Google Spam Hall of Shame

It’s beem a while since I have posted to the Google Spam Hall of Shame. It’s not that there is any less of it or that it is less obvious, its just that I have been busy on other projects.

But I couldn’t resist this example of systemic name abuse occurring in the jewelry business in Toronto. As well as every other vertical and in every other market. This example shows the degree of degradation that occurs in some search results:

Google Releases My Business API V 4.0 With Ability to Add Posts

Google has announced the release of V 4.0 of the Google My Business API. While there are a number of new  features, the most notable is the ability for 3rd Party platforms to now post Google Posts on for the businesses using the platform.

The API currently supports posting for any business with fewer than 10 locations. Large chains are not yet able to use the API for their postings. When larger chains might be able to post is unclear although Google seems to have been testing this feature.

In addition to the posting capabilities, the new version of the API supports

  • multiple value attributes like credit cards accepted (Amex, Discover, Visa)
  • Photos has been upgraded to Media to allow for richer media types like video in the future
  • More granular notifications as to the types of notifications they wish to receive
  • Notifications of reviews being updated
  • Posts analytics such as times a Post was viewed or the CTA was clicked

The Google My Business API was first released in October 2015 and since then has had three major updates and numerous minor ones.

The API is still missing some critical features for agencies and tool providers like the inability for large chains to post or to be able to use a 3rd party platform for verification. But the regular updates are a positive sign that Google has finally committed to local on both the level of the SMB and larger users.

Here is the link to the announcement and the API Docs changelog.

Ebook: Build a Better Business Using Customer Complaints

It’s been a blast building GetFiveStars. One of the things that I love the most is the support I get for projects like this new ebook.

As you probably know while I think its important to “optimize your review process” I think it’s even more important for you to “optimize your business”. Every process, not just lead generation, needs to be focused on the customer and needs to be well thought out. Then when you do ask for a review you will have earned it.

One area that sometimes is left to chance by local businesses is customer complaints. I am of the belief that you need to anticipate and plan for the bad experience. Thinking through how you are going to handle that complaint when it finally does come will help you keep that customer and avoid the issue from turning into a bad review. The ROI on a well thought out complaint plan is huge.

Build a Better Business Using Customer Complaints, a collaboration between myself, Aaron Weiche and Paul Chaney, is now available.

I would love your thoughts on the book, the good, the bad and the not so pretty. Let me know what you think so that we can make version 2.0 even better.

 

 

Bedlam Breaks Out in Google Q & A

Bedlam Coffee hit the news with a media frenzy over the owner ejecting Christian activists from his coffee shop. (To preview their Q & A on the desktop use this URL:  https://goo.gl/dkwi6h).

With this event we have learned three things about Google Q & A:

1- It’s a $h!tstorm when a business gets into the news

2- That ranking of the questions is strictly an upvote count

3- You better be monitoring yours

To see the Q & A on mobile use: https://goo.gl/9HULmW

(H/T to Matt Casady)

Hack: Seeing Google Questions & Answers on the Desktop

From a management point of view, one of the more annoying attributes of the new Google Questions & Answers product is that it is only live on Android via Google Maps and  in mobile browsers on iOS and Android.

There is a are several hacks to allow you to see and respond to this feature via your desktop.

You can view the Google Q&A on your desktop by spoofing the browser user agent to an appropriate mobile device. Here is extension for Chrome to do just that (h/t to Stan Kolev of Pleper for the tip).

Download the extension, set it the mobile device and voila….

You now can see and play on your desktop:


As noted by Sergey Alakov on Twitter, you can also use the Chrome developer tools. This might be an even easier tactic.

From the View Menu

  • Select More Tools > Developer Tools from Chrome’s Main Menu.
  • Right-click a page element and select Inspect.

From there you can toggle the device mode:

click to view larger

Google Local: What Happened on August 1st to Increase Views in Insights?

Earlier this week, Jack Thumser of August Ash in Bloomington, emailed me about an significant uptick in Google Maps Insight’s views in a number of his Google  local listings. Michael Wallace of TallWave noted the same issue on Twitter today.

Jack’s result were across Office furniture stores, grocery stores, a grocery delivery service and a sheet metal fabricator.

The office furniture stores and grocery stores have AdWords campaigns with location extensions, but the sheet metal fabricator does not.

Here is the pattern that Jack noted as universal across all of his listings:

Given the multiple reports, I checked a 12 listing sample to see if there a similar result. Of the twelve I looked at 6 showed similar upticks but 6 also showed nothing. At least in my examples, both search and Maps showed the significant late July/ early August uptick.

I saw the uptick in retailers and restaurants. As I noted, though, only half of the listings I looked at showed the pattern. Many, like this listing, did not. 

