seattle 2013

LOGO-Final-Red

SMX Advanced is the leading destination for advanced, professional Online Marketers to learn the latest and greatest techniques and to network with their peers. In the vein of bringing the best content, the Local University crew are proud to be presenting the 2nd edition of Local U Advanced at the Bell Harbor Conference Center on June 13th.

Those of us on the Local U faculty live and breathe local search every day. Whether working with local or enterprise clients or helping define the ways in which local listings will appear in search, social and beyond we have worked all year putting together this curriculum. Look forward to the most current actionable information on local search, social and the view from the engines.

Up close with the Local U faculty

The SMX advanced workshops offer, in addition to of the great learning opportunity, a small group size with unparalleled access to industry experts. The Local U faculty look forward to the opportunity for one to one exchanges with the attendees. These one to one exchanges are a great opportunity for you to ask most pressing question and get answers.

Get answers direct from the horse’s mouth

Join Google’s own Joel Headley and potentially others in an explanation of the current state of local search from their point of view. Get direct advice from Joel on how to troubleshoot Google local in an afternoon roundtable.

Content appropriate to all audiences

Many SEO conferences seem geared to agencies and operators at the highest levels of engagement. Those agencies and experts will get great value from Local U Advanced as will the local mom and pop.

Many of the core tenets of local SEO are universal and there will be plenty of differentiation among tactics appropriate for large and small. Whether you are a big brand or a local merchant you will get great tips, techniques and case studies relevant to your experience.

It’s not all about Google

You can look forward to more than just Google maps. We are bringing in experts in the cutting-edge of social and content for local promotion. You will also hear from paid search experts working hyper local for individual and enterprise clients.

Pinterest, Facebook and Content Marketing are all starting to play a bigger role in the local markers toolbox. You will hear from expert marketers who are using these media to drive the local results.

If you are just getting started or an old pro Local U Advanced has something for you. This all day advanced level training is packed with great information access to experts and plenty of Q & A.

We hope to see you there.

Already have your All Access ticket? Email registration@searchmarketingexpo.com or call (877) 242-5242 to add Local University Advanced to your program. Or you can register for just a Workshop pass online at http://searchmarketingexpo.com/advanced/register

Google Email Inviting Businesses to Update Their Listing in a Newly Converted Dashboard

Last week Google announced that they were starting the process of converting existing, old style dashboards to the new Google Places for Business Dashboard. I just received this email notice that one of my favorite “business” listings had received the dashboard update: Illusory Laptop Repair.

When you log into the new dashboard the user is presented with a nicely designed visual encouraging them to add missing details to the listing.

Here is a copy of the email that is being sent:
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Google Local & Review Scams – A Simple Solution

Local scams involving Google are like dipthera on dog feces, very common. Whether it’s the hundreds of companies trading off of Google’s name, fake Google plaquesselling reviews, a company implying that they are Google and offering to “help” you claim your listing or claiming to be able to rank you first because of a special direct relationship to Google, scams involving Google seem to evolve with the local opportunity de jure.

To some extent Google has impacted the review for sale issue with their review filtering technology. However for most of these scams Google can do little to prevent them and G can only respond after the fact. It must be like whack a mole for their busy legal department.

But when this scam email came across my desk, immediately upon receipt I thought“well I better go check my reviews”… It is clearly a deceit but one that readily attracts the business owner. Yet it  is one deceit that Google could and should have solved long ago.

Re:here r your bad reviews

Your business reputation is in jeopardy!

I found a negative review about your business on Google. It only took a few short minutes to find a negative review about your business on other credible directories, and it didn’t take much longer to find even more.

 No matter what kind of advertisement you do, people look you up in Google and other popular directories before contacting you and as soon as they see the negative reviews, they stop contacting you. If you want to safeguard your online reputation – and protect the steady growth of your business – then monitoring and responding to negative reviews like the ones posted on Google, Yelp, Citysearch, InsdierPages, Yellowpages, Mantra etc is crucial. According to the latest research at the Harvard university, 72% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Don’t let your bad review influence hundreds of potential customers. Reputation Management has quickly moved from being an option to a necessity.

We are Reputation Marketing experts and I want to send you a FREE custom Reputation Report that will reveal in detail your company’s online reviews. To get your free report call us at (866) 966-7396 and we can begin to rebuild your 5 star online reputation together.

Warm Regards,

Roland Sahak

Reputation Marketing Expert

The solution?

Google should implement some form active notification when a business receives a review on their claimed Google listing. Ideally this notification is one that would bring businesses back to the Dashboard and allow them to respond to the review from within the Dashboard rather than forcing them back to the G+ Page to make a response.

Google could also provide some sort of active feed of the + Page that could be used by the business and 3rd parties alike although that seems unlikely given Google’s recent trends to keep data and people on their pages.

Regardless Google could stop these sorts of scams cold, provide some solace to businesses receiving reviews AND increase SMB engagement with Google’s new dashboard. This is a simple solution that should have occurred years ago but there is no time like the present. The new, plug in ready Dashboard offers the perfect environment to make up for lost time.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search