Google Overhauls Place Pages, Emphasizes Reviews & Kills Citations

google-places-logo-square Local searchers and local businesses will see a fairly substantially different Place Page the next time they're poking around Google Maps/Places. The company announced a new look Thursday and promises more changes to come. The new layout of Place Pages puts a heavy emphasis on reviews. More specifically, it emphasizes reviews from Google users and no longer shows review content from third party sites. (Google had issues with both Yelp and TripAdvisor over review snippets last year, you may recall.) Rather than showing external reviews, the new Place Page only links to third party sites [...]


Carter Maslan, The Face Of Google Places, Leaving The Company

Carter Maslan has been the patient and good-natured face of Google Maps and Places at innumerable conferences and events over the past several years. He's endured a regular onslaught of questions about missing features and local SEO frustrations surrounding Google's increasingly important suite of local products. Now he's leaving Google. I got word of this yesterday from a Google partner and then I later confirmed it in an email exchange with Maslan himself. He's leaving the company on good terms and said he "loved" his work at Google. However he has something else he wants to pursue. [...]


Nifty Hard Core Local SEO Tactics From SMX Advanced

The panelists at last week's "HardCore Local SEO" panel at SMX Advanced, Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing, Will Scott of Search Influence and David Mihm of GetListed, presented some excellent data on various tactical approaches to improving Google Place Page rankings. For today's column, I thought it would be helpful to excerpt some of the more interesting ideas they presented. I was particularly intrigued by Mike Ramsey's presentation on research he had done where he compared 28 listings that ranked in the top 7 results for some local queries to 28 listings that did not rank as well. Mike s [...]


Survey: 60% Of Consumers More Likely To Consider Or Contact Businesses With Images In Local Search Results

UK based SEO firm BrightLocal reported the results of two online surveys about local consumer behavior and local SEO. The surveys were conducted in Q1 2011. There were more than 600 SEO survey respondents and 1,250 US consumer survey respondents respectively. The findings are not a surprise. Google dominates as a traffic source to local business websites, though in this survey not as much as some other surveys. Mobile was not a part of the results reported. Here's how the SEO respondents ranked the top sources of traffic to their clients' sites: That ranking is further unpacked in [...]


Google Adding Local Product Data To Place Pages

Since early 2006 I've been writing about the "offline future of online shopping." And since that time a collection of startups has been working, mostly under the radar, to bring real-time local product inventory data to the internet. In November of 2010 Google joined that effort with local product search. Now when you do a product search Google will show you local store availability -- mostly at large retail chains. However, Google just said in a blog post that it's also going to make local product availability a feature of Place Pages: When you provide Google with local product availabil [...]


Google Instant Now For Google Places

Google has launched Google Instant Search for Google Place search results. To see this yourself, conduct a search on Google and then click on "Places" in the left-hand panel. Then type in the search box and Google Instant will predict and auto fill your searches. Here is an example query for pizza: Google continues to roll out Google Instant on their vertical search features. Last month, Google Product Search gained Instant Search and Google promises to "continue to expand Instant to all views, languages and domains over the next few months." This roll out comes the week afte [...]


Google’s Mayer: “We Do Have Too Many Products” In Local

Google Maps. Google Places. Google Earth. Google Hotpot. Google Latitude. Google Street View. Different mobile and desktop versions of some of those. Different Android and iPhone versions of some. The list could go on. If you think Google has too many locally-oriented products, you're not alone. Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of Search who recently began focusing on the company's local efforts, agrees. "I think that, ultimately, we do have too many products and we need to condense them," Mayer said Friday at the SXSWi conference in Austin. "I think some of our products should be features. Ar [...]


Google Promotes Hotpot, Places In Austin In Advance of SXSW

When the digirati descend on Austin for the SXSW interactive conference next month, Google is hoping their smartphones will brim with local listings and reviews on Places and Hotpot. To that end, the company today began a promotion to get local businesses, along with Austin visitors and residents, on board with the search giant's local and mobile services. As part of the promotion, Google representatives will be meeting with local businesses to talk up the benefits of promoting their goods and services through Places. The company will offer businesses a customizable starter kit that can inc [...]


Review Sites’ Rancor Rises With Prominence of Google Place Pages

Friends or enemies? Partners or competitors? Google's relationship with review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp is as complicated as ever, and the disputes are likely to increase as the search giant pursues mobile and local ambitions that center around its controversial Place pages. The rancor stems from the way Google aggregates content from various review sites onto its Place pages, showing snippets of reviews posted by users of other sites. While Google undoubtedly drives traffic to the review sites, the aggregation tacitly encourages users to think there's no need to go anywhere else. Cr [...]


Google Promotes Boost To All Of U.S., Mobile Devices

Google's simpler AdWords program, Boost, is getting its national roll-out, after a three-month test period in certain cities and states, the company is set to announce. The search giant also said it will begin displaying Boost ads for searches done on iPhone and Android devices. Google spokesperson Jim Prosser wouldn't say what kind of usage Boost has gotten since the start of the testing period, but allowed that, "the response has been good, otherwise we wouldn't be rolling this out nationally." Boost is Google's program aimed at smaller businesses who want a "set it and forget it" appr [...]


