Knowledge Graph Dropdowns & Crowd Sourcing the Future on Twitter


On Friday Sebastien Socha alerted me to the fact that Google was now including inline Knowledge Graph Dropdowns in general and local search results.

Besides the fact that it provides mostly irrelevant, distracting. repetitive and non specific Wikipedia type results to very specific queries, I saw it as an annoying addition to local search with little of value for the searcher or the business.

Here is an example of the search result. Note that the Ikea Knowledge Graph drop down link with exactly the same, limited content appears above the fold twice as does the Yelp Corporate information panel.  Given that the card is static, after you have clicked it once, you know all you need to know – never click again.

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I didn’t have time to write about it at the time, so when Cyrus Shepard tweeted it, I retweeted his image.That led to a lively discussion about the present and future of Google with @CyrusShepard@MikeGracen@JohnAndrews & @SEOAware (Melissa Fach).

I am reproducing it here because it says so much about us as SEOs, Google, our fears, the present and the possible futures we all face. And it says a lot about how Twitter can sometimes be very enjoyable. Continue reading

Yelp’s 2013 Results and the Headlines that Weren’t


Yelp announced their 2013 “earnings” last week. I am continually shocked by the rosy headlines and the lack of due diligence often present in the reporting.

Some of the more egregious examples of uncritical coverage:

Some were more neutral but still carried an uncritical tone or hints of positive results.

Few if any of the headlines that I found were critical with but one exception.

Here is a chart showing Yelps Revenue Growth compared to Expenses over the past 5 years. I am having trouble seeing a reason for optimism. This has been the same story for many years. See for yourself.

yelp-rev-v-ex-v1

I would suggest that the headlines should have been:

  • Yelp Reports 5th Consecutive Annual Loss
  • Yelp reports 20th Sequential Unprofitable Quarter
  • Yelp, No Profits in Sight as Expenses Rise as Quickly as Income

I think they all must have failed to read Yelp’s forward looking statement buried at the bottom (embarrassingly formatted exactly as on the report).
Continue reading

New Flow for Google Places/G+ Page Creation


Googler Jade announced in the forums that newly created Google Plus Pages for local will be visible immediately upon creation. This should make the process more obvious to new businesses claiming in the dashboard.

Hey guys,

A few changes to page creation are rolling out gradually today –

If you’re creating a listing in the new Places for Business dashboard, now, you won’t have to wait to complete PIN verification before you can see the +page, for most businesses. Just follow the link from your dashboard to see the new page. You will be able to use Google+ social features on this unverified page, but please note — you still need to complete PIN verification before the page will start showing up in Google Maps and across other Google properties.

If you’ve got an unverified local Google+ page (made using Google+ in the local business/place category), then we still encourage you to PIN verify this page so that it can start appearing in Google Maps and across other Google properties.

If you’re creating a local Google+ page (using Google+ selecting the local business/place category) for a business that we think is already in Google Maps, then you may need to go through both PIN verification and our admin request flow before you can manage the page.

Thanks,

Jade

 

 

 

Oh Where is Washington, NC? How to Fix a Google Map Error


atlantisEgregious mapping errors occur a lot less these days on Google Maps. While roads are still being lost or misnamed in New Jersey, we have seen no lost towns and misplaced communities like we saw in 2009 and 2010. And truth be told the problem with roads in New Jersey may be just a reflection of some larger ground truth.

But when serious mapping errors do occur they are still painful and negatively impact the businesses involved.  I recently received this email from a forlorn innkeeper, Beckie Sipprell in Washington, NC:

Hello Mike,

Lisa Kolb at Acorn suggested tha tyou might be interested in a dilemma that we have in Washington NC. The town of Washington NC, not the County. That is the issue. When someone puts in Washington NC Bed and Breakfast or restaurants what shows on Google Maps are places in Washington County NC…and no one seems to know how to undo this.

If you have any magic in this department please pass it on to us. I am at a loss. Thank you for any help you might give.

I asked Dan Austin for a MapMaker perspective on the problem and whether anything could be done.

