Google Rolls Out Carousel Replacement

Update 7:00: Greg Sterling notes that Google has confirmed that this is now being rolled out.

Per James Gibbons and Brady Callahan on Twitter, Google is testing another variation of their Carousel Replacement. I was able to see the test in Safari on my Mac but not in Chrome or Firefox. Mileage may vary.

It is similar to the display first seen in August but with three differences. One, the display is only showing at position 1 of the organic results and two, there is no embedded map.

The striking third difference though is that when you click through one of the list results you are presented with only a Knowledge Panel that appears dead center in the results and not off to the side. Depending on the KP content, virtually all other information can appear below the fold.

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Clicke to view larger. Note that this KP pushed right to the fold on my 27″ screen and was dead center on the screen

Last night I saw the same test being run on Safari for the iPhone.

Continue reading Google Rolls Out Carousel Replacement

A Visual Guide to Using My Business Bulk Business Accounts For Multi User Management

Google is in the middle of a transition for bulk users from the Places Bulk dashboard to the My Business Bulk dashboard. Like the single location transition before this, it is frustrating and appears to a bulk user in the old dashboard to move excruciatingly slow*.

But the technical aspects of the transition are not easy, even for Google. This transition is made even harder by the vast difference in “ownership” rules between the old and the new dashboard and the many states that any given listing (let alone a group of bulk listings) might be in.

Under the old Bulk environment, bulk data was viewed as a data feed not as an actual “ownership” privilege. Google would accept data from all verified comers and essentially publish the most recent or most trusted data. Any given location might have been verified in multiple bulk and individual dashboards that could have been both historic and current. This led to massive conflicts between franchisors and franchisees and between owners and management groups. It was not helpful in a large number of settings.

How the Google Bulk Dashboard Used to Work
Multiple Ownership Roles in the old dashboards Click to view larger.

However with the release of the new bulk dashboard and the attendant release of the Business Accounts, Google has started to provide a management product that reflects the multifaceted realities of the real world.

In this new environment an agency could make the primary claim, each brand could have access to and manage their own listings and the store manager or franchisee could still control and enhance any specific or group of locations.  It might even lead to a situation where Franchisors and Franchisees can actually get along and team up to manage their listings (god forbid). I do think that it is a harbinger of a social future where the best companies will figure out how to share responsibilities for the most productive outcomes in local

Here is a schematic of a current possible bulk “arrangement” with me being the owner and allocating management privileges to either regular or Plus Google accounts via a single Business account:

Google new Business Account can offer significant flexibility. Click to view larger.

But this is a simple scenario that doesn’t begin to demonstrate some of the possible combinations of management that can account for more complex real world situations which the new Business accounts can handle

In this following example a single company that owns multiple brands (for example KFC and Taco Bell) can distribute management privileges at both the bulk and even the individual store location levels:

Distributed responsibility across distinct brands. Click to view larger

Likewise, a similar construct might apply across departmental or regional responsibilites. An example of this might be Sears and Sears Auto Centers:

Continue reading A Visual Guide to Using My Business Bulk Business Accounts For Multi User Management

Google Releases Mobile My Business Updates

Google has just announced several updates to the mobile capabilities of My Business.

Business Owners can now respond to reviews via the MyBusiness mobile app (Android today, iOS very soon)

Call Analytics from within MyBusiness – this was a feature that was rolled out temporarily last month, but is now (permanently) available in mobile and desktop analytics.

Another major feature just rolled out is the ability to receive active notifications of newly received reviews within Google Android App. This feature appears to also be imminent but not yet released on the desktop.

According to Google help files: Every time you get a new review on Google, you’ll get a notification in the top right corner of Google My Business. You’ll also get notifications on your phone if you’ve installed the Google My Business app.

This system uses the G+ notification system so it appears that you can toggle on email notification if you so desire. I am attempting to confirm that as the feature is not yet showing in my settings panel

Concurrently, Google is releasing AdWords Express to 20 additional countries. Adwords Express has continued to improve on the client side, offering better value than originally and apparently, given this broad rollout, is providing Google with the success that they were looking for as well.

