Archive for the ‘Local Search’ Category

Google Local Business Center Survey

November 4, 2009

Google is surveying its Local Business Center audience for feedback to help improve its local business listings product.

Today while logging into my Google Local Business Center account, I noticed this message:

“Tell us what you think! Take our 5 minute survey and help improve Local Business Center.”

I took Google up on their offer and quickly completed the following four page survey.

Google Local Business Center Feedback I

Google Local Business Center Feedback I

The first page of the Google Local Business Center survey asks –

1. Overall, how satisfied are you with Google Local Business Center?

2. How likely is it that you would recommend Google Local Business Center to a friend or colleague?

The survey then asks users to indicate their satisfaction with Google Local Business Center in the following dimensions: Ease of Use, Visual Appeal, Technical Reliability, Features and Capabilities, Trustworthiness, Privacy and Security and the Listing verification process.

Next, Local Business Center users are asked “Which aspects of your Google Local Business Center listing are most important to you” followed by a drop down answer box for answering the question –  “when did you first visit the Local Business Center?”

Which of the following answers are most important to you as a business listing manager?

People finding directions to my business
People clicking through to my website
People writing ratings & reviews
People contacting (calling or emailing) my business
People viewing the details of my listing (hours, pictures, descriptions, ratings & reviews)
Getting analytics & reporting on how my listing is performing

Google Local Business Center Feedback Satisfaction II

Google Local Business Center Feedback Satisfaction II

The second page of the survey asks the following four multiple choice questions pertaining to listing management:

When did you first use Google Local Business Center?
How did you verify your business listing in Google Local Business Center?
How long has it been since you last visited Google Local Business Center?
Which best describes your role or roles regarding the business or businesses you have listed on Google Local Business Center?

Google Local Business Center Feedback Process III

Google Local Business Center Feedback Process III

The third page asks the following three questions:

Which best describes the business(es) you are listing on Google Local Business Center?

What is the preferred way for your customers to contact the business you own or manage?
(If you have an appointment-based business, how do you prefer customers reach you to schedule an appointment?)

What are other ways you promote the business you own or manage (online & offline)?

While the forth and final question on the third page of the survey asks users to indicate which of the following ten (mostly Google) products they use:

Google AdWords
Google Analytics
Google AdSense
Google Coupons inside Local Business Listing
Google Checkout
Search engine optimization service (a company that improves your website ranking on search engines like Google.com)
Google webmaster tools
Yahoo! Local listing
MS Live search maps
Other online advertising (Yahoo Ads, Microsoft adCenter, etc.)

Google Local Business Survey IV

Google Local Business Survey IV

The final page of Google’s Local Business survey incorporates the users answers from the previous pages and then asks for further clarification while also asking the Local Business Center user to provide additional comments about the LBC product if they choose to do so.

Please describe any problems or difficulties you have experienced with Google Local Business center today. (optional)

What if anything do you find frustrating or unappealing about Google Local Business Center?(optional)

What do you like best about Google Local Business Center? (optional)

Local Business Center Survey V

Local Business Center Survey V

Uncharacteristically, the final page of the survey asked whether or not I would be willing to be contacted again with more research questions about the Google Local Business Center.

Google Local Business Center Survey VI

Google Local Business Center Survey VI

I checked affirmative and then provided my email address.

It will be interesting to see what – if anything – transpires from the data Google gathers from their Local Business Center Audience survey.

If you haven’t received a survey in your LBC, feel free to answer any of the above questions in the comments section of this post.

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Google Maps Spam Innovation?

August 26, 2009

Today I was searching for a local french drain systems specialist to get a quote to install a drainage system in my backyard to handle the inordinate amounts of rain we have been having lately.

It seems like we have been having more than our fair share of 50 and 100 year downpours this summer.

On top of these once in a lifetime downpours we also had a reported 1 1/2 inches of rain fall in less than 30 minutes at the beginning of August when its typically dry as a bone.

Combined the two types of rain have created problems I didn’t have before because I haven’t owned my house for 50 years nor was was it built 100 years ago.

To save the time and hassle of cracking open one of the five yellow pages directories I receive annually, I thought I would see what information Google’s search results would provide.

To get straight to their local search results more quickly, I searched Google for “Oklahoma French Drain Systems”.

Google Maps Spam Innovation

Google Maps Spam Innovation

As expected, Google quickly delivered a set of three local business listings I could look over and then consider clicking or calling.

Nothing new there.

Since the top two listings shared the same great relevant domain – FrenchDrainSystems.com – I excitedly clicked through thinking I would soon be viewing the website of a great French Drain Systems company who could then help me solve my drainage problem.

