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 -- Google wants to put those pages at users' fingerti [...]

Twitter Places: How It Might Challenge Google’s Local Dominance

One of the big, unanswered questions in the local search space is, Who's going to do the best job of marrying location with real-time context. Twitter is hardly the first to try, but it may have the best chance to succeed. On Monday, the company announced Twitter Places, a new feature that's being rolled out on both and to users in 65 countries over the next week. Twitter Places, in a nutshell, gives every location its own Twitter page. For now, that page -- which you reach by clicking "Tweets about this place" as seen in the image above -- is basically a [...]

Google’s Place Pages Go Mobile

Google has announced that its Place Pages now come in a mobile version. Users of Android-powered mobile devices and iPhone/iPod Touch users should be able to see the new mobile place pages now. They're quite similar to what you're used to seeing in Google Maps, with business/place information, a collection of reviews, images, and so forth. [...]

Google Buzz: Google Takes On Twitter, Facebook & Even Foursquare

Google has announced a new product called Google Buzz, which represents the company's latest attempt to hitch its wagon to the popularity of social networking and, more specifically, the growth of social sharing and status updates. Many will call this a Twitter killer or a threat to Facebook. Certainly the company is targeting the audiences that Twitter and Facebook serve, but suggestions that Buzz will kill them are overblown. From Orkut to Lively to Google Friend Connect and beyond, Google has tried to succeed with social products that just haven't caught on. There's no guarantee Google B [...]

Liveblogging the Google Buzz Launch

Google is set to announce a new social tool at a 10:00 am event on its Mountain View campus. Due to the last-minute notice, we're not on the scene, but Google is providing a webcast via YouTube that we'll be using. Stay tuned for the liveblogging to start at 10 am or shortly thereafter.... Okay, so it's 10:05 and we're still waiting. #tapsfingers There we go -- Google has given a 2-3 minute warning. We'll be starting shortly. Or not. We're underway! Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product Mktg. is speaking first. "Hello on the webcast." Hi Brad. Says we'll be doing this for 45 minutes t [...]

Google Recommends The Competition On Your Business Place Page

I'm scratching my head over this one: Google has added a new content block on place pages that, quite often, gives free advertising to a local business's competition. It's called "Nearby places you might like" and it appears below reviews on the place page; the content block will show up to ten recommended businesses -- but sometimes less. At the moment, the place page for Seattle's Fairmont Olympic Hotel shows only two nearby suggestions, but one of them is the bar at the W Hotel. Worse, consider the recommended businesses on this place page for Il Bistro, a restaurant in downtown Seat [...]

Google Now Collecting Local Reviews From Non-Traditional Sources

In order to increase the volume and coverage of reviews on its Place Pages, Google is now apparently looking beyond the range of traditional review sources to new, non-traditional sites (e.g., blogs, articles, etc.). Mike Blumethal has written a lengthy post on the subject. As Mike points out this could potentially complicate the emerging area of reputation management for local businesses. In the near term it's unlikely that Google will simply cast far and wide for any local business mention. Rather it will identify selected sites in particular markets, but those sites apparently need not b [...]

Google Integrates “Real-Time” Messages Into Place Pages, Makes BlackBerry Mobile App More Useful

Taking a page from Facebook or Twitter, Google is putting a bit of real-time functionality on local business Place Pages. Google is promoting the idea that small businesses can use their Place Pages to promote time-sensitive (real-time) events. Here's the Google LatLong blog discussion of how they envision its use: Holding a special event today? Want to post a coupon for 5-7pm tonight? Have a new product in stock? You can now get the word out by posting to your Place Page directly from your Local Business Center dashboard. Once you've logged in and are on your business' dashboard, post an upd [...]

Google Highlights Review Sentiments On Local Place Pages

Ratings and reviews have long been important to local search. Quantity used to be all that mattered - businesses with more reviews and ratings could rank higher than those without, even if the reviews were unfavorable. Google has joined Bing (and Yahoo to a lesser degree) with today's announcement that it's emphasizing the content and sentiment of reviews and ratings on its place pages. Here's a look at how Google spotlights review content on the Wild Ginger Asian Restaurant place page: Google is pulling reviews from a variety of sources, classifying them, and then providing a review [...]

Google Builds Out A National Real Estate Search Engine

While the National Association of REALTORS® is planning to launch its own national property database sometime next year, Google seems to have just stolen the NAR's thunder. How? By rolling out individual "place pages" for every property that's listed in Google Maps. Like this one for a home in Seattle: The real estate listing place pages include property information, photos, map placement, Street View imagery and functionality, nearby public transit details, and even AdWords ads. Google has added links for "Directions" and "Search nearby," as well as a "Send" link that opens an outgoin [...]

Google AdWords Adds New Alerts & Place Pages Performance Reports

Google AdWords announced two updates including new alerts and place pages in performance reports, let me explain both in more detail. The new alerts are designed to help you stay on top of your campaigns. In addition to the billing alerts, they added alerts for new keyword and budget ideas in the Opportunities tab. Also, for those that use conversion tracking, you can now create custom alerts for changes in conversion volume, conversion rate, and cost per conversion. These two new alerts are not yet available for those who have My Client Center (MCC) accounts, but Google hopes to add the [...]

Google Creates A New, Simplified Ad Unit For Local Business

In December 2007 Google promised to develop a radically simplified version of AdWords targeted at the mass of small businesses who could not or would not take the time to set up an AdWords campaign. The working name of the program was "Simple Ads." It was semi-formally announced at the Google Local Markets Symposium, a partner meeting held at the Googleplex that I attended at the time. Eagerly I waited and waited to see how Google would diminish or eliminate the complexity of AdWords for local businesses. There was an experiment with call-based lead generation in a distinct marketplace ("Go [...]

Is Google Testing New Ad Unit Tied To Place Pages?

There was intrigue and some interesting discussion last weekend around the question of whether Google was actually indexing its newly launched Place Pages despite a statement that it would not. It appeared that there was some inadvertent or "unintended" indexing that apparently went on. However, today a new wrinkle: we were notified by David Naffziger that Google appeared to be testing some new ad units tied to Place Pages. Naffziger says on his blog: We’ve found a number of Google Places advertisements appearing on searches for ‘Brand + Product Category’ and include a link to a competi [...]

Despite Assurances, Google Place Pages Now Showing In Search Results

Google introduced its new Maps profile page format, Place Pages, last week on Thursday. It's a pretty dramatic change that replaces a tabbed version of the "info bubble" on Maps with a full page that features a wide variety of rich content. Each of these pages has its own URL. When I discussed the change with Google I specifically asked whether they were going to crawl and index these pages, being created for all local businesses, points of interest, cities, landmarks and neighborhoods. They told me no; these pages would only be accessible from Maps and not directly from search r [...]

Google Launches “Place Pages,” Gets Rid Of Tabbed Info Bubble

Google is swapping its "info window" in Maps out in favor a much richer full-page experience that offers more information and a number of new capabilities and features. The pop-ups on Maps previously opened to an expanded info-bubble view, featuring a tabbed experience that buried much of the information available about a business. The new "Place Pages" offer a more user friendly presentation of the same information. Also launching today are Place Pages that cover cities, neighborhoods, points of interest and transit stops, in addition to business locations. (The Place Pages are accessible [...]

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