Yext – List your email everywhere‎

We recently embarked on a clean up campaign across the internet  for a client that had serious NAP issues. We used a corporate email address that forwarded to me. Somewhere along that line whether by hook or by crook or an errant check box, Yext picked up our email address.

And started spamming me.

7 days, 5 emails showing me exactly how problematic our listing is. While in some senses, this client is a qualified prospect, it is totally unclear how we managed to get subscribed to Yext’s email list and unclear why I now get almost one email a day from them.

I did send an inquiry off to Yext but they have not yet responded. Howard, whaz up?

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Continue reading Yext – List your email everywhere‎

Post Pigeon Geo Assessment – How Did Traffic Change by City Part 2

Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law is a two location criminal defense practice with one office in central Orlando and one in New Smyrna Beach on the coast. I wanted to do a visual mapping comparison of pre and post Pigeon impacts like I did with Barbara Oliver Jewelry & Co. to see the impact of Pigeon both locally and regionally and to see how these changes were distributed geographically. I examined the period from July 27th to October 25th and compared it to a similar length period that ended July 26th.

Being in a bigger city than Barbara and having two locations, I thought it might offer an interesting comparison for better understanding Pigeon.

On the surface the post Pigeon report card for Moses and Rooth was not good, showing overall web traffic and web traffic in the state of Florida both showing a decrease of sessions in -10.5% range.

However all was not bad. When you dig in and look at a more granular level you find that in Orlando sessions were up 23.93% and in New Smyrna Beach they were up 45.45%. In their greater metro area of Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne FL Metro traffic was down 1.73%. About even.

When you look at the change across cities you see a chart that is very similar to Barbara Oliver’s.

change by city

There is however a difference. In both cities where Moses and Rooth have their office located they saw an increase in traffic. In some sense, I think that this was what Pigeon was all about. As Google has gained a better understanding of searcher location on the desktop, they have increased localization of searches increasing the likelihood that those searchers closer to the business have an increased chance of seeing that business. This isn’t so much about proximity to a centroid as proximity to the searcher.

It makes sense that Google would reduced visibility of Moses and Rooth across Florida but increase their visibility in the specific markets in which they reside. It also appears that while out of market traffic was down, in market traffic was about flat.

While this might reduce some opportunities for Moses and Rooth, it frees up Google local search inventory for other businesses that are closer to the searcher as Google currently understands it. Thus if you are located within an area where more searches are taking place (i.e. dense urban centers) you will have likely improved your specific local traffic but you may have lost more regional traffic for which you were showing. As Adam Dorfman pointed out in SearchEnginland, this may not result in increased conversions. Although I don’t think that will always be the case. It would be business, location and searcher dependent. It appears to be much more complex than just a proximity to centroid issue.

Here is a view of the change by city data plotted geographically. Note that their offices are the Black pins and that while their cities of office location showed the biggest increases some nearby cities showed some decreases:

Continue reading Post Pigeon Geo Assessment – How Did Traffic Change by City Part 2

Moz & LocalU Present: LocalUp Feb 7th in Seattle

Update: We have sold out of the early bird ticket special. Stay tuned.

The most comprehensive and advanced Local Search conference. 

AdvancedAdvanced LocalU is the only conference of its kind and provides you with the knowledge and tools you need to help your business and the businesses of your clients to prosper in local search. It focuses solely on issues, techniques and practices in the local search marketing space.

For the inaugural event in 2015 we are partnering with Moz to make the event even better and are calling the joint event: LocalUp.

Take advantage of early bird pricing! The first 25 tickets at $200 off registration.

Local U Subscribers: $699 $499
General Admission: $999 $799

Register now

This first Advanced LocalU of 2015 is a private event where we will debut all-new material. The details of the agenda are being planned now and will be released in the Thanksgiving timeframe. But they are shaping up to provide an incredible day.

Presenters will include the Local U regulars (David Mihm, Mike Blumenthal, Aaron Weiche, Mary Bowling, Ed Reese, Will Scott, Mike Ramsey)  PLUS Darren Shaw, Dana DiTomaso, folks from Google, Rand Fishkin and Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz.