Nope.

Clicking through to both of the top two results landed me on the same parked page.

FrenchDrainSystems.com

FrenchDrainSystems.com

Having seen a variety of spoofs occur on Google Maps particularly within the user content sections of business listings, I assumed this was the case here too.

Nope.

Looks like a local company – although not one in the French Drain Systems business – owns FrenchDrainSystems.com.

Apparently, they claimed their listing with either a previous website and then elected to display the parked page or the claimed their listing while using a parked page.

Either way, whether this was an innocent attempt at claiming some local search real estate with a parked domain or not, I don’t think the search results are what Google Maps had intended for its users to find.

Newspaper Enters Local Business Center Market

August 16, 2009

Today I saw an ad in my local newspaper for a new product they have launched called the Business Resource Center.

Business Resource Center

Business Resource Center

The new service appears similar to Google’s Local Business Center and looks like it provides all of the same features found in the Local Business Center.

The Business Resource Center touts the benefits of having a small business found under local searches and states:

Anything that you’d traditionally look for in the print yellow pages has become a “local search” on the Internet. For these queries, 75 percent of the top 100 keywords are non-branded, indicating that a majority of consumers have not decided on a specific brick and mortar store to do business with.

Local Search Business

Local Search Business

The site claims  “to stay on top of the internet so you don’t have to” and plans to provide the latest in local search, social networking, search engine marketing and social media optimization to its advertisers.

Local Business Resource Center

Local Business Resource Center

The newspaper’s local business resource center will provide advertisers with statistics like Google’s Local Business Center has begun providing in the US.

Local Business Resource Center Statistics

Local Business Resource Center Statistics

Like Google, the paper’s local Business Resource Center also lets advertisers “create and manage coupons and special offers to drive traffic and build customer loyalty”.

Local Business Center Coupons

Local Business Center Coupons

Similar to other directory and listing services, the newspaper’s business resource center alerts advertisers immediately when individuals rate or review their services, and allows them to reply directly to concerns or praise, giving businesses the ability to create stronger relationships with their customers.

Local Business Center Communications

Local Business Center Communications

The Beta version of their User Interface is clean and user friendly.

The site offers what appears to be primarily display advertising under keyword or category searches and claims to provide the largest local search audience reach.

Overall the newspaper’s launch of a Local Business Center is quite an accomplishment for any newspaper in this day and age.

Search Arbitrage: Bing Targeting Local Search… On Google

June 12, 2009

Last week, I wrote about how Microsoft’s was buying ads on Google to promote its new search engine Bing.

With Bing’s launch, Microsoft said it planned to target four distinct categories: shopping, local, travel and health.

Today while logged into my Gmail account, I noticed the following Google Adwords ad for Bing targeting local search.

Bing Local Search Decisions

Bing Local Search Decisions

The Official Bing site ad reads: Local decisions. Get Pricing, Maps and Reviews For Local Businesses.

Clicking the Bing ad takes visitors to Bing.com/Maps site where the Bing search box is prepopulated with the “Business, category and/or location” prompt.

Bing Business Category or Location

Bing Business Category or Location

Upon entering a business name, Bing presupposes my search is for a local business and provides a list of results from my city.

Bing Local Business Search

Bing Local Business Search

Entering a business category produces search results from the same locale as the business name search.

Bing Local Category Search

Bing Local Category Search

A Microsoft brand search produces a list of businesses that apparently carry Microsoft branded products within the same locality.

Bing Local Brand Search Microsoft

Bing Local Brand Search Microsoft

Any predictions on how this search / search arbitrage will pan out for Microsoft’s Bing?

Adwords Examples on Google Maps

October 11, 2008

I was giving a presentation in Utah last week using Google Local Search and Google Maps as examples which evidently included new distribution points for Adwords advertising.

In the examples below, you can see an Adwords ad displayed in two locations in both types of Google Maps products being searched.

A search for Trump Soho Hotel in Google Maps produces two Adwords advertisers ads – one in the top left corner above Google’s local search results with the other ad below the map itself.

Trump Soho Hotel Google Maps

Trump Soho Hotel Google Maps

The same search in Google Street View also generates two Google Ads in the same locations as in the Google Map view search.

Trump Soho Hotel Google Maps Street View

Trump Soho Hotel Google Maps Street View

Its not clear to me as a Google Adwords advertiser just how I can get my ads distributed and displayed in these local map search results.

None of my geo-targeted Adwords campaigns are generating these types of ad distribution results.

Customized Search Results

October 10, 2008

Google has started delivering customized search results for local searches.