Here is his response (once again chock full of useful tidbits if you run into this issue).

Yes and no.

Google Category Tool Updated – Third Party Categories Added


Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.39.08 AM

Updated 2/5/2014

With Google’s rollout of new international categories, we are in the process of updating the Google Category Tool. Thanks to those that have helped out; Mohammed Alami, Chris McCreery, Eduard de Boer & Courtney Rogers. I want to give a special hat tip to Keenan Glass who showed me how to gather categories in other countries.

We have also updated the tool with a number of third party categories that are commonly used in the US. Let me know if you find the additions of Localeze, Yelp, InfoUSA, Bing and NAICS categories helpful.

Here is the current status of the updates

Updated

Have the following categories and will be added/updated soon

Need help getting the categories for:

  • Any other country you would like to see added (let me know which ones).

Other new categories added to the tool

Google Bulk Upload Categories

If you would like to help in the gathering of categories here are the instructions to do so:

Go into the new dashboard (if your current email only goes to the old dashboard then create a new gmail account)

Continue reading

Local U Advanced Philadelphia Early Bird Discount Ending


I have already proclaimed how much I enjoy the format of the upcoming version of Local U Advanced. It is in the Valley Forge/Philadelphia area the night of March 7 and the day of March 8th.

Besides our all new content, great food, drink and conversation, Wil Reynolds will be providing the keynote. He is an incredible speaker and you will learn some of the most effective strategies for driving local customers and fans digitally with his Real Company Stuff guidance.

To keep the atmosphere intimate we are limiting total attendance to 60 folks to be sure that everybody gets the answers that they want. We are currently at 20 sign ups. That leaves only 40 more spots.

We are also hoping that you will see some beta software that will change how you are currently doing local. Incredibly good stuff.

It will be 36 hours of geeking out on local with David Mihm, Mary Bowling, Mike Ramsey, Aaron Weiche, Ed Reese, Will Scott, Derek Wetzel of Google and myself in a relaxed and collegial environment. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the EARLYBIRD discount will be ending on February 7th, just 4 days away and this week is your last chance to save $100. If you are thinking of coming, now is the time to sign up.

Head over to Localu.org/Advanced2014 and sign up while you can still save the $100.

Google Alerting Australian Dashboard Claimants via Emails


Last week Google started upgrading the Places dashboards in Australia. Last night (which was this morning in Australia) Google started sending out a notice to Australian Places Dashboard claimants. Several folks reported it in the forums (ht to Nyagoslav) with headlines like “Scam or not?”.

Hello,

Due to changes in Google Maps, we’d like to inform you that unless you review and confirm the information in your Google Places account, we will no longer be able to keep and show it to Google users after February 21, 2014.

As a result, on this date your listing “Pet Friends” may be deleted.

If you wish to keep your listing active, follow these three easy steps:

1. Log in to your Google Places account
2. Review and update your information
3. Click the “Submit” button

Sincerely,
The Google Places Team

1- Google has confirmed that the email is legitimate
2- If you have received one of these you should do as the email instructs

Exactly why Google is sending this out, they are not saying. Whether it is an effort to clean up listings after the upgrade or has something to do with local licensing issues, no one really knows. It appears that the email is unique to Australia at this point.

When Google farts it is a sound heard around the world. This email is no exception. They were reported last night in the forums and folks were concerned that they were either a scam or that they were in trouble. One poster noted that “I have logged in but there is nothing there indicating anything that needs updating”. Google in there inimitable fashion did not alert users that the emails were coming, did not say that they were sent and has not explained the purpose of the email. And when a user gets to the Dashboard there is no explanation or alert that they need to do a “null edit”. No wonder they are confused.

Google has started to understand that customer service means taking care of problems. A huge leap for the company as it starts to grow up.

Now they need to learn that, like The Fed, what it means to communicate better. If they don’t every word will be parsed ad nauseum and folks will lose sleep. And farts expelled in an echo chamber will end up sounding like thunder.

Google Dramatically Increases International Categories


Google’s categories for many international dashboards have been woefully inadequate. Fortunately Google has just announced a major increase in the number of categories available internationally.

