Blumenthal and Mihm: We in the Local Search industry are not served by relying so heavily on traditional SEO logic and tools—in our approach to the Local Pack, our understanding of the ranking factors, and even what we suggest to clients as appropriate activities.
The introduction of a new Knowledge Graph layer in the form of “Topics” indicates to me that Google’s latest efforts in this arena will extend in two directions beyond Local entities. I see these linkages extending all the way up the search journey to initial consideration and even further down the funnel beyond Local entities.
Google has been reducing the amount of traffic to local websites for a long time. And while it took a while to understand what was happening, it isn’t infuriating. Businesses can still get in front of customers and garner leads—it’s just not via their website.
“When you look at this Website growth + the Local Knowledge Panel with Posts + AMP + Progressive Web Apps, we are starting to see the outlines of an “open web” that Google totally controls. Or at least they control the profitable parts,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their latest biweekly column.
Forcing Google to split Maps-related business into a standalone “geo” unit would foster a more diverse technology ecosystem. But as far as Google’s review practices are concerned, regulators should not be convinced by an irrational argument that indexation of Google reviews has any bearing on the harm created for, or benefit gained by, consumers.
“As it stands, Facebook’s latest local effort is of academic interest but hardly seems a reason for businesses to actively re-engage with the free side of the social giant’s features. From a competitive viewpoint, it hardly seems the stuff of legend needed to take on the current local search hegemon, Google,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their latest biweekly column.
DexYP (and Other Publishers) Transition to Digital, But Limited Revenue Suggests Bleak Long-Term Prospects
“DexYP seems to be doing as many things right as one can expect from a huge Yellow Pages entity. But somehow they, and other publishers, need to transition to a more consultative higher-price point position,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in this edition of their biweekly column.
“Google is controlling the entire local experience—discovery, presentation, and transaction—and there’s just nowhere for agencies to add value, or make any money from that value,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly column.
“Most newspapers and Yellow Pages (and Yelp?) are basically ad-selling machines. GateHouse, in selling HR, IT, and financing services as well as digital services, understands that once you know how to sell one service, you can sell (or more likely upsell) any service. It’s critical for legacy organizations to bite the bullet and figure out services,” writes Mike Blumenthal.
“In Facebook’s pivot to focusing on person-to-person communications and its strong emphasis on messaging, is there an implicit concession that the company will not make Facebook itself the center of its local effort?” Mike Blumenthal asks in this week’s biweekly column with David Mihm.
“Google’s made plenty of laudatory improvements to Google My Business and associated products over the past 24 months, and there does seem to be a qualitative shift in the way it’s approaching the space,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly column.
In the latest of their biweekly columns, David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal explore what they find to be a troubling practice on Google’s part: granting select platforms the power to insert themselves into a local business’ knowledge panel without any recourse for the business or verifying that the information is accurate.
“The changing nature of search and the increasing localization are making “traditional SEO” harder, more expensive, and less productive of ROI, and that should lead every agency to assess what they are delivering and to whom,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their latest biweekly column.
Given Google’s new anti-review gating guidelines, what’s important for businesses, Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their biweekly column, is to “make giving direct feedback to the business extremely easy. Most unhappy consumers just want to express their dissatisfaction and given a choice will do so directly with the business rather than on a review site.”
“Presentation layer doesn’t sufficiently describe Google’s ambitions. They want to be the transaction layer of the Internet—at least in local,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their latest biweekly column.
“Given the primacy of Google’s market position, and the primacy of Knowledge Panels in SERPs—also a conscious product decision on Google’s part—the percentage of customers who are likely to come across fake information is great,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly column.
“If Google succeeds at improving AMP with Wordpress and AMP for HTML, it will still be two to three years before SMB adoption has significant impact given how slowly the SMB moves on this front,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their biweekly column.
“While I think [these local ad changes] might be better for many small businesses AND consumers, it gives Google a great deal of power to approve or disapprove participants,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their biweekly column.