Google Places Now Takes User Photo Uploads

Following in the footsteps of several other locally-oriented sites, Google Places is now accepting user photos of local businesses. When viewing a Place Page (like the Wild Ginger restaurant in Seattle), you'll see a new "Upload a photo" link to the right of the Photos & Video content section. Google's announcement says the user-uploaded images will be visible on Google.com and Google Earth, in addition to Places/Maps. There's no indication about how many photos a user can upload (or if there's even a limit in place). In the beginning, Google Places only accepted photos uploaded by t [...]


Google Places Gets Its Own iPhone App

There's a Maps app on your iPhone, a Google Mobile app that includes access to Google Maps, and now there's a third option for Google-based local search and discovery: a dedicated Google Places app. It's just announced today and is already available in the iPhone's app store. The app seems to focus more on the discovery side of local than on search, which distinguishes it from the Apple-produced, default Maps app that's more about directions and navigation than about locating businesses. It also makes the Google Places app somewhat reminiscent of Yelp's iPhone app, and even Urbanspoon t [...]


Google Partner Brings Big Data To Product Search

Google has famously undertaken a high-profile initiative to show users where they can buy products offline in local stores. It has also launched a very non-traditional (for Google) shopping site, Boutiques.com. There have been additional improvements in the Google Product Search destination site, including more product-browse capabilities. Then there are product listing ads, which expanded to all US advertisers last November. In other words, across the board in product search/discovery and product-related advertising, there's considerable activity going on at Google. You can now add to all [...]


Once Again: Should Google Be Allowed To Send Itself Traffic?

The question of Google's right to refer traffic to its own sites is once again in the center of policy debate. The European Commission is looking at this issue as part of its larger anti-trust investigation against Google. It's also a question at the heart of the federal regulatory review of the ITA acquisition. Preferential treatment in search This weekend a story appeared in the Wall Street Journal (others are in the works) that features a number of web CEOs complaining or expressing concern about Google giving "preferential treatment" to its own properties: Google Inc. increasingly [...]


TripAdvisor Blocks Google: The Start Of A Larger Trend?

First there was the Google-Yelp dispute over reviews in Places (which was resolved). Now TripAdvisor appears to be preventing Google from showing its reviews on Place Pages. The first to report this yesterday was Tnooz. According to the article: Google is no longer able to stream in reviews from TripAdvisor to Places pages after the user review giant blocked it. TripAdvisor confirmed the move today in an email, stating that while it continues to evaluate recent changes to Google Places it believes the user does not benefit with the "experience of selecting the right hotel". "As a result [...]


Local SEO Primer: How To Rank Higher In Google Place Search

Google’s recent rollout of Place Search for local business searches has resulted in a spike of interest in how to rank higher in the local-centric display of business listings. If you want to know how to rank higher in Google local search results, this article has what you need: a primer for how to rank in business searches in your city or town.


How To Get Around Google Local’s 7-Pack Without Breaking A Sweat

Damn that Google! Just when you figure out how to rank for a great keyword, Google decides that keyword has strong "local intent" and pops up a 7-pack of local business listings at the top of the SERP. And if you are not one of those seven businesses, you are indeed screwed. There are plenty of blogging SEOs out there who can tell you how to get ranked in the 7-pack, and you should definitely try, but while you're waiting for that strategy to kick in, how about we work on some relatively easier ways to get around the damn thing? And Now For Some Breaking News... Ok, selling electrician [...]


Rich Snippets Finds Its Way To Google Places/Maps

The Google LatLong Blog and the Google Webmaster Center blog announced support for rich snippets on the Google Maps and local results. Google said the "use of Rich Snippets can help people find the web pages you’ve created that may reference a specific place or location." Google added using these structured HTML formats will help Google "properly classify your site, recognize and understand that its content is about a particular place, and make it discoverable to users on Place pages." This helps in two ways: (1) Use structured markup to help Google identify the places mentioned on [...]


Making Sense of Facebook Places

One of the questions that came up after the formal launch of Facebook Places last night was: how will this affect Google Places (among others)? As an aside, I have to say it's really strange that these products have nearly the identical name. It's almost like Honda offering a car with a particular name and then Toyota coming out with a car with the same model name. Of course Google Places and Facebook Places are currently different animals from a consumer perspective. You don't "check in" to Google Places. But Google has other products that perform a similar function (Latitude, Buzz) that i [...]


Google’s Maslan Says The Company Not Pushing Into Real Estate

In an on-stage interview during the Inman Real Estate Connect conference this week in San Francisco Google's Carter Maslan said that the company was not pushing into real estate specifically or going to build a direct national database of property listings and become a "universal MLS": "What we are doing in real estate is really (no different than) what we are doing in (other areas of) local search," Maslan said. If there's a property for sale, wherever its mentioned on the Web -- whether on "Rotten Neighborhoods" or Trulia.com -- Google wants to put those pages at users' fingerti [...]


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