How Many Reviews to Get the Star Treatment? Somewhere Between 4 and 5

Eagle eyed Phil Rozek of Local Visibility pointed out this example of a business with 4 reviews that is showing the new star treatment in the main search result for jewelry boston:

jewelry boston

I thought that  odd as previously it had seemed that 5 reviews was the limit to get the star treatment. Well it is odd. It seems that sometimes it is four reviews and sometimes it is five reviews. Go figure.

Here is a local carousel for a search (restaurants ellicottville, ny) where a listing with 4 reviews doesn’t have stars but 5 reviews does:

restaurants ellicottville ny

And another for a search for jewelry orlando which also shows no stars with four reviews and stars with five:

jewelry orlando   Google Search

There is some factor that causes Google to consider 4 enough to show the stars. What it is, is not exactly clear. Ideas?

Love-Hate Relationship? Zagat Brand Gets Increasing Visibility in 5-Star Carousel

I did not notice this before but as the new Local Carousel takes on the 5-Star treatment, it appears that the Zagat brand is taking on a higher profile or at least its Z is.

This seems odd to me given Google’s move away from the Zagat rating system and having laid off all of their temporary Zagat workers and replaced them with full-time workers from Frommers. Business Insider noted: “The future of Zagat book production looks extremely bleak,” says a source.  “The whole division as currently structured seems to be on death watch. Lots of chatter about outsourcing.

It all becomes weirder when you realize that they then turned around and sold Frommer’s back to its original founder. It sounds more like a soap opera than a business transaction but at least they got a lot of data.

carousel-only

 

As David Mihm asked in this recent commentHard to say whether Zagat or Frommer’s was the bigger waste of money for Google…especially when you take into account all of the integration and dis-integration costs. I wonder if anyone on Wall Street is considering Marissa’s track record here WRT her spending spree at Yahoo?

The Zagat name and logo is mentioned at least 3 times in the brand panel as well (go figure – don’t ask me to explain Google’s thinking. $20 million here, $120 million there….is data and the Z really that valuable?):

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Google’s 5-(orange) Stars Spreading Internationally, to Adwords & Rich Snippets

More folks are reporting the visibility of the 5-Star system on the main search results that Google has been rolling out. I am seeing them at work in Chrome on my Mac but not in Safari or Firefox and I am still not seeing them at home. There were also reports of them being seen in the Netherlands so they are obviously going global simultaneously.

I was surprised to see that the same orangey color was being applied to both rich snippet reviews AND to AdWord reviews. The orange is very visible on the Local Carousel but less so against the white background on the main search results. It would be interesting to see an eye tracking study to see if they disrupt searcher behavior as much as the yellow color does.

The 5-Stars have been permanently moved onto the G+ Page and the new Maps and are still intermittent on the desktop. They have not yet been spotted in mobile search or on the old Maps yet.

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barbara oliver reviews   Google Search

First Sightings of Stars in the Carousel

Max Minzer captured the first screen shot of stars in the Carousel. The stars are shown with the stars AND ratio in the same red color but when contrasted with the black background they become very, very, very obvious. The reviews are much more obvious than in the 7-pack reported earlier.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 4.46.49 PM

(Click to view larger):

 

Star Reviews

For reference here is the same screen shot that most folks are seeing with the Zagat notation:
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Google Maps for iPhone & Android Include “Enhanced Navigation”

I noticed the fact that the new mobile Maps apps for Droid and iPhone included “Enhanced navigation” out of the corner of my eye but it became apparent this morning as I started playing with the new iPhone App exactly what it meant. On the Lat-Long Blog Google noted:

Enhanced navigation: In addition to current traffic conditions, we’ve added two new features to help you navigate around traffic. You can now see reports of problems on the road that you can tap to see incident details. While on the road, Google Maps will also alert you if a better route becomes available and reroute you to your destination faster. This feature is available only on Android and is coming soon to iOS.

These road reports include construction information (obviously sourced from DOT etc) as well as incident reports. It is not at all clear where that information is coming from. It is interesting to me that Google is including this real time information prior to their full absorption of Waze. It is obvious that Google would have done real time data with or without the Waze acquisition. Perhaps not as well, perhaps not as thoroughly but done it none the less.

What will be interesting with Waze is whether Google is capable of sustaining their strong community. That has not been a strength of Google. It will also be interesting to see how Apple responds to this feature or if they are able to.

Here is a screen shot of the area around Philadelphia.

photo

 

 

 

First Reports of 5-Stars Returning to the Main Search Results

Update: We now have screen shots of the 5 Star treatment in the new Local Carousel

The last bastion of Zagat has finally been breached and reports are showing up of 5 Stars returning to the main search results page in the Pack. Poster Valesence shared her sighting of the new display at the LocalSearchForum.

Google announced the return to the 5-Star system in mid-May at the I/O Conference, along with the rollout of the new Google Maps. Phil Rozek reported their return to the Google+ Pages for local last week. The stars have not yet been reported on the new Local Carousel. But they are obviously undergoing testing and while they are are not universally visible  it is only a matter of time before both the Pack and Carousel results both show 5-Stars.

Google replaced the yellow stars with the Zagat system in May, 2012 when Google rolled Places pages into Plus. It was clear from August of last year that Google was testing a return to the 5 Star system and they were never removed from local AdWords display.

