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Google Places Bulk Upload Revamp: Banishing Custom Attributes

Google has rolled out some improvements to the Places bulk upload tool. From Google’s Blog:

“We’ve made many improvements and now enable the following actions:

  • Edit one or more of your listings’ data at once
  • Search through your listings, filtering by specific information or for listings with errors
  • Upload new listings using a data file or by adding them individually within the interface
  • Tell us how we can improve this new interface by clicking the “Give Feedback” link”

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Your Brand and Reputation Are First Page on Google

Google is rolling out some changes to the OneBox display for local results that continue to the push the integration of local listing with the main search results.  While this may just be another Google UI test, it is certainly consistent with their push to make local an integrated part of the main search experience.  For brands and small businesses, this just reiterates the importance of having a local listing and reputation strategy.  See a few examples below.

Photo from Places Now Included in the OneBox

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Store With Optimized Places Listing vs Store Without

In the example below, you can see how the Sephora results compares to the Mac Cosmetics result.  Competing brands in the same city but Sephora is taking advantage of the Google push to bring local content to the forefront by getting their storefront, hours and reputation front and center.

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Implicit Local Queries Impacted

Even in cases where the user is not including a local modifier in their query, Google is pushing local content if they think they know your location and their is a local store.  See the example below for Pottery Barn Kids.

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These changes continue to demonstrate the importance of local content to Google and continue to demonstrate the opportunity both national brands and small businesses have to deliver a branded, rich and actionable experience directly on the Google.com first page.

Mt. Everest Getting Not So Rave Reviews on Google Maps

It appears that the Online Reputation Management Agency for Mt. Everest has been sleeping on the job.  The Highest Mountain in the World’s Place Page on Google Maps is receiving a mediocre 3 star rating:

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Closer inspection of the reviews reveals some very unhappy customers.

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Obviously, these are tongue-in-cheek reviews ala Amazon’s Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt Meme.  However, they clearly display yet another reason to closely monitor online reviews for your business.  In the Three Wolf Moon case, the fake humorous reviews frontpaged on every social media site, including Digg and Reddit. The huge exposure catapulted sales 2,300%, making it the top selling item in Amazon’s Clothing Store.

While review content going viral can be a boon to business, both of these instances shine the light on the fact that a small group of reviewers can highjack reviews and drastically sway the outward appearance of your product or service.  Who’s to say this can’t be done by a competitor or former employee to sway public appearances.  This should be a concern for any business owner, from a national chain to the small business owner.  For a small local restaurant, poor local reviews can be crippling.  Everest’s tourism industry won’t likely feel the effect of a few fraudulent  reviews:

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But consider if Everest was a new, up-and-coming restaurant in Chicago.  How many of the 165,000 searches for “chicago restaurants” last month, would bother looking twice at a location with only 3 stars?

– Gavin

The Digitization of Local Information

Good article on all the other types of local content, beyond traditional local business listings,  that are infiltrating search results.

The main theme is see here is the movement towards the ‘digitization’ of local content, and more specifically, the products and markets which make that digitization possible.  The primary challenge with local information has always been that ‘digital’ is not its native format.  Local information exists in small newspapers, on a new sign over a previously vacant storefront and in people’s accumulated experience.  These aren’t things that any search engine can take advantage of.  What you see today are more products that allow, and more markets that encourage, people to create digital representations of this local information.  As the digitization of local information increases, it only makes sense that its prominence in search results will increase.  We all live locally after all.