Every week Mary and I (and occasionally some guests) meet to discuss some of the bigger local search issues confronting local marketers and local businesses. We spend anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes covering the issues.
The current and previous episodes (which are also available as video) are now available as podcasts. Sign up for your weekly fix.
To give you a sense of the kind of speakers and topics we will be dealing with we are interviewing some of the speakers. In this second interview of our speaker series with myself, Mike Ramsey and Joy Hawkins, we cover what’s hot with Google Local and what’s not as well as some interesting tips on dealing with Google issues that might cause a loss of rank. Joy is chock full of Google Local knowledge and you won’t want to miss this video or her session at Local U.
Joy Hawkins of Imprezzio Marketing, one of the leading experts on Google Local, local spam & Google troubleshooting will be heading two sessions at Local U Advanced: Troubleshooting Google My Business Problems, and a deep dive problem solving session on Google Local with myself and Google. If you want to learn the latest in how to maximize your Google Local visibility and fix the many problems that your customers are experiencing with Google, you owe it to yourself and your team to come to LocalU Advanced Nola.
The wild uptake of Pokemon Go over the weekend demonstrates in a show not tell way the power of these sorts of virtualsegmenteddetachedalienated “augmented”* reality experiences to create real world buzz and traffic.
If you are not familiar with it (hard to believe that it was actually competing for news cycles), it is essentially a version of Pokemon layered over Google Maps that takes place in the real world by allowing you to capture Pokemon, level up etc by throwing a ball at a Pokemon figure that has been over layed on the real world in front of you on your mobile screen ….
Google (actually John Hanke’s Niantic Labs) is collecting a ream of local geo data, Pokemon, with its stock at a long time high, is collecting money with in app purchases and you (or hopefully your customers) are collecting virtual Pokemon in proximity of your business. Near perfect symmetry that portends the coming age of virtual gamefication of life in a (dystopic?) consumer world.
OK so its weird, its social, it takes place in a nether world between the screen and reality and it might be hard to get the attention of someone whose eyes are glued to their screen but it is worth thinking about, perhaps jumping on the bandwagon and at least being Pokemon friendly if not Pokemon alluring.
And thinking about how and how soon Google will figure out a way to insert local AdWords units into the game play.
I am curious if anyone has actually tried it in their business? Or if you have ideas on how you might use it in your business? Please let me know.
*Augmented? Augmented my ass. What marketing double speak for being engaged in something other than reality. A brilliant term for an experience that is anything but “augmented”.
Duane Forrester from Bing and Jade Wang of Google will both be at Local U as will Darren Shaw of Whitespark, Mary Bowling, Aaron Weiche, Dana DiTomaso and myself. The day is structured to provide a deep dive into the skills necessary for an agency to execute a local search campaign with lots of time for questions and answers.
The event is limited to only 60 attendees and we have already sold half of the tickets. The advanced purchase pricing for Local U Advanced is $799 (forum members save an additional $100) by itself and $1039 with a ticket to MNSearch. Bring your whole staff with our 5-pack for only $3500 (goes to $4000 on 6/1).
The price includes a meet & greet before and after the event and enough food to keep you fat and happy for the day. It will be a small, personalized event where there will be plenty of time to interact with the presenters and each other.
The internet is a funny place. A world of opportunity and a world of pain. The Union Street Guest House is in the middle of a maelstrom of its own creation. One that if managed properly could serve them well over the long haul and if managed improperly could flag them for years.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is often associated with Phineas T. Barnum. As to whether it is true seems to me dependent on what the hotel does next. The internet has given them their 15 minutes of infamy and tons of fat juicy, natural links from a wide variety of domains and who knows how many highly authoritative citations .
My suggestion to them? Make hay while the shit flies. You have everyone’s attention. Now, be the bigger person, make a sincere, heartfelt apology, refund any of the fees that were charged and go out and get some positive press. It will pay off in both reputation reclamation (while people are paying attention) and will lead to another hefty slew of links.
But act fast, your fifteen minutes is coming to an end any second now.
We live in a big country. There are differences in behaviors between men and women, rural and urban and regionally. This is as true on line as it is offline.
Those who leave reviews are not a uniform lot nor are their preferred review sites. In my recent research as to which sites US internet users prefer to leave reviews, it was a 1,2,3 finish for Google, Facebook and Yelp. But there were interesting difference by gender, urbanicity and to an extent income as to which sites reviewers preferred. There are likely other differences as well but the sample size was not large enough to make conclusions.