On Twitter, Joy Hawkins suggested that it might be due to using Location extensions but while that applies to some of the listings where I saw an uptick, by no means all.

And it isn’t universal as Jack noted but the Insights views increase appeared on a large enough sample that it seems more than coincidence. The uptick that I see is across both Maps and search.

I am curious if you saw this uptick, if so is there any pattern to the category for the businesses?

What percentage of your businesses saw the increase?

Are they located within their primary geography or outside of it (ie in the burbs)?

Some other trend that you have spotted?

Mike B Around The Web

Here are some of my other writings, videos etc around the web:

Something Amazing Happened On The Way To A Google Review – Google’s Question and Answers is a scary thing but when you have a great business and are asking your customers from reviews, good things can happen.

Video: Last Week in Local September 5th – Mary Bowling and I go over the weeks developments in local.

The Fallacy of Google’s “Micro-Moment” Positioning– David Mihm and I have a conversation at Streetfight about the value and relevance of Google’s Micro Moments and whether this very limited view of marketing reality can help Google in their coming battles with Amazon.

Video Deep Dive: Recent major changes in the search industry – Mary Bowling and I discuss the many changes recently in the SEO industry and what, if anything, it means.

LocalU Advanced Santa Monica


Local U Advanced is my favorite conference of the year. Not that I speak, or even that I contribute to the organization but because it’s a time and place where folks that are really interested in Local SEO and Local Marketing get together.

And not just get together in a spirit of collegiality and sharing. Everyone comes willing to learn and and everyone seems to leave knowing that they are not alone. More than one attendee has found new employment and everyone has a good time.

The venue is the historic Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club, a short walk from the beach and the Santa Monica Pier. We’ ll be staying at the Marriott Courtyard Santa Monica and have negotiated a nightly room rate of $220 for attendees if booked by November 2nd.

Speakers include Darren Shaw, Joy Hawkins, Mary Bowling, Mike Ramsey, Will Scott, Ed Reese, Megan Hannay, Joel Headley and myself.

The agenda is not quite finalized, so we are offering a great deal on admission at $549.

We will be announcing the agenda and topics on September 12th. The pricing goes up on the 12th but even without an agenda you can count on it being a great event.

 

Which Cities & Categories Currently Have Google Home Service Ads & Advanced Verification

Google provided me a comprehensive list of cities and the categories that are currently under the Home Service Ads & Advanced Verification banners in those cities.

This program is hard enough to keep track of with it’s many changes and the recent increase in rollout that I thought the list would help you understand more about the markets that you are working in.

For some of the practical implications see Joy’s article: Is Google Going to Remove the 3-Packs? What You Need to Know about Home Service Ads (HSAs) (the answer is no but…)

San Francisco Bay Area:

locksmiths, plumbers, house cleaners, handyman, general contractors, electricians, HVAC contractors, painters, overhead door, auto glass repair, roadside assistance

Sacramento:

HVAC contractors, plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, auto glass repair, general contractors, roadside assistance, house cleaners, handyman, painters, overhead door

Stockton:

HVAC contractors, plumbers

Philadelphia:

plumbers, HVAC contractors, electricians, locksmiths

Atlanta:

plumbers, HVAC contractors, electricians, locksmiths, overhead door

Phoenix:

plumbers, HVAC contractors, electricians, locksmiths, overhead door

Seattle:

plumbers, HVAC contractors, electricians, locksmiths, overhead door

Los Angeles:

HVAC contractors, electricians, overhead door, plumbers, locksmiths

San Diego:

HVAC contractors, electricians, overhead door, towing, auto glass, plumbers, locksmiths

Upload Video to Google Maps Listings – New Google Local Feature

The ability post video to a business listing or place listing was mentioned last week and appears to be released. H/T to Phillip Barnhart, Director of Marketing at Nehmedia in Austin, for pointing it out.

For now the video can only be uploaded by Local Guides using Android Maps but the videos will be visible from search everywhere. A 10 second video can be captured with the Android Google Maps app or a 30 second video can be uploaded.

Apparently the feature is rolling out gradually so you might or might not see it right away.

From the announcement:

If you’re a Local Guide on Android, you can get started right now.

How to create a video when you’re at a place:

  • Search and select a place on Google Maps
  • Scroll down and tap “Add a photo”
  • Tap “Camera” and hold the shutter button for up to 10 seconds

How to upload a video you’ve already shot:

  • Search and select a place on Google Maps
  • Scroll down and tap “Add a photo”
  • Tap “Folder” and select a video. Only the first 30 seconds of a video can be added.

Visit the Help Center to learn more about sharing videos.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search