The Inside Story on the GMB App Rebuild

Damian Rollison: Google’s Curtis Galloway, software engineering manager from the Google My Business app team, offered a fascinating peek into that team’s development process this week in a presentation at LSA19 in Dana Point, California. Galloway’s presentation revealed aspects of Google’s user-oriented focus when revising the app as well as its customer-centric orientation.

The Future of AI Is Here: Reflections on IBM Think

Damian Rollison: Among hundreds of sessions, exhibits, and demos, one theme came through clearly at IBM Think this month in San Francisco: for large enterprises especially, the AI-driven future for which we’ve been told to prepare is already here. In fact, enterprise companies are using IBM’s Watson technologies today to address a myriad of challenges inherent in the scale of those businesses.

Omnichannel Optimization: What’s Changing (and What Isn’t) in Post-Screen Search

For brand marketers, addressing the expansion of local search into voice and visual contexts is really a matter of digging in and getting more involved with rich local context that appears to grow more expansive by the day. Google alone has introduced a vast array of opportunities for business to differentiate themselves from the competition, including photos, videos, 360° virtual tours, business descriptions, menus, Posts, reviews, and several other features.

Will Consumer Privacy Be the Defining Issue of 2019?

Though their terms are not identical, in essence both GDPR and CCPA are designed to give consumers the power to stop companies from collecting personal data, to review all personal data a company may have collected, and to request deletion of any stored data. Both regulations strike a major blow in favor of the concept that ownership of personal data ultimately resides with the individual and not with companies who may profit from it.

2018 Ranking Factors Report Emphasizes GMB and Reviews

Damian Rollison: The annual report’s main takeaways are clear: to rank competitively for local searches today, you must focus your attention on three areas: one, providing Google with as much relevant local content as possible; two, pleasing your customers, pointing them to where they can review your business, and responding to their reviews; and three, creating a useful, relevant local landing page or website with authoritative backlinks.

How Content Partnerships Have Made Yelp a Data Amplifier

Damian Rollison: It became clear to me, during Yelp’s presentation at the recent Brandify Summit, that the company has become a data amplifier. Here I’m making use of Gib Olander’s helpful term for companies whose data finds its way into a multitude of consumer-facing channels. In this column, I break down the significance of that state of affairs for hyperlocal marketing.

Amazon Furthers Embrace of SMBs with Storefronts

What Amazon has done is create a channel for the entrepreneurial impulse of small business owners that would appear to sidestep local commerce completely. But has local really been removed from the equation?

The Quantitative Evidence That Reputation Management Works 

At times, the research findings published in our industry seem a little suspect. But in one vertical in particular, there’s a body of academic research that speaks to exactly the kinds of questions we want answered about reputation management—namely, does online review monitoring and response really make a difference to a business’s bottom line?

As Local Search Enters the Voice Era, Three Content Channels Dominate

You’re well covered today on the three top voice platforms if you have strong listings on Google, Apple, and Yelp. If you want to do even more, make sure your Bing listings are up to date for Cortana (note that Yelp reviews show up here as well), and submit your listing info to Here and Foursquare in order to be found in Samsung’s Bixby interface.  

10 Ways Apple Can Rebuild Maps to Become an Innovator in Local

As Apple relaunches Maps, I’m eager to see underlying map data improve, but I’d be even more interested if I knew Apple had a roadmap to improve the local data layer. Here are some things Apple should do if the company truly wants to move beyond its second-place status in local.

How Not to Respond to Reviews: 10 Common Pitfalls

Contrary to the popular saying, all publicity isn’t good publicity. It’s quite possible to go about review response in a way that does more harm than good. Listed below are 10 common practices that won’t do your business any favors and are arguably worse than no response at all.

The New Face of Reputation Management: Photos, UGC Rise in Prominence

Photos and other non-review UGC may soon become as important as reviews for reputation management. Certainly photos have that potential, providing as they do a visceral impact with which no text paragraph can compete.

People Are Talking About You: The Hidden Value of User-Generated Content

Simply put, insights gleaned from reviews can help you do business better. Though reviews may contain bias of various kinds, they are still the best source you can find of detailed feedback from real customers.

Should Local Businesses Ask for Reviews?

Reputation management services should focus on helping businesses understand what consumers are saying and engage with reviewers by responding. Unbiased review content is a true goldmine for the brand who works with a reputation company to glean deep insights about consumer sentiment offered by consumers themselves for free.

With Data and Local Guides, Google Maps Stays Ahead of the Rest

Justin O’Beirne marvels that, with the AOI initiative, Google has figured out how to “create data out of data,” meaning that AOIs are a mashup of 3D modeling and data extraction from images. Looked at more broadly, this is not the only example where Google has built features on top of features within the Maps universe.

Google My Business Looks to the Future

Aditya Tendulkar is about as close to the source as you can get when it comes to the strategic direction of Maps and Google My Business. We asked him a few questions about the quick pace of feature releases in recent months and the new openness Google seems to be showing toward listing management companies and crowdsourcing.

Facebook Local: The Launch We’ve All Been Waiting For?

Last week’s rebranding of its Events app as Facebook Local could be Facebook’s long-awaited foray into serious competition with the Googles and Yelps of the world for market share in local search. Meanwhile, another Facebook local product, Marketplace, has proved to be a sleeping giant.

The New Local Ecosystem: An Interview With Darren Shaw

As of this year, the task of updating the Local Search Ecosystem has been handed to Darren Shaw of Whitespark, who also inherited David Mihm’s other well-known brainchild, the Local Search Ranking Factors report. Last week, Darren released Local Search Ecosystem 2017, a bold departure in visual design and a much-needed update to the last edition, from 2014.

The ABCs of Reputation Management for Brands

Every multilocation brand today has a social media agency or department, and most, though not all, are running some type of local listings management program, whether internally or with a partner. But plenty of brands are neglecting to do anything about online reviews of local stores.

Understanding How Google Measures Store Visits

Even though ecommerce is growing and brick-and-mortar retail is arguably in the midst of a slow decline, 90% of consumer dollars are still spent in physical stores, and the intent of Google’s store visits data is to help demonstrate the efficacy of multiple online touchpoints that might drive consumers into a store.