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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s remarkable to see how often Foursquare data is popping up today in the apps that garner the most consumer traffic and press attention. These votes of confidence would seem to solidify Foursquare’s position as the forefather of natively digital location data.
Whole Foods will represent a brand-new challenge to the company that has come to define online commerce. How can shopping in a physical store be disrupted and transformed by the same kind of thinking that created the world’s biggest virtual marketplace?
Pinterest and Snapchat both are turning digital space into a closer analogue to physical space, where we look for visual cues to understand the world. In different ways, both apps are collapsing the distance between virtual and real.
For many years, Physical Address in City of Search was the most important ranking factor, but it has now been overtaken by Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance). As such, the canonical local search use case has become a mobile user searching for a business nearby his or her current location.
Surely small business owners belong to the class of ordinary users. Expecting them to invest the time and energy to become power users is a good way to guarantee that your user base will remain small. This realization could lead to a very different and more fruitful approach to product design for SMBs.
It used to be that you wanted to be situated as close as possible to the city centroid, or clustered with similar businesses. Now you might literally have to be the closest shop to the place your potential customer happens to be standing. How in the world do you optimize for that?
If enough people believe something, should Google consider it to be true? In a world where questionable news is very popular, it’s not so surprising that Google’s logical assumptions might sometimes produce unexpected results. After all, trustworthiness at root is a matter of how many people are willing to trust you.
It can be all too easy to give the client the impression that search marketing is too hard from them to really understand — so they should just trust you. But that sets the stage for a relationship that is not based on ethical behavior.
In cases where community values are not unanimous, public companies are faced with an ethical question, and their answers can help to shape perceptions among users. For many, the removal of a Confederate holidays from Google Maps signals that it is truly a thing of the past.
At least for now, Alexa and Google are thinking of AI-powered local search in the traditional sense of providing the user with a range of relevant options — even when organic search is trending toward the single best answer.
Machine learning and predictive analytics need to meld seamlessly with core app functionality. The technology needs to “just work,” without steep learning curves or frustrating dead ends. So I’d expect any company who experiments with machine learning for local search to start with a simple set of problems and hone the user experience.
The series demonstrates the real complexity of cross-platform digital marketing and the importance of a data-driven strategy in identifying meaningful objectives and tracking performance. This commentary explains how Brand Battles are constructed and how their subject areas fits into the bigger picture of local marketing for national brands.
Google has many paths for sourcing local content, from user edits to third party licensed data, but none provides as comprehensive or accurate a source of truth as data that comes directly from businesses, so there’s every reason to remove friction from that path wherever possible.