Is Google Playing the Long Game with SMB Websites?

“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.

Yelp, Google Reviews, and Antitrust

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.

Facebook Takes a Stab at Local—Again

“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’s Path to Becoming the Transaction Layer of the Web

“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.

Does Google Really Need a Social Network to Succeed at Local?

“The driving vision of Google’s entire local arc is to be able to give a single eyes-free answer to any query with local intent. Social features like reviews, Guides, business owner data, and Q&A are just the means to that end,” writes David Mihm in his biweekly column with Mike Blumenthal.

GateHouse Media Shows How Media Orgs Can Offer Value for SMB Advertisers

“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.

Facebook’s Perennial ‘Potential’ in Local

“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 Local Improvements—Posts Become Essential, and Mike Wins the Bet!

“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.

What Happens When Knowledge Panels Aren’t Actually Knowledgeable?

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 Bifurcation of the Local SEO Services Market

“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.

What Google’s New Review Guidelines Mean for SMBs, Agencies, and Vendors

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.”

Google As Website? The Recent Explosion in Knowledge Panel Features and Interactivity

“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.

Q&A, Reviews, and Fake News on Google: False Content Is Not Just a Facebook Problem

“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.

Will AMP Become a Web Standard for the World of Commerce?

“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.

Unpacking the Increasingly Complex Local SERP

“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.

Follow-Up Thoughts on the SMB Marketing/Operations Universe

“Regardless of the right package, the key for both agencies and small businesses is to choose best-of-breed components in each galaxy that integrate with each other so that you can add relevant and profitable services over time,” David Mihm says to Mike Blumenthal in their bi-weekly column.

Q&A: Does Google’s Latest Product Mean Death by a Thousand Cuts for Brands

Google really left businesses hanging with the Q&A release, Mike BLumenthal tells David Mihm in their biweekly column: “We had enough engineering cycles that we could “step into the breach” of what is obviously a big brand problem. Whether it is long term or not depends on what Google can parse from the questions in terms of improving results. “

Two Big Facebook Moves in the First Two Weeks of 2018

“It will be interesting to watch how much SMBs’ costs go up with Facebook to achieve the same level of engagement that they have been enjoying,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their biweekly column. “As Google expands their many local offerings, this might just play into their hands by forcing businesses back to Google My Business.”

Will 2018 Be a Tipping Point for Voice?

“There may only be 6-7 ‘commands’ that we use regularly with voice, though I’m willing to bet that as people get more and more accustomed to the interface, the horizon of possibilities expands,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly column.