Customized Search Results

Customized Search Results

How does Google decide which queries are getting which area’s results?

If I were to venture a guess, I would say they will begin distributing search results within a scheme similar to Nielsen’s Designated Market Areas (DMA).

The timing for this new type of search result appears to coincide with the present United States economic cycle.

More about Google’s new customized search results:

Search Customization Details

Search Customization Details

Search Customization Details

Yahoo! Search Marketing Console?

September 17, 2008

I was cleaning up some Yahoo Search Marketing accounts this morning and was trying to find Yahoo’s Search Submit login page.

In the past, keeping track of all their search product offerings was difficult.

Yahoo has consolidated all of their search marketing products into a drop down box on their Sponsored Search login page.

The Yahoo Search Marketing login page shows 13 different search marketing product categories:

1. Sponsored Search

2. Local Sponsored Search

3. Mobile Sponsored Search

4. Search Submit Pro

5. Search Submit Express

6. Search Submit Basic

7. Marketing Console

8. Search Optimizer

9. Product Submit

10. Travel Submit

11. Local Listings

12. Directory Submit

13. Small Business

Yahoo Marketing Console

Yahoo Marketing Console

I thought I would get reacquainted with Yahoo search marketing products so I clicked on their “Marketing Console” thinking this would somehow let me manage all of my Yahoo search marketing products in one dashboard.

Not today.

Yahoo Marketing Console 404 Not Found

Yahoo Marketing Console 404 Not Found

When I clicked on the Yahoo search marketing console I was sent to a non-existent page.

I then searched for the Yahoo search marketing console – in Yahoo – and was directed back to their sponsored search login page.

Did Yahoo have a search marketing console for managing all of their search products and I just wasn’t able to locate it?

Or, did Yahoo have a marketing console they have since abandoned?

Mobile Search and Reverse Business Telephone Number Lookup, a Visual 411

February 8, 2008

As local information requests are being keyed in from mobile devices, 411 and driving directions are becoming more visually rich and available via search.

Case in point: The business telephone number reverse lookup.

How does Microsoft’s Live render a reverse lookup for Microsoft’s own telephone number? Microsoft delivers the correct result along with the five previously mentioned view options: Road, Aerial, Hybrid, Bird’s Eye and Traffic. The map view does however default to Chicago, IL even though Microsoft is located in Bellevue, WA.

I can find the Microsoft campus on the map after scrolling over a couple thousand miles. I ran several more queries with each defaulting to the same Chicago starting point. I am not logged into a Microsoft account so I wouldn’t think it was based on my computers cookies or IP address which by the way is still several hundred miles south.

Evidently, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google all seem to generate their map results based on your past location specific searches.

Microsoft’s reverse lookup offers: 1 Click Directions, Add to collection, Send to Email, Mobile and GPS and Reviews. The send to GPS requires MSN Direct compatible navigation systems.

Reverse Business Lookup– 425-882-8080 Microsoft

Microsoft 425-882-8080

Microsoft 425-882-8080

A reverse lookup for Yahoo’s telephone number in Yahoo produces two results both of which are Yahoo locations. The map provides the same functionality found in their standard searches: Get Directions, Save for later, Send to phone and Write a review. If a web address is associated with the location it will be displayed too.

Reverse Business Lookup– 408-349-3300 Yahoo

Yahoo 408-349-3300

Yahoo 408-349-3300

A search for Google’s telephone number yields the same five view options: Map, Street, Traffic, Satellite and Terrain Views as with the brand or business category search before. Additionally, Google provides a dialogue box with more options.

Searchers options are: Get directions, Search nearby, Street view, Save to My Maps, Send to phone and Edit. More information about the business and reviews are also one click away.

With “Search nearby” a searcher can locate additional businesses and services like finding Chinese takeout from their hotel.

Where Microsoft’s Bird’s Eye view appears to have bested Google’s satellite view, Google’s “street view” takes visualization to the next level.

With Google’s street view, Google provides eye level images of locations. It’s not available in every area yet. Coordination with volunteer picture geotagging projects may eventually speed the population of their street level image file.

Google’s new Edit feature lets anybody correct the location of a business. It also prompts business owners to “claim” their business in Google’s Local Business Center. These two options should eventually help them improve their data.

Reverse Business Lookup – 650-253-0000 Google

Google 650-253-0000

Google 650-253-0000

Google Street View

Google Street View

Edit Map Feature

Reverse Lookup Edit

By pushing more information out to users third screen (mobiles), Google, Microsoft and Yahoo regardless of their corporate status, have greater potential to attract ever-larger audiences and their keystrokes – a situation where all consumers ultimately win.