This year’s is the fourth annual LMBR report; the data used in the analysis was provided by data partner Places Scout. Those interested in the full results can check out the report here. In this article, I’ll highlight just a few of the key takeaways for multi-location marketers.
The ranking criteria that matters most for the current discussion is relevance. In offering product photos to users searching for products, Google is both declaring and emphasizing that this business has offerings relevant to the searcher’s stated need.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association discusses DoorDash launching a gas rewards program to offset high prices, SES-Imagotag and UNICEF using electronic shelf labels to drive donations for Ukraine, GroundTruth and Flowcode partnering on QR codes in TV, and Google displaying nearby cars for sale in search.
The push to regulate big tech is not new. In fact, a bill similar to the American Innovation and Choice Online Act was introduced by the House of Representatives last year, only to be relegated to the legislative back burner. So far, no meaningful legislation has made its way into law, but each new effort in that direction reawakens the possibility that companies like Google will eventually need to modify their practices to remove bias towards themselves.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association discusses Google getting sued over deceptive location tracking, Apple going head to head with Square by making iPhone payment terminals, SavageXFenty rolling out AR-powered FIT:MATCH tech in-store, and Placewise partnering with Bambuser to bring physical malls to customers via livestream.
I wanted to look in particular at search engines other than Google and their treatment of local search. I was intrigued by the recent announcements that Bing was making forays into product inventory as a component of local search as well as the launch of Bing Travel, a Google Travel competitor but with a very different approach to destination-based search and discovery. Similarly, recent news about the exponential growth of Brave and DuckDuckGo in our era of privacy impelled me to find out more about their handling of local results.
Figuring out what type of Local Guides are leaving reviews, and what kind of reviews they are leaving, matters for a few reasons. First, Local Guides are responsible for writing more reviews of local businesses than any other group on the internet. Second, Local Guides write reviews under circumstances that make them different from ordinary consumers: They are self-selected volunteers who get rewarded, albeit in a non-monetary fashion, for their contributions. Fairly or not, they are often thought of as biased and their contributions as less valuable, merely “written for points.” Third, the true characteristics of Local Guides are not well known, because they have not yet been subject to this type of study.
After conducting more than 50 “local intent” searches, I’ve found that not all of them return the new “mega map,” nor is the new layout as consistent as it at first appeared it would be. The range of searches I tried includes generic keyword searches for brick-and-mortar stores, such as the example above, as well as searches for local service providers, chain stores, products, and more. I tried covering a broad base of searches covering a range of categories. I made sure all of my searches would be interpreted as local by appending “san francisco” to each query.
Three of the most notable trends — the ever-increasing importance of native Google My Business (now Google Business Profile) factors and, in particular, of reviews, as well as the diminished impact of citation building — are reinforced this year, with Google profile optimization accounting for 36% of local ranking, up from 33% last year, and reviews inching up from 16% to 17%, while citations continue at 7%, down significantly in importance compared to their prominent role in earlier years.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers SPREE Interactive taking its VR platform global, a Robot mixologist serving drinks and collecting data, Google Maps going head to head with Instacart, and Square launching a Photo Studio app.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers Google getting into the OEM vehicle navigation space, Giant Food piloting mobile deals on perishable foods, Lowe’s launching a “room scanning tool” using LIDAR in their app, and Amazon’s Alexa coming to hospitals and assisted living homes.
In an analysis of more than 4 million store reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, Uberall and The Transparency Company found that Google has the highest average percentage of inauthentic reviews across business categories. More than one in 10 reviews on Google’s platform was identified as fraudulent or fake in Uberall’s analysis. The category with the highest percentage of fake reviews was locksmiths, while pharmacies came in as the category with the lowest percentage of fake reviews.
The initial launch of the GMB API in late 2015 allowed partners to maintain listings in near-real-time and at a much greater scale than was possible before. Now we’re in the midst of another sea change. Since the beginning of 2021, the API has been undergoing a complete overhaul from the ground up, a change that, once completed, will leave us with a totally different architecture that is more flexible and capable of much quicker iteration. This means, in all likelihood, that Google My Business as it is used by partners and the businesses who work with them will be able to move faster to fix issues and release new features.
In this third of four installments in my series on recent and ongoing trends in local search, I want to focus on signs that Google’s local platform — comprising Google My Business, Google Maps, and the local component of Google Search — has become, under our noses, a massive social network. Google has achieved this status not through traditional methods of connecting users to each other, but by allowing and encouraging users to share their experiences, questions, and opinions about local businesses in a variety of forms and at a massive scale.
A trio of local search experts expound on the latest in the industry. Claire Carlile proposes Google My Business as a CMS and covers how businesses should approach the channel; Miriam Ellis explores the increasingly blurred lines between different categories of sites and businesses; and Damian Rollison delineates the major trends shaping the trajectory of local search, especially on Google.
This is the second in a series of four articles covering the themes behind many of Google’s recent local search feature releases and interface updates. In the first installment, I discussed Google’s increasingly personalized or customized search results, marked by content pulled from GMB profiles, the business website, and Google users, and matched to specific queries so that each SERP is unique. In this second installment, I’ll be talking too about interfaces that differ according to what you’re searching for, but in this case the differences are verticalized.
Though it’s not always easy to find the common threads in Google’s complex evolution of the local search consumer experience, some themes do stand out, such as the drive toward increasingly personalized search results, which I’ll be covering in this initial entry in the series. Fortunately for marketers, personalization, along with the other themes I’ll cover, offers numerous opportunities to outpace the competition and convert more searchers into buyers. A better understanding of these emerging trends will help marketers prioritize their efforts.
Verizon became the latest player to compete against Google’s FloCs this month with the launch of its new Next-Gen Solutions tool. The move marks a broader shift in ad tech toward contextual ads.