There was little gender differences among those that left reviews at Google, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List or YP.com with each site having roughly equal number of males and females that preferred each site. Perhaps it is self evident but women comprised a significant majority amongst those that left reviews at Facebook. Yelp had a similar tilt towards men.
There was little difference in preference amongst those living in suburbia, rural or urban environs on Google, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List. YP.com and Citysearch. But there was a distinct urban bent towards Yelp amongst its users and a definitive tilt towards suburban and rural users amongst those preferring to review on Facebook.
TL;dr: Amongst consumers that leave reviews more than once per year, which sites do consumers prefer for leaving reviews? The answer might surprise you. Google is number one overall but Facebook made a strong showing and outpaced Yelp for the number two spot as a preferred site to leave reviews.
Reviews have two sides:
Where do people read them?
Where do people like to leave them?
I suspected that the answers to these two questions might not be the same.
Facebook reviews received more of my attention with the Big Earl’s controversy in early June. It elevated Facebook on my radar and I started gathering anecdotal evidence that Facebook was making inroads into the local review space despite the fact that they are not highlighting reviews in any significant way.
I also saw the phenomenon on Barbara Oliver’s FB page despite her making no specific effort to get reviews there, they were piling up at a steady rate. I was even seeing Facebook ratings and reviews in industries like insurance that are notoriously hard to get reviews in.
To that end I created a large scale consumer survey at Google of US Adult internet users to first figure out who left reviews for local businesses regularly and then amongst those users, what sites they preferred for leaving reviews.
Using Google survey, I created a filter question to identify users (self reported) that left reviews at least once per year and eliminated from further study, those that rarely if ever left reviews.
We asked 2671 respondents the following with a choice of 5 possible answers: After purchasing from a local business, I will take the time to leave an online review for that business (% response in parenthesis):
-Almost never – less than 1 review per year (19.6%)
-Occasionally – 1 to 5 reviews per year (15.7%)
-Somewhat frequently – 6 to 11 reviews per year (4.2%)
-Very frequently – 12 reviews or more a year (2.4%)
The vast majority of respondents noted they never or almost never leave reviews (77.8%). Is it any wonder that getting reviews is hard?
The 703 of those respondents (22.2% of the total) that answered occasionally, somewhat or very frequently were then asked a follow up question where they were asked to indicate their preferred site:
When you leave a review online for a local business which site are you most likely to use?
The margin of error in the survey is such that Google’s “victory” is statistically significant. And one could argue that the difference between Facebook and Yelp is such that we can’t really tell which is actually in second place.
But this survey is confirmed by a second survey I conducted where users were allowed to pick ALL sites they are likely to use (1002 responses).
Factual stopped accepting individual manual contributions through their website (see here when you choose “Update/Add Business Data”). Instead, now they urge business owners to contact some of the “Trusted Data Contributors” to get the listings updated (obviously, in exchange of a small fee, which is not mentioned anywhere on Factual though). It is also interesting they don’t make it very obvious that they still accept contributions through their API.
Not that the manual approach ever worked properly – it could take anything from 1 day to 3 months for an addition/update to get approved.
Local U Advanced is returning to Seattle on June 10th with an all new curriculum for 2014.
When asked what attendees liked best about our just completed Local U Advanced in Philadelphia here is what a few of them said:
How intimate the group is and the ability to talk to the presenters before, during and after presentations. All the presenters I spoke with cared about answering my questions and did not brush anything off. This conference is just like the small classroom experience any good college tries to attain. – Zach Stone
The content! Speakers also communicated that content clearly and with enthusiasm (Wil takes the title as “Most Enthusiastic”). But a very close second was that it was limited to 60 attendees. It allowed a more intimate setting to meet and network with fellow agency members and the speakers. – Annie Stern
It’s tough to beat participating in a Q&A session with Derek (from Google) – he provided clarification on many issues important to my team. Also, the discussion with Blumenthal and Mihm answered many questions I had. – Kerry Fager
The upcoming Local Advanced – Seattle will offer the same small, intimate environment, the ability to interact with folks that live and breath local and the same great content (all new from last year’s Seattle event) . Google will be there as will all the folks from Local U. And we are excited that Rand Fishkin will be keynoting the event.
We hope to see you there. You can sign up here and be sure to use the discount code: WS-LUSA10 (case sensitive) to receive a 10% discount. The early bird special ends May 2nd.