You’ll enjoy a great setting, concise presentations, plenty of Q & A time & complete access to the presenters.

Join all of the Local U regulars and  their colleagues as they share their insights, tactics and resources. Nothing is held back!

PS There will only 25 tickets available at the rate of $499/$799 rate. To get the lower rate you need to be a member of either the Local U Forum or Moz.

PPS The Local U forums cost $129/mo and the first month is only $59 so if you are planning to attend this conference you can save between $300 and $500 by becoming a member. You will be glad you did.

PPPS If you miss out on this special you will still be eligible for the regular LocalU forum subscriber rate of $699 (a $300 savings). So join the Local U forums now and then head over to the LocalUp sign up page to save your spot at the best local search conference in 2015. 

Apple Maps Connect Pro Tip

Justin Mosebach an Internet Marketing professional with YDOP – Internet Marketing just sent in the very helpful tip for Apple’ Maps Connect:

Interestingly, if the phone call with the code doesn’t work the first time, you have to wait 1 minute until you re-try it. If that next try doesn’t work, you have to wait 5 minutes until the next try (and then 25 minutes after that).

However, I discovered a trick that if you log out and log back in, the wait time goes away and you can immediately try again.

After trying around 9am (with no success), I was able to claim our listing a few minutes ago. You just have to wait like 5-10 minutes or more for the call to come through with the verification code. I assume it’s slow because of everyone and their uncle trying to do this at the same time.

I was not given any type of option to verify the listing by an email address with the same domain as the business (as the Search Engine Land article alluded to).

Apple All In on Indoor Mapping

Apple is slowly and steadily moving into the local space long occupied by Google and doing so with a slow and steady intention. I noticed with the rollout of their business listing product, Map Connect, that they were soliciting venues for their indoor Mapping project. Clearly they are looking for large scale venues with large traffic flows (minimum 1 million a year) to engage in the pre-release phase of the project.

It motivated me to research the project and I came up with an interesting timeline that speaks to their seriousness and to a lesser extent some of their goals in this arena. Clearly they view the space as important. And clearly do not plan on leaving it to Google.

The timeline:

March 2014: With Acquisition, Apple Looks Indoors for Future of Maps

The company has acquired WiFiSlam, a start-up company that helps to improve the accuracy of indoor maps and other services by locating the user’s position inside a building more accurately. Indoor maps look like they could become a new battleground between big companies seeking a cartographical edge on their rivals.

WiFiSlam could give Apple some of the smarts it needs to make iPhones better navigation devices when they are under a roof. WiFiSlam says its technology can pinpoint the location of a mobile device to “2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.”

April 2014 Patent Indoor Directions (reported on 10/16)

..the application describes a method of seamlessly transitioning from a map displaying exterior elements like roads and buildings to one that shows indoor elements, like stores and restaurants.

This technology is designed to work with iBeacons, Apple’s Bluetooth Low Energy emitters designed to make iDevices location aware indoors.

An example of the patent application in action could be searching for an car parking space. Using its outdoor-to-indoor mapping technology, Apple Maps would first direct users to a car garage, then to a specific parking spot once inside.

Users would be able to specify specific criteria for their search, which would then be automatically initiated at some point in the journey, such as when the user comes within a predetermined distance of the designated destination.

Indoor mapping information would vary based on the type of building. For instance, if the indoor structure happens to be a mall, the supplemental information may include the location and name of each store, special sales, discount coupons, the shows and showtimes of an in-mall theater, and restaurant menus.

May 2014: Apple nabs indoor navigation company CEO

Apple has reportedly hired the cofounder and CEO of indoor location startup Wifarer for a “leadership role” — but did not acquire the company — in yet another sign that the iPhone maker is gearing up for a strong mapping push in its next-generation mobile operating system.

Wifarer cofounder Philip Stanger is said to have joined Apple in February, leaving his own company in the hands of a new CEO.

The company will likely leverage previous acquisitions Embark, HopStop, BroadMap, and Locationary to provide improved geolocation, more detailed point-of-interest data, and public transit routing.