Here is the screen shot of a 7-Pack with the “new” star treatment:

Screen Shot courtesy of Valesence/LocalSearchForum

 

Next LocalU Advanced – NYC September 30


Update: We have just learned from the folks at Third Door/SMX that we can offer a discount for your admission. The code WS-LUA10 (case-sensitive) provides a 10% discount off prevailing rate.

We just finished up a LocalU Advanced in Seattle and the feedback was great. It seems to early too be talking about the next one but here I am talking about the next one because the early, early bird special is ending in less than a month. Hope to see you there.

September 30th Local University Advanced will be held the day before SMX East 2013 at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC.

Whether you run an agency that serves brick-and-mortar businesses, work in-house for a large brand or Internet Yellow Pages publisher, or are trying to find the hottest opportunity in the bloodiest of all bleeding edges in search marketing, you won’t want to miss Local U East.

 

Pass Options Super Early Bird
Ends Jul 27
Early Bird
7/28 – 8/24
Regular Rate
8/25 – 9/30
On Site
With All Access Pass $795 $895 $995 $1,095
Workshop Only $895 $995 $1,095 $1,195

 

These sessions will be action-packed, presented at an advanced level and feature ALL of the most up-to-date information about what’s working and what’s not in Local Search Engine Optimization.

More Information

Should You Do Linkbuilding to Your G+ Page for Local?

equityMiriam Ellis of Solas Web Design asked me the other day to revisit the question of whether one should “build links to their G+ Page for local“.

Often this question is asked from the wrong frame of reference.

Unlike the Google Places page, a Google + Page is indexed and CAN have page rank. The page can appear in the Google index and Mark Trapenhagen has documented cases where a + Page has achieved a PR of 8. As such it is tempting to ask the question of whether  one should do link building to G+ Plus page.

“Should I link build to my Google + Page” carries with it an implicit premise in the question that a business will benefit from arbitrarily building links to a given page. In that is the simplistic assumption that ends up focusing efforts on the wrong target. An example of this thinking is the corollary question: “Will linking to the page help my local listing rank better”?

The simple answer to that question is no as the local algo looks at the strength of the “authority document” to assess ranking and that authority document is the business website. And if having a higher PR for G+ Page for local provided any value in that regard it would be a tangental benefit as a citation that passes some location strength back to your website.

A different way to ask the question that may frame it more effectively: Is there a benefit to my marketing or my readers to include a link to my Google + Page?

And the other question that puts it in the bigger context: Should I build the strength and presence of my Google + Page via Google’s social network? Will marketing my company on G+ enhance my overall marketing effort?

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A Compilation of Over 300 Keywords & Phrases that Trigger the Local Carousel

Gregg Gifford, Adam Dorfman and Dan Leibson have each put together lists of keywords that trigger the new Local Carousel. I noticed that while there was some overlap between the lists there was also a number of unique words on each list. I assembled them into one list and with some additional research on my part expanded the combined list to over 300 words. 

As with all things Google there are obvious trends and always a few oddities. For the most part the phrases do revolve entertainment, recreation and leisure activities. And there are a few outliers that don’t fit into that category so well. Gluten Free Produce Store hardly seems a leisure time pursuit and nor does piano tuning. But its very difficult to imagine what fun one might have at a Gas Station (props to John Denny for that one). Particularly one near Buffalo.

You can add additional trigger keywords below. But I am also making the list available as a Google Docs Spreadsheet so that you can add additional search phrases that you find that trigger the Local Carousel directly to it, if you prefer.

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 12.39.17 PM

 

Here is the list to date:

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Local Carousel Reporting from Around the Local Web

05carousel5Here are articles from around the web and myself that I found of value in understanding the new Local Carousel. If you have any others that you also found useful please let me know.

Overarching Analysis & Commentary
Google’s ‘Local Carousel’ Comes to PC with Mixed Results – Greg Sterling
Google’s Local Carousel – Trapped in Google’s World? – Mike Blumenthal (MB)
New Local Carousel – Aaron Wall

User Behavior Analysis:
10 Random People’s Reactions Mike Ramsey, NiftyMarketing
Google’s New Local Carousel: Where Will They Click? John Van Bockern, Ethical Consulting
A Heat Map Click Study For Google’s Local Carousel Results – Mike Ramsey, Local U
Dueling Local Carousel CTR Studies: 48% vs. 30% vs. 10% – Greg Sterling

Tactical
Say Goodbye To Non-branded Keyword Traffic If You’re In The Local Carousel – Greg Gifford, AutoRevo
Local Carousel Ranking – MB
Why the Local Carousel Make Local Branded AdWords More Important  – MB
54 Keywords Triggering Google’s Local Carousel – Adam Dorfman, Sim Parnters
Google Users May Determine Which Photos Represent Your Business in the Carousel – JSO Digital

Miscellaneous
Some of the More Bizarre Local Carousel Results from Google – MB
Distinguishing the Local Carousel from the Knowledge Graph Carousel – MB
How Many Results Are Required for the New Local Carousel to Display? At least 5 – MB

Announcement (often with tactical tidbits)
Google Rolls Out Local Carousel Display in US for Dining, Nightlife, Hotels, and Other Attractions – MB
New Layout for Local Searches in Google – Greg Gifford, AutoRev
Google Officially Launches the Local Carousel: What You Need To Know – Mike Wilton
Google Local Carousel – OFFICIALLY Launched! – Linda Buquet
Google Introduces New Carousel Display for Local Results – LocalU

Developing Knowledge about Local Search