Google Category Tool Updated – Third Party Categories Added

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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.

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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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Google Adds Dates to Hotel Local Carousel

Barry Schwartz reported  on SEL this am that Google was now allowing dates of stay to be set directly on the carousel. When updated, Google updates the results for their hotel finder immediately below the ads.

I know that I have covered this topic before but it is striking even on my fairly large display that Google 1) makes only one general search result visible in this display and 2)virtually every link goes back to Google.

Click to view at full size
Click to view at full size

 

Google Testing Location Answer Box

Pete Meyers of Moz just pointed out an unusual new feature that Google is testing: Location Answer Box. Darren Shaw noted that it was visible via Firefox.

I see it regardless of whether location is set or whether I am logged in, if the query is specific enough to generate a single answer.

IE Dress Barn Locations Amherst gives me the Local Address Answer Box

 

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If however the query returns multiple answers it still delivers a Pack Result:

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I was able to see results for brands other than Dress Barn if (again) there is only one in the market:

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Fake Reviews – Everyone is doing it, so it must be legal

I absolutely loved this thread at blackhatworld. The original poster asked:

Hi,

Does anybody know if it is illegal to sell fake online reviews?

I have heard about companies getting fined for posting / buying fake reviews, but can the seller actually get in trouble? If so then why does Fiverr allow you to post review gigs, I mean there is a whole section dedicated to them!

If it is illegal what I have in mind is putting in my T&C’s that all the reviews we post will be taken from other review sites for example:

If you have reviews on Amazon we will copy these and put them onto Review Centre.

Any advice would be appreciated!

A smattering of the answers that make it sound a bit more like dumbhatworld:

  • If you don’t say anything negative abut some one or some company it is probably legal. No one can punish you for good review even if it is fake
  • It’s not really illegal since there are so many people doing it..
  • Fake Review Not Problem But Need Different Different IP For Work
  • Slander is illegal so if you’re leaving negative feedback and lying in the process then yes it’s immoral and illegal. If, however, someone offers you a product in exchange for a review (much like what happens in the sales threads on here) then there’s nothing wrong with that, provided the review is honest and fair.

The answers went from dumb to dumber at least until one  poster finally posted a reasoned response based on some real (very painful) experience that I have covered previously:

I owned Glowing Reviews, which was sued by Edmunds last year for posting “fake reviews”, so I can answer with first hand info. (Just google ‘glowing reviews edmunds’)

Each country will have different laws, so I’ll answer with the US version. You need to read the FTC guidelines for testimonials(reviews) in advertising:
http://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/fil…mentguides.pdf

After consulting with attorneys, they believed that as long as a review could be tracked back to an individual it was ok. So, for example, if you collected reviews via comment card, phone call, and email and had a way to get back in touch with the customer, it would be ok to post.

At the same time, each site that allows you to post reviews (such as Amazon in your case or Edmunds in mine) has TOS that you’re supposed to follow. At every site you’ll find they require that the person posting the review is the actual person who experienced the service. So if you post on behalf of someone else, you’ll be violating the TOS.

I expected if any site ever got angry about me posting REAL reviews under my accounts, I’d get a C&D letter. I was wrong and got sued.

Someone else in this thread mentioned that it’s ok because everyone else does it. Well, good luck with that strategy. Lots of people do this, but do you always want to live wondering when you get the call from Wall Street Journal letting you know you were sued and what your comment is?

I can give more examples of legal issues causing headaches (twitter bots a couple of years ago, Yelp suing fake review posters, etc), but suffice it to say it’s probably better to find a better way to get your reviews up.

One more thing… If you incent the reviews in any way (Ie – leave a review on Amazon and you’ll get 25% off your next order), according to the FTC PDF I linked, they need to say that they are a paid endorser in their review. I’d expect to get sued less often by the FTC for “forgetting this” or doing it on a small scale, but if they decide to make an example of someone look out…

The bottom line? Fake reviews are illegal plain and simple. The rewards of fake reviews are positive. The risks on the other hand, while infrequent, are very high.

Google Local Carousel Now Visible in Japan

The (not very well liked) Local Carousel is now visible in Japan on Google.com although not yet on Google.co.jp/. Kenichi Suzuki, a popular Japanese blogger interested in local search, reports that while he is not sure when it started showing, it is now showing.

Since being rolled out last June they have only been visible in the US. While US based searchers can see the carousel on searches for local information abroad, those searching from outside the US have not seen them until now.

And despite my unique experience last week of not seeing the Local Caroisel for a short while, that has remained the case. The fact that they are rolling out to another country would imply that they are not going away any time soon. But who knows…

I asked Kenichi why it was not visible on .co.jp and noted: But it’s not rare we see certain features available only in .com, sometimes for a while. Say, Authorship program in co.jp was behind a several month later than .com.?

_Google_Search

Developing Knowledge about Local Search