June 2014 – Apple Is Launching A Vast Project To Map The Inside Of Every Large Building It Can

Apple has embarked on an ambitious program to use the sensors in its iPhones to map the large indoor areas of stores, offices, event spaces and commercial buildings,

Foeckl says. “It will be important to see how fast venue owners adapt to the technology and add venues. Google has more venues mapped at the moment, but it looks to be easier to add venues to Apple’s new indoor mapping service.”

iBeacons don’t specifically create indoor maps. Rather, Apple appears to be hoping to persuade building owners to upload a map of their space, and then iBeacons could in theory be used to automatically validate the map’s accuracy as iPhones receive their signals. That automation would be a huge step — currently, Google is validating its indoor maps by hand,

The new online application to participate:Invite

Continue reading Apple All In on Indoor Mapping

List Your Business on Apple with Maps Connect

Greg Sterling has reported that Apple has rolled out Apple Maps Connect, a small business listing option for Apple Maps.

The service is dead on simple, designed for one off listings for the business owner or someone acting on their behalf. It isn’t clear the maximum number of businesses that can be associated with and verified from within one Apple account and there is no apparent process for bulk uploads at this point.

The process requires an Apple ID to login and then takes you through a 5 screen process to phone verify your business, add the street address, adjust the pin position, add category, hours and social media links (for additional information and verification).

The category selection appears minimal and given the need to navigate into a top category before you can find a specific category, annoying. There are 23 top level categories and each has from zero to 40 or so sub categories. It is difficult to find a given category as it may not be obvious which top category it belongs under and many are obviously missing. Is assisted living a real estate or health care choice? Neither, they don’t have the category.

Phone verification is the only verification option available. I did not get to try it but I assume that it will have all of the issues with PBX and VOIP that Google has (it often failed) but there is no fall back to a post card if phone verification doesn’t work. The phone verification system seems like it will fall prey to the same spammers, scammers and reprobates that have attacked Google and it will be interesting to see how Apple deals with the onslaught. Perhaps the Apple ID requirement and having a credit card on file will provide more accountability and penalties if one is caught cheating.

The fact that Apple is getting into the listing business argues that Apple feels their local database is not up to snuff (a statement of the obvious). The takeaway is that that their primary business data suppliers Localeze, Factual and Acxiom are not delivering enough freshness nor completeness for Apple’s tastes. I often find myself using Apple Maps for directions but falling back to Google Maps or Yelp for location information.

The other possible reason could be that perhaps Apple has some desire to have a direct relationship with small businesses going forward. It would make sense given their Payment and iBeacon strategies that they may want a direct one to one relationship with more store fronts.

Love to hear your impressions.

Update 10/22
Phil Rozek has scraped the Apple Maps Connect categories and made them available on his site. He notes that there are only 671 of them so get ready to be frustrated.

Gregory T’Kint added that this rollout is US only.

Sign in requires an Apple ID
Sign in requires an Apple ID

For more screen shots:
Continue reading List Your Business on Apple with Maps Connect

Google + Local Pages No Longer Supporting GA Tracking Codes

Update 10/24: I have tested the ? and it now seems to be working. It appears that Google has fixed this.

Update: Solution found! Tony “Tiggerito” McCreath has figured out that apparently the problem is caused by the ? in the GA code. If you replace the ? With a # symbol it works, redirects without the ugly error message and still provides the data to GA.

Historically if you wanted to measure traffic to your site from Plus page for local you could add a Google Analtyics tracking code to your site’s URL.

Whether this is a bug or not or permanent change is not yet clear but since around the first of the month if your link in the G+ Dashboard to your website includes a tracking code, Google throws off this ugly message. This new behavior was pointed out to me by Alyssa Vanderpool of RedNovaLabs in the Local U forums.


We have inquired of Google whether the action is as intended or is a bug. Until such time though as we find out or its fixed, you should remove any GA tracking codes added to your local listing.

Update 4:00 PM: Sharon Conner of Sleeptrain pointed out in the comments that this is not affecting when the listing shows in search results and I have determined that it isn’t a problem from Google Maps either. It only manifests itself when clicking through from the G+ Page. Thus not a bad as originally thought and most likely a bug in G+ rather than some intentional policy change.

Developing Knowledge about Local Search