Based on merchant feedback, we’ve been working to improve business categories. One of the key areas we thought we could quickly improve is expanding the breadth of available categories globally.

So you might be wondering: why hadn’t we already done that? Well, international business categorization is quite tricky. Imagine you’re planning a trip to Greece. When you search from the US, you’ll probably be using English, and you’ll see the categories of Greek businesses in English. However, those businesses in Greece were probably set in Greek using Places for Business in Greek. This means the Places for Business team has to translate and associate categories in many languages. As you can imagine, this can become very complicated very quickly.

Today, we are taking a first step of many to improve categories that merchants can use to represent their businesses. Specifically, we’re adding over 1,000 new categories in the new Places dashboard. These categories are available globally and translated to every language Google supports.

Last but not least, thanks to our Top Contributors and all the merchants who gave us great feedback. We’re indeed listening!

-Jade, Google Business Community Manager

(Note: posted from my iPhone while exercising. Please excuse any errors. )

The Future of POS is the Future of Local Marketing


Integrated POS marketing machine

Amazon to Offer Kindle Checkout System to Physical Retailers was the headline in an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.  I have long thought that POS and other similar integrated services delivered via a combination of hardware, software and web was the key to cracking the holy grail of SMB marketing services.

In The Future of SMB POS Defined by GoPago’s Free POS System from October, 2012 I wrote:

Sometimes the lights go on and the realization strikes that a new metaphor has taken hold and will change the market going forward. That realization struck when I recently read about GoPago’s Free POS system for SMBs…..

The early creator of metaphor changing products sometimes reaps the benefits and other times the benefits go to better capitalized late comers. Certainly GoPago has no lock on this market. Square, Paypal, Bing and Google could all step in and have both distribution efficiencies and marketing clout that could give them an advantage in this space. Imagine Google offering up a free Moto/Android based POS system that also guides SMBs through a business center experience as the SMB gains familiarity with the many marketing options that Google offers. If I were Bing,in an effort to kick start their Local Business Portal, I would walk over to GoPago and hand them a check even if it meant the POS had to continue to use an Android based product.

I still believe that. More so now than ever. The market in the 15 months since I have written this has not stood still. Apple, Intuit, Square and Paypal have all made moves in this direction. Each with their own spin.

It is interesting that Amazon might be the first of the big players to offer up such an integrated solution. And of all the players they will have the hardest time overcoming the extreme distrust that the bricks and mortar world has of them. And that alone may prevent them from moving quickly enough to consolidate their position in this market.

But SMBs are a prickly and unpredictable lot (I know I was one for 20 years in a family business… and if you think I am prickly you should have met my father). But if the value is compelling enough, if the cost of the credit transactions is low enough and if the support is high enough it could happen.

Clearly POS is but one of the entrees into the world of captive solutions… But it is a very compelling metaphor for the integrated SMB solutions that are rapidly moving into the marketplace. Scheduling, billing and other services via PC are equally compelling in the service arena and in a broad sense can be viewed the same way.

Regardless whoever gets their first at scale will have a huge advantage in the future of retail and local search marketing. And payments, loyalty and and and…..

Local Answer Box: A Work in Progress or TMI?


It’s always fun when Google releases new “answers” like the local Answer Box to see them going wrong. It shows the limits of the current technology and gives some idea how it works.

Leave it to Phil Rozek to find an unusual example of it not working quite right and have it give an answer to questions we never had.  What a guy won’t do for a link. You’d think he had studied at the feet of Andrew Shotland.

anderson-sc

 

Sebastien Socha also found this interesting example of a location answer where Google is showing the local carousel rather than the pack on a request for Momofuku locations (location set to New York, NY) when there are multiples.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 7.00.10 AM

 

Whoah.. and this answer box on the search gallery furniture owner (location set to Houston, Tx) while not strictly a local address answer box demonstrates the exactly how far Google will go on this answering thing. Can we ask for just a little privacy please?

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Developing Knowledge about Local Search