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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Why Local Will Continue to Be Hard for Google – a Conversation with a Retailer

Google sends Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry near Buffalo a lot of business. She has doubled the size of her jewelry business and dramatically increased engagement ring sales over the past 2 years. Local search, organic search, Adwords Express have all worked well for her. Despite the ups and downs, the ins and outs and the many changes in Google Places search, Google has been the primary generator of web visits and phone calls for her business.

The contest isn’t close. Google sends 20-25 times more web traffic (and uncountable phone calls and store visits) than the either Yahoo or Bing and 60 times more than the any of the directory, IYP or social sites.

Yet when a review is lost by Google, that is what Barbara remembers. Not all the traffic she gets from them, not the calls, not the visits but the lost review. Even if it is one or two reviews out of 45, when one goes south she knows, she feels it and she remembers it with frustration.

Here is an email string that I had with her over the past few days:

Barbara: Hi Mike, So yesterday I had 45 reviews with a new one from Monday and today back to 43. Do they cut off old ones or just do that to p-ss me off?

Mike:  Google taketh and google giveth. Note these search results… your mug is all over them 🙂 (referring to her having an Author photo)

Barbara: I see they also dropped 2 from my buddy at [a competitor] and the mug all over makes them [customers] think they know me when they see me so I am appeased…

Mike: You have a recent new review! from a Courtney D on Mar 16, 2012 –

Barb took my dream wedding ring and brought it to reality. There is no one better to trust than Barb with your precious gems or dreams! Thank you! 

Barbara: Nice, let’s see how long it stays up – she said with sour grapes.

Mike: The cup really is more than half full… if THE GOOGLE decides to nuke a review or two, at least they are still sending you a lot of business

Barbara: Just saying I get them and I am a bit protective.  I have been getting a lot of new customers for everything lately so thanks to THE GOOGLE and the MIKE.

Mike: I know you are protective. Losing one is like losing a close friend….

Barbara: Exactly.

Even if Google got it right nearly all of the time (and they have yet to achieve that standard), most small retailers will focus on the pain of the bad memories and mistakes that Google has made and not the many positives, even when reminded.

This conversation demonstrates why Local is so hard. And will continue to be hard for Google.