Today Google officially rolled out a new layout for local search results on Google.com, which everyone is tentatively calling the “Knowledge Graph Carousel.” This new carousel of local listings replaces the traditional 7-pack listings that were embedded in the organic search results.
So far, the carousel only appears for a limited set of business types. From initial research, the only businesses affected are those in the food (restaurant, bar, grocery store), hospitality (hotels, motels, inns), and entertainment (museums, theaters, stadiums) industries. Though if this new format is successful for these verticals, I would anticipate all other local verticals will soon follow. For a more complete list, check out this post from Adam Dorfman.
The Carousel In Action
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Google has made several changes with the rollout of their new Google Maps interface. Previous articles from my colleagues on Google’s “retro reviews” and the new look and feel can be read here and here, respectively.
As our team has been testing and playing with the new layout; one interesting item that we’ve come upon is that Google changes the search term when searchers click from one Google site to the next.
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The big local search story to come out of Google I/O, Google’s annual developer’s conference, from two weeks ago is the change to the user interface on Google Maps. With this change, Google also announced several smaller changes that they believe will enhance the end user’s search experience.
One of these is less of a change and more of Google backtracking. Less than a full year after going from a 5-star rating system to the Zagat Rating system (a 30 point system), Google has decided to move back to the 5-star rating system.
Some updates include Google changing the display color of the stars from yellow to red, as well as displaying the number itself to further attract the attention of the users to the review rating. Note that similar to Google’s old 5-star system, it takes at least 5 reviews for the number and star rating to show up for that particular location.
“Users who opt-in to the new Google Maps will rate businesses on a scale that
ranges from one to five stars. The system maintains the precision of the former 30 point scale while improving the readability and accessibility of the business listings.”
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Two weeks ago, Google introduced its new Maps at its I/O conference. The new interface includes a sharper design and improved user experience with the results and rankings of listings being determined by a variety of new factors.
As seen above, the redesign of the interface includes a fullscreen map display and removes the list view of results that was previously displayed on the left. The teardrop pins have been replaced by red dots – complemented by business names to show top-ranked listings. Whereas the previous interface limited the number of pins marking top-ranked listings to 10 or less, the new interface appears to have between 15 to 20 top listings, depending on the vertical and geo. If you wish to view your results in a list display similar to the old Google Maps, you can simply click on “Go to list of Top Results,” which will take you to a new page similar to the old Google Places ranking page.
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Ranking both organically and in the Google+ Local SERP is determined by a myriad of factors. Some of these ingredients cannot be changed, such as proximity to what Google considers the city center. However, it is clear that optimizing the elements that can be controlled influences ranking and, by association, traffic and conversions. There is substantial data that indicates the ongoing and active optimization of a listing is correlated with its success.
The most obvious actions are the most important.
- Google+ Local listings must have the most accurate and up-to-date information displaying on the page. This means address information and phone numbers, among other data, need to match exactly with what is being fed out via your data aggregators (if utilizing them).
- Consistency between the information displayed on your website and the information displayed on your Google+ Local page is vital. A discrepancy between the two will negatively affect your ranking.
- Your map marker needs to be accurately displaying the location of the business
- Make sure that there are no duplicate listings associated with your business in the results. Often times Google will scrape historical data from previous listings and brings them back to life. If a potential customer finds this page he/she will undoubtedly have an undesirable user experience.
Bing announced in late April that Bing Business Portal has become Bing Places for Business. Along with the name change, Bing introduced several updates that could provide a better user experience. Bing removed a few business promotions and management services, including coupons, QR codes, and the ability to create deals as part of an effort to “simplify the experience”. The biggest news to come out of this update is that Bing now has a more streamlined process for bulk uploading and verifying locations through their web interface. Users are also now able to bulk upload anywhere from 10 to 10,000 locations. This news gives hope to those that need to frequently upload businesses in bulk rather quickly.
The new process of bulk uploading was a boon for those that had to email their bulk file to a third party in the past. No more crossing your fingers and hoping that the third party receiving the file would upload it soon. Users can now upload their bulk listings freely by using the Bing file format or the Google Places for Business file format.
It is important to note that if you choose the Google Places for Business File format, you must convert it into the Excel format. Bing will not accept CSV files. All uploads must also use the Bing category names, which can be found in the “Bing Places Sample” file.
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Google has re-introduced Adwords Express, their slimmed down process for SMBs and first time advertisers to run pay-per-click ad campaigns. While you do not need to have a website, you will need a verified Google+ Local listing to take advantage of Adwords Express. After that, it’s as easy as selecting your business, writing an ad, and then choosing your budget. The rest is automatic and Google will manage what keywords your ads appear for.
Unlike AdWords, which gives business owners more control over ad campaigns, Express is geared towards those who have less time to manage PPC campaigns or are new to paid search and ad creation. Making it a simpler option for the newcomer or time strapped business owner.
Creating an Ad
To start using this product, log into your Google Places account and select “Create AdWords Express Ad,” to enter Express’ ad creation center.
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Just this week, Facebook began rolling out a global redesign of their mobile location pages. The intention of this redesign seems to be focused not only on making it easier to find a business’s physical location, but also to simplify interactions between users and businesses on Facebook mobile.
Before Facebook rolled out the redesign, business information and calls to action were spread out among different tiles on the mobile page. The Call or Check In to a location buttons were towards the bottom of the page when first opened, and a map of the location was not accessible until after clicking on the Map tile.
The new design makes better use of the space available on mobile devices by moving the most useful information towards the top of the page while also removing the need for extra clicks to get to this type of information.
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Research experts are all saying the same thing… Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMBs) are putting higher amounts of money towards their digital marketing efforts. According to the BIA/Kelsey’s annual Local Commerce Monitor Survey, 40% of the SMB market is planning to increase their digital spend over the next 12 months. The same article states that SMBs will spend roughly 33% of their total marketing budget on digital media.
Simply put, SMBs are allocating more of their budget to digital marketing this year. But are those SMBs spending their hard earned money wisely? Are these SMBs truly maximizing their money and resources in a way that will provide them success in digital marketing?
Here are some tips that every SMB should follow to make sure they are properly maximizing their money and resources spent towards digital marketing.
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